organizing studio

Sew Organized 2012 Day 7

The Wrap Up

Well, we've come to the end of Sew Organized 2012.  So far this week we've

  • identified our biggest problem area
  • de-cluttered by donating some items, trashing others and keeping the best for ourselves
  • sorted the keepers into like groups
  • found containers to organize the keepers by recycling, re-purposing and purchasing

But I must tell you that organizing is never done.  It is kinda like doing the dishes or the laundry.  You must keep on top of it or chaos will reign. 

Keeping Control

I've shared some of my favorite items to re-purpose and recycle and now I want to share some of what I do to keep the studio from getting out of hand.

  • put tools away at the end of each day
  • clean the floors daily
  • put projects together in a laundry basket
  • lay out project for the next day
  • make sure the cutting table is cleaned and ready to go for the next morning

Taking the time to create some daily organizing rituals for yourself goes a long way in helping you keep the studio in an organized state.  And if things start to get out of hand you know exactly what to do to whip it back into shape.

I hope you have enjoyed this short organizing series.  To help you stay organized I will be posting more organizing tips throughout the year.

I leave you with this collage photo of some of my favorite organizing from my studio.

Sew Organized Day 6

Ok, so I totally blew last week.  Went and got myself sick–note to self—no more Mexican food.  It doesn't like me anymore.  Haven't felt that bad in a long time.  But it sure tasted good.  So we will continue to take a look at ideas for recycling and re-purposing.  Here are a few items I like to recycle and re-purpose.


  • peanut butter jars–hubby eats lots and lots of peanut butter and I can't stand to throw out those perfectly good jars.  They are great for storing buttons.
  • cans–along with the peanut butter hubby also drinks gallons of coffee every day.  A few brands of coffee still comes in cans, but even the plastic coffee containers work great in the sewing room, or any other room for that matter.  Vegetable cans of all sizes are great.  Try using them for storing pens, artist brushes, scissors or rulers.
  • boxes–I love boxes of all sizes.  If I can recycle a box and turn it into something else I do.  When I need a container, boxes are the first thing I think of.  My favorite?  Recycle USPS medium priority mail boxes.  Seal the ends and cut off the top and you have a great container for papers.  Don't want to look at the USPS logo?  Paint it or cover with fabric.  There you go, a great new container for pennies.


To reuse for a different purpose.  My friends like to tease me that I have an aversion to using items for their intended purpose.  Not so.  I just like to think of other ways to use things.  Just because it is called a drawer, doesn't mean that is all it is good for.  So here are a few of my favorite things to re-purpose:

  • drawers–why not.  Here I'm using a drawer I found in the trash as a book shelf.  Works for me.

  • old soda crate–This crate has served many purposes; currently it is above my coffee bar holding paper towels and tissues.

  • plastic bag/wrap organizer–found this at marked down at Lowes and it also holds magazines.

  • shutters–hanging on the wall it becomes a magazine rack.

  • Hum, starting to see a magazine theme going on here.  I do have quite a collection, so I have to get inventive in finding ways to store them.

If you missed any of the previous posts, check them out here:

 Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Come back tomorrow and we will finish up our organizing adventure.  See you then.

Sew Organized 2012 Day 5

Today we get to one my most favorite organizing activity, all the little bits and pieces that come with sewing and crafting.  And it seems that every year there are more and more of those bits and pieces.  Here are just a few of these many items:

  • bobbins
  • thread
  • needles
  • paint
  • buttons

You have many choices on how to keep all these things organized and accessible.  You can:

  • search your home for items to recycle and re-purpose
  • head on over to America's favorite store–IKEA
  • beat feet to your favorite thrift store
  • check out the local dollar store and pick up some inexpensive pieces

Me, I like to first try and find items I already have to recycle and re-purpose and pick up other items from the thrift store. Occasionally I do have to break down and purchase new items, but that is a last resort.

Here are some ways that I have organized those many items to find their way into my studio.

