Embroidery Blog

10 Genius Sewing Room Organization Hacks You Need to Know

There are a lot of quality sewing-specific tools out on the market, but a lot of the organization in my studio is done with non-sewing equipment. I am a highly organized person, and things like clutter do not sit well with me, in my studio or beyond. I like things tidy and grouped logically. The joy of being a creative professional is having the ability to make a total mess, so do not think that my studio is tidy 24/7, but after a tornado hits, everything always finds its way back to where it belongs, until the next wave of inspiration hits.

Below are some of my non-traditional approaches to sewing room organization that I use in my own space that might prove helpful for you too!

Storing elastic with binder clips - a sewing room organization hack!

1. Binder clips

I use binder clips for a ton of things in my studio and my home too. (Works better than any chip clip I’ve ever seen!) They are cheap, easily available at every office supply store, grocery store or drug store, and they can help you bind all kinds of things. In the photo above, I use them to keep cuts of elastic in order. What’s nice about this is that once they are clipped like this, I can toss these into a bin or a drawer, and they won’t get tangled or messed up. 

Spools of thread

2. Thread and bobbin stacking

When I wind a bobbin for use on a project, I almost never empty the whole bobbin and have a bit of it left. But I loathe trying to mate the lost bobbin with its spool mate on my thread rack. Now you could argue that if I cannot tell if they are a match or not, the color is likely close enough to be used as a pair. But a little-known secret is that I’m mildly colorblind. Nothing major, but sometimes I cannot tell one color from the next and when I think I’m pairing a spool of gray thread with its bobbin mate, I might actually be pairing it with a gray that’s much more green or blue than the spool. So I like to stack my bobbins and the spools on my rack to keep them together. It’s a simple hack, but it works. Once I take the bobbin and spool off my machine, I just stack them together and they are ready to be mated again for the next project. 

Organizing trim for sewing

3. Cardboard trim organizers

Much like my elastic and binder clip solution, I need some sort of organization for my trims, too. I like to save the little cardboard insert that comes inside commercially available bias binding and use those for winding other trims or homemade binding. I also have cut strips of cardboard boxes to use as well, as pictured above. Then these can be stacked nice and neatly in a drawer or bin and you can see what you have at all times. 

Jar of buttons

4. Button jar

I have two methods of organizing buttons in my studio. The first is the big button jar pictured above. This is just a jar I bought at a big box store ages ago that I dump buttons into. Now this is far from organized, but it is a nice way to just keep them all in one spot. 

Buttons organized in pill trays - a sewing room organization hack

5. Pill trays for buttons

For a more organized approach for your button storage, try using pill trays. I picked these up at Daiso in Los Angeles, and they are far nicer than your average pill organizer. In fact, that might not even be what these are meant for, but they have the same type of storage bins and lid. Pill trays can be bought everywhere, and they are a wonderful way to keep like buttons together. Though they are best for the smaller buttons in your stash.  

Organized sewing notions

6. Tool canisters

I like to have my main tools on hand and at the ready, but I didn’t want to instal a peg board or similar wall organizer, since my studio is in my home and I wanted something a little more visually pleasing. I also like that unlike a peg board, these canisters can be put in a cabinet anytime I want them to go away completely. These are items I have collected along the way: a vintage creamer, jam jars and tea canisters. Gather things from your home that have meaning to you to help organize your space!

Lingerie elastic stored in a bin

7. Make friends with bins

Bins of all kinds will help you organize your space, and none of my bins came from sewing or fabric stores. Scour the bins at resale shops, office supply stores and kitchen supply stores for the most interesting shapes and sized bins. This bin pictured above is just for organizing my lingerie and specialty elastics. I like that I can have a bin for each thing, so when I need that item I know just where to go. 

