Organise Your Sewing Space To Unleash Your Potential

If you are anything like me, sewing projects come first, and where to put things once you’re done is often an afterthought. Maybe you are a whizz at sorting things out, but that is definitely not one of my natural strong points! So with the Spring Cleaning season fully underway, I decided that now was a good time to take a step back and rethink my precarious pile of fabric scraps and how my unorganised mess impacts my productivity in the little sewing corner of my lounge.


Before and after sewing area organisation

As a sewing enthusiast, I’m sure you understand the importance of not having fabric falling on you mid-sewing or the annoyance of being unable to find the unpicker when you need it! So, a clean and well-organised workspace not only makes your sewing experience more enjoyable but will also help to increase your productivity and efficiency. Whether you have a dedicated room or just a corner of your home, organising your sewing space can make a big difference in your sewing success.

In this post, I’m going to share some tips and tricks that will hopefully help you unleash your sewing potential and take your workspace to the next level too.

Decluttering Your Sewing Space

As much as you might not want to hear it, now might be a good time to declutter. Have you been hoarding every fabric scrap just in case? Do you even like that sewing pattern or did you just keep it because you were given it? Go through your supplies, patterns, fabric, and any other sewing bits and get rid of anything that you no longer need or use.

How to keep your sewing room organised

Dispose of anything that is broken or damaged, but maybe you have things that are in good condition that you just can’t see yourself using again. You could either sell those things or consider donating them. Good places to donate to would be colleges that run sewing or art courses, preschool groups or primary schools that might want pretty fabric scraps for cutting and sticking, fleece fabrics to animal shelters, and some clothing banks will also take fabric donations too. You might also find with a quick google if there are any local sewing charities you can drop unwanted sewing supplies off to. There are often groups who sew for premature babies, refugees or many other causes.

Decluttering your space will not only create more room for you to work but also give you a clearer sense of what you have and what you need.

Designating A Sewing Area

Where do you want to actually sew? Maybe you have a whole room to work with or maybe you are on the dining room table. Make sure that the area is well-lit and easy to use. Good lighting is essential for any sewing project. It helps to prevent eye strain and makes it easier to see what you are doing which can only help to reduce the number of mistakes you might make. It is especially useful when working with fabrics with very slight differences in the fabric front and back! A magnifying lamp may also be useful for tasks that require fine detail work.

If you need to rearrange furniture to get in there, then it’s much harder to make the most of a small amount of time. Also, consider whether you have enough space nearby to lay out your projects to cut, piece or pin. Do you need to clear the floor or rearrange the room a bit to make a better space? Do you need more storage furniture or boxes? Or maybe, like me, you might want to invest in an easy-to-flip-out folding table so you have a big work area when you want to craft, but a nice lounge for family time. Depending on what you like to sew, you might also want to invest in a large cutting mat that would help protect your tabletop or floor from pin marks and make cutting out quicker with a rotary cutter.

Your sewing machine is one of the most important tools in your sewing arsenal. It’s also heavy! Try to keep it in a place where it is easily accessible and protected from dust and other elements. A dust cover is a great way to protect your machine when not in use. You’ll also find you work faster if you have your sewing scissors, unpicker, sewing machine feet and all the other tools you regularly use nearby. If you don’t have space to keep them in your sewing area, maybe a sewing box or tool caddy would be useful to be able to whip them out quickly and keep them near you while you sew.

You may also want to consider adding a comfortable chair. Backache from perching on a stool to sew for 3 hours is no joke!

How To Organise Your Fabric Stash

Once your fabric stash has been decluttered and you haven’t run off to sew with the prettiest fabric you found, it’s time to organise your stash. Yes, it can be daunting, but if you’ve ever bought fabric only to find that you already had something similar at a later date, you know it’ll be worth it!

Sort And Categorise Your Fabrics

First, divide your fabrics into categories such as cotton, silk, wool, etc. Or, by use e.g. crafting fabrics (e.g. felt, vinyl, fur), heavy fabrics (denim, corduroy, canvas etc.), dress fabrics (e.g. silk, lace, crepe, chiffon, sateen, georgette etc.) and stretch fabrics (e.g. jersey, scuba, lycra, bi-stretch etc). You may also want to sort your fabric by the quantity you have left so you can quickly locate the largest pieces you have when you have your next big project in mind.

If you have a lot of any category then you might want to also sort by colour or fabric pattern themes. This will make it easier to find which suitable fabrics you already own for the next project you have in mind.

How to organise and store fabric


Storing Your Fabrics

The easiest way to find what you need is to either keep your fabrics in clear plastic boxes or to fold your fabrics and stack them so that you can see the fold of each fabric in your box or shelf. Avoid over-stuffing containers or shelves, as this can lead to creases and wrinkles in your fabrics, and fabrics can easily be pushed to the back and lost in the stuffing process!

Some people also like using a filing cabinet to either keep fabrics within the dividers or drape folded fabrics over the top of the dividers. This is especially useful for fabrics that tend to crease easily or fabrics that you are frequently pulling out and putting back which could quickly get messy in a pile.

It is sensible to store delicate fabrics such as silk or lace, separately and on top or away from heavier fabrics. Consider using acid-free tissue paper or cotton fabric to wrap delicate fabrics before storing them. If you have a big box full of heavier fabrics you will want to consider how easy it is to lift that box from your storage spot. Or, how easily a pet or child can tip it off. So a lower shelf is often a good spot.


