I love great organizing ideas!
I do a bit of every type of sewing, so I have yardage (for garments, quilt backs, and
upholstery) plus tons of little scraps of hand-dyed and batik
cottons, commercial print fabrics, trims, art supplies and loads of books and patterns.
I have reads loads of articles, books and blogs about how to get organized. It's a lot more fun to read about it than do it, that's for sure! I also like to recycle and reuse what I already have when possible. I must admit, from experience, that it's sometimes better to buy something that will really work for you rather than waste time looking for something (every time you need it) that you stored in a container that you already had but isn't really very functional. That was a long, awkward sentence to say your time is valuable, your materials are valuable, and you are wasting both if you can't find something easily!
Keep in mind about stacking: tall stacks of folded fabric become very messy, very easily. Many short stacks are much easier to grab fabric out of. Most shelving units I've owned had shelves that were really too far apart to make usable stacks of fabrics in and not waste a ton of space.
This is where boxes come in: uniform boxes with lids that stack well can be the best answer. When you find a size of box that fits your type of fabric or materials and stacks well in your shelves, try to buy enough of them to hold ALL of whatever it is. Clear boxes can be the best, though I use several types of boxes that are NOT clear and work very well for what I use them for.
Here are some organizing tips from my studio:
Comic book boxes are great for holding patterns--you can even put
in dividers for different types of patterns
Mug racks--those little stands that are a vertical "stick"
with 2 horizontal cross bars to hang your mugs on. I have
found 2 at garage sales. These little things have finally ended
my habbit of losing my scissors and rotary cutters under all my stuff while I'm
working! The scissor handles are so easy to slip on the rack and I've
tied a little loop of fabric on my rotary cutters so I can hang them,
too. Small scissors on the lower racks, long ones on the upper
bars. I've made loops and hung other gadgets on, too.
Baseball card boxes--I use these to organize fat quarters and all
smaller scraps of my landscape fabrics, grouped by color.
They're all folded and stand on their folds so I can scan across them
quickly. When I'm working on a landscape or other type of applique, I lay the open box out on my table til I'm done. It's not fabric I use every day, but when I want it, it's easy to grab ALL of it and quickly find pieces (and replace them) as I work.
Plaxic shoe boxes--I store all my commercial cotton prints (fat
quarter & smaller) that read as solids in these, grouped
mostly by color, then I have a box of novelty prints, a box of
florals, a box of brights. I stack 'em 3 high on some book
shelves, and I can see into the end of each box so I don't have to mess
Library card boxes or drawers have been a great way to store
things like trims, zippers, velcros and rolls of bonding agents,
bindings, etc. I have about 8 of these and it's great to just
pull out the drawer and leave the holdidng box on the shelf.
I've labeled each so I can grab the one I need quickly.
I've tried sorting and packing up ALL of my fabrics but I can't stand
working (or daydreaming/designing) without being able to look up and see my stash! So I'm
now using a hutch with glass doors on top for my main fabric
I've realized over the years, however, that I don't need to
see all of my plain solid cottons so I keep them in deep drawers--black
and white in one, other colors in another (I would use big plastic
bins if I didn't have drawers). Another deep drawer/plastic bin
holds interfacings, stabilizers and batting scraps.
Plastic drawer units-- I a few of these use for all my art
supplies, glue guns, etc.
Printer's drawers (from antique shops) are a great way to organize
my (tons of) buttons. These are the big, shallow drawers divided into many little sections of different sizes. The drawers can stack under my shelving unit, on
top of a dresser or can even slide under a bed (I put a piece of
cardboard over them to keep out the dust--not that I have any dust in
my house! Ha!
Cute mugs with broken handles find their way into my studio to
hold pens, pencils, marking supplies, screw drivers, paint brushes, and other tall
I would love your comments and ideas, too!