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What’s Your Sewing Storage Solution?

Shop for storage solutions in the hair-care aisle. You can keep your thread bobbins tidy with tiny pigtail holders. They're soft, stretchy, colorful, cheap, and they work great to keep thread in check.

In the Spring 2013 issue of SewStylish (on newsstands in early February!) there’s a story called “Super Storage Solutions.” It’s a compiliation of fantastic tips for organizing fabric, notions, and patterns, and all of the ideas were sent in by Threads readers. These solutions are easy, fast, and inexpensive, and they work whether you have a big or a small space to sew. What makes them really interesting and useful is that they came from experienced sewers.

We have a few more storage and organizing ideas to share here, and we want to invite you to share your own tips and advice for storing sewing items. Share your ideas with us and with other SewStylish readers. That way we all benefit!

Prevent Stray Bobbin Threads

I store my bobbins in a zip-top baggie, but the thread tails often unwind and become tangled. I found a wonderful solution to this problem in my local dollar store. I purchased a bag of ponytail elastics in a variety of colors. They are tiny and made from an extremely stretchy knit, so they snug up against all of my bobbins-the ones that are full as well as the ones that are almost empty. I choose a band that most closely matches the thread color, which helps when I’m searching for a particular bobbin color. The best part is that the bag of 300 elastics was only $1.

-Betty Bolden, Bolton, Connecticut

Keep Interfacing on Insulating Tube

I’ve collected a large (and always growing) inventory of interfacing. Storing it neatly without creases can be a challenge. I use pipe insulation (available at hardware stores) to solve this problem. Foam, tubular insulation comes in 3-foot and 6-foot lengths. It is easily cut with a craft knife and soft enough to pin into it. It comes split down the length (for sliding the opening onto a copper pipe). I insert one cut edge of interfacing in the slit and roll it up. I pin the other end of the interfacing in place and attach a label. This storage method keeps the interfacing in perfect condition and clearly visible.

-Julie Maske, Deep River, Iowa

File Fabric Neatly

After a quilting session, I had a lot of leftover fabric that had to be returned to the closet shelves that hold my stash. To make it easier and prevent my neatly stored fabric stacks from becoming messy in the process, I placed an unfolded manila file folder on top of the fabric stack on the shelf and slid the added fabrics easily on top. The fabric below the file folder did not move out of place or bunch up as I added the new fabric, and I could easily remove the file folder when finished.

-Joanne Spencer, Brookfield, Connecticut

Bag Thread to Store It

I used to store my spools of thread in a large plastic storage container, but the spools became tangled and disorganized and were hard to sort if I wanted several spools of the same shade. Now I bag my thread in poly-zip craft bags. I put related colors together to keep them sorted. I have fewer tangles, cleaner thread, and can more easily view my thread inventory to find just the right color.

-Marsha M. Kitt, Two Hills, Alberta, Canada

What’s your way to store thread?

How do you keep your patterns sorted?

Scissors and pins: How do you keep them handy?

Where do you keep your fabric?

Comment and let us know!


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  1. Cherlyn | | #1

    I chose to store my thread in my antique thread cabinet. There ar two drawers on mine. The drawers have their orginal painted labels: "Clark's O.N.T." and "six-cord". I found at an office supply store plastic storage containers that are deep for patterns to be placed upright so I can easily thrumb through. I have my patterns divided out by company so each cntainer is labeled for easy pull-out. I would like to have a large room ad have build-in storage with pull-out drawers for patterns---ah, maybe one day:) I like to have a scissors and pins near my machines so I have sets with on the sewing machine table and a separate set with my serger table. I use a spinny storage that is really for scrap booking on my sewing table to keep all scissors, measuring tools---any tool sewers may need really. My fabric is placed in plastic see through containers too by seasonal and color. I have never had an issue with the fabric in plastic--probably because I go through it so much rotating things to make sure its okay. I have a large stash! But when I am in a nice fabric store and they have a sale---he, I have to indulge:)

  2. dpaulkhayes | | #2

    I keep all similar colored notions in a zip lock bag. Everything goes in - zippers, bias tape, trim. It really helpful when searching for items of a certain color.
    My thread is held separately. Colors that are often used are on the spool holder, specialty colors are held in plastic boxes that have separators. I found them at Michael's craft shop, and they keep threads organized and color coded!

