Sewing studio organization

There are no pictures in this post.  This is an idea post; a place for me to put some thoughts about further organization in my sewing studio so you can comment on them and let me know if any of these ideas...or other ideas that accomplish the same thing...have worked for you. 

First, I'm going to try to stop using sewing room and start calling it my studio.  It is so much more than a room to sew.  It's a room where my life happens; where all my favorite things live, and where I practice many crafts, not just sewing.  And, art comes out of there all the time, so studio seems a much more appropriate name.

I rearranged the furniture in my studio a couple weeks ago.  Here is a post while I was still putting away the last of the items that had been laying around, so the room still looks cluttered, but as I've used the room, things have found their natural homes.  A natural home is a place where I can get to something when I need it, so if it's a sewing machine foot, it lives near its machine or with similar feet, not across the room in a cabinet by itself, never to be seen again. 

Part of this was inspired by photos of other people's sewing studios.  In particular, Karen K. Buckley showed pictures of her fabulous sewing studio at her guild lecture Monday night, and it really gave me some ideas.

Fabric storage.  How do you store your fabric?  I have hundreds of yards of fabric.  Right now, my main stash is well stored in a small shelving unit, separated by color (pictures in this post).  That part is working great.  It's exposed to the air, but I've never noticed any problem with dust or anything else settling on it.  This is very close to the open bins and cubbyholes that I see a lot of quilters use to store fabric. 

But, all my specialty fabrics, like holiday fabrics and reproductions and other special themed prints are stored in plastic bins.  One of the things I've noticed is how much dead space those bins take up on the closet shelves.  Each of those bins has handles at both ends.  Those handles stick out further than the bin.  And, the space below those handles is dead space.  Plus, the bin doesn't exactly fit the shelf, so there's dead space between the top of the bin and the bottom of the shelf above.  I don't have room for dead space.  So, the bins have to go.  The plan is to refold and stack my specialty fabrics, just like my regular stash and divide each specialty group with a piece of cardboard, creating a little cubby for that grouping of fabrics, and taking up a lot less space than storing it in the bin.

Batting scraps.  I have a bin of leftover strips of batting.  I always say I'm going to piece them together to make larger pieces of batting...but I've really only done that once or twice.  I'm good about going to the bin when I only need a small piece, but I'm less good about piecing those small pieces together to make larger pieces.  I think I'm going to spend one day and take all those batting scraps that are similar weight/color and sew them into one big piece of batting to cut from so I can move it out. 

Thread.  How do you store thread?  Is it on one of those peg things where there's a peg for each spool?  Do you toss it all into a drawer and then dig for what you want?  Thread isn't much of a problem for me anymore.  About three years ago, I decided I had too much thread.  I decided to stop buying and start using.  To show my progress, I devoted a 4 gallon trashcan to empty thread spools and cones.  It's about 2/3 full now.  Now, I only buy thread for specific projects.  Now that it's a manageable quantity, I need to focus on how I store it and get it stored better.  Karen K Buckley stores hers in one of those plastic rolling bins that has shallow drawers and she sorts by color.  I also sort by color.  But, my thread will only fill one drawer in a rolling cart, so that's going to be an easy one to organize, I think.

Attachments and sewing machine.  This one is more of a problem.  I have more sewing machines than I can comfortably store.  There are 5 machines plus a serger set up so that I could easily sew with any one of them in the studio.  There is a full shelf of them in the sewing room closet.  And, there are more, stacked in the garage.  Where possible, each one is stored with a set of attachments.  The rest of the attachments are in a rolling bin, one drawer for short shank attachments, one for slant shank attachments, and one for Greist attachments.  There's a seperate rolling bin, just for Bernina attachments and other machine quilting supplies.  Unfortunately, the griest attachments are next to the Bernina machine and the Bernina attachments are next to the Two spool machine.  Those are things that haven't found a natural home for.  The goal for machines is to get them placed in such a way that I can grab any one I want, quickly and easily, attachments included...a grab and go system.

My hope is that reorganizing in the studio closet, and in the studio itself, will make it easier to sit and work on a project because I'll spend less time hunting for supplies.  We'll see.  I suspect that organizing is one of those things that's hard for every crafter, no matter what craft they practice.  I've reached that point where I buy almost nothing.  I already have everything I need to do anything I want.  I'm not tempted in fabric stores or at quilt shows.  I can buy, if I see something I want.  But, it really has to wow me.  No more collecting, just to build stash. 

Hopefully, better organization will make it easier to store and finish my UFO's.  After all, if I can't find it, I can't finish it.

Everybody have a good evening.  My short writing break is about over and I need to get back to the daily grind.  Why is it so much easier to write about getting organized than it is to find the time to do it.  Maybe I'll enact Bonnie Hunter's 5 minute power purge plan and try to knock this out in 5 minute blocks.  Empty a bin now and empty another one later.  Refold and stack...Feel the fabric.  And, eliminate some of the stuff I know I'm never, ever, ever going to sew with. 

My possessions are a burden sometimes.



Sandi Colwell said...

I use my batting scraps as dust cloths! Good luck with organizing. I did mine right after Christmas. Makes a world of difference.

Kath said...

I am very much a beginner in my first sewing room, but I love my Ikea roller carts with fine mesh baskets. Today the electrician installed extra lighting. He went to a lot of trouble to place the lighting track exactly where it would illuminate both my cutting table and my sewing space.

lindaroo said...

I agree, your sewing room is definitely worthy of its new designation as a studio!
When you store thread, do you keep filled bobbins with their corresponding spools? Have you seen a way to keep bobbins organized?
Very nice way to start the new year!

Becky said...

I applaud your designation of the Studio! When I converted the bedroom to my sewing/craft space, I called it my Studio, and one of my facebook friends informed my that it couldn't be a dedicated "studio" unless lessons were given from it. Well, I can't see one as inadequate in quilting as I am ever giving lessons....so I split the difference and call mine my Roomio. I'm not sure that my friends' definition has any merit...I haven't bothered to look it up, but since she was terminally ill, I didn't comment. Now that she is gone, I kinda like the Roomio....it makes me think fondly of her.

Have a great weekend doing things you love. Did you feel any of the earthquakes?

Love ya,

Marei said...

I have a "studio"...when I'm not calling it the quilt cave.. because art comes out of my space, too. And fabric storage? All my fabric is out on shelves, in rainbow fashion, but I don't stack my fabric horizontally. My fabric is vertical on the shelves. I never have that game of "pull out a piece near the bottom of the stack and have to refold all the pieces I messed up". Nor do I ever have the leaning tower of Pisa. All fabric (not scraps)gets folded the same way and fits nicely on the shelves where it's easy to retrieve (and put back). I agree those plastic bins waste a lot of space especially if the box is angled. I don't like the handles sticking out either. Thread is minimal. Like you I only buy "color" thread for a specific project...and it's all stored on a thread spool caddy. Hangs on the wall next to the machine. Strips, squares and ephemra lives in drawers under the sewing table. They're out of the way but I can get to them easily. And I hang rulers on the wall. Definitely more than you wanted to know, eh?

Anonymous said...

I'm not a quilter but have sewn for decades and make a lot of things for wearing and use around the house. You should see my sewing room! I use it for all kinds of crafting and housework. I love it and find real relaxation and joy in cleaning it after every project or two. Many times every day. I also have lots of beautiful framed artwork on the walls. Your studio should be the best looking room in the house in my opinion.

Carla said...

I sew need to get my area organized! I wish the quilt/office elf would come in and do it.