Over New Year’s weekend, I decided to start organizing my studio. As you can see from the picture below, it was getting a little embarrassing, and the mess was completely killing my creativity. What started with simply trying to put fabric away turned into a complete studio overhaul. Along the way, I discovered that the more I tried to turn my studio into my “private quilt store”, the better I was able to understand how to put things away in a manner that made sense for me.
I started out with seven 56-gallon tubs filled to OVERFLOWING with fabric. I did not sort all of it. That would have taken me months, and I probably would have gotten discouraged along the way and quit. To start, I dumped out three bins worth of fabric. One of those bins became my “warm” color bin, the second my “cool” color bin, and the third my “neutrals and prints” bin. Then, my daughters and I started sorting the piles of dumped out fabric back into the bins. I gave away some fabric that I knew I would never use.
As we came across large pieces of fabric (more than one yard), we folded it over magazine boards. I got this idea from So Sew Easy. My husband was going to the comic book store anyway, and he got this pack of 100 boards for about $13. I think about 50 folded bolts fit into this 56 gallon tub.
For smaller pieces of fabric, we used the folding video tutorials from In Color Order, and made a little display of fabric in a wire bin from the Container Store. Just like with the larger fabric folded bolts, I picked fabrics for the small bin that I wanted to use sooner than later.
Over the years, I have accumulated a precious stash of Alison Glass fabrics, and I wanted to keep these together for an upcoming project. So I arranged them all in a pretty basket, along with the EPP papers I’ll be using. This looks much more inviting than the previous pile on the floor!
Finally, I dealt with a bin of fabric for an ongoing baby quilt project. Each year, my kids’ school makes baby quilts for moms in crisis pregnancies. I make two quilts a year, and the kids bring in special fabrics for the quilts. They usually bring in much more than the recommended 8” square. After doing this for 10 years, I have a huge stash of baby quilt fabric. I keep meaning to go through it and make additional baby quilts, but the magnitude of fabric overwhelms me.
In the spirit of making my own private quilt store, I pulled out my favorite quick-quilt pattern, Yellow Brick Road. Then my girls and I chose fabrics from the donation bin and made six “quilt kits.” Each ziploc has enough fabric to make a baby quilt from the Yellow Brick Road pattern. Now, whenever I need an easy, mindless afternoon of sewing, I can pull out one of these bags and make a quilt without having to worry about choosing and measuring fabrics.
Now, my fabrics are “organized enough” to motivate me to start sewing. And all of the bins close without sitting on them! Once I go through some of the “featured fabrics” shown above, I’ll go back to the bins and fold and sort more to feature. I love how manageable this system feels, and how inspired I am everytime I see the pretty fabrics on my new shelves.
Confession: I have enough UFO’s to complete TWO APQ resolution pages. Yes, 24 UFO’s. That has to change, and I am bound and determined to whittle that list down this year. Again, I have to “see” what I’m working on to stay motivated. So I made a couple of mini-design boards by pinning batting to artist canvases. I also use leftover lids from broken plastic bins to store projects I’m working on.
During the overhaul, my husband got me a set of sturdy wire shelves to store fabric. Now I can just pull out the bin I need (instead of unstacking boxes all the time). Even better, the shelves have just enough room to slide a project board on top of each box, so I can keep my UFO’s in sight, but not too cluttered.
Last but not least, I FINALLY found a way to organize my most-used rulers. These are usually out on my sewing counter, or propped up on the floor near my sewing counter. Which means I’m always losing them, tripping over them, or worse, cutting my toes along the edges of them. (true story). I bought some inexpensive coffee cup hooks at World Market, and hung them from the sides of the new shelves.
Now they’re easy to find, and impossible to trip over. I also hung a roll of masking tape on one of the cup hooks, which I guesstimate will save about 20 minutes per quilt. Everyone in the house uses masking tape, so I can never find it when I’m ready to baste a quilt. Now my roll is hung high enough that the kids will never snag it.
So that’s my studio makeover. I estimate it cost me about $70 for the shelves, magazine boards, and cup hooks. Here’s how the studio looks now:
Still far from perfect, but FAR more inviting and accessible than it has been. I love my new private quilt “store”, and spent the entire past weekend in it, sewing with my girls. Now, to tackle those UFO lists. . . .
What’s your favorite way to organize your quilting space?