  3. oola | | #3

    To store scissors and rotary cutters, I bought a towel rack ($2.99) and S-hooks ($1.99/10pk) from Ikea. The towel rack is installed on the wall above my cutting table, and each pair of scissors is easily accessible and visible, without giving up surface space. Added bonus: I keep the computer end of my laptop charger cord hanging from one as well, so I don't have to crawl under the table looking for it when needed.

  4. GrandmaMary | | #4

    I recently saw a really unique way of storing whatever. Get one of those hanging clear vinyl shoe storage thingys and you can organize things in the clear vinyl pockets. Easey to see and easy to retrieve. You can hang these things on a door.

  5. User avater
    PerkyPenguin | | #5

    I detest trying to squish used patterns back into their envelope. I store my used patterns in a ziploc bag with the product photo cut out and stored with the pattern. Keeps everything safe from moisture and humidity fluctuations.

  6. Delores10550 | | #6

    I keep my treads on some spool holders that can be purchased at fabric stores. They hang on a cupboard door so I can close it to keep the thread from getting dusty. I don't seem to have any trouble keeping them untangled. And my bobbins I keep in a plastic bobbin case.

  7. Delores10550 | | #7

    I forgot to say that when I have a sewing needle that I need to discard, I put them in a small tooth pick container that has a hole in the top. I use the broken or dull needles for picture hangers. They are small and make small holes for light weight pictures. Better that nail holes.

  8. karenjane52 | | #8

    I file my fabrics to keep them organized and dust free. Particularly my quilting stash like fat quarters, 1 yard cuts and large scraps. I use hanging folders, found at a used office supply store for 5 cents each. I cut the folder from the hanging bars, leaving an inch or so of the folder and fold each piece over the bar. One bar will hold multiple pieces of the same fabric. The hanging folders can also be left intact and will hold numerous scraps if you want to save even you very small pieces. I file the fabrics by color and find that this method keeps my sewing room tidier and I can find what I'm looking for quickly. Am seriously considering getting a larger file cabinet that will accommodate even more of my fabrics, not just my quilting stash. Larger pieces can be filed by using two bars to support the fabric.

  9. Mollys_Mom | | #9

    I store thread spools by color in canning jars. The colors are easy to see and I like the look of the jars on my shelf. I store fabric by color folded on hangers in the closet of my sewing room.

  10. cindysews | | #10

    I've always kept my patterns in the storage boxes found at fabric stores sometimes in categories like skirts, blouses, children, etc. But there were always the wardrobe patterns that were hard for me to catergorize. And once my collection became unmanageable I resorted to another method. I removed the guts of the patterns, placed them quart size freezer bags, labeled them and put them back in the pattern box. Using the envelopes, I set up a spreadsheet with pertinent info and the number of the box it's stored in and printed that. After placing the envelopes in protective sleeves in a notebook; I now have my own pattern catalog and can quickly find my favorites!

  11. Xmaseve1 | | #11

    My studio is in our basement and the ceiling has open rafters. I had my husband buy some sono tubes from our local home improvement store (typically used in concrete work). These are shoved into the open areas between the rafters and are further supported by duct work. This is where I store my fabric that is wrapped on tubes. It is really an efficient use of space especially for fabric that must be stored horizontally in order to avoid permanent wrinkles if it is stored on end.

  12. WeeScotLass | | #12

    I bought a fabric store pattern file cabinet. The store was closing and I got it for $25. What a find. I store my patterns in the cabinet and use a photo album with the pages that are self adhesive, for the front cover of the envelope. In my cabinet I have patterns organized by type, eg. Tops, pants, dresses, etc. Then, in the album, I have the same catagories, each catogory is organized by pattern numbers. If I want to make a pair of shorts, I look for the section that says "pants/shorts, and flip through the album pages. Then I go to the cabinet and pull the pattern. Takes a few minutes. My patterns are transfered to a plastic bag for filing with the back of the pattern sleeve showing one side, and the front of the direction page the other. The bottom two drawers are full of zippers, bindings,elastic and all the other commonly used items.
    I have wire shelving and clear tubs for my fabric stash. All labled as to fabric type. Gone are the days of pawing through boxes and piles to find the one piece I know I have.
    Happy sewing friends and keep sending the helpful hints. I love them all.