Keeping Track Of Your Fabric

When you work with a lot of fabric it can be easy to forget what fabric you have. This is where keeping a fabric inventory can come in useful. You can use a notebook, or spreadsheet or stick a piece of paper to the lid of each box with a list of what is in it. You might want to cut a swatch of each fabric in your stash and stick them to your list or keep them in a binder or in a clear envelope. Or, you could even use a photo album app to keep a record of your stash, with a different album for each box or fabric type. 

When writing an inventory, you are likely to want to jot down what type of fabric it is. If you think you might need to order more, make sure to write a note about where you bought it and the name of the fabric. Jot down the main colours and pattern theme (stars, stripes, animals etc). Measure the width and length, and keep any notes that might help next time you use the fabric such as – “sheds fluff everywhere, keep the vacuum handy!” or “Frays lots, use pinking shears to cut out!” or “Fabric sticks under the normal sewing machine foot, sew with a Teflon or walking foot”

This will allow you to easily see what you have and use it for future projects. The notes will also help to jog your memory so that you aren’t having to problem-solve with tricky fabrics all over again. 


How To Organise Your Sewing Notions & Tools

Organising sewing notions can definitely be a challenge. It’s all too easy to end up with a draw full of “stuff” but with the following tips, you can get your sewing space in order.

Just like your fabric, it really helps to sort out your notions into categories, such as thread, zippers, buttons, etc. Then consider how to keep them separate and easily accessible. 

How to organise sewing notions

How To Store Sewing Notions Neatly

Using clear containers, pill boxes, or drawers to store your notions helps to make it easier to find what you need. Or, label each container or drawer clearly with the contents. I like to use jam jars for zippers, ribbons, buttons, and Kam snaps. If you keep them all in a box, just label the lids so you know which jar to grab. It can help to have some mini resealable plastic pouches to keep colours or sets separate inside the jars. Then you can stuff them all in and keep all that scruffy contained. Decorate your jar with some washi tape and it’ll soon look more like a sweet shop than a haberdashery explosion!

This will make it easier to find what you need and keep your sewing space organized.

Storing Thread

A draw or box full of thread inevitably ends up as a tangled mess with a sea of bobbins at the bottom. There are various gadgets and gizmos out there to keep threads buddied up with their bobbin in your box or to stop them unravelling or specially designed thread organiser boxes. If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing area, then a wall organiser has been a game changer for me. If you (or someone easily bribed that you know) have some basic woodwork skills then a bit of wood, some dowels, a drill and some wood glue are all you need. You can find out more in my tutorial on how to make a thread storage rack. You could even make one to fit inside a drawer to stop your threads from falling into each other and keep your bobbins matched up.

Storing Sewing Machine Feet

Keep your sewing machine feet in a dry place to prevent rust and other damage. Delicate feet may need to be kept separately to protect them from scratches and damage.

I like to keep my sewing machine in a mini drawer next to my sewing machine. Having it close to the machine makes it much quicker to switch between feet. I’m very familiar with what all my sewing machine feet look like so I can quickly spot the one I need. I keep my most used ones in one drawer and the rest in another so I don’t have many to look through to find the ones I most likely need. However, this might not be the case for you. 

A good way to remember which sewing machine foot is which is to use a clear plastic storage container. If you use one with several compartments like a pill-style box, you can label each compartment with the name of the foot it contains. That way you can quickly find the foot you need and not forget what some of your more unusual feet do. If you do have random sewing machine feet lying around that you aren’t sure of, you can always try to identify them with our Sewing Machine Foot Guide. 

Buy Sewing machine feet and sewing gifts

The other way to help quickly identify your most commonly used feet easily is to make them easier to see – we have created some pretty coloured sewing machine feet to help you do just that! You can find them in our Sewing Machine Feet Shop.

Storing Sewing Tools

Tools like scissors, unpickers, awls etc need to be kept handy. They are frequently used and put down so they need to be within easy reach. Everyone knows how frustrating it can be being on a tight time frame and having lost an essential tool somewhere under your work in progress so it needs to be somewhere you’ll use at the moment as well as somewhere to store them in between uses. Good ideas to keep them in include a tool roll, a desk pencil organiser, or even in a pretty mug.

Organising Your Sewing Patterns

Once you have your sewing patterns sorted – maybe by clothes size or pattern type (e.g. dress patterns, top patterns etc.) then using a binder with plastic pocket inserts is a great way of keeping your patterns neat while being able to browse through whole categories at a time. If you have a more extensive collecting then a filing cabinet draw might be a good plan.

If you trace your patterns, you may want to write on it what size is traced and what pattern it is from. It may be useful to clip your traced version to your original pattern to help you easily find additional sizes or instructions when you come to use it again.

How to organise sewing patterns and paperwork

Like The Idea Of Keeping A Sewing Stash Inventory?

I’ve made you a fully editable spreadsheet that you can download and update to keep track of all your favourite sewing things. I’ve included pages for fabric, notions and patterns, but feel free to add more of your own! Unzip the file then open it with Microsoft Excel or on Google’s online spreadsheets. By sorting any column you like (click to sort by A to Z), you can easily find all the fabrics you have that are pink coloured or find out what your longest fabric is to see if you need to get something bigger, or even see what your smallest sized clothes pattern is. All without having to lift a box of fabric!

You can download your free fabric, sewing notions and pattern inventory spreadsheet here…

By following these tips, I hope you’ll find it easier to keep your sewing area organised and make the most of your sewing space and time.

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