Getting organized for a new year

Happy New Year! We’ve went on a quick family trip and got back Tuesday night. I’m finally getting Christmas cleaned-up. As much as I love the cozy feel of our Christmas trees and decorations, I also get excited about the clutter-free feeling after it’s all put away. That feeling, combined with the new year, and I’m totally in the mood to get organized.

Tips for organizing a sewing room

Since it’s “that-time-of-year” for a fresh start, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite organizing tips. And since I am not the perfect authority on being clean and organized (it’s one of my life goals to get better at that!) I’ve been searching for other tips and suggestions (and pretty pictures to motivate me) and figured I’d share some of the other good stuff I’ve found along the way!

Organization ideas for working in a Small Creative Space by Emily of Quilty Love

image from Quilty Love

Organizing your sewing space. Emily from Quilty Love has a great post with really useful tips for organizing your sewing room – especially for small spaces.

In trying to keep my sewing space more organized (particularly my cutting table), I’ve started keeping the fabric for each project corralled in their own bin. Typically I’ve got multiple projects on my cutting table at once. I’m trying to do a better job of putting away the fabrics from any project I’m not immediately working on and to have fewer projects going at once. (I’m better at this some times than others.)

I found these cute plastic baskets at Target, just the right size for holding a project and keeping it looking neat (and cute).  I also bought one for my “work clutter”. I don’t have a designated desk area in my house and since I have a laptop computer, I tend to float around to different couches. I now have my ‘floating desk’ in a basket with all of my supplies, papers, planners, etc in one place.

These cute little jars with lids were another recent find at Target (in the $ section in December, so sadly, they’re probably not available any more. But it wouldn’t be hard to find something similar.)  I use them to hold my binding clips, basting safety pins and my mini clothespins.  I used to keep each in their own open bowl or container, which were all different and would occasionally spill. The uniform style looks less cluttered on my dresser and the lid keeps things from spilling and makes it easier to grab and go when I’m ready to use them. Also keeps them dust free. Speaking of dust…

Organizing thread – there are so many pretty ways to display and store your thread – pinterest is full of them! But here’s my personal recommendation: Get a thread storage bin. It’s not pretty as a rainbow-ized spool holder on your wall, but here’s why I do it. As you know, sewing spaces get pretty dusty. (Okay, super dusty.) If your thread is out collecting dust, as soon as you thread your sewing machine, that dust is going to run through your machine. Now this isn’t dire if you have an older model machine, but if you have a newer model – particularly one with sensitive, computerized parts – you do not want dusty thread running through your machine.

I use the Thread Holder by ArtBin – it holds up to 30 spools of thread. It’s always handy and easy to find what I need. And I keep my thread dust free.

Solutions if you love the look of pretty thread displays: just display vintage threads that are still cute and colorful, but that you’re not going to sew with. Or just unwrap the outside layer of thread before you thread it through your machine.

I have A LOT more Sewing Room organization ideas pinned to this Sewing Rooms board, for plenty more ideas and inspiration.

Tips How to Organize Fabric

image from Polkadot Chair

Organize Fabric – I really love (and agree with) the way that Melissa at the Polkadot Chair organizes and stores her fabric.  She has  some really useful tips (as well as pretty pictures to help you get motivated.) She talks about how to organize your fabric by color and theme as well as how to fold it easily to get those pretty, uniform stacks.

I love Crazy Mom Quilts’ organized fabric as well! She always inspires me to use up my stash – especially my scraps.

One fabric storage tip that I started a few years ago is to use an IKEA Billy CD tower shelf – it’s just the right size for storing fat quarters. It’s so narrow (only 8″ wide) that it doesn’t take up a lot of wall space, but with that height, it can hold A LOT of fat quarters. It’s amazing where you can find to fit one of these. I had this little unused corner behind a door and it fit perfectly. And absorbed A LOT of fabric that I wanted easily accessible.

Organize scraps – one thing I have become better at doing is sorting and using my scraps. Here’s my system for organizing my scraps. Plus some ideas for using them too!

tips for organizing fabric scraps

image from Bee In My Bonnet

The queen of efficiently organizing and using your scraps is definitely Lori Holt. I’ve learned a lot from and implemented her system. It is great. You can read more about her scrap sorting and storage methods here.

(And I just realized Lori uses the same baskets from Target!)




One of my other goals this year is to get – and stay – more organized with my planning. I feel like I’ve been making progress over the years, and keep looking for ways to improve.

The Quilter's Planner - beautiful planner, calendar, quilt patterns

image from the Quilter’s Planner

I got my first Quilter’s Planner last year and have become a HUGE fan. I couldn’t wait to get my 2018 planner a few weeks ago so I could start plotting the new year.

This planner is my favorite. It includes both monthly and weekly calendars with space for different to-do lists. There are specific pages for Project Lists, Project Planners, graph paper, coloring pages, quilt-measuring references, beautiful quotes and photography to inspire you.