Rolls of elastic for sewing

8. Buy in bulk

Don’t you hate it when you are ready to sew something and you don’t have that notion you thought you did? Ugh, I surely do! So I have gotten in the habit of buying in bulk. The one thing I like to buy by the roll is elastic. Pictured above is a stack of elastic rolls in a range of widths so that no matter what the need, I have the size. These are easy to store as well, since they can just stack on a shelf.

fabric 

9. Organize fabric by type

I like to organize my fabric stash by the kind of fabric, by the print or by the color, depending on what it is. For example, pictured above is part of my stash of pre-cut quilt weight fabrics that will be used just for quilting. I keep all of this kind of fabric together so I know what I have at all times. I also keep all my lingerie fabrics together in one bin, as well as all my solid colored wovens, and all my knits too. That way when I know I want a knit, they’re all together; or when I know I need a solid, the same is true. 

patterns

10. Pattern storage

I find that one of the harder items to organize is sewing patterns, but my best find has been at Ikea. The bins they sell to go into their cubical storage systems fits a traditionally sized pattern side by side. Awesome! That way you can pile them in two-wide, and fill the bins from front to back. Then the bin itself can fit into the cubical shelf, or on any shelf you have at home. 

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58 Comments

Beth

Nice ideas! I use a pill organizer with larger sections for my sewing machine feet. I just scrubbed off the days of the week and relabeled with the letter for each foot. No more squinting at tiny letters to find what I want!

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DiAnna

Excellent idea!

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MARY

Fishing lure box/containers work even better for sewing feet.

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Nana Shirley

Love your ideas. The clips could also be placed onto our cloth measuring tapes when placing in storage. Another suggestion to keep the clips from rusting is to place those little white packets placed within vitamins and/or medicine bottles into our storage cases and/or areas containing metal items, thus making a way to prevent rust on sewing accessories. I ask friends and family to save them for me just for this. There are likely many other ways we can used the little pouches/capsule shaped items to keep moisture away from household/sewing items. I have 15 plus vintage sewing machines and use these pouches within my bobbin storage, needle, accessories containers and anywhere else needed to limit the amount of moisture touching my metal sm accessories. Happy sewing.

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Rose

I love these tips. I am just starting to organize my sewing room so these will be a great help.

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Christine Magazzeni

I need help with organizing my craft space, what should I use to organize it.

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Christine Magazzeni

how can I organize my craft space.

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Nancy R

A large number of my patterns are downloaded from the internet. So I have started putting them into large brown craft envelopes and they are put in a filing box. I put my “regular” patterns in these as well since I often have trouble refolding the tissue. I open up the outer envelope and tape it to the outside. My patterns have been much neater since.

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Beth Hegyi

I have printed a lot of patterns from the internet. I buy cheap (99 cent-ish) flimsy plastic notebooks, put the patterns into sheet protectors and into the notebook. I have separate notebooks for doilies, hats, gloves, afghans, baby items, etc. Works wonderfully at little cost.

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Yvonne Buckley

Fantastic idea!!! I think binders with clear pages for dresses, blouses, etc. patterns is a wonderful idea. I will definitely do this. Thanks for the great idea.

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Barbara Pierson

I use these all the time, and have dividers for different categories of quilting such as: table runners, specific holiday projects, baby quilts, lap robes, etc. Makes it really easy to see what pattern you’re looking for.

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katie

After I use a commercial pattern, I also find it a challenge to refold. One trick I use is to fold it with the written info showing. When it is totally folded I can read the pattern number, the size and the pattern piece letter, that way when I use it again I don’t have to unfold to know what piece it is.

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maria rosa santacruz

Before you put your patterns back, iron them then re-fold to fit the new bigger envelope.

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bar

I put mine I note book

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Dar

I do the same. I scan the front of the pattern envelope and attach it to the front of the manila envelope foe easy reference.

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Cheryl Samms

organizing helps me sew better. no clutter in my head.

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Gia

Great post! I loved the binder clips for the elastic idea!

