Sewing Blog

Get Organized! Craftsy Instructors Spill Sewing Room Secrets

Have you ever looked at your sewing space and wished you had a better system to organize all of those fabrics, threads, rulers, cutting tools and other quilting supplies?

We thought so. That’s why we’re turning to Craftsy’s talented sewing and quilting instructors uncover some expert advice.

The next time you can’t find your replacement rotary cutter blades, favorite ruler or seam ripper, keep these sewing room storage tips in mind!

Colorful Collection of Thread for SewingPhoto via Craftsy instructor Kimberly Einmo

Save your scraps and make room!

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First up, a tour of Kimberly Einmo’s sewing room:

Kimberly, what’s your top tip for keeping your sewing space in order?

I declutter — often. It is important for me to keep things organized with a minimum of clutter and mess so I can find things easily. I throw out what I honestly don’t need or won’t use, or I redistribute these items to my guild or quilters who can and will make good use of them.

As for my fabrics, they are all sorted and stored by color or type of fabric. For example, I have a storage cabinet for all my batiks. My print fabrics are sorted by color in other cabinets and I keep all my solids separated and stored by color on the color wheel. Pieces that are less than 1/4 yard are folded and stored in bins for easy access for small or scrappy projects.

Kimberly Einmo's sewing roomPhoto via Craftsy instructor Kimberly Einmo

I keep my ironing board right next to my sewing machine cabinet (I’m right-handed, so the ironing board is to my right-hand side) and at the same height as my cabinet so I can pivot in my chair and go from stitching on the machine to pressing and back again with efficiency and ease.

Kimberly Einmo's sewing room organizationPhoto via Craftsy instructor Kimberly Einmo

I use lots of pizza box-size plastic storage containers to keep each of my projects in for tidy storage, easy access and tote-ability!

Kimberly Einmo's sewing tool kitPhoto via Craftsy instructor Kimberly Einmo

I keep a little storage tote with all my favorite tools right next to my sewing machine. It has snips, scissors, seam rippers, a stiletto, point turners, a Hera marker and FriXion pens. I also keep all my rotary cutters and scissors in separate drawers. A stash of new rotary blades is kept in the same drawer for easy access.

Kimberly Einmo's pink velvet pincushionPhoto via Craftsy instructor Kimberly Einmo

I also keep a large, overstuffed pink velvet pincushion next to sewing machine at all times. It even goes with me to the Craftsy set for class shoots! I think every sewing room needs a pink velvet pincushion!

Kimberly Einmo's plastic storage boxesPhoto via Craftsy instructor Kimberly Einmo

I also keep clear plastic storage boxes similar to fishing tackle boxes handy with a hefty supply of new sewing machine needles of every size and type plus my sewing machine accessories.

– Craftsy instructor Kimberly Einmo

Angela Walters thread stash

Photo via Craftsy instructor Angela Walters

Next, let’s learn how to keep that thread collection under control!

Honestly, I don’t have a large fabric stash….gasp! Most of the fabric that I have is stuff that I have designed so it’s all on bolts and on a shelf. Nice and organized. What I do collect a lot of is thread. I often joke that quilting is my therapy and thread are my meds! To help keep it organized, I have a thread holder that I keep on top of a small set of drawers. On the thread holder, I keep my most-used thread colors. In the drawers, I keep unopened thread and thread that I don’t use as often. Such as thicker threads that I use for teaching classes.

– Craftsy instructor Angela Walters

I am a thread hoarder of the most extreme kind! The good news is that I actually do use all these threads, but this means I need quick access to them as I’m working. There are multiple work stations in my sewing room. There are tables with machines where I sit to piece and quilt and other stations where I use my embroidery machines and I need quick access to all my threads from all of these positions. I’ve found the best way is to sort all my decorative threads by color into gigantic ziplock bags. It’s easy to pick up hundreds of spools at once and carry the bag to where I’m working and I can see where all the bags are positioned from every work station. I tried sorting them by drawers into small carts on wheels, but this has been a more practical solution for me.

– Craftsy instructor Patsy Thompson

Carol Doak's cut fabrics with labeled binder tagsPhoto via Craftsy instructor Carol Doak

What’s next to your sewing machine at all times?

Carol Doak

When I am cutting fabric pieces for a paper-pieced project, I place the labeled fabrics on a Styrofoam tray so I can then take them to the sewing machine easily. I label the pieces with numbered binder flags.

– Craftsy instructor Carol Doak

Elizabeth Dackson

For me, it’s been really important to have my iron nearby my sewing table. Most of the time, my ironing board is right behind me in my sewing room, so I can swivel around to it any time, but oftentimes if I’m paper piecing or doing some other kind of work that requires a lot of ironing, I’ll actually twirl my ironing board around to create an L shape with my sewing table.

– Craftsy instructor Elizabeth Dackson

What’s the best way to organize fabric?

