31 Days to an Organized Sewing Space
Day 1: Discard broken/old supplies
Test your marking tools, fabric glues, and spray adhesives. If they're dried up, out of ink, or discolored, throw them in the trash. If you have old rotary-cutter blades, broken needles, or rusted pins, put them in a sturdy container, such as an old prescription bottle, before tossing them to reduce the risk of cutting yourself when taking out the garbage.
Day 2: Clean your cutting mat
Over time, your cutting mat can develop a lint buildup. If you find this has happened to yours, rub an eraser over your mat to remove the fibers.
Day 3: Change your machine needle and rotary-cutter blades
For snag-free sewing, change your machine needle after stitching with it for eight hours. Replace your rotary-cutter blade as soon as you see it skipping threads in your cuts.
Day 4: Clean your sewing machine
Keep your machine in tip-top shape with regular cleaning. Reference your machine manual for the details or schedule a professional servicing.
Day 5: Organize sewing machine parts
For each sewing machine you own, get a small plastic storage container to hold the manual, accessories, cords, and add-ons. Label each container with the name of the machine, and place the containers in an easy-to-access spot. For more ideas, see here.
Day 6: Wind extra bobbins
Prepare for hours of sewing by winding extra bobbins of your most-used thread colors and pairing them with matching spools of thread.
Day 7: Corral thread
Take time to rewind loose spools of thread, including securing thread ends in spool notches. Organize thread by type (piecing, quilting, or embroidery) so you can easily find what you need. Ideally, thread should be stored away from dust and direct sunlight.
Day 8: Make a supply run
Take stock of supplies you use often, such as thread in your favorite colors, machine needles, and rotary cutter blades, and purchase more if you're running low.
Day 9: Hide clutter
If visual clutter causes you stress, hide it. Hang a curtain in front of an open closet or messy cabinet. Swap clear storage bins with solid baskets. If all else fails, arrange the clutter in rainbow color order.
Day 10: Organize acrylic templates and rulers
Keep your favorite rulers and templates at the ready by adding storage for them to your work space or cutting table. See ideas here.
Day 11: Tackle fusibles and interfacings
Many rolls of fusibles and interfacings have packaging that's not easily reused once opened. To contain what you have, cut an empty cardboard tube into 6"-long sections. Slide a roll inside each shortened tube and mark on the tube what is inside. Store the rolls on a shelf or in a magazine holder or wine rack. Consider putting your most-used roll on a paper towel holder in your work space.
Day 12: Organize your drawers
Drawers can quickly become messy hiding places. Use small containers in drawers to keep loose tools in place. Save the top drawer for your most-used notions and corral less frequently accessed items, such as sewing machine instructions and accessories, in lower drawers.
Day 13: Label batting
If you save batting scraps to use in future projects, take the time to measure each scrap, write the measurements on a small slip of paper, and safety-pin the slip to the batting scrap. This will save you time down the road.
Day 14: Clean your iron and ironing board cover
If you tend to use a lot of fusible adhesives, spray starch, or fabric spray, it's important to clean your iron frequently. While the iron is off, wipe it with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust. Turn the iron on high and rub the soleplate with a dry towel until buildup is removed. For your ironing board cover, refer to the manufacturer's washing instructions.
Day 15: Keep scissors sharp
Take a moment to designate each pair of scissors in your sewing space for either fabric or paper. To sharpen fabric scissors, cut through a piece of sandpaper or several layers of aluminum foil multiple times and wipe the blades clean.
Day 16: Refold stored fabric
If fabric is stored too long folded in one way, it can develop permanent creases and possibly weaken or fade threads along the folds. Periodically take the time to refold stored fabric and return it to the shelf.
Day 17: Manage refills
Refill your bottle of spray starch. Label each bottle with the date you bought the starch so you can be sure you're using up the oldest starch first.
Day 18: Corral cords
Keep cords in your sewing space neat and compact by adding reusable cord ties to each one. This will reduce tripping hazards and make it easy to pack your supplies for a retreat. You can find hook-and-loop tape ties at most home and office stores.
Day 19: Clean your work space.
Keep your work space clutter-free by storing only your most-used and favorite supplies close at hand. If you have tools in multiples, consider storing only one in sight and moving the extras to a nearby drawer or cabinet for future use.
Day 20: Create a catchall
Designate a contained area in your sewing space—a small basket or tray, perhaps—where you can temporarily stash supplies until you have time to deal with them. Keep the catchall out in the open so you don't forget to sort through it periodically.
Day 21: Assemble a sewing kit
Make it easy to sew on the go by gathering basic supplies in a small portable container or tote. Fill it with needles, pins, snips, spools of thread in neutral colors, thimble, marking tool, seam ripper, and pincushion, and store the tote where you can easily grab it on your way out the door.
Day 22: Label your storage
Take the time to label bins, drawers, or other storage containers with a basic description of what is inside. You'll be able to find all your supplies easily and to return them to their proper places when you're done using them.
Day 23: Tackle books and magazines
Organize books by topic, such as a technique or pattern type. If you bought a book or magazine for a specific pattern, mark the pattern with a sticky note so you can easily find it in the future. If you're running out of space, consider donating books to your local library. Or, if you want to recycle a magazine containing a project, tear out the project pages and keep them in a binder.
Day 24: Organize patterns
Store paper patterns in sheet protectors in a three-ring binder so it is easy to see them all when you flip through it. If you own a lot of patterns, consider organizing them in the binder by occasion, holiday, or technique using tabs to separate the sections. For digital patterns, create a system of folders on your computer hard drive.
Day 25: Capitalize on unused space
Look for space in your sewing room that could accommodate storage. Maybe add a hanging shoe organizer to the back of a door or inside a closet, install a pegboard or floating shelves on a wall by your sewing machine, or slide a small bookcase or mount a mini design wall in an unused corner.
Day 26: Organize works in progress
Whether they're projects you're actively working on or ones that have been hidden away for years, correctly storing unfinished projects can help you finish them faster. For more tips on organizing projects, visit here.
Day 27: Start a donation box
Designate a box for fabrics you no longer want, supplies you won't use, or quilt projects you'll never finish. When the box is full, give it to an organization or person who can make use of what's inside.
Day 28: Organize your closet
Put your least-used supplies on high shelves or in the back of a closet to make the supplies you use frequently more accessible. Bookends or sturdy bins can help keep things organized on shelves. Use pants hangers to store large cutting mats, rulers, fabric yardage, and quilt tops waiting to be quilted.
Day 29: Stash paperwork
If you have instruction manuals for your tools, file them away for future reference. (Or, if you don't have the space for all the manuals, check to see if any are available online. If so, recycle printed manuals.) Get a magazine holder or small file organizer to hold current paperwork, such as paper patterns or templates, coupons for your quilt store, or information about quilt-related events.
Day 30: Dust and vacuum
Sewing creates a lot of dust. To keep your lungs healthy and your fabric and supplies dust-free, set up a schedule for periodically cleaning your work space. Deep-clean by dusting all surfaces, your sewing machine, and exposed fabric and supplies and vacuuming to pick up any loose threads or fabric scraps.
Day 31: Take inventory
Create an inventory list in a digital format (in an email or the Notes app on your phone) of your specialty rulers and templates, die cuts, sewing machine accessories, embroidery hoops, or any other supplies you may store out of sight so you can refer to it while you're shopping or at a class. It may save you from purchasing a tool you already own.