  13. user-272430 | | #13

    My sewing room used to be a bedroom and has a good wardrobe. I have purchased quite a few sets of large plastic drawers which completely fill the wardrobe and allow me to sort my stash by fabric type. The ends are see-through but I have also labelled each drawer. I also keep my paper patterns in there. The doors slide across and everything is hidden away neatly.

  14. user-2083157 | | #14

    I take the pattern out of the envelop and put into a fullscap manila folder and number it large font - the pattern number and file all the manila folders in numerical order, in a filing cabinet. I put the pattern envelop and instruction sheet in clear plastic sheet protector and put into an archive 2 ring folder, Which when I need some inspiration sit and look through these folders like a magazine.
    But what my next step will be to scan the patterns and put into an album and download onto my mobile phone. Also want to do something like that with my fabrics. Apparently there are some Apps about for this thype of thing.
    Cutting Table:
    my cutting out table/ bed. I was in a single bedroomed flat/apartment a few years back, so I had a bed made that was high enough to: (1) I put sets of drawers underneath for hide away storage. (2)some where for cutting out. I put one of those cardboard cutting table/boards and waller great. Projects:
    I spotted some big/large zip lock closure bags 16" /42 cm long by 14"/35cm Put in my cut out projects zips cottons in, pierced a hole in the middle and threaded onto a coat hanger and hung up in rack.
    At storage shop they have those hang up or patterns for like suit bags, shoe bags and the like accessories and you have all these "pockets with clear plastic hanging up near sewing machine or back of door put all sorts in the pockets chalks, scissors, tape measures, elastic, ribbons sewing machine feet, unpicker, tracing wheel, Glue sticks, you can see in an instant.
    put a small saftey pin in top of zipper and do up on a wire coat hanger all together.
    Just read that one above for interfacings, well what about the tubes the kids have inthe swimming pool, could wrap fabrics , or inter facing around them I suppose, I'll have to give that a try. There that's it. Thanks Love sewing.

  15. yangsee | | #15

    Storing thread bobbins: I purchased clear tubing(the kind used in fish tanks) I cut into pieces that fit around the thread in the bobbin.(about 3/8" wide) I then made a slit so the piece could be slipped over the thread to hold it in place..also I`m able to see the colour of the thread.

  16. user-1115665 | | #16

    To keep pins close and handy when on my machine, I velcro'd a small pin cushion to the front of the machine under the controls, the pins are out of the way but close enough to grab easily.

  17. Faithsgrandma | | #17

    I open my pattern envelopes along the side and bottom and tape it onto a large mailing envelope, then keep the pattern inside along with any tracings-to-size I have made. I organize them in three large bins - one for me, one for grandkids, and one for crafty things. When I am in the mood to just cut, I store the future projects in gallon size bags with the pattern and fabrics. I have a three tiered rolling cart for them. I hired a carpenter to build shelves all along one wall, including a larger shelf to hold a tv/dvd player so I can watch sewing shows while I sew. I use cutlery trays on the pull out shelf (keyboard shelf) on my sewing machine tables. Lots more, and I would love to see everyone's rooms.

  18. susansj | | #18

    I have some stackable little drawer units that are sold in hardware departments to store screws, bolts, etc. The drawers are about 6" deep, 3" wide and 1" deep. I store matching thread, bobbins, buttons, and bindings in these drawers. The drawers are sorted by colour using Joen Wolfrom's Color Play Tool.

  19. user-952186 | | #19

    I have numerous pair of scissors and was having a terrible time keeping them organized. I made a hanging storage unit from two pieces of twill with a sheet of plastic canvas sandwiched between about 18 X 12. I then laid out my scissors in the order I wanted and marked where to sew a heavy band of the folded twill to make slots for each pair. Starting with my small thread clips on top to my heavy pinking shears on the bottom row. I now have my 18 pair of scissors in easy access and in order. I also added a small pouch for my hem gauges and one for my seam rippers. Since I teach sewing as well as have a sewing and alteration business, this really helps keep my supplies in order and my students know exactly where to find an item they need if they have forgotten their own. Kathy W. Maryville, TN

  20. mabowles | | #20

    I use a game table as my sewing table. Alas, it was too low for cutting. So I added six 9 " high storage bins, then put cutting boards on top of it. These six bins as big enough to store items by category. I store my scrap fabric in the closet in smaller storage bins in order by color. ROY G BIV. The colors of the rainbow - Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Then I have three extra bins for black, white, brown.