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Barbara

I use binders with heavy duty sheet protectors for patterns divided into categories. The patterns are protected and can be pulled out of the bookcase to flip through easily. Presser feet for machine and serger are stored in adjustable insert plastic parts snap boxes because my presser feet are differing sizes. I use these boxes for needles also. I recently discovered Neat Rolls at the The Container Store for gift wrapping paper which are perfect for the sewing room too to keep tracing paper, craft or pattern paper, interlining and muslin neatly wrapped on the roll to prevent damage. You can tell I like tidy work spaces.

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Chris K.

The Neat Rolls look like slap bracelets, which would most likely be cheaper. I think I’ll try it. Hook and loop fastener tape would work, too, but it would be more trouble to put on.

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PAULA HAMILTON

EVEN CHEAPER, TAKE A PAPER ROLL CENTER FROM EITHER PAPER TOWELS OR TOILET PAPER AND SPLIT IT LENGTHWISE. WRAP IT AROUND THE TUBE TO HOLD PAPER, INTERFACING, OR WHATEVER YOU HAVE ON THERE NEATLY.

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Vicki Robles

Super idea, I never thought of doing that and we always have tons of paper towel and toilet paper rolls that are empty. I have been wondering for months what to do with them!! Thanks for the tip Paula!!

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Margaret

Really good tips – the one I’ll definitely be adopting is storing spools and threads together on the thread rack. Thank you.

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Josie McFarlane

I really liked all the ideals. I can use all the help I can get when it comes to being organized!

Thank you,
Josie

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Rebecca Hilkey

I have a large hanging 2 sided ‘jewelry’ organizer with small clear pockets that I use for thread & bobbins. I can quickly find the color I want.

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DeCoy Tigerpaw

The thread and bobbin idea is great. Here is one step farther. I buy the small kid size elastic hair ties, the kind that doesn’t catch hair, and wrap them around the spools to keep the ends from dangling. I find that even using the build in thread catch on spools, the thread will keep unwinding. Hair ties have solved my problem.

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Winne Peterson

I hang my multitude of templates and rulers on pegboard. Most of them come with a hole drilled in them for hanging. For those that don’t, I clamp a very small binder clip on it, and hang that on a peg. Works great!

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Winne Peterson

I organize my fabrics as you do, but I also fold them in 9″ folds before stacking. That way, all I have to do is count the number of folds to know the length of a fabric, without even having to pull it out of the stack.

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Cathi Greenwood

This is brilliant! I was trying to do a database to track, but I doubted I would keep up with updating the fabric quantities every time I acquired or used some. Plus it’s inefficient and interrupts the creative process to have to look in two places (touching the fabric and looking it up in the database) to pick fabric for a project. Thank you so much for sharing your idea!

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Christina Miller

I wrap my fabric around my 6″x24″ ruler, that way all my fabric is the same size and easy to organize.

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Mary Helen in OR

I use plastic sock organizers – the kind that expand to fit the drawer – to organize left over trims. All I have to do is open the drawer to find what I need.

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Leslea Brodie

To keep the thread from unwinding on the bobbin in storage.. buy plastic tubing (1/2 in or so diameter- exact size doesn’t matter too much), cut it in 1/4 inch rounds, then cut the round so you can open it up. These will clip on your bobbin over the thread, you can see the thread color and it won’t unwind.

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Pam Weston

I’ve done that too and so much cheaper than all of the retail options out there. Another hint: I was having trouble distinguishing black from navy when I was searching for the correct color bobbin, but then I marked them “B” and “NB” with a permanent marker on the plastic tubing. Much easier to differentiate now.

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Sara

Great ideas, but I have a couple warnings–please learn from my mistakes! Binder clips (and most pins) will eventually rust, so don’t leave them on your elastics too long (better yet, use white ribbons to tie around your elastic–white so that there is no accidental dye transfer). Cardboard will eventually leave brown spots on your pretty trims (substitute acid-free comic book boards, and make rounded folds at the edges of the boards so you never have to try to iron out set-in creases). Be careful what you buy in bulk–even sewing things have a shelf life and elastic is one of the first things to become brittle and be useless. I don’t know how long elastic lasts in storage, but I now only buy what I know I’ll use within a year or so.

