How To Organization

5 Tips for Organizing Your Sewing Room

At the beginning of each new year, I like to take some time review the year, make goals, and give my sewing room a little refresh. It always feels so good! Thought I would take a few minutes to share a few different tips and tricks I’ve learned over the year to get your sewing room organized.


Little by Little

Whenever I do a major refresh of my sewing room, I tackle a little section every day. A cupboard here, a closet here. I like to set a bite-sized goal (20 minutes a day) that I can commit to – and it almost always turns into a lot more once I get going. One of my biggest secrets to getting organized (and staying that way) is to create a system where everything has its place. It definitely takes some time and work (and good storage containers), but is well worth the effort. I get a little more refined in my process each year.

Fabric Organization

There are many ways to organize your stash, and a lot of that will depend on what you have and what your purchasing habits are. Some of the ways to organize a fabric stash is by collection, designers, color, or even precut type. Mine is mostly a mix of precuts and whole collection stacks. Before I had my built-in shelving, I kept all of mine organized in storage bins.


Destash What You Don’t Need

As part of organization process, it’s always a good idea to take an inventory and figure out what fabric you will realistically use, and what you could donate or sell. (Plus, it’s good to make room for future purchases, right?!) Check out my Top 5 Destashing Tips post here for more ideas on the topic. It is helpful to destash regularly – I try to go through at least twice a year. Which reminds me – keep an eye out next week for a Lella Boutique destash of some very special (out of print) collections. Gotta make room for all the pretty stuff arriving in 2023!


Organize Your Projects

How do you organize the projects you’re working? Up until last year, I didn’t really have a formal system. Then I found these stackable bins on Amazon and have been using them ever since! I love these! I add a little label to the front of each bin so that I can easily tell what’s in each one when they’re stacked up in my office closet. (There are different size options but I always get the 14 x 11 x 3.25 in ones. They are a perfect fit for wider items like packaged quilt panels or Layer Cakes.)

quilt project organization. Fabric bins

I actually have quite a tall stack of bins by now – so in 2023, I’m going to spend a little time every Sunday on one of those WIPs (works in progress). Maybe I’ll even do a little update on Mondays to let you know about my progress for the week!

quilt project organization. Fabric bin

Sewing Machine Maintenance

Not everyone realizes this, but you should get your sewing machine serviced once a year. I actually just dropped my Bernina off to the dealer and had it back the next day. (I recommend calling the service shop in advance to get an idea of turnaround time.) In addition to annual servicing, you should be cleaning your machine regularly. My general rule of thumb is to clean mine for every 4 spent bobbins. Every machine is a little different – refer to your sewing machine manual to know how to clean it properly. My maintenance involves cleaning all the lint from the bobbin compartment and adding a single drop of oil to the hook race. (I also remove the stitch plate and blow the dust out of there too.) And of course I always change the needle to a fresh one! Think about any other items that may need service. Do you have a serger? A pair of Ginghers that needs to be sharpened? Fresh rotary blades in stock?


In Review: The Checklist

  1. Tackle a section of your sewing room every day for 20 minutes.
  2. Tidy up your fabric stash – donate or destash anything you aren’t going to use.
  3. Organize your projects and keep them in one central place so they’re easy to find. (I recommend these bins for easy project storage.)
  4. Take your sewing machine in for an annual cleaning. Same for any other machines like the serger. Sharpen the Ginghers (or anything else that gets regular use).
  5. Take an inventory of anything you might want to stock up on. Fresh rotary cutter blades. Thread. Sewing machine needles. This will help you start out ready to hit the ground running with projects in the new year.

What did I forget? Are there any other organization topics you would like to see tips on in the future? Let me know in the comments below.

18 Comments

  1. Judy Ducrou

    December 30, 2022 at 4:29 am

    great tips for getting organized for the new year. I have purchased similar project boxes for more organization for SAL, FQS Sew alongs and moda blockheads as well as Riley Blake challenges. I find it very hard to get rid of fabric, I like to keep older fabrics for scrap projects

    1. Cathy Atwater

      December 30, 2022 at 10:30 am

      Where did you get the containers?

      1. Connie Stallworth

        January 13, 2023 at 5:29 am

        She got them from Amazon

  2. Chris Chamberlain

    December 30, 2022 at 6:14 am

    Good tips! I do need to get these boxes!! I have parts of different quilt projects all over the place!! Feeling very disorganized!! And I need to cut up my small scraps drawers into 2 1/2, 3 1/2, 4 1/2, 5 1 /2 and 6 1/2 squares and organize them in bins. My scrap drawers have become overcrowded. Thank you!!