My thread cabinet.  My sewing machine dealer told me that exposure to UV light weakens the thread so I keep as much as possible in a cabinet.  The thread on top is overflow; the cabinet is jammed packed with thread.

A recycled plastic coffee creamer container.  This is hanging on the wall next to a sewing machine and holds tools I like to keep handy.

A spice jar with zipper pulls.

Little drawer unit with needles.

A shutter re-purposed for magazines.

So, take a few minutes and think about how you can recycle and re-purpose things you would normally throw away.

Tomorrow we will look at other items I've recycled and re-purpose in my studio.

And if you've missed the previous posts, check them out here.

 Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4



Sew Organized 2012 Day 4

The sewing area

If my studio was a living being, the sewing area would be the heart.  Not much can get accomplished without my collection of sewing machines.

There are many ways you can arrange your sewing area and a lot depends on what type of sewing you do.  I like to borrow a page from kitchen layouts when planning my sewing area.  There are 3 common kitchen layouts.

  • Corridor arrangement
  • L-shape arrangement
  • U-shape arrangement

My current set up is a modified u-shape.  I have 4 industrial machines, 3 that I use on a regular basis.  So I've set them up so that those 3 are easy to access.  The fourth is slightly less accessible, but still workable.

The two machines above form part of the U

And these two form the rest of the U.  The machine on the right is the least used machine and it can be a little tight in there, but it is not too bad.

With this modified u-shape arrangement I can easily access all the machines with just one task chair.  Not only does this cut down on the expense of extra chairs, but since space is tight, they are not constantly in the way.

So take some time to think about the type of sewing you do and which arrangement might work best for you.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do you share your space with anyone else? 
  • Do more than one person sew at a time?
  • Do you need extra support behind the machine or on one side of the machine?
  • Do you like facing a wall or out into the room?
  • Are there electrical outlets close by?

In my e-book Sew Organized you will find more detailed information about ways to arrange your sewing area along with many more organizing ideas.

If you've missed the first 3 days of Sew Organized 2012, check out these posts to catch up:

 Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

I think that is enough for one day.  Tomorrow we will solider on and do some organizing of little bits & pieces.


Sew Organized Day 3

Arranging Space

I hope you had a restful evening and are ready to continue whipping your studio into shape.  If you need to, finish painting any furniture and fixture pieces from yesterday.  They can finish drying while you finish sorting through the keepers.

Now you can move onto some more fun stuff, arranging your studio space.  You have several options on how you attack this:

  • Plan everything out on paper in detail
  • Measure and do a quick rough plan
  • Put furniture into place and see how you like it

Choose a method that works for you and start moving things into place.  In my Sew Organized e-book I go into detail about the different ways you can arrange your space.  Arranging your equipment and furniture will depend on how you use the space; what type of sewing you do:

  • Slipcovers
  • Drapery
  • Clothing
  • Quilting
  • Crafts

 Some types of sewing requires a large flat table surface and some don't.  Arrange your space so that your primary sewing needs are met.  Secondary needs can be accommodated with some simple re-arranging if necessary.

Once you've arranged your space, give it a test drive for a few days.  During this test drive, make note of any tweaks you would like to make.  As you continue to work in your space you will make more tweaks.  Maybe you really don't like facing a wall when you sew.  Just because an arrangement seems best on paper, doesn't mean it works in real life.  If it doesn't feel good, change it!  Nothing is carved in stone.

So over the next few days, spend as much time as possible in your fresh new studio getting a feel for how it works and how it feels to you.

Starting tomorrow, we will take a look at the different areas of the studio in more detail.  So do come back for some great ideas and tips.

Sew Organized Day 2

Hopefully you've finished your painting and purging.  If not, do finish that up before moving on to the next phase.  You don't want to get too many things going at once.  That is a sure fire way to get overwhelmed and give up.

Painting Furniture

If you are anything like a lot of us, most of your studio furniture pieces comes from many different sources.  Hand –me-downs, thrift store, or maybe even road kill.  In this case I like to paint everything to give it a more cohesive look. 