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zzipper

To get patterns back into their envelopes, or to any designated size, I use a piece of cardboard of the size I want and start folding the pattern around it. Be sure to leave one side open so you can pull the cardboard out before putting the pattern away.

I store my patterns in comic book boxes. So far all the odd size pattern envelopes fit well along with the traditionally sized envelopes.

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Barbara Craig

Buttons: I use tiny zip lock bags (@ Walmart or craft stores) to keep sets of buttons together. I’ve used craft wire in the past, but it sometimes will rust or scratch buttons. I use small stackable cubes with drawers,
5″ X 6″ or so. If you have LOTS of buttons, catagorize and use bigger units like the size for 8 X 10 paper – they have 4 drawers.

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Vicki

I sew my button sets together then store in snack size zip bags according to color that way I know when I pick a button up how many I have for the project.

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Christina Miller

The storage containers that are used for nails and such are good for organizing buttons. You can find them from like 9 to 32 little drawers in them.

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Carolyn Martin

Really cool and pretty storage ideas! I really need to reorganize my house and add storage. This will help me so much to take care of the mess that my home is lately. Thanks for the great post!

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Melinda Stewart

I use File Crates with hanging files to organize my patterns. Pattern pieces and instruction sheets go into a hanging file, pattern envelope is put into a plastic sleeve and put into a notebook……..have several crates for different types…..purses, crafts etc…..notebook will fit into front of crate…..easy to flip through notebook to find a pattern.
I also use empty plastic Peanut butter jars…..for buttons, beads, purse hardware, buckles, snaps etc, easy to see what’s in the jars

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Annitta Bass

Who has just a few buttons? I use an organizer found in the tool department at your favorite stores. Lots of drawers for button color separation plus extra drawers for Hot glue sticks, different needle sizes, hooks, exacto knives and many other small supplies. Lable the front of the drawer and everything is at your fingertips.

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Rachel B Provencher

These are all great ideas, and are already in use in my Sewing Room. I have an idea for those who use regular sewing patterns. Can’t get the pattern pieces back in the envelope? First, after I cut away the pieces I need, I iron them flat, thus making it easier to pin to your fabric. Then, when you’re ready to put the pieces back in the envelope, stack all the pieces on your ironing board and give the stack a once over press. Then, fold all together in on pile to make it fit in the envelope.

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Diana Trupiano

I have a “Foot Book” for all my presser feet. I have the instructions printed out and place them, with the foot, in clear sheet protector pockets. I try to make a sample for each foot as well. I have them in a binder alphabetically. Saves a huge amount of space, and when I’m in the mood to go foot shopping, I just bring my binder along so I don’t buy duplicates!

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Stephanie

That sounds a great idea. Can you post a photo of your book please

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Vicki Robles

I would love to see a picture of your book, too. We are moving and I will have a great area to build as a sewing room and would love to utilize this idea. Thanks for posting.

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Janet Allen

Some good ideas. I photocopy the fronts of my patterns and put the copies in a folder/binder on numerical order and file my actual patterns the same way. I can then look through my pattern folder, choose the one I want and find the pattern easily.

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Elaine Pannell

I’m a dressmaker and use lots of different colours on my over locker.
I store them in plastic drawers designed for paper- cream, white brown and beige in the top drawer, reds ,pinks and purples in the next, blues and greys the 3rd, and greens in the bottom drawer.

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Fran Quirk

My favorite organizers for my sewing and craft supplies are zipper top plastic bags. I purchase them in various sizes (snack size through extra large) at Dollar Tree. I use “fold over top” sandwich bags for ruler folded fabric.

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Lezlie

I also use tool parts bins with 20 small drawers for buttons,snaps,etc. My cotton fabric stash is not folded on 7×11″ cardboards so I can write on top edge & I FILE them in bookcase ( 2 rows deep) Feels like a private fabric store & I can glance at what I have/need for every project.Also visually neat & pleasant. Other fabrics are shelved in banker boxes-labeled. Zippers kept in boot boxes. I could go on- you get the idea. get creative & enjoy the journey !

