For most of us finding dedicated stitching & stash space is a dream. If we are very lucky, instead of reorganizing the closet where our stash is stored, we get a room of our own and we can design or organize it as we please.
Maybe you’ve moved and got a room, maybe a bedroom is being repurposed, or maybe you’ve cleaned up part of the basement or garage and have carved out a room for you. In my case, the need to get a new floor in my office gave me a chance to cull and reorganize my space.
I’ve recently been asked by a reader to write about organizing a room for stitching, so today I’ll talk about that and use my new space as examples.
Cull your Stash
If you aren’t starting from scratch, your first step should be to go through and cull your stash. Having less stuff will make it easier to organize it and get it back into the space. Go through everything and ask yourself if you want to keep it, sell it, or give it to someone. As I did this I kept at least three marked boxes, one for each category, going. Each was marked with a letter for its ultimate destination. Depending on the letter, the boxes went in different places.
This will make it easier to move into your space. It will also make it easier to dispose of what is going away.
If you have furniture, then include it in the process as well. Most of the furniture I am not using went into our garage. It joined furniture that came out of my son’s room plus some stuff that was already there to make a gaming center for him. It also allowed me to consolidate my new, smaller stash into fewer pieces, giving me more floor space.
Think about what You Have
We all have certain types of things, and most of us have even more stuff. But the big types of items for stitchers are canvases, threads, tools, and books. Each will need storage space. The time to start thinking about this is before you set up your space. The time you spend doing this will make it much easier to move in.
Lets talk about each of these things in turn;
Usually stitchers organize threads in two ways: type then color, or color then type. Which you do really depends on how you think about threads. I think about type first. That’s the key to how you divide your threads for storage.
You’ll need containers of some kind for every group of threads. Before the change I had many different containers from a chest of drawers to assorted baskets. If I got too much of a particular thread I had to scramble & reorganize. To consolidate we bought a huge card catalog, with 72 drawers. Virtually all the thread is in it. If I have too much of one type for a drawer, I divide it by color (warm, cool, neutral, multi-color, etc) in as many drawers as needed. I’m going to add labels to the drawers & make a table as a guide so I can find threads easily.
Most folks don’t have stashes the size of mine, nor do they want old library furniture as a centerpiece. Even so try to find consistent and easily accessible storage for your threads.
I take what’s probably an eclectic approach to canvas storage; I do it by size. The small canvases, the largest group, are further grouped by subject and stored in drawers. The rest, including blank canvas, goes in three wastepaper baskets, above. One has medium, one large, and one blank canvases. Most are rolled up.
I like this because the cans don’t take up much room and the canvases are where I can see them.
Books go on bookshelves, depending on how many you have you’ll only need a bit of space or lots. There are plenty of inexpensive shelves out there (mine are from IKEA).To figure out what you need measure how many linear feet of books you have. For the shelves take their width, subtract 2″, and multiply it by the number of shelves. This tells you how much the shelves will hold. Divide your feet of books by that number to see how many shelves you need. Round up.
When you put books on shelves categorize them by subject or not. Last time I did, this time I didn’t This is one place where I like the hunt.
Tools are hard. That’s because there are so many and we use many different ones. But you still want to do the following:
- keep like with like
- put thing you use often in easy reach
- have spots where onesies can live (tools that you have one of)
- always have some spare batteries
Think about what You Use Most Often
Every time you decide to start a canvas you’ll need several things. For me this is stretcher bars, tacks, needles, needle minder, threader, scissors, and project bag. I realized that I was going too many places and digging around in drawers too much to do this easily.
The biggest change in my office is to get this things organized but out in the open or close at hand.
The picture above shows the desk organizer I bought to help with this. It has a bin with canvas marking pens, something else I use often, as well as shorter ones with needlethreaders and one with needles, in small boxes, according to size.
My stretcher bars are organized into three groups by size but since finding the right size can take some time I use my stitching chair for that. My top desk drawer stores magnets, tacks, and other tools. When I start a new project I pull out the tack jar and pick a magnet. I don’t have to go farther for either and can easily put them away when done.
The project bags live in an open bin on the other side of the printer, close to the canvases. I pick project bags first because I use them to hold everything else I pull. I can then stick it on the desk and get mounting the canvas and gathering tools. Once that’s done I’m ready to go stitch.
Think about What You Do
Every task that takes place in your room needs space. Do you quilt? You’ll need space for your sewing machine and fabric stash. Plus you may need to have enough floor space to set up a cutting board. Will you stitch in your space? Then you’ll need a stitching chair, a light source, and your stand.
You can see my stitching chair in the picture above. The blanket-covered chest next to the chair is where UFO’s live and where the cat sleeps. I still need to move in my stand and find a small trash can.
Every hobby or job you do here needs space. Since my space is also my office I need space for the computer and printer. Because I want to finish a bunch of stuff and get it out into the world, that messy space next to the computer will be the finishing station, once we get to my boxes of finished stuff in the garage.
Make It Beautiful
The last step in making your new space is to make it beautiful. No matter whether your taste runs to lots of stuff or is minimalist, your space needs to have things in it that make you happy. For various reasons I have been in this space for 6 weeks and we only got the pictures on the walls Saturday and most of my knick-knacks up yesterday. I had not realized drain it was without having this stuff to look at. But looking up and seeing a watercolor of my Mom’s and my quilt poster soothes my soul and relaxes me. I’ll be framing more needlepoint as part of the finishing and putting those things on the walls as well.
Even if it just a pinned up picture from a magazine, add beauty to your space to feed your soul and your creativity.
It’s small but not something to neglect.
Why Organizing Is Good
Experts in home office spaces and in productivity say that creating stations is important for being productive. I prefer to think of it as having your things think for you. For example, I have the wonderful multi-drawer tall chest you saw earlier in the article. Most of the drawers store small canvases, organized loosely by subject. It makes putting these canvases away a breeze to do. I sort the pile to put away by subject & then I can just stuff them into the right drawer. If all my nativity canvases always go in the fifth drawer then I always know where to find them.
By having the chest organized I don’t waste time scrambling around looking for stuff.
My DH is a choir director for our church choir and he can be a bit obsessive compulsive. Last night he was telling me about a choir he was in for awhile that had a music binder that was not organized. Every time they would begin to rehearse a piece there was a mad scramble by everyone in the choir to find the music. As a result he created wonderfully organized binders for his choir. Members can find stuff quickly. It makes them more efficient and happier because they can concentrate on the essentials of what they love, not on the necessary but not fun task of finding the score. Organization will do this for you as well.
When you don’t do this you get lazy, I know because its a lesson that took me ages to learn. Threads don’t get put way. You buy canvases several times over. You can’t find a project bag, or stretcher bars, or tacks. Worst of all the time you spend searching for stuff is tome when you could be stitching.
I hope these more or less random thoughts have helped you to dream or create your perfect stitching space.