You might be wondering — is Erica really the best person to talk about organizing your sewing space? Well, if you are looking for an Instagram perfect sewing room with lots of windows and white walls and clean surfaces, then you are right.
However, if you are looking to make your sewing space more functional, I do have some tips for you. My brain is a chaotic place and maintaining and working in a clean space has just not been practical for me. My sewing room is small and my stash is massive, plus pattern storage, scraps, current projects, and miscellaneous piles of paper need a place to go.
Here are the things that I do to make my sewing room work for me.
Organizing Your Stash
There are lots of ways to store and organize fabric and I have tried most of them. My stash is currently organized by color, with solids separated from prints. I do have a separate location for Anna Maria Horner fabrics and a few different precuts or collections that I have kept together. When you look at my stash your brain might get a little overwhelmed, but I know where everything is.
You can also organize your stash by fabric designer or manufacturer. This was my preference for a long time, but it seems like there are more and more designers out there and it just got less practical. If your stash is mostly by a few favorite designers or a couple of manufacturers, this might work for you.
If you buy exclusively precuts and only use one collection at a time, leave those precuts bundled until you are ready to use them! You can never re-bundle it — that pretty stack of fabrics will be much more manageable if you keep it together.
Organizing Your Scraps
If you make a lot of quilts (and I do!) you are going to end up with a lot of scraps. First, I am going to tell you a little secret:
You do not have to keep them!
I do keep mine because I love making scrap quilts, but not everyone does. If you aren't going to use your scraps, get them out of your sewing space. There are lots of quilters out there who would happily buy them or at least pay postage.
I like to cut my scraps into usable shapes before storing. This makes them much easier to use and easier to store. I cut them into 2", 2.5", 3", 3.5", 4", and 5" squares and then occasionally other shapes to make a Plaid-ish Quilt, a Valued Scrap Quilt, or another planned project.
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
I told my daughter this recently — she is a teenager and did not appreciate the advice —but I do think that this is true. For the most part, I start every project that I finish, but the unfinished projects are usually the unplanned ones.
I maintain a list of current and upcoming projects (you can even download your own copy here). Of course, other projects sneak their way into the queue, but they are harder to prioritize because they aren't planned so they are less likely to get finished. One of the best ways to organize my sewing space is just to finish what I start.
Don't Buy Fabric Unless You Love It
We all love fabric, that's one of the reasons why we are quilters, but it's easy to pick up fabrics that you like but don't love. If you create a stash of fabrics that you really love, it will be much easier to keep them organized. Even if it is organized chaos, it is easier to remember which fabrics you have and where they are located.
If you are looking for more structured system, there are spreadsheets and worksheets and helpful blog posts out there. The most important thing is that you find something that works for you and your process. There is no single, correct way to organize your sewing room because if it is YOUR sewing room.
Make sure to check out all of the tips that Katie is sharing over at Swim Bike Quilt. One of the best things about the quilting community is learning from each other!