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Ann

These are such great ideas and I have already put some of them to use-thanks.

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marilyn cotsamire

old metal filing cabinets make great storage for so many quilting and sewing items. A drawer for buttons (yes, I have that many).; another for sewing patterns; lace; notions; fabric etc. The smaller items are put in smaller containers, preferably clear ones, so like items are all grouped together. shoe boxes and photo storage boxes are also great ways to sort and keep things organized and tidy.

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Vicki

egg cartons are great for low shank sewing feet…cut to the necessary size or if more than a dozen buy the 18 -24 size. Re-purpose and save the land fill.

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Deanna Currie

I use pony tail rubbers to wrap around my thread cones. They come in different sizes and make it colorful. Keeps them from coming off the cones . Cheap, too. You roll them over the loose threads so the threads don’t unwind.

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ADA M HULTHEN

I have one better storage idea for buttons. Years ago my sister bought me at a gargage sale – a screw storage thingy – the kind men have and some sewer had it was filled with antique buttons (God bless you sis!) and sorted by size and color in the tiny bins. So handy when I want to “shop” buttons at home.

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Nancy

I buy foam rubber ear protectors – like the guys who cut grass wear. They squish nicely between thread and bobbin so they are easy to keep together –

I have an expandable curtain rod across one of my shelves with cafe curtain pinchers and keep my snaps. rivets, and little accessories in baggies with like items together

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JimsQueenie

When I have fabrics that are less than a 1/4 yard I store them in those 4 drawer stacked bins. I have 6 or more of them. I have the fronts labeled all the basic colors. These are handy when you applique and need small pieces.
The other bins are labeled: scissors, needles, sewing feet, ribbon and ric-rac which are wound on small pieces of cardboard and fit well in the bin, etc.
I love all the wonderful hints here.
I also save my magazines in binders I buy from the store when they are on sale. They are in chronological order by the type of quilt magazine it is. When friend asks me if I have a certain issue they heard about for a pattern, I can tell them instantly if I have that issue.
I also hang up my large rulers on peg boards and the smaller rulers and templates get hung by a binder clip on the peg board.
I have “tons” of big plastic boxes and all are labeled with pattern of quilt to be made and for who is it meant for along with the pattern or book to the quilt inside and, of course, all the fabric.
You can buy a vinyl tablecloth and hang it reversed for a quilt wall.
My hubby made me several small fabric “walls” from purchasing poster board from a craft store and covering with flannel. Works so great when piecing smaller blocks at your sewing machine.
Hope some of these hints help others.

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Susan

Thanks for all the great ideas! I have two metal file cabinets where I store most of my fabric stash sorted by color. I fold them all the same way and store them upright with the fold on top so I can quickly find what I’m looking for without having to pull out fabric to see what I have. The file cabinets also keep the fabric clean and not exposed to light so it won’t fade.

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Lynn

I use a metal file cabinet for storing all of my patterns for the legal size file cabinet create a divider using posterboard or card board, cut to the length of the drawers and shorter than the heighth of a pattern envelope/Zip Lock bag to divide the drawer in half legnth wise and get twice as many patterns to fit in one drawer. I also use the sandwich size Zip Lock bags to store pattern envelope and pieces. Don’t forget to leave a small opening in the zip for air to escape. Also a letter size file drawer is used to store all of my counted cross stitch booklets and loose pattern graphs. I iron light fuseable Pelon onto the back side of my cut pattern pieces to extend the life of my patterns. I hang most of my sewing tools on a peg board to locate easier.

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Ellen Witherly

I use a plastic container that is larger than a pill box that has more sections. I store my Machine feet and needles in it. I place different types of needles in each compartment, keeping the bottom left compartment empty. When I put a needle in the machine it’s container goes in that compartment. That way I always know at a glance what type of needle is in the machine – quilting, embroidery, ball point etc.

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