Feb 172016

Patchwork Posse has a page with links to all 30 days of organizing posts, which I have failed to keep up with here or in my studio. Her site is a bit ad-heavy, but the list is a handy place to look for ideas for any specific area of organizing your space.

The Quilt Show is running weekly posts, as I mentioned at some point. Here are the latest three, all on what to do with scraps:

Week 4, scraps part a, ideas for both quilts and non-quilts. I like the fabric boxes! But if you REALLY have a lot of scraps – those dog beds would clear your space in no time.

Week 5, scraps part b, with 6 ideas for using scraps other than making a quilt (some use more scraps than others).

Week 6, more scrap ideas, all scrap quilts this time, and there are some lovely ones.

(The posts are on their blog, no need to buy a membership.)

And in my own studio, I did a rough count of UFOs. Assuming I have not missed an entire bin full somewhere (always possible), I now have 114. <gulp> I really have got to learn to spend more time finishing and less time starting! Or spend less time gardening and more time sewing. Or less time blogging … oh, wait, I already tried that.

 February 17, 2016  Posted by at 2:32 pm Organizing and Decluttering Comments Off on Organizing Update – not much progress
Jan 142016

I hope you are following Patchwork Posse’s 30 Days of Sewing Room Organizing direct from her because I have totally failed to keep up! I’m having better luck with The Quilt Show’s Let’s Get Organized series on their blog. They post an organizing tip weekly. I can maybe keep up with weekly, daily is a struggle. (Tip – sign up with The Quilt Show – basic membership is free – and you’ll get their newsletters which will let you know when the next organizing post is up – otherwise you’ll have to keep checking the blog and they post a lot.) This week is purging your stash. I decided the fabric in the cubes didn’t need a review just yet so I am focusing on the fabric still in bins.

Meanwhile, this post is intended to catch up on the 30 Days but I am already two days behind again! (The main page which was going to have all the links to posts is no longer there, I will post again if I can find it, or will make one here.) The photos below show my system (such as it is) for some of the areas covered so far.

Here’s my ironing station – made with a scrap of plywood we had on hand. I wanted 18 inches deep but we had scrap that was 15 inches wide so what you see is 15 inches deep. And it is rugged – 3/4 inch plywood! If you buy plywood for this you only need 1/2 inch. See what you can scrounge. I added two layers of cotton batting and covered with a veggie print I enjoy looking at but was unlikely to use (and it was a big enough piece). While taking this photo it occured to me I need some baskets to organize the shelves underneath. I already had these two plastic shelves and they happened to be just the right height and just the right size to hold up my board. How often does that happen? The board rests on top, so I have to be careful not to lean against it or it shifts and I have to adjust it. But it is easy to move if I get to rearranging my sewing room again.

ironing board

This one (below) is my old ironing board, now serving as a shelf. I should clear it and put it away. The book under one foot is for stability, and the spotted cloth is pinned to the original cover to cover up worn out areas.old ironing board

Here’s how I store my quilting books – totally unorganized and overflowing.


Here’s the book overflow (on the left) and magazine stash (on the right). Notice they are on the bottom shelf of these cubes, which are not strong enough for books and magazines any higher.

book overflow

Eventually I go through the magazines and either load them into magazine boxes (on the bottom of the bookshelf for now), or tear out what I want to keep (most magazines get this treatment, and I recycle the leftover parts) and either file the articles and images or put them in binders. The binders are currently piled on my office floor.


And the files are here – two file boxes and a box of unsorted papers. file boxes

Rulers – The ones I use all the time are in this rack (bought at an office supply store), which resides under my cutting table. I haven’t figured out a better spot yet, but plan to do so as I keep bumping my toes on it here. I confess, I don’t actually use the wedge ruler often, it’s here because it’s a bit long for my other ruler storage.ruler rack

Here’s where I keep all the other rulers – in this bag hung on the wall. And when I took these photos I realized it hangs onto a picture hook by it’s teeth, I think a nail would work better.

ruler bag

Here’s the inside of the bag showing the sorts of rulers I stash here.ruler bag inside

And here’s how I store my batting – up high, mostly. The cardboard boxes on the top of this shelf all hold more packaged batts.