I love to store fabrics in wire baskets by color.  Because I care much more about the color of a fabric than anything else, I will often set the whole basket of, say, teal, on my cutting table and easily pull dark, medium and light shades from the basket. If I end up with extra cut pieces or strips, I fold them back into the rest of the fabric. That way if I just need a small piece of a light teal, when I open that fabric, I find pieces I can often use! For my style of quilt, this works SO much better than a scrap bin.

– Craftsy instructor Ann Petersen

I keep my scissors hanging on a little IKEA rod and hook system right by my sewing machine. That way it’s easy for me to grab my snips to clip loose threads that might get caught while stitching. I also put everything away at the end of every sewing day. It helps me to feel “done” for the day, and it’s always refreshing to walk into a clean space the next morning.

– Craftsy instructor Amy Alan

Storing my fabrics by color really boosts my creativity and gets me thinking outside the box in terms of color and print combinations.

– Craftsy instructor Amy Gibson

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22 Comments

Loey Breur Krause

my fabrics are in zip lock bags, and stacked on shelves by fabric type, weight or garment type. e.g. shirtings, suitings, wool gabardines, charmeuse, flannels, linings, interfacings, etc. When I have purchased fabric, lining and notions for a garment all at one time, those are all put in a single ziplock bag, threads included, with a note or sketch of the intended garment. Another shelf unit has bolts of muslin, dotted pattern fabric, and those fabrics I use a lot of that I purchase by the bolt, and embroidery blanks like shirts and tote bags. My threads are in stackable plastic drawers, by type, embroidery in one stack of drawers, sewing threads in another, and sorted by color per drawer. Serger threads are on peg racks made for coats on the wall next to the serger. I have small plastic drawer units for needles and other tiny things, a row of cup hooks for scissors, and a wine rack for stabilizers. see Loey’s Sewing Room on facebook for pictures. Since I have advanced rheumatoid arthritis, my chairs are on wheels and swivel so I can move easily from machine to machine to ironing board. My cutting table has extended legs so I don’t need to lean over it. While I’m working I keep multiples of tools in various places so I don’t need to walk across the room to fetch my scissors or a ruler. The best is that my DH installed an air hose from a compressor near my machines so I can blow out the dust frequently with dry air. Oh, and track lighting in multiple places so I can see!

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Loey Breur Krause

my fabrics are in zip lock bags, and stacked on shelves by fabric type, weight or garment type. e.g. shirtings, suitings, wool gabardines, charmeuse, flannels, linings, interfacings, etc. When I have purchased fabric, lining and notions for a garment all at one time, those are all put in a single ziplock bag, threads included, with a note or sketch of the intended garment. Another shelf unit has bolts of muslin, dotted pattern fabric, and those fabrics I use a lot of that I purchase by the bolt, and embroidery blanks like shirts and tote bags. My threads are in stackable plastic drawers, by type, embroidery in one stack of drawers, sewing threads in another, and sorted by color per drawer. Serger threads are on peg racks made for coats on the wall next to the serger. I have small plastic drawer units for needles and other tiny things, a row of cup hooks for scissors, and a wine rack for stabilizers. see Loey’s Sewing Room on facebook for pictures. Since I have advanced rheumatoid arthritis, my chairs are on wheels and swivel so I can move easily from machine to machine to ironing board. My cutting table has extended legs so I don’t need to lean over it. While I’m working I keep multiples of tools in various places so I don’t need to walk across the room to fetch my scissors or a ruler. The best is that my DH installed an air hose from a compressor near my machines so I can blow out the dust frequently with dry air. Oh, and track lighting in multiple places so I can see!

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Mabel

I am trying to find a cone thread holder to use while using the sewing machine. The one I have is very tall and keeps falling over. I would appreciate you help in this matter.

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Lori O'Brien

I have a heavy metal one that I bought from Connecting Threads. It has never toppled over once. Check it out!

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Sandra kelly

I have been told you can buy them at Fabricland in Ontario, Canada

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Lynnea

Superior threads has a good thread holder

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Lisa

I use a large cup with a screw lid. They are sold at the dollar store and come with a straw in the lid. Remove the straw put cone in the cup pull thread where the straw was and set cup behind your machine.

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Lynn

I bought a magnetized knife holder from Ikea and hung it on the wall behind my sewing machine. Now all sizes of scissors, seam rippers and needles in use are within inches and easy to grab/hang up.

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Linda

Love this idea.
I need snips all the time, so I used a command hook stuck to the end of my sewing machine, from which I hang the snips. I can grab, use, and replace without looking.

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Margo

Art Bins, I have changed all of my notions and tools into organized Art Bins, wonderful, cannot tell you how easy it is to find what I need. And what I own. I just created one Art Bin with pins, needles, glues, basting tapes etc. We buy then on sale. We installed low cost industrial quality shelving above my machines for the Art Bins. Buying stacks of same size make stacking easy. I also stack them below my work tables.

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Sandra Williamson

Totally agree about art bins. I’ve organized my thread by color in them, thinking it’s only until I decide on a more permanent solution but being able to move all blue thread, for example, to the place I’m deciding, well, I’m thinking that is likely my permanent decision.
I agree about waiting for sales as they are an investment but well worth it.
I’m still in need of solution of good ruler storage, have spent lots of time & stress on that topic. Thanks, your comments helped me to bring several observations together to realize I already have my solution.