If the weather is good enough (like it is here in Florida) move everything outside and give it a couple coats of your favorite paint color.  If not, put down some drop cloths and paint away.

Sort and Organize Keepers

While the paint is drying is a good time to sort through the items you put in your keep pile.  Here are a few tips to help make this go easier:

Sort like items together—all the threads together, needles with needles, pins with pins.  In this situation, segregation is a good thing.

Look around to see what type of storage containers you can recycle that meets your needs

Make a list of storage supplies/containers you need.  Be sure and measure your space so you don't purchase something to small or to large.

I like to use repurposed/recycled storage containers if possible.  You can spend a fortune on storage items and  I would rather spend that money of more sewing items.  So before spending money, see what you can reuse, recycle or repurpose.  You will be surprised at what you can come up with.

Before calling it a day give your painted pieces one final coat if necessary.  Its been a long day, so go relax and will see you back tomorrow.

My favorite repurposed storage.

Sew Organized 2012 Day 1

The start of Sew Organized 2012 is here.  But if you are like me, you won't get knee deep into this until tomorrow, Monday.  But before we jump in and start doing the fun stuff there are some tedious, not so fun work to do first.


If you plan to beautify you space with a new paint job, I suggest you do that first, before you go and get everything perfectly organized.  'Cause I know you don't want to tear it all apart once everything is organized just to paint.

So think about what color will work for you.  Do you want a bold energizing color or do you need something more calm and soothing.  Do check out the paint with primer all in one.  I was a little skeptical about this, but used it when painting our house this summer and was really impressed.

In a perfect world you would have a completely empty room to paint, but my world isn't perfect and I'm betting yours isn't either.  So you just have to do the best you can and work around what is in the room.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • move out as much as you can
  • move all remaining items into the center of the room
  • cover everything with a tarp
  • cut in the corners and ceiling
  • paint the walls
  • let dry and paint second coat if necessary


While the paint is drying, start purging your collection of stuff.  If you do some research you will find many ways on how to purge, but here is what I do:

  • move everything into a central location; preferably in the sewing room if there is space
  • as you go through your stuff, make a quick, gut reaction on each piece
    • keep it–do you still love the piece?  Is the color and style still to your liking?  If so, put it in the keep pile
    • trash it–items that are broken beyond repair and have no usefulness should be trashed
    • donate it–you don't like it anymore and question why you bought it in the first place.  Pass it on to someone else
    • maybe–you're not really sure about this piece.  You don't love it, but you don't hate it either.  Set it aside for now

By now you need a break.  Go grab a cup of coffee and maybe a snack.  See you back in a few minutes.

Are you back now?  Good.  So you've maybe painted your studio and sorted through your stuff in your one problem area, creating piles to keep, trash, donate and a maybe pile.  Now we deal with these piles.

  • trash pile–take it out to the trash right now.  If you keep it around you will be tempted to go through it again and maybe pull some stuff out.
  • donate pile–bundle this pile up and take out to your car.  This will keep you from going through and second guessing yourself.  Drop off at a donation center as soon as possible
  • keep pile–bundle these up and set aside for now.  We will get to sorting them soon.

Now it is time to deal with the maybe pile.  This is probably the largest pile you have.  It is easy to decide what you like and don't like, but it is those items that lie somewhere in between that are difficult.  And sometimes it is hard to let go of things.  Why?  Well usually there are several reasons for this:

  • you think one day you will finish that project or use that unique piece of something
  • you feel guilty about getting rid of it
  • you think about all the money you spent on it

Well, if you really wanted to finish that project, you would have done so by now.  And if you really have to feel guilty about something,  there are more serious things to feel guilty about.  Finally, holding on to it won't get you any money back. 

So go through the maybe pile again and try to be ruthless.  Here is one way to look at it–if you were moving across country and had to pay to move it, would you?  If not, let it go. Besides more good things can't come into your life if it is already crowded with other things.

