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Sewing Room Spring Cleaning Tips

VictoriaNorth | Posted in General Discussion on

What are some of your favorite spring cleaning tips for your sewing room?


  1. User avater
    rodezzy2 | | #1

    Getting everything back to where it belongs after a season of doing whatever I've been doing in there.  Last year I did a rather big overhaul. 

    I like to go through my stash(es) and take a mental and sometimes written inventory of what I have on hand; like now, I've been purchasing trims, ribbons, yarn, rhinestones, buttons and other embellishments for the ideas I've had for my purchased spring and summer clothing.  I put an iron-on embellishment on a light brown jean jacket last night to wear to work today, to give myself a lift since the sun was out today after a week of rain and dark skies.

    I inventory my fabric and pull lighter fabrics to the front.  At least when or if I get to my sewing projects for this season, I'll know where my fabric is.  I change my ironing board cover, and I go through my patterns for the spring and summer items I purchased during the sales that I imagined making.  I will put away the coat and heavy jacket patterns.  I have a container in my sewing room for the seasons patterns I've purchased.  A "wish list" of things I might make.  I go through this often and sometimes jot down fabric lengths needed in a notebook I keep in my purse.

    And I look through my quilt fabric for brighter fun fabric also. 

    Since I clean my machine throughout the year, its not a spring cleaning project.  I try to keep it clean after every couple of projects.  I probably should do it more often, but I'm not that efficient.   Since I don't sew all the time, it's not a big deal.

  2. Tatsy | | #2

    My one tip is to sew up some of the accumulation. I taught for years and June was the time when I could finally get to the projects that hadn't been touched yet. Of course, that leads to the other tip: Stay out of the fabric stores until you've got some clear space.

  3. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #3

    I like to go through my catchall boxes and put things back. Frequent use items get stored closer to where I use them, and ones I do not get moved out and stored elsewhere. I like to clean up the dusty stuff for a fresh start, and put my books back in order. I pull out the lighter weight fabric boxes in my stash to look for suitable fabrics to sew up with my new patterns. This means putting the boxes of heavier stuff to the back. Good time to dust off the boxes. I also go over my notions and thread stash, and make a list of things to buy to replace what I used, as there are lots of spring sales on! Cathy

  4. meg | | #4

    Get REAL. Am I really going to make a garment/quilt with that? (NO? then get rid of it.) When was the last time I used that? (Pass it along.) Is it likely that someone else will use it? (Pass it along.)

    I also rearrange my sewing furniture. Of course, there are only two or three positions which work, but it makes me feel like I have a totally new sewing room. That alone invigorates and incites my sewing!

    1. Susan -homedecsewing | | #5

      I am a collector of this and that, I had 10 bags of pretty scraps I couldn't throw out. On my local Freecycle forum someone needed scraps to make bears for terminally ill children, so I gave them all to her and asked her to pass on what she didn't use ! It feels wonderful to have cleared out my space for such a good cause. Now I have space for new stuff . Susan

      1. User avater
        rodezzy2 | | #6

        he he he lol, that's how it is, we clean out stuff and add new stuff right back.  I've cleaned that back room out three times last year, and then I fill it back up.  It has never become the room I've wanted.  Oh well, thats life, and it goes on and on and on. 

  5. MomaDeb | | #7

    I like to re-organize after a big project.  This spring I took clear containers and divided my fabrics into colors.  Then I found an over-the-door shoe organizer and this is now a great place to store all the wonderful things I picked up since the last time I organized.  I can easily see what I have so I don't forget about it again, easy to find, and since it is vertical storage it doesn't take up any space.  Now, if I just had more doors.

    1. Simka | | #21

      Most of my sewing room clean-ups involve the things people have written about in this discussion but the best thing I have done this year was to get a label maker with REALLY LARGE TYPE!!! Now I can see my organized boxes without needing my glasses :) LOL!

