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Tips & Techniques > Organizer for everyday sewing

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Posted by: Debbie Lancaster
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About Debbie Lancaster star
CA United States
Member since: 9/18/02
Reviews: 74 (tips: 28)
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Skill level:Intermediate
Favored by: 18 people
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Posted on: 1/13/06 4:06 PM
Last Updated: 6/30/12 7:46 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 5 people   Very Helpful by 10 people   
Web site/URL: photo
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I have cats. Cats love to play with small things. Cats will eat pins. Cats will bite through measuring tapes. Cats will chew on pencils. Cats will throw your smallest scissors onto the floor and skid it under something where you will never find it until you do your yearly spring cleaning. Cats and sewing notions don't mix, especially in the next bedroom, on a wood floor, in the middle of the night.

I've had one of those cheap multi-drawer carts for years, but only lately did it occur to me that I was using it the wrong way. I had carefully separated all my sewing notions into categories: thread, needles and handsewing, scissors and measuring tools. As elizajo said in a tip, you need to put things not into categories, but into *tasks*. Now, I didn't know about elizajo's tip until I sat down here to write down mine, but I truly thank her for verbalizing what I only murkily realized.

What I realized was that I was going to the cart at least a dozen times every time I went into the sewing room to do some sewing. Once for the pins and rotary cutter. Another time for the little scissors to snip notches. Another time for yet another thing that I had forgotten to pick up. It's only a few steps, but it was getting really frustrating! And then when I finished, everything had to be put away into its own little drawer to keep the cats from using it as a ping-pong ball when I wasn't there.

So I dumped everything out of one small drawer and redistributed it. I got out a few of the small boxes that I obsessively save (for just this reason), and put them into the drawer. I took out all the things I normally use when actually sewing, and put them into the various boxes. And voila! What I have now is a single drawer that I can remove from the cart and put next to my sewing machine, and into which everything goes back when I'm done so I can put it away where the cats (unless they get a *lot* smarter) can't get them.

Click on the link above to see my organizer. Clockwise from upper left: sewing machine needles and feet; ruler, tube turner (hidden behind the ruler), measuring tape, seam gauge, Grabbit pincushion, colored pencils for tracing, and chalk; scissors and seam rippers and other pointy things; hand-sewing needles, Thread Heaven and clip-on magnifiers; pattern tape, post-it flags.

Phew! You'd think that after forty years of sewing, *I'd* be smarter, but at least it happened finally!

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Myla said... (1/3/07 6:26 PM) Reply
What an idea! I take a sewing class & have each item in a different plastic cosmetic bag. Like you, I constantly have to take out all the bags. Now, I will put scissors, needles, etc. all in one bag. Thank you!
stitchinjj said... (4/23/06 11:31 AM) Reply
I use one of the mini drawer organizers too. I have the most used stuff in the top drawer and keep the pin cushion in there so that my cats won't play with it. My unit sits right next to my machine so I can leave the drawer slightly open when I am sewing and close it when I leave the room. My 4 cats haven't learned to open it yet!
Ec said... (2/5/06 11:09 PM) Reply
Chocolate boxes are perfect for this - and you HAVE to eat the chocolates first, of course!! Sharing is optional :) tee hee!
vasallese said... (1/28/06 3:52 PM) Reply
Thank you, my sewing room is very chaotic, but I have been unable to figure out a way to get my needed equipment stored but easily retrieved. I wind up with about 5-10 of everyhting, & they are all over the place. Maybe I will get organized this year!
Debbie Lancaster said... (1/19/06 9:37 AM) Reply
Beth, LOL! No, I have lots more notions, but those are the ones I *always* need.
Miss Fairchild said... (1/18/06 7:38 PM) Reply
Great tip! Boxes that checks come in work fine, too. Also, fancy soap boxes for pins, that way, the pins will smell nice. Also, I saved a metal box that you find at a craft shop to give out cookies (hinged on one side). That's great for storing my rotary cutters and I take the box to my cutting table. But is that all the notions you have? I must be a notion-o-holic then!
bubbagirl said... (1/18/06 5:57 AM) Reply
I found the article very informative.
Elphaba said... (1/15/06 9:47 PM) Reply
Smart ! Now I need a cart ! Thanks for the tip - I needed it.
Leslie in Austin said... (1/15/06 6:54 PM) Reply
I have my drawers organized by task too, but I never thought to take the whole drawer out while I'm working. That's genius. I'm grateful for you sharing the idea, but my kitties will not be happy with this new system.
Lizz said... (1/14/06 9:01 PM) Reply
Debbie- thanks! I have shoe boxes organized by job. The one marked "cutting out" contains everything I need to cut out a pattern and mark the pieces. My "pressing" box holds the press cloth, sizing, starch, ham, mitt, etc. It saves me a gazillion steps to have these close tot he spot where theya re needed.
SewVeryTall said... (1/14/06 3:53 AM) Reply
Good tip, Debbie...also, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who saves boxes for stuff like this, hehe. I empty a box of tissues, soda crackers, velveeta, etc., and it's hard to throw them away...I cut the ends or bottom off, and cover w/fabric...perfect drawer dividers.
Annie- oh said... (1/13/06 8:33 PM) Reply
Debbie - thanks for taking the time to submit this - every little bit helps us (who think we're pretty smart) - Annie
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