batting 1

Here’s another top shelf with packaged batts. The plastic bin is just the right size for this shelf, and holds 6 queen size cotton batts.batting 2

Here’s a big roll of cheap poly I bought for charity quilts. Not the handiest spot, I have to drag it out to cut off a piece, but it’s out of the way.batting 3

And there’s another (smaller) roll in the corner. I think I’m set for batting for awhile.batting 4

 January 14, 2016  Posted by at 12:34 pm Organizing and Decluttering Comments Off on 30 Days of Organizing update
Jan 032016

Day 1 of Patchwork Posse’s 30 Days of Sewing Room Organizing is thread storage. Easy enough, I already have my thread in drawers. But it occurred to me that my system could stand a fresh sorting-out. So I did.


Main thread drawer system. I dusted and rearranged the drawers, putting the heavy ones on the bottom. This rack is sold for holding papers for crafting, and it isn’t really rugged enough for thread, but I’ve used it for 4-5 years now and it hasn’t fallen apart yet [knock on wood]. The coil of plastic tubing underneath is waiting to be cut up to make bobbin clips.



I bought this particular drawer set because the drawers are the perfect height to hold my favorite thread, Essentials cotton from Connecting Thread. I buy more whenever it’s on sale, but after sorting my threads I think I may have enough for awhile – there are two more drawers this full.



This drawer shows how I keep the bobbins with the thread they were wound from – at least for this thread. Snack baggies! Only catch is, these are Pfaff bobbins and I now have a Janome. So far I’ve used other threads in it, but I may have to start writing on the baggies to keep the bobbins straight.




Also in one of the drawers was this box of hand quilting thread. I haven’t touched any of them in about 15 years, but I might take it up again one of these days. But secure in this thread box they didn’t need to be in the drawers so I stashed them on my shelves. That freed up a drawer that I put at the top of the set and use for a catch-all. It holds a few odd spools that don’t fit the system, plus a drop spot for whatever I’m currently using.




I bought this drawer set from Michaels when on sale, and ended up putting thread in it. Maybe someday I can reduce the thread stash and use these drawers for something else. Like more tops waiting for quilting.




These drawers don’t hold as many spools as the plastic ones. This thread I bought at a Ricky Tims Seminar about three years ago – and haven’t used yet. Surely I’ve got a project somewhere I can try them on!




My old thread system is represented here – June Taylor wood racks. I like these (easy to see the thread) but found it hard to keep the bobbins with the threads. With taller pegs the bobbins could sit under the spools, but it didn’t work well on these racks. All these threads went into drawers.



threadracks empty

I emptied the racks (which will be put back to use someday), and got rid of the ratty old box they’d been sitting in.



drawers labelled

Then, in a final fit of organizing energy, I dug out my label-maker and labeled the plastic drawers.

Good thing both sets are on wheels – I still need to find a permanent home for them both in my studio.

 January 3, 2016  Posted by at 10:01 am Organizing and Decluttering Comments Off on Studio Organizing day 1
Jan 022016

   Every winter I take another stab at organizing my sewing room. And every winter I manage to make more of a mess without ever finishing the job. The room has reached critical mass – I’m having trouble working in it. So when I saw that Patchwork Posse was blogging 30 Days of Sewing Room Organizing, I decided it might be a good idea to follow along. Here are some photos of my room as it was yesterday:

room1 copyView as you walk in the door and look to the right. I’ve labeled a few things. The fabric wall looks pretty well organized, but it isn’t all my fabric. I fear I won’t have enough cubes once I dig out the rest.

room3The area barely seen on the right of the first photo – I call it my Etsy area. It’s for packaging and shipping but also collects odds and ends.

room2 copy  Now if you look straight ahead as you enter you see this mess. The vacuum cleaner usually resides in the guest room but until a week ago my sister and her hubby were living in it (the room, not the vacuum). The cube shelves hold up the sliding closet doors I removed from my office, serving as an extra table.room4Swing to the right as you enter, and now you are at the other end of my makeshift work table (currently serving as quilt storage). I’ve folded up a corner of the protective sheet so you can see the pile underneath. That colorful one on top is not quilted yet. The room’s windows are over your left shoulder at this point.