      1. MomaDeb | | #23

        I have thought about a label gun, but opted for a large black sharpie I already had.  It seems a great deal of us in this discussion greatly appreciate items we can read/see easily, as I often can't remember where I laid my glasses down.  I try to keep a pair in every room of the house, and I still misplace them.  Anyway, is the label gun easy to use and what about the price?

      2. MaryinColorado | | #31

        I bought a labelmaker...didn't get a "round tuit" in time, the grandkids used it all up on their school supplies...then their rooms, ha ha.  Then I bought some more of the tape and hid it...now that I'm ready to use it I can't find it, lol. 

  6. MarshaK | | #8

    Spring cleaning--- reminds me of a woman from Scotland I used to correspond with years ago. I mentioned that I had to 'spring clean' the house to which she replied 'Over here we clean our houses on a regular basis, daily or weekly' Ha! And even though it was written, her attitude came over as quite snarky, needless to say, our correspondence didn't last very long after that, or maybe it ended because I couldn't send her all the pieces of Blue Mountain pottery she wanted. Turns out that was the only reason she had befriended me.

    I've given up on organizing my various stashes of fabrics, buttons, yarns, threads etc. because everytime I do I have to spend a lot of time trying to find some item after it's been put away in a'good' place. I do sort through my things occassionally to remind myself of what I have. Marsha.

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #9

      You mean the put away safely, lost forever syndrome? tee hee hee Cathy

      1. MarshaK | | #10

        Well, some of the stuff does surface eventually, mostly right after I've given up the search and bought a new one! Marsha.

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #17

          LOL, I just had that happen to me with my measuring tool that has all the standard measurements marked on it. Invaluable when doing hems on the ironing board. Couldn't find it for the life of me. Bought another, but it is not quite the same as the original. Brought it home, and Presto! the old one seemed to pop out of no where. I am positive I looked for it there before.... Cathy

          1. MarshaK | | #18

            I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one that happens to! I know I have the item, just not where it is. Do you think our tools go on some sort of vacation we don't know about? Marsha.

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #19

            Hmmm, I wonder what sort of vacation they take? he he he
            I have had to start putting the brighter coloured ones away where Jcat cannot play with them... but that does not explain the missing ones from boxes... I know that I put them away in that box...he he he... the mystery continues, de dum de dum de dum.... Cathy

          3. MaryinColorado | | #30

            Maybe the sewing faeries were reminding you of their presence and need to be acknowledged...or just having fun playing tricks on you!  teehee

    2. MaryinColorado | | #28

      I enjoyed your post!  So you went above and beyond the physical "Spring Cleaning"! 

  7. gailete | | #11

    I try to clean up after every project or so, but other than that I only 'spring clean' when I fel like putzing in my sewing room without actually sewing. A couple months ago I cleaned out the dresser that holds a bunch of stuff and I bought some magazine storage boxes (and need more!). I keep telling myself I should arrange my quilting fabrics by color, but I never get to it so every time I need a particular color I have to go through about 8 boxes of quilt stash. Garment stash is another story!

    I guess I don't really 'spring clean', but I sure would like some pretty boxes to hold things like patterns, etc. I did make a pretty pincushion to use in my room. I'm trying to decorate bit by bit. I see pictures of other ladies sewing rooms and I love to see how they decorated and it inspires me to do something.

    1. Teaf5 | | #24

      Instead of organizing every single piece of stash, I have boxes that say: "Darks" "Lights" "Brights" "Fancies" "Sheers" "Decorator" "Large pieces-darks" and of course: "To Sort."

      You don't have to sort everything on one day; you can start with one category in one empty box and fill it as you run across a piece; eventually, you have fewer and fewer random boxes to check. 

      Come to think of it, it's time for me to get working on that "To Sort" box!

