How to Organize Your Sewing Space

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When it comes to keeping your sewing space in order, everyone will have their preferences.  

Some makers can thrive in a tidy workspace but for others the opposite will be true.  Regardless of this, having some degree of order to your space/projects will result in more time spent working on projects and less searching for where you put that necessary gadget/fabric or thread color.  In this post I want to share some of the ways in which I keep my sewing area in check to create a space which inspires me to make.

Bookcases & Shelves

Most of my sewing implements are kept on shelves in my studio.These are Billy bookcases from Ikea and one of the best features of this system is that the shelves are easy to adjust up and down according to need.  

Fabric is organized by size - larger cuts are on bolts and folded at the bottom center. These are all prints I designed (for Cloud 9 and Moda) and are arranged according to collection and/or color. Smaller cuts (fat quarter to 1 yard) are on the bottom right shelf. These are all fabrics by other designers as well as solids/linens etc. I organize these by grouping them into mini collections of fabrics I see working well together. I personally find this more useful than organizing by designer or color.

Baskets & Boxes

I store a variety of materials such as interfacings, notions and fabric scraps in the white boxes/baskets (also from Ikea). Here are the contents of the baskets shown in the top photo. I store zippers in one and small notions in another. I make it easier to find the tools by organizing them by type in boxes/pouches. The beauty of using baskets like these is that it's easy to carry them over to where I'm working and find what I need easily. 

As a maker, the projects I enjoy creating the most are variations on the theme of pouch/organizer of various shapes and dimensions. When I come up with new ideas for these, functionality is at the forefront of my mind. I like to be able to see what's inside my pouches quickly and easily. This makes them very useful when working on projects but also ideal as a storage solution for sewing accoutrements. You can see a variety of these in the top photo and I describe in more detail below how I employ some of them.

Bags & Pouches

I created the Boxy Clear Pouch because I was fed up of guessing where things were. This is a 3-dimensional pouch with a clear vinyl front which makes them ultra useful for storing materials easily in a way that you can find them quickly when needed.  

My Booklet Pouch is a neat way of storing a variety of similar items together. This pouch has four clear zippered pockets which close up like a book. I have four of these on my sewing studio shelves, you can see them closed in the top photo (two large and two small). I utilize mine for embroidery threads, keeping similar colors together but they also work great for items such as paper pieces, templates, needle packs and so on.

As a writer of pouch sewing patterns, something I have a lot of is zippers in various lengths. I used to keep these in Ziploc bags until a few years ago when I decided to employ some of my handmade pouches to keep them in instead. I use these pouches to keep metal zippers in; nylon zippers are kept in a basket (see second photo from top). Each pouch keeps a different length of zipper and I store these together on my bookshelves. I love the idea of using handmade to keep handmaking materials in. It feels more appropriate and it's also inspiring to be able to view your handiwork as you create further. This kind of solution works well when you want to compartmentalize similar objects. (Think of anything you might currently be keeping in some form of Ziploc bag.) My pouches are some I created for my book Stitch and Sew but whether you like to patchwork, appliqué or stitch Kantha style you can create and use some in a similar way.

Sewing Area

To keep my sewing area in order, I use a few of my Nesting Boxes to keep all those items I need to keep close at hand such as seam ripper, finger presser, marking tools, pins, threads and binding clips. I find having a dedicated space to return these essential tools to means I don't spend any time unnecessarily looking for misplaced items. The Zippered Basket Pouches behind these are filled with fabric scraps as I cut for projects. 

Underneath my sewing table is the other main storage area for materials I use in my work. I organize these in a variety of boxes and baskets (all from Ikea). Storing them here not only keeps them out of the way but also means everything I need is quick and easy to get to. The two baskets are used for keeping tall items such as interfacings, vinyl, Kraft-tex and pressing mats.

The lidded boxes are used for keeping items such as leather, fabric and interfacing scraps. 

This wooden tool tray is a favourite vessel of mine. It keeps all the hardware items I use for making my projects including metal and magnetic snaps, snap setter, hole punch and so on.  The Altoids tins keep different size snaps together.

While I could probably write a whole book on this topic, I'll stop here. I hope I've given some food for thought in ideas you can use for organizing your own space to suit you.

Aneela Hoey is a designer and teacher based in the UK. She creates patterns for both sewing and embroidery projects. Her sewing organizer designs are inventive and functional whilst her embroidery patterns play with color and stitch techniques. She has her own line of sewing patterns and has written several books including Stitched Sewing Organizers, Little Stitches and Stitch And Sew for Stash Books (C&T Publishing). Aneela's patterns have been featured in various other books as well as magazines including Making, Quilts and More and Australian Homespun.

Aneela studied printed textile design at Winchester School of Art before working at design studios in London and New York as well as freelance work. She has designed several fabric lines for both Moda and Cloud 9.

You can learn more about Aneela at her blog and on Instagram @aneelahoey