Tips for an Efficient and Organized Sewing Space

 

I love clear storage drawers – they keeps things organized, but still visible.

With the holidays fast approaching (I haven't started any of my handmade gifts! Ahh!), thoughts will soon be turning to the end of the year and New Year's resolutions. One of the things at the top of my to-do list for next year is to organize my sewing space. I bought a house about a year ago, and for the first time I have an actual room I can devote to my crafty hobbies, but I've only recently begun to think about how this space could fit my needs.

If you could use a little help organizing your space (and let's face it, who couldn't?!), here are a few tips and tricks to get your started on the right foot.

KNOW THYSELF

Before you start actually organizing anything, take some time to think about your habits. How often do you sew? What tools do you use regularly? Imagine yourself working on a project in your current space and think about all the times you have to walk across the room to grab a spool of thread, or how frustrating it is to wrangle your iron out of its storage location. Analyze your routines and working habits so that you can develop a space that is efficient and fits your needs.

I, for instance, know that I am drastically less likely to work on a project if my supplies are not out in the open for me to see. I've also admitted to myself that I'm very lazy when it comes to clean-up, and I won't move very far to put something away, which can result in a cluttered work space. To combat these tendencies, I keep all of my fabric in an open grid storage system so that it's visible and easy to grab. I keep my sewing machine and serger set up on my sewing table so that all I need to do is plug them in if a creative urge strikes me. And I also have an organizer on my sewing table to hold the tools I need most often.  I know I'll put a pair of scissors into a holder by my desk, but if I have to walk across the room and open a drawer, there's a high probability that the scissors will stay lying on my table.

If you start with an honest appraisal of your working habits, you can develop a space that will keep you happy, inspired, and productive!

 

Kevin Kosbab keeps a bin of fabric scraps for appliqué organized alongside larger fabric pieces.

 

Ayumi Takahashi stores small quantities of fabric in a small bookcase.

DEALING WITH THE STASH

If you're anything like me, you probably have more fabric than you'll use in even three lifetimes. In the Fall 2010 issue of Stitch, we gathered fabric-storage ideas from our designers and contributors. Here are some of their expert tips:

Neatly fold large fabric pieces. "I use an 8" × 24" ruler to wrap the fabric around, just like a bolt. Then slide it off halfway and fold. The folded edge becomes a clean front edge when stacked on the shelf. Just as with library books on a shelf, I line up all the front edges of the folded fabrics, leaving any mismatches at the back." Lois L. Hallock (clearview-designs.com)

Sort your fabric by color. "I keep the solids separated from the main stash so I can see my full solid palette together. Because I often need small bits of solid colors for appliqué, I have a scrap bin for each color right below the stack of folded yardage, in grabbing distance of my cutting mat. This way it's easy to check for appropriately sized scraps before cutting into fresh yardage." Kevin Kosbab (feeddog.net)

Pre-cut fabric scraps for storage. "Because I like to work small and make small items, I usually need only a small amount (such as a fat quarter) of each fabric to be easily accessible. I select fabrics that I use often and pre-cut them into small pieces. Then I sort these fabrics by color and organize them in a small bookshelf in my crafty space. It is pretty and inspirational to look at and doesn't take too much space. I put away the rest of my fabrics and get them out as I need them." Ayumi Takahashi (ayumills.blogspot.com)

TABLE TALK

When it comes to actually making a project, the surface you choose as a work space is vital. The latest issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Studios has great pointers to help you find the perfect worktable.

Choose a table with adjustable legs. There are a number of them on the market, in a variety of styles. Some tasks are better accomplished while seated and others while standing. Adjust the height as your tasks change.

Build a mock-up. Use a piece of plywood, an old door, or even some cardboard on sawhorses. Keep adding pieces on top of the mock-up, adjusting the height in increments, and try working at each new height. Continue until you get the height that feels best and then make or buy your worktable.

Consider the depth of the worktable. Do you want a certain amount of space to work and that's it, or would you like space to store things on the same table? Can you reach your supplies easily or are you noticing neck pain or shoulder pain from reaching too much?

 

This simple but effective worktable is made from two storage units and a piece of plywood covered with a blanket.

What about storage? Is storage part of the plan? Will shelving or maybe storage buckets fit under the table? Or will you store supplies right on the tabletop?

The quest for an organized studio is an ongoing one. Hopefully these ideas will help you along you way!

Here's to happy organizing!

 

Other sewing topics you may enjoy:

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Sewing for Beginners
StefanieB

About StefanieB

I'm the Managing Editor of Stitch magazine. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado with one fat cat, one very active dog, and lots of books, crafting supplies, and video games.

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