      1. Ocrafty1 | | #25

        The timing of this thread couldn't be better!  Having just bought a repairable Juke DDL5550 :) I have to completely reorganize my sewing room in order to be able to fit it in.  I have already gone through all of my old craft books, giving the unwanted ones to my daughters...and putting all my newly acquired collection of Threads in their place.  I reorganized last yr.   I purchased 2 sets of inexpensive plastic shelves that I could place on top of my bookcase. The top shelves hold plastic bins with craft stuff that I rarely use, but occasionally must have.  Middle shelves: mid-sized see thru plastic boxes for bindings, buttons (yes, I spent hrs. sorting those into tiny plastic bags, by color/style..but boy can I find what I want now!), Wedding trims, buttons,etc., snaps/velcro/closures...each marked with a label written in a big sharpie...on both ends, so I can always see what is in the box. I have 2 large plastic boxes for remnants of fabrics too good to pitch...sorted by fabric type/color; 1 for satins/taffeta/chiffon, the other for cotton/cotton/poly, etc. I spent days doing that project, but it was worth it. Those fit under the old formica kitchen table that I use for a cutting table.

        I have patterns sorted by 'style', i.e, wedding/formal, childrens, vintage, etc., also in plastic bins. I just wish they fit better in them. I have an old metal bookshelf, with shelves removed, for storing 'good' new yardage on rolls. I can stand them up...or lean them so they fit. I also have a short set of drawers that I store new cottons, flannel, knits and special lace yardage.  Wobbly Wanda stands wherever she can fit at the time. My ironing board is always ready...but must be moved to access another old dresser that stores tissue paper, and other odds and ends.  A tall, thin 'french provincial' lingerie dresser holds interfacing, wonder under, wrapping paper, other odds and ends.  I need to make labels for those drawers.

        One of my favorite 'pieces' is a plastic organizer that has 25 little drawers.  I think guys use them for holding nuts and bolts, etc. It sets on the right side of my sewing machine cabinet. It holds extra feet, cleaning brushes, oil, needles, special thread spools, pincushions, everything I need at hand!  Mom gave it to me one Xmas with $1 in each drawer. One of my most favorite gifts ever! It has little dividers that can be arranged in each drawer. I just bought a similar one yesterday. 

        The factory DH works at...Delphi, which is downsizing and shipping equipment and jobs to China :(   ... is selling their 'excess' office equipment to a salvage operator; who resells it at bargain prices.  Yesterday I bought a like new ergonomic office chair for my 'new' sewing machine ($5), one of those florescent lights w/magnifying lense ($10), and the organizer ($10). I 'found' the cutting table I want...they want $50....DH is going to try to get it for about $35...keeping my fingers crossed.  I'd spend a fortune in there for storage if I could!  The problem is I just don't know where I'd put it all...My sewing room is fairly good sized...10x14...but there is no real closet...a stairway to the attic, with old metal hooks around the perimeter...but no more room....if I put anything else in there, I won't fit.

        Better go get re-organizing, LOL



        1. gailete | | #26

          It is those machines I drag home that is making problems in my sewing room. Was at a yard sale this weekend and had a guy insist I buy a Universal Deluxe Sewing Machine in is table for $2. Who can resist that when it came with a bunch of bobbins, feet and cams to make a bunch of decorative stitches? We plugged it in and it seems to work, but I haven't gotten further than that, but I don't know where to put it either. Not really anymore space in the sewing room, but I would like it handy as I want to see if the decorative stitches work as my Janome 6500 is seriously missing stain stitch decorative stitches for doing crazy patchwork, etc.

          I also ended up with a bunch of quilting fabric for $3 total. Quite a few pieces were those landscape fabrics, rocks, bricks, etc. that I don't normally buy but will come in handy.


          1. Ocrafty1 | | #27

            Those types of fabrics can be quite interesting. I've recently discovered the back side of fabrics...I know everyone else has done it for yrs.  I bought a jacket at Goodwill for the button.  The fabric was '80s ugggly multicolor.  I looked inside after I got it home and found a gold/black metalic paisley!  Gorgeous!  I took the jacket completely apart.  Think I'll make a purse, with pockets inside.

