Written by: Sam Wright
When you get to quilting, it doesn’t take long before your working space looks like a tornado just ripped right through it. With all the pins, tools, cuts of fabric, and thread, it can start to get very difficult to keep track of things without an organizational plan in place. Not only does this mean it’s easy to lose track of the smaller tools and fabrics right when you need them, for some people the clutter can start to become a source of stress and anxiety. The concept of organizing can seem daunting, especially if it’s been a while since you last rearranged your workspace. However, these ten easy tips can help even the most organizationally challenged quilters get their crafting space back in order. Everyone has a different opinion for the best organized sewing space, but we believe a organized space allows your creativity to breath without added stress.
Before Organizing: Declutter
The very first step to straightening up your quilting room needs to be decluttering. Crafters especially have a bad habit of hanging on to materials and supplies we’ll never actually use. Sure, you’ve never had the need for an empty toilet paper roll in your work before, but maybe someday. Here’s a spoiler alert: you probably won’t use it, and it just ends up another piece of clutter. This is often the most intimidating part of the organization process, but if you break it down step-by-step, suddenly it’s not so scary anymore. Step 1: Grab some trash bags, two laundry baskets, and maybe queue up a podcast or some music to keep yourself entertained. Designate one laundry basket for donations, and the other one for things that belong in a different room. The trash bags are, naturally, for trash.
Step 2: Set yourself a timer for 15 minutes and assess the room. Start first with the biggest items in there (furniture, large equipment, etc.). Do you want to get rid of it? Does any of it need fixing? If the answer to either of these is yes, remove the item and place it in the appropriate bag or basket. Once you’re finished, move on to the next step. Step 3: Focus now on medium-sized items like larger cuts of fabric and tools. Follow the same assessment process. Is there anything you know you’re not going to use that can either be tossed or donated? Are there items in there you’re keeping but that belong in another room? Sort accordingly. Step 4: When the 15 minute timer goes off, step back. Do you feel like you can keep going? If so, then set another 15 minute timer (asking yourself the same question once each 15 minute period is up). If you’re starting to feel tired or overwhelmed, walk away. Come back when you’re ready to continue, whether that’s in an hour or a few days. Move at the pace that’s best for you, no one’s judging if you don’t get it all done in a weekend. Step 5: Once you’ve sorted through all the medium-sized items, go on to the smallest items (scraps of fabric, embellishments, pencils and markers, etc.). Follow the same process, deciding whether to keep, donate, or trash each item. Be honest with yourself about what you really need to hold on to. If it turns out you get rid of something you end up needing later, you can probably head over to a craft store and replace it. Once you feel like you’ve gone through the whole room and everything that’s currently in there is going to stay in there, you can start to organize and make the room look pretty again. Be sure to keep the trash bags and two laundry baskets available though, in case you change your mind about an item or come across something you missed. You can organize however you like, but if you need some inspiration, read on.
1. Put up a Pegboard
You often see pegboards hanging up in garages and wood shops being used to hold tools rather than throwing them in a toolbox. Turns out, you can use the same thing for the tools and other smaller items in your craft room! You can find a pegboard of whatever size you need at your local hardware store, as well as pegboard hooks (which you stick in the board to hold things up) and specialized bins and baskets. Simply hang the pegboard somewhere on your wall, and you can place the hooks and bins wherever you want them. You can hang pretty much anything you want, from rolls of fabric (wrap them around a wooden rod and balance between two hooks), smaller tools like scissors, thread, ribbons, and other embellishments. If you have something that can’t hang on a hook by itself, put it in a ziplock bag or a pouch, attach binder clips to the top, and hang the wire part of the clips from the hooks instead.
2. Hang a Cork Board Above Your Crafting Table
Similar to a pegboard, a corkboard can be a really useful tool for keeping your smaller crafting supplies in order. You can find cork boards at most craft stores, and you can pick from a variety of cute (or standard) pushpins to use.
From there, you can hang the board wherever you like, but directly by your craft table is probably the most convenient. It’s not as heavy duty as a pegboard, but you can pin up various papers like the patterns and photo inspirations you’re using, and squares of fabric that you aren’t using yet but need nearby.
3. Get a Chalkboard
Yet another board suggestion (they’re just so helpful! Hope you’re not getting...board yet!), a chalkboard is great for sketching and planning out your quilt layout, recording important measurements, and more. They can be found at most craft stores, along with any color of chalk you like (perhaps get several so you can color code your notes). Some are magnetic, so you could treat it like a corkboard too. You could also get a dry-erase board, which works the exact same way, just with markers. Whatever works best for you. A fun variation, if you really want to go all in on the home improvement project, is to use chalkboard paint (found online and at hardware stores) and turn one of your walls into a chalkboard. In addition to being useful, this gives your room a nice trendy, quirky look.
4. Sort Your Scraps by Color
The boards are great for keeping track of supplies for your current craft, but let’s move on to some things you can do with the materials you’re storing for later. We’ll start with fabric, since that probably is what takes up the most of your space. Larger cuts of fabric are easier to keep track of, but you probably have tons of smaller pieces and scraps lying around, and they’re probably never readily available when you need them. One of the easiest ways to fix this is to sort the scraps by color. You can also sort by size or design, but color is the fastest to identify first when you’re looking for something. There are plenty of containers you can use to store the color-coded scraps. You can get clear plastic bins for each color, especially if there’s a lot of material. You could also use an over-the-door shoe hanger, or a dresser drawer organizer, which has boxed off compartments to keep things separated.
