Friday, September 28, 2012

A Blank Slate, Almost

The acoustic ceiling treatment (aka popcorn) is completely removed, and now we are starting to prepare the rooms for their normal lives. This is the sewing room, with plastic still everywhere, but at least the ceiling fan is installed. The two tables you see are actually one table and one countertop, both of butcher block from our first house over 30 years ago that I've carried around with me for three moves. 

The actual contents of the sewing room are stacked all nice and neat albeit inaccessible, in the dining room downstairs. The backpack on the chair belongs to my son, who is visiting for a couple weeks. But wait! There's more! I have two large plastic roll around four drawer bins, four smaller three drawer roll around bins, four large plastic tubs, four small three drawer shelf units, three under bed storage bins, and at least four medium tubs, all crammed full of fabric, threads, tools, and other necessary stuff. Where do I put all of that and how in the world do I organize it so I can find what I need, when I need it? 

I first posted about organizing the sewing room over two years ago in this post. Now I'm actually going about it. 

But first things first. I did paint the room today, choosing the lower left color, Fledgling, from Martha Stewart Home Depot paint. It went well, with just a bit of touch up left for tomorrow. I've never actually painted an entire room by myself, so it was certainly a new experience for me!  (That's what men are for, right?)

So the big question is, how do I organize all the stuff that needs to go back in there? I'm taking this very methodically. I am an engineering manager in a large US defense firm, so there is a certain way we go about things, which is very adaptable to this situation. 

First of all, list the requirements, then match budget to requirements. If the budget isn't enough to cover all the requirements (and it never is), then modify requirements to fit the budget. What are the possible solutions to the requirements? For example: Requirement - thread storage; but how? in bags by numbers? on peg board? in drawers by color? All of the possible solutions need to be considered to come to an affordable and workable answer. 

Then there are the make/buy decisions. What can I do myself, and what do I need to contract out? Obviously, I can paint, but can I install closet doors (uh, no), and how about the closet system? (definitely, yes, more on that in another post). After these decisions are made, it's time to get to specifics such as how to place existing furniture, assuming it meets the storage requirements, and what other modifications to make to the room to make it a functional and pleasant sewing room. This is a big requirement - it needs to be a place I really want to be in most of the time. Well, being a sewing room, it already satisfies about 90% of that requirement, but I do want to add some fun touches. Mind you, I have literally no imagination along those lines, but, I have a new source of inspiration.

I'm now on Pinterest. I am looking for organization ideas that I think will apply to sewing/craft rooms and posting photos on my board, Sewing Room Ideas. Pretty clever name, don't you think? So far, I have a total of four or five photos, but as I search, I'm sure to get more. If any of you have some great ideas, please let me know. I need all the help I can get. I don't know how to put the Pinterest button on my blog, but will find out how eventually. 

Enough jabbering for now. As you no doubt can tell, I plan on taking this whole reorganization thing fairly methodically. I also plan on sharing with all of you the process I will use to arrive at the final design. As I search on the Internet I find photos of finished rooms, but not the thought process that went into them, which I find frustrating. Maybe my agonizing over decisions will help those of you who are trying to figure out how to organize the huge quantities of fabric, threads, needles, and all the other stuff that we tend to accumulate.

I certainly hope so. 


  1. Congratulations, the worst is over! I find organizing can be fun sometimes. Interweave publishes the "Studios" magazine, which is entirely devoted to organizing crafts. It helped me to realize that I strongly prefer to be able to put everything away, rather than to have clutter everywhere.

    For my threads, snack bags and DMC 3" rings, sorted by number, colour and brand, and stored together in a plastic bin, worked a charm. I used a Sharpie to write the number right on the bag. It took me two whole days to sort my thread stash, but now I can find anything in a couple of minutes. It's fantastic!

  2. Yes you're right, it can be fun to organize, especially as it gives one such a sense of empowerment. I do have the numbered bag system for all of my DMC floss, but it takes up so much room I'm wondering if it is the best solution for me. I do like organizing floss by number, that way I can look up the colors on the color card and then find the proper numbers. I'm toying with the idea of hanging the bags by number on pegboard, but am not sure about that. I still have all of my wool and silk threads to organize, ugh!

  3. I'm planning a studio, too, so I shall be following your deliberations with interest!

  4. Cynthia, this is fun to follow and I love your engineer's point of view! We are both in the same sort of predicament right now! I have a board on PInterest, one of sewing rooms and org ideas and another just on organization. Maybe that will help.

    Congrats on getting rid of the popcorn! BTDT! Eeeeuuuwww....

    1. Hi Bunny, you were the second person I started following on Pinterest, after my sister. I love looking at your ideas and tracking them back to the sources.

  5. Just wanted to add that I store my threads by color in the Joann clear thread boxes. Then they are stacked in a cabinet, very easy to see and get to yet out of the way!

  6. Some pics of my workroom here:, in case any of them help.

  7. Cynthia - I'm in the same boat right now. My sewing room is gutted and we're hoping to get the drywall back up next weekend. In the meantime, I've got interfacing in one box, buttons in another, sewing on the dining room table and generally frustrated with my creative lot in life. :) In terms of organization, I'm going with a tall pantry style cupboard, overhead cupboards, a big pegboard over my sewing table, a big bulletin board on the other and really, really good lights. My room is teeny tiny compared with your lovely space (I sew in a converted linen closet :)) but I'll be watching with interest to see what you come up with - the images on Pinterest are always great but between the $$$ budgets and all the space they've got to play with, usually they leave me kinda ho-hum.

  8. Many Many congrats,,,hope your life will be settled down...


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