            I only had my old Kenmore until yesterday.  It will probably take me about a month to get parts/clean and figure out how to use this new one.  I've seen videos on YouTube of how quickly it sews....like the difference between an old Ford truck and a Lamborgini!  This could be fun!!!  But I gotta get busy....I keep checking to see if anyone has posted about the Juke DDL5550...I have lots of questions before I order parts...... Deb

  8. Ceeayche | | #12

    Hi Vicki,

    I suggested in another thread an article about cleaning the sewing room, so I hope this is where this is leading.  I'm dreaming of an indepth look at the sewing room to include innovative storage methods for the stash, tips on how to cull the stash, and suggestions on where to donate or sell the cast offs.

    Late Summer would be a great time for this to hit!

    Edited 5/9/2009 12:58 pm ET by CHL

  9. sewelegant | | #13

    The best thing I ever did to my sewing/craft room was to buy lots of shoe size plastic boxes to sort items; label them, and store them on the bookshelves.  My biggest complaint with this system is how often the industry decides to change their design and when I go to buy some new ones they do not stack with the older ones.  I therefore have different "collections", but it still makes for finding what I want an easy thing (most of the time).  It really makes it nice to know where to put something away, I have a very nasty habit of never putting something away right away so have to do a little "spring cleaning" all year.

    However, I know that Spring Cleaning actually means getting down to the nitty-gritty, getting the dirt out of the hidden corners.  No surface cleaning here.  No dallying either, just get it done!  Well,..... when do we move again?

    1. gailete | | #14

      I saw some lovely decorated boxes at Joanns that were very Victorian and I wanted to buy enough for all my storage needs (a girl can dream can't she?). Hubby (who is craftier than I) said we could cover boxes etc. and I know we could, but I wanted THOSE boxes! No money for them, but they looked so nifty. Most of my fabric is stored in old paper boxes, which are generally the same size. It is all the other stuff that gives me problems such as boxes for my 2" strips, 3" strips,4" strips,2 1/2" strips, lace ribbons, patterns (I have well over 10,000 patterns downstairs and in my sewing room I have run out of space for my own personal patterns!).

      This is where it would be nice if they had one of those reality fix up your sewing room shows (they foot the bill) and somehow your sewing space will be big enough to hold everything and will look lovely also! Of course, we would all win a redo, nobody left out!


      1. sewelegant | | #15

        I know!  It sounds great.  But, what would I do if everything was all in order?  I sometimes think my passion is organizing my stuff.  That is a lot more fun than sewing for hours on something that ends up in the "maybe I'll finish it later heap".  I never got into quilting so I do not have to deal with that problem, but I am a pack rat about keeping something that will look good on a handmade card.  Or on a cloth doll!  Or numerous other pursuits.

        Speaking of sewing... I finished my blouse (shirt-jacket) finally and am quite pleased with all the adjustments I made.  I fell in love with the fabric at JoAnn's last spring.  It's a white cotton voile with white all over embroidery.  It was not expensive so I purchased enough so if I messed it up I could have more fabric to work with (how's that for confidence?)  I started putting in the button holes and my automatic got hung up on the embroidery.  It took me an hour to rip out that stitching!  Now I'm not sure how to proceed.  Do I put tissue paper over the fabric before sewing the buttonhole?  Or maybe tearaway stablizer?  I've never had this problem before.  I really like my machine's automatic buttonholer so am a bit disappointed, but I'll find a way.  I am wondering how others handle making buttonholes in uneven fabric texture.

        My problem with sewing in the later years is the fitting issue others are also dealing with.  I have to figure out how to make my bodice small enough to fit through the shoulders and expand through the bosom and not look like a big sloppy tent and I think this shirt is a good fit.