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Renee

I put my rulers in a vertical file folder that one would use on a desk can see them all standing

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Melody

I have a large peg board mounted to the wall with multiple hooks. I hang all my rulers, squares, scissors, rotary cutters, thread rack, and anything else that can hang, on it. It’s my favorite organization tool!!!

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Judith

I wrap my fabric around comic book boards. These mini bolts stand upright in the bookcase in closet in my sewing room. Store fat quarters separated by color in wooden boxes meant for shoes from the container store.

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Jan

This article and related comments are extremely helpful to me. I have had a small sewing room for a few months and I am still trying to find the most space and use efficient ways of organizing EVERY THING. As well as the best furniture and equip placement in my small space. I will be trying a number of your offered solutions. They sound like they will help me immensely. Thank you all for your contributions!

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Barbara

Just put another regular spool inside big one and works wonderful.

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Martha

Very helpful. I have been refining my sewing room over the last two years. My focus area is my sewing machine, ironing station and cutting board in a u shape so I can swivel my chair. I have turned my Mom’s old Singer desk too into a nice large flat ironing area. I have my fabric in basket drawers and bins sorted by color. I keep a scrap box by my cutting table and then sort through it when the project is done. All projects to do are in zip bags or tote bins. I’ve repurposed furniture and teaching cabinets to use in sewing room and have a full closet available for storage of totes.

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Debbie Perkins

OMG. How does she keep it so neat????? So envious. My sewing room, thanks hubs, is over my garage and has 2 foot knee walls, so, you know that my ceiling slopes. 🙁 I use the 2 drawer rolling plastic cabinets, perfect height for storage and not out in my way. My machines are placed in an L shape, and I have book cases behind me LOADED with plastic storage boxes. Button, zippers, bias tape, elastic, and threads according to colors are in individual boxes. All I have to do is swivel around. That is probably only a 6×6 work area. ‘works for me. I have a oblong dining table for my sewing table. under the lip on the right hand side, I have a leftover utensil rack from an old dishwasher mounted. I have my scissors, pliers, nippers, seams rippers and such in this. This is probably my best idea yet. At arms length, but completely out of the way. My favorite “fail” is a round table top, from a broken table base, that I use for hemming those dreaded formals and pageant dresses. I had a friend make a X shaped base and put that under the table to get it a foot off the floor. This has been a life saver for me. I can sit on the floor (it does get harder and harder to get off that floor) and straddle the table and do my work. We call it table dancing. Love all the other ideas and hopefully something in mine will help another seamstress.

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Olga

ugh I know Debbie. I have soooo much fabric and from season to season I must bin it up and take to basement. I simply need more room in my opinion

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Suzanne

For those with small rooms. I have daughters old bedroom with built in wall unit, a single bed, a tilt desk, a 2 drawer (long) filing unit and beside it a 3 drawer small unit.
Filing unit was bought for genealogy which I condensed down and now have panne velvet collection in top draw with office, art and some patterns in bottom draw and a bit of genealogy too. Top of it is covered top, back and sides with material so cutting board can sit over top without slipping. Board slips behind unit out of sight and large ruler hangs on wall there too.Corner draw unit came topless so I found a piece of plywood to sit on top and now covered in insulbright and cotton stapled to back for easy replacement. It is now my machine holding station and ironing board for the small stuff. Not being attached means easy access to top draw too when machines are in use.
Inside top drawer i have re used plastic trays from old desk filing unit so scissors and cutting stuff in one, cotton in another and third has further bits and pieces in it. Allows me to store far more and easy to lift out each tray to have beside me if I need it.
Desk fits both machines on nicely side by side and side unit has cups and holes so machine tools and small scissors live there and great for holding cotton and bobbin if I have to swap them over. Room for light as well.
Built in unit is slowly being taken over by material stashes of different shapes and sizes and helping me cull out all the stuff in there to start with.
Memorabilia is stashed on top out of flood reach(once was enough warning,lol).
When guest comes cutting board hides, machines huddle in corner and guest has plenty of room to put their stuff.
Wish I could have everything out hanging on walls, displayed on shelves but alas room has an abundance of windows making it a light and bright place and a fading hazard, 🙂

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abi

I have 6 sewing machines.. 2 sergers, heavy duty, standard, coverpro , and an older serger that I use just for rolled hems. I don’t like to have to switch out threads, needles, etc. when I am trying to finish a project so I’ve collected the machines when they have been on sale or used. For storing them I have 3 lazy susan’s I think they were designed for the old style TV sets. Each lazy susan has two machines back to back. My table is long enough for 3 machines so when I am sewing and need to switch a machine I return the one I am using to the lazy susan, rotate it, and pull forward the machine I want. Cord management is still something I am designing.

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Lynn

I’m looking for a sewing cabinet. Can you tell me where you purchased yours?

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