  21. dreamie | | #21

    I don't know where I found this idea but I've been using it for years, basically for thread, but could be for other small articles. Using a large ziploc bag, sew vertically from bottom to top, several inches apart across the width of the bag, depending on the size of your items. This way you can sort by color, or however you want.

  22. user-291176 | | #22

    Oh Delores 10550, I just gave my husband three sewing machine needles to add to his picture hanging nails. The look on his face was hilarious - some men have no imagination; however I, think it is an ingenious idea!

  23. user-1115937 | | #23

    Great tips! I just wished I could see some of them in a picture! After having a whole sewing room for myself we now live in a condo and I have a liiiitle piece of the basement. Got a cabinet where my serger and sewing machine is in. I have added hooks against the "walls" of the cabinet for all my scissors. Also added scrapbooking cabinets on top of the existing one and bought clear plastic slim cases for my thread collection. My fabric collection is in clear plastic boxes and my patterns are in a 4 drawer filing cabinet, filed numerically under brand name. All patterns are being copied front and back and in a 3" binder - I have more than 500 patterns - some dating back to the 60's, and categorized under "tops" skirts" dresses" etc. Even those I don't or will not use are safely filed - I am addicted to patterns and I just love looking at them, dreaming and getting inspiration. I also have a list of all my patterns on my phone - in case I want to buy more and cannot remember if its in my collection or not.

  24. sshort | | #24

    I hate searching for sewing machine needles and sewing needles. I now store my sewing machine needles in a plastic business card book. The needle packets slide easily into each card holder and are easy to identify. Each page is tabbed with type of needle. Now I just flip the pages to find the right needle and know when I need to stock up. For my hand sewing needles I made a book of stiff interfacing bound with ribbon. I got real fancy and used my monogram program to identify each type and size of needle. The needles are pinned on each page and are easy to remove and put back . No more buying extra needles for a job when I can't find the right one. Wow! did I have tons of needles.
    I also made a pin cushion with velcro tabs to keep track of pins on my sewing machine, but I stuffed one side with steel wool and the other with wool scraps. Helps keep needles and pins clean and sharp. I was told not to put magnets on my computer machine.

  25. Ikebana152 | | #25

    I have an I-pad app called Sewing Kit. It is a database for all my patterns. Once the pattern name and number is entered, if it's McCall's, Butterick, or Vogue the app will pull the original pattern image from the McCalls website. If not, I find the image myself online and and save it to the Ipad. I can then enter as much or as little of the pattern information that I choose to. I usually put in information such as recommended fabric, notions, and yardage. It take me less than 3 minutes to catalog new patterns. I store the patterns numerically by vendor in pattern boxes from Joanne's.

    When I am shopping for fabric I just take my I-pad full of all my pattern images and requirements.

    The app will also let you keep track of the fabric in your stash. I am not sure I want a written account of what's in there...-:)

  26. 416 | | #26

    I have my patterns separated in two pattern boxes since I use only Vogue and Butterick. A lingerie holder from a thrift store was quite handy for me. I put all my scissors, notions and other things I need in the vinyl zippered pockets and hang it in my closet where my sewing machine is stored. A handy heart-shaped pincushion is always hanging on the doorknob for quickies. I keep all my fabric in large plastic containers stacked neatly in a corner. Each fabric piece has matchinng thread folded inside. Shoe box size plastic containers hold other threads not matched to fabric.

  27. SuperiorLiz | | #27

    My patterns are stored in the 'Rubbermaid' type of transparent stacking drawers; shop carefully since a "Stack" may be made up of full height drawers or of half height ones. The full height ones are a good match to file normal patterns in while the half height ones work well for the oversize envelopes such as Vogue Couturier.
    Buttons are sorted into Jam Jars, by colour, and by size; so there is a jar of small black ones, another of medium ones, and a couple of large ones. I also string matching sets of buttons as I retrieve them from garments.
    I try very hard to label all boxes, thank goodness for adhesive labels and for computer programs for writing such labels.
    My work table is an ex-government computer-printer table with a slit for feeding fan-fold paper (great to thread cables through and to clamp a adjustable armed table lamp in the perfect spot for better lighting) and a cantilevered top; much easier than one with legs. I took a paper tape measure from that Swedish Store and put it along the front edge using heavy duty packing tape.
    Superior Liz (Who is north of Lake Superior in a land with little snow so far this winter).

