It’s January. The holidays are over. It’s cold out. What do you do? Organize of course! There is something about the start of a fresh year that just makes you want to get a fresh start on your organizing. Walmart challenged me to complete and write about a New Years Organizing project–and I just knew I had to do my sewing room.
Now I live in an old house, and old houses have quirks. One of ours is the room that my sewing stuff lives in. You see you come up my back stairs from the kitchen and you are dumped straight into a spare room (that is also my photography studio for blogging and general all purpose storage room). That room leads into a bathroom which basically winds up being a hallway (yes, I have a bathroom with 3 doors in it–one back into the spare room, one into Princess’s room and one into the sewing room). That leads into the sewing room, which really isn’t just a sewing room, it’s the pass through to the front hallway for the upstairs, and it has the stairway that leads up to our converted attic master bedroom. It’s a large enough room that if it didn’t have 3 doors, a window and a set of stairs in it, well, it would be a bedroom. As a matter of fact I think before the previous owners did the attic conversion and added the stairs it probably was a bedroom. But now it’s this room where folks walk through on two axis all the time, so the center of the room has to remain free, and the walls are all broken up with windows, doors and stairs. It’s just a hard room to use effectively. So it’s become the sewing room but it’s also a spot where lots of stuff that doesn’t have a home gets dumped. Ick.
As you can see in the pictures things are in bins and boxes, but without any real organization. Mending, alterations and things saved for future projects were piled to the sky. I don’t have a clear work surface, I can’t find what I need, and the chaos is just depressing.
It was time to get organized! I headed off to my local Walmart with just a vague idea of what I needed. With organization shopping before you have a clear idea of what you need is really a chancy way to go. It’s easy to buy a lot of things and then have them not quite meet your needs once you get into the middle of the project. But I knew that I had lots of little things (various notions, tools, etc) that would need to be organized and figured I could just buy the things to deal with that and then go back later if necessary. Plus with Walmarts 90 day return policy I knew that if I purchased anything and it didn’t work I could just return it get my money back.
Since it was a sewing room reorganization I started out in the sewing department. They had several items that I knew I needed–thread and bobbin boxes–that are specialty sewing items. Then I hit the rest of the store. And when I say “rest” I mean all of the store. Organizing supplies can be found in many areas–not just the “storage” department. Places like the home and laundry aisles, the bathroom fixtures, hardware department, sporting goods, kitchenwares. . . just because a box is supposed to be used for fishing lures or a bin is meant to organize things inside your fridge doesn’t mean you can’t put it somewhere else for a totally different use!
In the end I chose the thread boxes and bobbin boxes from the sewing department, the small Sterilite 5 drawer units from the organization section (where all the plastic bins are) and an organizer that was meant for nuts, bolts, nails and fasteners from the hardware department.
Then it was time to get going!
1. I took stock of what I actually had. There was a lot.
2. I sorted out all the mending, alterations and things being kept for use in projects (like the beat up bean bag chair that I’m saving for the filling so I can make a wonderbox cooker). First there was a rough sorting into piles: Mending & alterations, project supplies and “what the heck is this doing here?”. These would have to be sorted further, but initially I was interested in clearing off the table quickly.
3. Then it was time to go through the various notions and supplies. I did some of this by making piles on the floor for the big categories (you can see a bit of them in the bottom of picture 2)–things like elastic, zippers, cords, bias tape. Those were all bagged up in gallon sized zippered baggies. Then I moved on to all the smaller stuff. Thread was organized into the thread boxes. One for specialty thread, one for basic colors, one for all the other colors. Bobbins went in the bobbin box. Then I started sorting things directly into drawers.
4. Once things were in drawers I pulled out my old label maker, but it had mysteriously died and new batteries didn’t fix the problem. Undeterred I decided to go old school with paper, pen and clear tape. All the bins were labeled with what went inside. There are still several empty drawers, but don’t worry–I’m sure I will find things to fill them up eventually!
5 & 6. Now came the patterns. They were overflowing the box I use to store them–I really needed at least two boxes. Organizing doesn’t always mean buying something new– I knew that I had two similar boxes I had purchased at Walmart years ago being utilized elsewhere in the house. One had some gardening books that I had initially used a lot and wanted on hand but now were just for reference, and the other holds my cookie cutters. I took the gardening things out and found them new homes (the bookshelf, out in the shed etc), then put half the patterns inside. Next I swapped the rest of the patterns with the cookie cutters, so I have 2 boxes that match with the patterns inside and one with cookie cutters to go back down in the basement.
7. The big bins full of fabric, more notions, batting etc were a pain. First I went through them all and separated them out into large cuts of fabric (many of which I didn’t even remember buying–like the eye chart print! What was I planning to do with that?) smaller scraps of fabric/reclaimed fabric, interfacing and batting.
8. Once that was done I repacked things back into the bins (again organizing with what I had–and all purchased years ago at Walmart! This stuff really lasts). I took one of the short bins and put all the gallon zippered baggies of notions inside-that went under the sewing table. Then everything got labeled–with paper, pen and packing tape (since these were bigger labels). Since these are things that I would only take out of I had a project, I decided they didn’t need to be in “prime real estate”–instead of the sewing room I put them in the very back of my son’s deep closet. That way they are organized, labeled but out of the way.
The table was now clear, the tools, notions and fabric were now out of the way–that left the huge piles of mending and such. I had no idea what was wrong with most of it. For some items it was easy to discern what the issue was (like huge gaping holes in the underarms of a sweater) but for others it took some searching. I knew I’d never remember so for each item I wrote on a slip of paper what the repair or alteration was that needed to be done and pinned it on. All of that work was placed back into boxes and stacked by the wall. Maybe now I’ll actually DO some of the repairs.
While doing all this organization I realized that there was some information missing that I should have. Sure, I have a drawer full of sewing needles, but how do I know which one to choose for which machine sewing job? How do I use those plier things to set snaps again? Do I even know where my sewing machine manual is?
It was time to do a bit of information management along with my “stuff” management. I needed a sewing binder!
The next time I went, I picked up a nice, clean white binder at Walmart. I knew I wanted my sewing machine manual in there (if you have never actually read your sewing machine manual–it’s got tons of useful info. Like what all those different presser feet do, and how to clear a jam and set the tension). I used white duct tape to create a “tab” all along the side of the manual, punched some holes using a piece of 3 ring binder paper and a guide and voila!
I hit the internet for some key information to include in my binder. Let me tell you–it was harder than I thought to find copyright free information to print out and use. And forget about the rigamarole to get permission to provide that information here. So I did my best for you all and compiled a list of links that should take you directly to various information you might like to include in your very own sewing binder!
Free Sewing Binder Printables
General Sewing Information Printables:
Directions for Specific Sewing Tools:
This is the finished sewing table area:
I will eventually need some shelves as well, but currently I have everything I need on top of the table in easy reach–then underneath I have my patterns, my basic sewing basket (which has mending supplies inside as well), the bin with the notions, the serger my sister gave me and a trash can.
Now that my sewing space is all organized, maybe I’ll get some sewing and mending done!
Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.