It’s also a good idea to sort your large cuts of fabric by color too, if you’re not already. You can either put these in plastic bins too, or store them folded and upright in cubbies or a bookshelf. That way you can see everything you have and easily pick out what you need like a library book instead of digging around..
5. Keep a Pattern Binder
A lot of quilters build up quite a collection of magazines with tips and patterns in them, and if you actually reference those frequently, and that’s what works best for you, then stick with that (store them in a small bookshelf!) But, if you find yourself mostly reusing patterns, or want to clear up the space your magazines are taking up, then putting together a pattern binder is the most efficient way to go. For this, find whatever size binder works best for you and a 3-hole punch (found at most craft or supply stores). Then, print up all your favorite patterns from the internet and go through all of your magazines and tear out the patterns you want to save for later, and put them in your binder. You can organize them however you like; maybe get some binder dividers and sort them by the type of project, or put your favorites at the front, followed by the ones you want to try next, and the ones you haven’t tried yet at the back of the binder. If you really want to get fancy, you can number your pages and put a table of contents together for yourself. Whatever makes the most sense to you.
6. Use a Cord Organizer
If you’re someone who uses multiple tools that require electricity, consider getting yourself a cord organizer. This helps you keep the wires from getting tangled or in the way and helps you to easily identify which cord goes to which appliance. You can easily find all sorts of cord organizers in stores or online, or you could create a DIY one. Get a shoebox (decorate it if you like), put an extension cord inside it, and plug your accessories in. Then make several small holes on the front side of the box that the wires can fit through and label each hole based on what the wire goes to. If this is too much work, you can take a few of those plastic tags that keep bags of bread closed, put one at the end of each wire, and label the tags.
7. Use a Thread Storage Box for Small Embellishments
If you use a lot of small embellishments on your quilts like beads, sequins, or (small) felt appliques, you can sort them using a Thread Storage Box. Also, many have suggested using a pill organizer for small embellishments. You can find pill organizers online or at most department and convenience stores that have a pharmacy. From there, sort your embellishments by size, color, type, or whatever way is most useful for you. Maybe get multiple organizers for different types of embellishments. If you have a lot of little pieces to keep track of, there are also monthly pill organizers that will have a lot more space.
8. Sort Your Buttons
You could use a pill organizer or thread organizer for buttons if they’re small enough, but since they often aren’t, here are some suggestions for keeping your buttons in order too. As always, you can sort them however you like, whether that’s color, size, or number of holes. The most straightforward way is to get a bunch of those clear, plastic lunch box containers and sort them using those. One for each color or whatever categories you’re sorting them by, and then stack them on a shelf (or on a pegboard!). If you’d like a more stylish way to store them, instead of plastic containers, you can get a set of mason jars. Decorate the jars if you want or leave them be. This keeps your buttons sorted and makes for a cute piece of decor.
9. Keep Your Blocks in Place
Especially if your quilting space is not somewhere you can keep all of your pieces laid out (like a dining room table, or if you have small children), you need a way that you can put away your work without having to take the time to lay the blocks out again next time. All you need is a large flat sheet and a lot of pins. Lay the sheet out flat and fit all of your blocks together as they should appear when the quilt is complete. Then, pin each one of the blocks securely to the sheet. This way, when you’re done quilting for the day, all you need to do is fold up the sheet and tuck it away somewhere safe. When you want to start up again, pull out the sheet and lay it back out. Your layout should remain exactly as you left it, and you can easily remove and re-pin the parts you want to work on. Make sure to take a picture of the complete layout (hang it on your corkboard!) so you know exactly where your piece needs to be put back.
10. Organize Your Most Frequently Used Sewing Tools
If you have multiple tools that you need to use every time you quilt (your scissors, pencils, etc.), keep them all in a large zipper pouch. This way, you have them all in one place and know exactly where to find them. No more Case of the Disappearing Scissors for you! You can find zipper pouches in plenty of cute styles online or in office supply stores. You can also make yourself a sewing supply case! This storage method is great if you happen to craft on the go a lot and need a way to easily transport your things without worrying you’ve forgotten something. When you’re done, you can hang the bag up from your pegboard!
Bonus Decoration Tip!
Now your quilt room is beautifully organized like it’s right out of the end of an HGTV program. Now you can breathe easy. Or, if you want to keep going, you can keep going and do a little decorating!
If you have a lot of smaller quilts that you’re not otherwise using, why not frame them and hang them on the wall? It shows off your skills to anyone who enters and really marks the space as yours. And if a project is frustrating you, you can also look to them for inspiration and reminder of what an awesome quilter you are.
Even if you don’t have your own designated quilting room, you can use plenty of these tips to keep your materials in order and easily accessible, whatever that means for you and your space. The point is to prevent a fun hobby from becoming stressful because you’re losing things or there’s too much clutter everywhere.
The whole organization process can seem daunting at first (there’s a reason professional organizers exist!), but if you break it down into small, simple steps, your crafting space will look stunning in no time. Promise.
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