Not only is it a planner but in includes quilt patterns! There is a block pattern each month right in the planner. It also comes with a magazine with 13 quilting and sewing patterns.  It is a sturdy, hefty size, which makes portability a little easier (hence the creation of the companion pocket planner), but I happen to actually really like the bigger size because I’m much less-likely to misplace it. (Which has been known to happen with other notebook in my life…)

The Quilter’s Planner has a special pricing discount for guilds, so be sure an ask about that!

This year as I’m using my planner for all aspects of my calendaring (business, personal, family, quilting…) I decided I need to get some more color coding going on to keep everything straight. So I finally pulled out my Lori Holt Planner Pens that the Fat Quarter Shop gave me last year. Of course any colored markers on pencils will work, but I’m having fun with my new color system.

image from Maker Valley

Another one of my goals this year is to get better at keeping track of my WIP’s (Works in Progress) and Stash. I did a really good job of that in 2016, but kind of fell off the keeping track as well last year. If you’re looking for some simple printable list pages, I really love these printable lists from Maker Valley.

Free printable Quilt Project planner pages

image from Simple Simon and Co

Some other helpful printable pages (if you want to create your own planner) include these free printable project pages from Simple Simon and Co.

The Patchwork Posse has another great selection of free-printable planner pages.

Quilt Math printable pages

Image from Amy’s Creative Side

Amy’s Creative Side has another variation on printable quilt planner pages that help with figuring out all the math! She has a video tutorial on her site to show you how to use them.

So there’s a bunch of ideas for kicking off your own new year organizing and planning. If you’re in the mood to purge, checkout @MyQuiltDiet on Instagram and follow along with her hashtag #theGreatUFOPurgeof2018! (It’s motivating me to catalog and purge some of those!)

Feel free to share more helpful links or ideas in the comments!


One last note – Fave Quilts has posted their list of the Best Free Quilt Patterns of 2017. You can find the list here!

*this post contains affiliate links – meaning if a purchase is made, I receive a small commission which helps support this blog. Thank you!

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  • Reply
    January 6, 2018 at 5:27 am

    Thank you for all the tips and links!!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2018 at 7:57 am

    wonderful,Amy. thank you! a terrific help.

  • Reply
    Sandra B
    January 6, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Thanks, Amy! It is nice to see all the options for getting better organized…. My sewing space is fairly small, so being organized is a necessity…. I am mostly a hand piecer and hand quilter, so having a small sewing space works well, but it still needs to be organized. The space is visible from our back door entry and that’s the entry all our friends use when they come over! Motivation to keep it presentable, for sure!!
    Thanks so much for all the inspiration you give us!
    Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Teach You To Sew
    January 6, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Great tips here, Amy.

    Thanks so much for sharing.


  • Reply
    Cheryl Schultz
    January 6, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Thanks for the great ideas! I’m definitely going to use the printable pages for WIP. My stash, however, is all stored behind closet doors. I had some stacked fabric that faded along the edge from being exposed to daylight. My husband and I removed the hanging rod in my sewing room closet, installed Closetmaid shelves and I sorted my stash into clear plastic boxes. The shelves can be adjusted for different heights and the fabrics aren’t constantly exposed to light.

    • Reply
      January 7, 2018 at 9:40 pm

      Great idea!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration. I might just duck into my sewing space for a little clean today.
    I keep my thread in a set of file drawers designed to hold office paperwork but I left over that I can see them and keep the dust off.

  • Reply
    Judi Anseeuw
    January 7, 2018 at 6:17 am

    Cannot tell you how inspirational your ideas and others have helped me get busy to organize my stash. Thank you so much. Great ideas.

    • Reply
      January 7, 2018 at 9:39 pm

      I’m so glad to hear! Thanks, Judi!

  • Reply
    Elaine Jordan
    January 12, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    I love organization tips.
    I keep my projects in 2 1/2 gallon Ziploc bags until I cut them out, then if possible, I put them, including the pattern, any notes, special thread, I to smaller, usually one gallon size, keeping them all in a basket.
    I started doing this because I can grab and go when I go on RV trips( I’m works my on creating an organized area, with duplicate supplies in my RV, including an extra sewing machine!)
    I’m also setting up small projects, like microwave cozies, for those days I just don’t want to do a full project
    I also have a whiteboard with my projects, columns for pattern chosen, fabrics gathered, cut?, batting, back, binding, checking off each item as I get it done

    • Reply
      January 13, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Such great suggestions. Thanks Elaine! And how fun is that to have fully equipped RV? Sounds wonderful to me!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    Love lots of these ideas. I also think its important to determine what kind of space feeds your creative energy – I create better when I have fewer distractions so I try to store things behind doors or plain curtains – my fabric is stored by color in clear bins – I lift the curtain when I want to see them. And decorations are kept simple and subdued.

    • Reply
      January 13, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      Really good thoughts! And so true – different people have different needs when it comes to creative spaces.

  • Reply
    Kim Andrews
    February 4, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Good tips on organizing. If you really like a line of fabric, what is your “go to” precut?

    • Reply
      February 4, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      Hmm – I don’t really have a “go to” only because they’re all good for different purposes, but I do really like the versatility of 10″ x 10″ squares.

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