As a last step to the purging process, take the remaining items in the maybe pile and pack away in storage boxes and tubs.  Seal the container and date it.  If within a year you haven't used or needed any of these items, let them go.

Ok, your probably tired and sick of this by now.  So go relax and enjoy the rest of your day.  Come back tomorrow and we will continue our organizing adventure.

Sew Organized 2012–Plan of Attack

Hopefully by now you've identified your biggest and worst hot spot in your studio.  But don't jump in just yet.  Jumping in without a plan of attack will probably make things worse.  Instead, think about this for a minute or two.  What do you want to accomplish on this organizing mission.  Improve the looks of your studio?  Clean out all the excess crap stuff?  Organize your paperwork?  Give this some serious thought before jumping in.  No sense in spending your time doing all this work in vain.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for Sew Organized 2012 week.

  • Make a list of t things you want to accomplish
  • Prioritize your list–list the most important items first.  Or the one that will make the biggest impact
  • Think about what you will need to accomplish you mission.  But don't buy anything just yet.  You probably have items you can repurpose
  • Make a tentative schedule for the week.  But keep in mind, we have a tendency to schedule more that we can realistically accomplish

Once you've done all this, forget about it for a while.  Let your subconscious work at solving some of your issues.  It can come up with solutions for you.

Well, I've given you a lot to think about.  But don't worry, we will cover all of this during the week. So see you tomorrow.

And don't forget, leave a comment so I can add you to the participants.

Sew Organized 2012–Pep Talk

Just thought I would pop in and give a little pep talk about Sew Organized 2012 so that come Sunday we can all hit the ground running. 

Sometimes trying to organized your sewing space can be a little over whelming.  It seems that you take a 1 step forward and many, many steps backwards.  There can be so much to do.  Where do you start?  How to you stay focused and not get side tracked.

Here is my suggestion:  start with the area that is bugging you the most.  Is there one are that is a complete eye sore!  An area that gives you an anxiety attack every time you see it?

Is there an area that if you got it organized it would improve your attitude and productivity dramatically.  Or an area that you are totally embarrassed for others to see?  Then start with that area.  Not only will you feel like you've accomplished something, you will be motivated to keep going.

So take a long look around your space; identify that area that causes you so much pain and get ready to kick some butt!  While you are at it, go ahead and comment so that I can add you to the Sew Organized 2012 links on the sidebar.

Sew Organized 2012

Now that Christmas is over, I've started thinking about my annual organizing ritual.  I love to clean out the cobwebs, eradicate the dust bunny colonies and give everything a fresh new look.  Must be some of those old military habits lingering around.

After 5 years of heavy duty organizing, re-arranging, painting and such, I don't have a whole lot to do this year.  Just making room for some new interest and some minor tweaking.  I'm still happy with the colors I painted last year, so no painting.  YEAH! having to move everything and paint the studio is a major PITA!

But there is always room for improvement, right?  Sew, I'm declaring the week of Jan 8-14  Sew Organized 2012 week.I will be performing the annual clean out and organize ritual.  And I invite you to join me!  Take time to whip your sewing room/studio into shape and make the most of the space you have and make it work for you.  During this week I'll be sharing some of my favorite organizing tips from my e-book Sew Organized.  I'll help you focus on your hot spots—you know, the ones that keep driving you crazy–and finally create a great, functional space to sew and create.

I'll also be available to answer any organizing questions related to your studio.  Want to participate?  It's easy.  Just leave a comment on this post and I'll add your name/link on the sidebar.  And grab the Sew Organized 2012 button for your blog. 

At the end of the week, I will draw a name from the participants for a free copy of my e-book Sew Organized.  Are you ready?  Then stay tuned, I will be posting some motivational tips to help you get in the organizing frame of mind.

In the meantime, go ahead and leave a comment and grab the Sew Organized 2012 button from the sidebar.