How to Organize Your Sewing Equipment

Sewing is a great way to spend your time, creating new clothes, quilts or craft projects, but it can also be frustrating trying to keep it all organized. Here are some ideas for getting all those notions, patterns and fabric organized.

Seems like with every sewing project, our collection of notions multiplies. Sewing boxes are never big enough. Spread out all the notions on the table, and sort the types: buttons, snaps, thread, zippers, elastic etc. There are many inexpensive options for storage, especially with the new reusable/disposable containers that come in a variety of sizes. Label the boxes, top and sides. They can be stored in a larger box, or on a shelf, and still easy to find. Plastic bags with zip closers are good to keep things organized within each box, such as all the white buttons in one bag.

If you have a lot of thread, it might pay to invest in a box made specifically for it. They usually have pegs to hold the spools, and it helps keep the thread from getting tangled. It’s also a good idea to buy extra bobbins. Keep some bobbins filled with the basic colors that you sew with all the time.

Try to keep your sewing box just for the things you need for every project like scissors, rotary cutters, seam rippers, pins, needles, tape measure, rulers, tape and marking pens and pencils. Keep a couple spools of thread in it for quick hand sewing projects. Think of it as your toolbox, and not a supply closet. It’s too easy to just keep putting more things in there that you eventually find yourself without room for your scissors. Pins are a challenge, even with a pincushion. I like to use a magnetic storage box for them. It is easy to make, by buying some of the craft magnet sheets, cutting it to the size of the bottom of a small box with a lid, and place it on the bottom. I also like to have a small magnetic strip stuck to my sewing machine to hold a few pins, for those times I forgot the pincushion or box at the cutting table.

Patterns are a challenge to keep organized. Once you take a new pattern out, it’s almost impossible to get it to fit back in the envelope. One way to solve the problem is to buy large manila envelopes, then cut the original envelope, open it up, and tape the front and back to the envelope. Both sides of the original envelope should fit on the front of the manila envelope, sometimes requiring only a slight trim around the edges. Now you have plenty of room to store the pieces. Then the envelopes can be stored in a file box.

If you have a pattern that has multiple sizes (especially with children’s patterns), or multiple versions, and you will eventually want to sew all the variations, trace off all the pieces before you use the pattern. Use colored tissue paper (like you use for gifts) and assign a different color for the different sizes. Always use the same color tissue for the same size pattern and don’t forget to label the pieces the same way they are on the original. Store each size in a new envelope, labeled with the size, pattern name, number and brand and file it near the original. Keep the original intact for reference.

Fabric collections can be intimidating. It’s best not to store the fabric in sealed plastic bags, as it needs to “breath”. The cardboard or plastic under-the-bed boxes work well. But, it’s a good idea to make sure if you’re using the plastic ones that you take the fabric out from time to time to check for mildew. The fabric can be sorted by type or color, depending on your preference. Label the boxes and you can make a chart with swatches and attach to the outside of each box, or collect in a notebook. You can note how much of each fabric you have left on the swatch sheet.

Once things are sorted and organized, you’ll have more time for sewing those projects that have been sitting around in boxes. You might even get inspired for some new sewing projects.

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