        1. gailete | | #20

          >> I have to figure out how to make my bodice small enough to fit through the shoulders and expand through the bosom and not look like a big sloppy tent <<

          I'm having the same problem!

          As to buttonholes, I don't know. I would try out the stabilizer idea on some layers of the spare fabric (you said you had spare) that if they mess up, you don't have to unpick. Just make sure you are using the same amount of layers as will be in the buttonhole. Are you using a buttonhole for lightweight fabric? They give us some many options on our machines that you have to know what you are doing to use them. I personally try to avoid buttonholes and zippers even though I know how to do them, I don't like to nor do I like sewing on buttons. Supposedly my machine can do that but I've never tried it. I guess I suspect that a machine sewn button will act exactly like a machine sewn button on a purchased garment--unravels ASAP!


          1. sewelegant | | #22

            I'm going to answer your post under the heading fitting so please look for it there.

          2. Gloriasews | | #32

            Actually, Gail, the homesewn button doesn't unravel the way the commercial ones do.  They are super easy to do.  Just drop your feed dogs & put your button foot on the machine (if you have one, although I've used the regular zigzag foot previously), set your zigzag width & go to it.  What I've done to secure them is pull the threads to the back of the button & tie a knot.  Those buttons never fall off!


          3. MaryinColorado | | #34

            do you set the stitch length at zero? 

          4. Gloriasews | | #35

            I didn't bother with the stitch length, Mary - just left it as is, but you do have to set your zigzag width to fit the holes in the buttons.  I turn the machine wheel manually to check the width before I set it on the machine, so that I don't break the needle.  (This is just for flat buttons with holes, not shank buttons). :)  Happy sewing (or mending).


          5. MaryinColorado | | #36

            I hadn't thought it through so my imagination had the button moving along on the feed dogs.   I went back and reread your post and saw that you dropped the feed dogs, so it wouldn't be necessary to change the stitch length, silly me.  Now it has sunk in and makes sense to me.  Thanks for clarifying this. 

            I colored my hair today, maybe some of the bleach soaked into my brain, tee hee. 

          6. Gloriasews | | #37

            I'm glad I could help!  You'll be amazed at how quickly you can sew on buttons this way.  I've been doing them this way for decades, since I got my first zigzag machine (& what a miracle machine that was in those days).  It took all the annoyance out of sewing shirt buttons back on :).

            As for the bleach permeating your brain?  Not likely!  (If so, most of us your be brain dead by now :)).  Now you look gorgeous & ready for anything!


          7. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #38

            Gloria, does your machine have the ability to sew in one spot at different widths? Mine does, so I anchor stitch by stitching in place a few stitches in the first hole before zig zagging the button on. Then doing the same anchor stitches to finish off in the second hole. I find the buttons stayed on better than just zig zagging. I did not have to pull the threads through, just clip them close, leaving a very small tail. Cathy

          8. Gloriasews | | #39

            What a great idea, Cathy!  I could do that manually with my machine - just put it to straight stitch, with the feed dogs down, then switch to zigzag, then back to straight when I'm done.  I'll try that next time, as yes, it would save me tying knots on the back, although I've been doing that for years, so it's fast, as well.  I'll try your method next time - it's got to be faster yet, & way less fiddly.  I would have never thought of doing that, but it's logical.  Thanks so much!


          9. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #40

            You are welcome. I got the idea from watching the embroidery machines doing the automatic thread trims! Cathy

        2. MaryinColorado | | #29

          water soluble stabilizer over the top of your fabric "should" work, it is more delicate, the tear away is good under fabric, but not on top as it sometimes leaves residual forever. 


        3. Gloriasews | | #33

          Have you tried tissue paper under your buttonhole?  The embroidery in the fabric may be catching on the feed dogs. 


      2. Sancin | | #16

        I have covered cardboard boxes with wallpaper - usually bought on close out sales. Perhaps you could find some Victorian wall paper!

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