  3. Peggy Watts

    December 30, 2022 at 6:25 am

    Great tips! I was just thinking about going through my fabric to see what I could get rid of. I want to learn fmg this coming year and will use what fabric I don’t want for practice. I have my projects in similar boxes and love that setup! Thank you for your tips!

  4. Mary Clarke

    December 30, 2022 at 6:39 am

    These are great tips! Thank you! I would consider myself “new to quilting” and I don’t know where to get my scissors sharpened…can you recommend a place I should look in to?
    I also have a lot of scraps in various sizes and that’s exactly what they are…scraps! Do you think I should spend time cutting them up like Chris mentioned above and organize them that way? I’ve never made a quilt from scraps before.
    Thank you!

  5. Lynn

    December 30, 2022 at 6:44 am

    Thank you, Vanessa for the great tips! I like the one section per day idea. Otherwise it can be so overwhelming. As to sewing machine cleaning. My dealer says never to blow out your bobbin area as you can blow the lint into areas you can’t access and then they can become a problem. He recommends using a vacuum attachment that can gently suck out the lint and small threads. Bernina Jeff has some great videos on how to do this.

  6. Meari

    December 30, 2022 at 6:51 am

    Great tips. I use 12×12 scrapbook storage containers to store my quilt projects in. Like you, I have quite a stack!

  7. Marietta Beckham

    December 30, 2022 at 7:50 am

    I, too, am a vertical organizer – I put up a pegboard behind my cutting table to hang rotary cutters, packages of pre-wound bobbins, a Ruby Beholder, etc. I also have a cork board to keep my current pattern handy, a calendar, binding tip sheet. Love my tall ruler organizer.

  8. Marlene Clausen

    December 30, 2022 at 8:38 am

    I am constantly on the hunt for sturdy bookcases with shelves meant to hold BOOKS! I have a lot of books associated with fabric, design, quilting, art, etc. I want shelves that are standard height for standard books. Oversized, I can always lay down and stack. I want to easily organize, recognize, pull and return books on the shelves. Apparently, I am the only quilter who has books. Anyone have any good sources for bookshelves meant to hold books?

  9. Florence

    December 30, 2022 at 9:55 am

    Thank you, I would like a suggestion for storing my 10 inch squares. I have some of yours that I covet and am waiting for the right project before i cut them apart.

  10. Florence Donohue

    December 30, 2022 at 9:55 am

    Thank you, I would like a suggestion for storing my 10 inch squares. I have some of yours that I covet and am waiting for the right project before i cut them apart.

  11. Bunnie

    December 30, 2022 at 12:22 pm

    I use scrapbook boxes 12.5 x 12.5 for projects.
    I heard you shouldn’t blow lint deeper into the sewing machine. Only vacuum.

  12. SUE M KORORA

    December 30, 2022 at 8:51 pm

    I bought the two sides from an entertainment center at Habitar for Humanity and put them together. The wood was beautiful and it holds a ton of fabric plus other supplies. All for $65.00. I love it

  13. Sherri Huff

    December 31, 2022 at 10:33 am

    Thank you Vanessa for all these great tips. I like the 20 minute idea…
    I have those project containers too and love them.
    Happy Healthy New Year!

  14. Becky

    December 31, 2022 at 10:54 am

    Vanessa, this is very helpful and inspires me to ‘get with it’ soon! I would love some advice about how to store my quilts when not in use or on display. It seems that when I fold them, the folds rarely release when I open them for use or display. Perhaps you can devote a blog post to this, unless you have already done so.

  15. Geraldine Sherwood

    December 31, 2022 at 10:57 pm

    Great ideas. I ordered some totes. Can’t wait for the new year to be organized

  16. Kim Jackson

    January 10, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    I love your choice of storage boxes. I have the same ones. I caught a combo pack of sizes from Home Depot. I too like the 14 x 11 x 3.25 (as well as the deeper 14 x 11 x 6) size best. They fit perfectly in my Kallax/Expidite cubbies. My WIPs go in these. In the smaller sizes I have coordinated scraps. In between quilts projects I will pull one of these out and try to use them up – make a 10 x 10 crumb block that use in a specific quilt pattern or make a 4 x 4 block that is later made into a hot pad. As I do my decluttering and organization for a fresh start to 2023, I am limiting myself to the container I have. I am coming around to letting some older fabrics and scraps go.

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