Thursday, June 4, 2020

Chaos Contained...Sort of

When the “stay at home” directive came, one of my (Kara) first thoughts was that I would have lots of time to stitch. I also thought that it would be a good time to do some cleaning out and organizing in the house, but especially in my sewing room. The weeks went by, and I kept waiting for that overwhelming organizing desire to hit—it never did. What did hit was the fact that my sewing space was so dis-organized that I couldn’t spend all that stay-at-home time stitching, because my space was so disordered.

The mess on the shelves doesn't look that much different from the mess on floor!

With appliqué as our primary focus, I have a lot of fat quarters and small pieces. All those small parts were mixed in with yardage and every time I needed to pick colors, any type of arrangement I had would become a hot mess, because it was too hard to put things back in an orderly way. Thankfully, I found the Facebook Group, Clean and Organized Sewing Group, and I was inspired.

There were so many good ideas there, and one of the popular ways of storing one's fabric was by wrapping it on comic boards–cardboard pieces used to help preserve comic book collections. Those would work for my yardage, so I ordered them from the German Amazon, since I knew they would arrive here sooner than if I ordered from the US. Something got lost in translation, and I actually ordered comic book sleeves instead. So I sent those back, but the organizing mood was upon me, and I needed to run with it before it left! I checked back on the site, and found that many people folded their yardage around a ruler, so it was all the same size. I didn't have a ruler that would work that way, so I scoured the basement and found an unused cedar plank that was designed to use on a grill. It was the perfect size for the width and depth of my shelves, so I began to fold.

I figured out the depth I needed, folded the fabric to that size, folded it 
around the cedar plank, and then removed the plank.

Folding it all took about 3 days, but the size was perfect for the shelf.

The next issue to tackle was my smaller pieces. I have a lot of fat quarters of quilting cotton, but I also have a lot of silks and velvets. I had ordered some plastic bins, thinking they were shoe box size, but again, I mis-ordered. This time I kept them, because I thought I could make them work in spite of being larger than I thought. They worked perfectly for the silks, velvets, and reproduction fabrics, and they fit two on top of one another with a little shelf adjustment.

The top half of the shelf before the yardage had been folded.

Since I'd already had two semi-failures in ordering storage solutions, I decided to try and use what I had. I had always saved clementine crates and used them not just for sewing storage, but for storing household items as well. If I folded the fat quarters and smaller pieces a certain way, I could fit two in a clementine crate side by side. Scouring the house, I gathered all the crates I could find, dumping what was in them into another container. I might have left some other disorganization in my wake, but now I had a plan for taming my fat quarter frenzy.

I need to purchase another shelf to maximize this space, 
but it works for now!

In a perfect world, my clementine crates would be all be painted a lovely teal or soft grey, but if any future stitching was to be done, I needed to tame the chaos while I had the drive. It's been over a month, and the fat quarter order is still there—that might be a world record for me! 

This old steamer trunk got half a makeover so that it holds my bolts and some art supplies, but the drawers hold most of my wool and that certainly needs an organizing touch.

You can see some of the wool trying to escape on the right!

The rest of the room still has some hot spots, like a file cabinet and a general catch-all shelf, but for now I can function and create in this space. It took a couple of weeks working a little bit here and there, but now the rest of the organizing will be much easier to manage. 

How do you organize your sewing space? If you have any tips or tricks we'd love to hear them. 


  1. Oh my! I am so impressed. I too felt the pangs of wanting to organize, but somehow the feeling just faded away. I'm guessing this organization makes your creative juices flow more freely. Maybe the feeling will come to me again, but for now I will just enjoy your progress. Well done!

    1. Thank you Wendy! The feeling was definitely fleeting. Hopefully it will come back so I can clear out the rest of the joint!