  28. User avater
    Lady2k7 | | #28

    I store my patterns in a 4 drawer file cabinet in manila folders with the numbers as the tab the inside of the pattern tissue are in the folders the back of the pattern is copy and stuck in the folder also the pattern itself is hanging on the wall I have one whole wall of nothing but patterns in a hanging design. I am able to select a pattern from the wall ans pull the folder from the file cabinet. If I'm going fabric shopping all I need is the copy of the pattern back for the yardage and notions.

  29. User avater
    Norsecross | | #29

    At long last I have a small room to call my own for sewing. I had a shelf built high on the wall, just the right height for pattern boxes.The index on the end of the box is useless. I sprayed over it, First with primer then with chalkboard paint. With my best Frenchie looking handwriting I chalked the type of patterns in each box. Chemise, dresses, pants, etc. They are attractive, tidy, all together, off the floor and easy to get to. The shelf I painted red, supported with Victorian style cast iron supports. Having things look nice is part of the inspiration for me.

  30. User avater
    Vernelle | | #30

    All my patterns are sorted by type - suits/jackets/coats; dresses; separates; miscellaneous. They are stored in labeled plastic dishpans on a shelf in the closet of my sewing/craft room.
    My fabric is stored in a 5 drawer chest I purchased just for that purpose.
    Scissors, rotary cutter, embroidery hoops and tape measures are within quick and easy reach on a peg board that hangs above the sewing machine I use most often.
    I keep my bobbins in a case designed to hold up to 24 bobbins that is stored in the drawer of one of my sewing tables. Lubricant and miscellaneous tools that I use to clean and maintain my sewing machines and serger are stored in that drawer as well.
    Buttons, elastic, needles, pins, presser feet, markers and other frequently used notions can be found in plastic boxes on the shelves of my other sewing table. Cone thread is kept in a box on the middle shelf; spools on a wall mounted thread caddy that is hung within easy reach of both my sewing machines.
    Trims, zippers, craft supplies and notions that are used only occasionally are stowed away in boxes on shelves in the closet of my sewing/ craft room.
    I often cut out several items at once and then sew when I get the time. I keep 'works in progress' organized by storing them in gallon size plastic zipper bags which are kept in a wicker basket between my two sewing tables.

  31. sunnie7 | | #31

    I purchase fly fishing tackle (clear plastic) containers to hold my threads. I have one for each color. These containers make it easy to see at a glance, the color that I require for any job. They come with dividers, you can remove or leave in. The ones I purchase range in size from 2" tall, 8" x 14" and 4" tall, 8"wide x 14"long,and I have one for white and one for black. The 2" tall size holds 50+ spools. Each container costs about $7.00. They are stackable as well.

  32. user-2449328 | | #32

    My fabric stash is, shall we say, substantial. I don't have enough space in my studio to store it all. So, it goes in plastic bins and lives in a storage shed out behind the house. So that I can see what I have, I keep a swatch of each fabric on a rolodex card. The yardage, fiber content, and whatever I can remember about the purchase, as well as the bin number are noted on the card. The storage bins are labeled "1", "2", "3", etc. so I can easily locate the fabric when it's time to sew it up. The cards allow me to play with colors and ideas, and to shop for buttons and thread when needed.

  33. User avater
    EdwardThirlwall | | #33

    I am a very simplistic person, thus I do not really fancy anything that might look messy in any form, like clutters. I will feel comfortable only when things are stowed away neat and tidy in prefarably a concealed storage box away from sight. That is why my sewing kit is an opaque plastic container with removable separators to carefully organize all the threads and bobs. Everything is in place but yet does not get messy.

  34. User avater
    MarkSindone | | #34

    I am loving all these sewing storage ideas! Honestly I collect see-through containers like the kinds you use for holding candy so I can pop in my screws and nails in there. Besides just being a good storage idea, they actually make pretty interesting art pieces that I can display around the house. They are quite nice as decorative items! Of course it's important to make sure that they are really odds and ends of the tool rooms before you pop stuff in there if you don't want to spend forever trying to find the right sized nuts and bolts to use, but it IS a great storage idea! :D

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