Updated: Jul 19
My tips for a functional and inspiring sewing or crafting space (Part 1). And how I organized, upcycled and then donated to spend $0 and have almost zero waste (Part 2 & 3)!
Part 1 Recap: Floor Layout Planning and Storage
Part 2: The Purging and Organizing Process
This is the hard part, but it has to happen before you can have a functional space. I'm going to walk you through my process for sorting your sewing and crafting room but for targeted help on your fabric destash you should check out Kim Soper's Feel Good Fibers. Her blog has a ton of great articles and tips, and you can use her site to sell your fabric.
Whether or not to part with something is your first decision, and it can be a tough one. But the decision that is almost more important is what to do with the stuff you are letting go. Organizing is exhausting and overwhelming and throwing something in the trash can seem so easy. But it's worth the bit of extra effort to know that your stuff won't end up piled high in landfills. And I continue to be amazed and inspired by what can be donated and recycled these days. The decision tree I made, while silly, is just meant to remind you that if you take a minute, you can probably find a better place to send your stuff.
Tips for not getting overwhelmed
Take breaks. Don’t try to do too much each day.
Set small goals for yourself. For example: for 30 min I’m going to gather all my thread in one box and recycle every empty spool.
Know that it’s going to look worse before it gets better. [see below for my room at its' worst]
Tips for letting things go
If the value of your item is what's getting in the way of letting it go then see if you can sell it (like at Feel Good Fibers)
Find a charity or cause that you connect with that accepts fabric and craft donations – did you know that fabric can be donated to some animal shelters for pet beds? There are charities that donate quilts to newborns in need, and others that help veterans. I love to donate to Scrap SF which is a creative re-use center and non-profit that supports art education.
Share your stash with other quilters. Offer up your extra fabric and sewing tools to your friends on Instagram or other virtual spaces - they can just pay shipping.
"I am definitely going to use that!! Someday..." - every sewist and quilter
Step 1 - Setting up Stations and Categories (2 days)
Clear a space on the floor or on tables where you will begin to organize by action (keep, sell, recycle etc...) and then category (fabric, tools etc...)
Set up areas for Sell, Recycle, Donate, Trash, and Doesn’t Belong in This Room.
Set up a staging area for each category
Put everything into a category. Don’t think too much, just keep moving forward. Don’t worry about making stay/leave decisions now unless you see obvious things you can part with.
Step 2 - Organize Subcategories and purge (2+ days)
Each day choose 2-3 categories to organize into subcategories. Schedule a full day (or two) for Fabric.
As you do this step challenge yourself to really look at each item and ask yourself if it’s something you really use or plan to use in the next year, or if it’s something that’s just taking up space and that you can part with.
After you finish each subcategory identify anywhere you have multiples of the same thing - for example I had 8 seam rippers. Ask yourself if you need multiples of this item. I kept 5 seam rippers… Hey, no one is perfect.
Depending on how much stuff you have Step 2 could take a while and that’s ok. Take your time so you aren’t making stressed or rushed decisions.
Part 3 Up Next - Upcycling Ideas and DIY Storage Solutions...