room5 copyWalking along the left side of the room, the quilt storage table is on the right edge of this picture. This space is full of bins of fabric earmarked for charity quilts, stray boxes, and a few UFOs. The work table on the left actually gets used.

room6 copyLooking over to your left is my smaller cutting table, and ironing board. And a few things on the floor. The trashcan is useful when I remember to put a plastic trash bag in it. The mending is my spouse’s clothes, I suppose I should make him happy and patch them ( and get them out of my room!). The maul is for splitting wood. It’s leaning against the wall next to the door to the outside, where the woodpile is. There’s a little woodstove in the corner I didn’t show (hard left as you enter the room) and I heat the whole downstairs with it.

My rulers are on the floor because I used to have a bigger cutting mat on this table and there wasn’t room for the rulers on the table. Still isn’t when I’m ironing yardage. The ironing board is a DIY version – cotton batting with a fabric cover over plywood. I’ve rested it on the two plastic shelves and it’s just the right height.

room7Here’s my store-bought ironing board, which serves as a handy shelf. I think I put it there to help hold a quilt I was quilting, but replaced it with the white extension shelf to the left of my chair. And now can’t put it away because where will I put the stuff on it? Not shown is the paperback book under one leg to keep the thing steady.

I actually do my sewing in this spot, which is why it is somewhat clear. The boxes on the table behind the machine were put there when clearing the guest room, I guess they could go back now. If you look in the back, there’s another chair, and another sewing machine.

room8 copyNow we’re standing at the wobbly ironing board looking back at my big cutting table. The tote bag sits where I set it when I arrived back from QuiltCon15 last February. Maybe one of these days I’ll unpack it and do something with the half-done projects. The strip bin collects stray strips when I cut fabric – usually edge trimmings. FUFOs is my sister’s term for Future UFOs. Isn’t that optimistic? We’ll just call them future projects. Although some are beyond the raw fabric stage.

room9 copyHere’s the middle of the sewing room. The boxes can go back in the guest room now (they contain some family artwork). There’s a pile of strips leftover from a recent project. Various bins, and yes, my Mom sent me a pile of blocks she made. Thanks Mom, like I didn’t have any UFOs myself! That pink and gray is a finished quilt – you’re looking at the back of my Riley Blake Challenge quilt. Pout – not even a finalist. And not accepted to QuiltCon either. Now what do I do with it?

room10 copy

I guess you could call this the UFO corner. Not that they are all here, but a lot of them are. Along with another sewing machine, some fabric, and even some finished quilts. There’s a folding table somewhere under the pile. It was pushed up against the other tables (where the chair is) and from the other side I lost track of how many tables I had pushed together. I spent weeks wondering where our third folding table was (the other is in my office), even asked our son if he had borrowed it. He thought I’d find it in my sewing room – ha ha – he was right! Buried under a pile of quilts.

And there’s my fancy electric fabric cutter – still in the box. There’s a challenge for myself – actually use the thing this winter!

room11 copyLooking to the right from the last shot (the fabric cubes are on the wall opposite the windows), this almost looks organized. There’s a drawer rack full of tops waiting for quilting (or in some cases a border), the fabric cubes, a [gasp] empty bin, a thread rack, my scrap system drawers (half empty, while several bins of scraps lurk here and there), and a corner of my fat quarter drawers.

room12 copyOh, don’t turn around now! Go back to admiring my stash cubes! This space is the back side of the filled space between work tables. You can also see my over-flowing bookshelf here. The two white shelves make a small work surface when placed on top of four big bins stacked two high. Except I no longer have the floor space to set it up.

room13And in the middle of it all is this plastic shelf unit, which usually holds a dozen Rubbermaid bins. I cleared four of them to give me a little space to sort out quilts, but I didn’t get very far. The stack on this end are finished, the rest not.

So there you have it, the “before” pics. My sister vacuumed in here while she was in residence and said it was a labyrinth! I wanted to use the name, Labyrinth Studio, but it’s already in use. Maybe I’ll just refer to is as my labyrinth in stead of my studio or sewing room or playroom.

 January 2, 2016  Posted by at 8:46 pm Organizing and Decluttering Comments Off on Organizing my sewing room