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Sewing with Threads Podcast

Organizing Tips | Episode 35

Video: Threads Magazine

In this episode of Sewing with Threads, the magazine’s editors offer organization tips for keeping your sewing tools and supplies tidy and accessible, and for improving efficiency when performing a range of sewing-related tasks. They also confess to some less-than-ideal habits and admit that tidiness is not always their top priority when sewing.

We invite you to share your organization ideas in our online Forum.

Store fabric for easy access

Sarah uses vinyl garment storage bags (found in the laundry aisle at her local grocery store) to protect her fabric and keep it visible. These can be stowed under the bed and it’s simple to see the contents and slide them out to grab fabric. At about 22 inches wide, they nicely accommodate folded yardage.

Jeannine favors vintage luggage for storage. These older suitcases have a charming appeal and come in a matched set, so they look attractive while hiding lots of fabrics, trims, and other supplies.

Carol’s secret shame is her stratified fabric organization method: She keeps her newest fabric on the top of the pile, and older pieces gradually sink to the bottom. This makes it easy to grab materials for her latest projects, and provides a welcome surprise when she uncovers yardage that has been aging near the bottom.

Corral small items

Clear plastic or glass containers, such as jars with firmly closing lids, are helpful for storing smaller items—buttons, zippers, marking tools, and more. You can see what you need, and they often provide a decorative touch to your sewing space as well.

Organization tips: clear plastic storage for small supplies

Organization tips: zippers in a jar

The editors recall a method shared by Ruth Ciemnoczolowski for joining all her zippers on a wire ring, which is stored in a jar. To select a zipper, she pulls out the ring and removes the zipper she needs.

You can find great drawer dividers in food packaging. Oreo cookie trays are a suitable size and shape for many notions. If you like compartmentalized organizing boxes, looks for ones with ridges in the lid to prevent small items from shifting between compartments.

Organization tips: Oreo cookie cardboard trays and clear plastic trays

Carol suggests rolling elastic or other trims on a cardboard tube so all varieties are accessible at once. The extra efficiency improves your state of mind as you approach a sewing project.

Improve your efficiency

Learn how the editors use painter’s tape, shower caddies, cork boards, poster paper, and ceramic tiles to cut and sew more accurately and with fewer stops and starts along the way.

Organization tips: sewing tool caddy

Organization tips: cork board sewing project organizer

Jeannine advocates leaving your worksurface clear at the end of the day. You’ll feel more inspired to dive into a project the next time you go to sew. She also reminds us that, to free up space and time for tools and materials we love, we should give or throw away items that don’t work for us. Yet there can be value in keeping some things. Find out what the editors like to keep handy in their sewing spaces, from unusual and specialized notions to small remnants.

Photos by Sarah McFarland, except where noted.


Today’s episode is brought to you by our friends at Baby Lock, who are excited to offer you a chance to win a dream sewing room this holiday season. Enter to win your choice of a Baby Lock Solaris 2 sewing and embroidery machine, or a Venture multineedle embroidery machine and qualifying Koala studio. You’ll also receive a Madeira thread assortment and a variety of Klassé needle packs.

Visit BabyLock.com/holiday-guide to enter to win today.

Baby Lock logo

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  1. sewcat | | #1

    I just finished listening to the Organizing tips podcast. I have a few tips that may work for others. My fabrics are stored in tubs labeled by use and weight but when a piece comes in, I take pictures of it and record it in Evernote with the width, yardage and care. I also file my patterns in the same way in Evernote. SO planning a project, I can pick the pattern and fabric without going to the bins. I also have my threads (including embroidery) listed the same way. So when I am shopping in a real store, it also saves me from buying the 8th spool of Navy thread or another 3 yds of some fabric I already own

    1. CarolFresia | | #2

      Hi, SewCat,

      I love your tip. I have EverNote on my phone and never use it. Now I know what it would be good for. Of course, the retroactive archival work I'd have to do to record my existing stash might deter me from actually following your useful suggestion!

      Happy sewing in 2021.
      Carol Fresia, Threads Senior Technical Editor

  2. BelleBeryl | | #3

    Silk threads I keep in a cookies tin away from light.

  3. user-7874151 | | #4

    I love organization tips and ideas from others because sewists are artists, creative, we think outside the box so hearing from others helps so much. I'm rearranging my sewing room to make room for a new cylinder sewing machine for heavy fabrics, so purging and finding better ways to store items is mandatory. I quilted for 30 years and recently started making bags/pouches/totes and also upcyling clothing. My new sewing hobbies require different fabrics which have to be stored differently, new notions and tools, etc. It's a whole rethink of what I have, what I am adding, and making it work together. Many people donate fabric to me, fleece, flannel, sheets, comforters, home dec, etc. and I make a lot of charity quilts or dolls or walker bags etc. But there comes a time when I have too much and need to find another sewist to pass it to. I have luckily found some beginners who love taking my purged items so they can practice. I even gutted a free leather couch just to have leather to practice on. Surprisingly I also received several long zippers and webbing/strap, and some very fine stuffing that is perfect for toys. Ooops, now I need better storage for all of that lol. But it's about having fun and not getting overwhelmed. Ya'll are fantastic and I hope you do more organization podcasts. Love it!

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