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My number 1 organization tip - Don't clean your craft space. Do this instead.


I have “drifts” in my craft room

Like snowdrifts that get bigger and bigger during a snowstorm. Except my drifts are accumulated piles of fabric, embroidery hoops, magazines, books, sewing thread, loose papers and all sorts things that build up around the edges of the room.

Not pretty.

One of many "drifts" in my craft room.

What about you? Any drifts in your craft space? Those drifts can really mess up your craft time. If you’re anything like me, it might go something like this:

You get super motivated to craft and, amazingly, have time right this moment to dedicate to crafting.

The stars have aligned!

You go into your craft space. You see the “drifts” and get a little stressed. But you’re not discouraged. You have just enough willpower to get past the “drifts” and get working on your craft project. But where is your scissors? Where did you leave the floss you needed? Where’s the pattern?

Then Bam! Motivation is gone.

It’s too stressful to find everything you need, you’ve wasted your time looking through the drifts, and you don’t even feel like crafting anymore. You could clean up your craft space. But that would take forever and sounds like the least fun thing to do right now.

You give up and check your Instagram feed instead.

Any of this sound familiar?

Our crafting time and motivation are precious. 

And our lack of organization is getting in the way.

So how can we be organized enough to capitalize on our time and motivation, but not have to clean our entire craft space to get started? Here’s a solution that might work for you:


My number 1 organization tip:

Don’t organize your craft space, instead organize your projects.


So what does that mean?

It could mean the difference between crafting or giving up. Seriously.

Ideally an organized project consists of a container that holds everything you need to work on a single project. This includes all materials, supplies, tools, patterns, inspiration, notes and other reference materials.

Everything is right at your fingertips while your motivation is still at it’s peak. And you can ignore your unorganized craft space all together.

Your project container doesn’t need to be anything fancy, however it should have a lid or the ability to close. I use everything from small plastic sandwich containers, to spare handbags, to large plastic storage bins depending on the size of the project.

Here’s an example of what an embroidery project container might look like.

    •    A gallon sized Ziploc bag to use as your project container
    •    embroidery hoop
    •    fabric
    •    pattern
    •    needle (slid in the corner of the fabric so it’s easy to find)
    •    embroidery floss (in a small sandwich bag to protect it from getting caught on things)
    •    small scissors with cover
    •    additional small sandwich bag to use for trash like embroidery floss discards
    •    piece of paper to jot down notes (notes could include a list of supplies to still purchase, a link to a good youtube video on a new technique to try, where you left off last time and what you want to do next, tricks learned along the way that you don’t want to forget, etc.)
    •    pen or pencil to jot down notes

It’s everything you need to work on the embroidery project. You only need to grab the project container and you’re ready to craft.

Project container with all the needed supplies, materials and tools.

Do this for all of your projects, or at least the most current ones you’re working on, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it will be to start crafting, no matter how messy your craft room is.

:-)

However, you may be thinking: I don’t have tons of scissors to put one in every project container.

Here’s a solution if you don’t have tools to spare for each project. This also applies if you’re working on a project that needs large rulers, liquids like paint, cutting boards or common specialty tools like a rotary cutter or fabric scissors.

Gather like items and give them a highly visible place of honor in your craft space.

For example. Find all of your scissors (whether they’re large, small, for fabric, or paper) and place them in a jar with a pretty ribbon. Put the jar in a place of prominence in your craft space. It could be the centerpiece to your cutting table, or it could sit right next to your sewing machine. Make sure the jar is in a place where it doesn’t have to move often and is highly visible at all times.

Then when it’s craft time, just grab your project container and a scissors from the jar.

another idea…

make a grab-and-go tool kit.

A grab-and-go tool kit is a small container that has all the general supplies you might need for any project that comes up.

My grab-and-go tool kit is simply a plastic sandwich container with a lid and contains:

    •    small embroidery scissors
    •    piece of felt holding a variety of needles
    •    neutral colored sewing thread
    •    measuring tape
    •    pen
    •    pencil
    •    water soluble pen
    •    a couple of crochet hooks
    •    thimble
    •    a few random buttons
    •    piece of paper for notes
    •    small crocheted chain stitch piece of yarn that my husband stitched that makes me smile when I see it

With my project container supplemented by my grab-and-go tool kit, I know I’ll have everything I need to craft.

Nothing, not even a craft room full of “drifts” can get in my way.


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What about you?

Do you have a special container for your projects or tools? How clean is your craft space? Does an unorganized space keep you from crafting?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comment below, or feel free to contact me (Alyssa) at emails [at] penguinandfish [dot] com (type out using the “@” and “.” symbols with no spaces).

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51 comments:

  1. Ah yes, I know the "drift" well. I received several zippy bags this spring from some swap partners, and I *did* designate several of them for projects. It helps! I also re-did my space, which has no room for shelves, so that all of my supply boxes are under one table, and the other "under" is empty. Same thing with the fabric pull/wip drifts-- I allow them to be in one space, but I keep the other clear. It helps to have even one spot for your eye to rest and I've found I'm more productive and less stressed.

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    1. I did the same thing with my walls. In my last studio I covered them with all sorts of inspiration items, but it was just too much. I have lots of things on the wall in my new studio too but I have one wall with nothing at all on it, just so I have at least one space of non-clutter. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I am kinda obsessive about organization, though I am not particularly neat or tidy. I found that the best way for me to get into craft mode quickly, it helps to have set myself up for success. I have a large can (bigger than the biggest tomato sauce can) for sewing tools (chalk markers, pins, fabric scissors, rotary cutters,seam rippers, pins, pattern weights, etc) and a 2nd for paper crafting tools (paper scissors,QuickStik picker upper, hole punch, tweezers, bone folder) all papers in one area, a big box for markers & paints, storage boxes for stamps, dies...and so on. It took months of slow steady work to get it done and i still have to stop and round up my stuff every few months but I pretty much know where all my things are. Not quite as organized and a spot for each project, but maybe that can be my next goal.

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    1. Your organization sounds wonderful. It's such a relief to know where your things are! Anything to get to the crafting part sooner. :-)

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  3. I certainly keep all my scissors in one spot! And I love the idea of the 'grab and go' tool kit! I have a number of different ways of organising supplies from zippy pouches to plastic ziplock bags but really like the lunchbox idea! My Ikea trolley is where I keep my WIPs projects. The limited amount of space helps keep me under control....

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    1. I don't know what I'd do without my grab-and-go toolkit. I never have to think about something I might need because it's all in there. I travel with it too, sometimes even when I don't bring a crafting project. Never know when one might come up. Hah!

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  4. I seem to do best if I work on one quilt at a time. But in the last couple of years, I've changed to starting more than one at a time and having sometimes four different quilts going at once. I've found if I keep the supplies for each in it's own box or at least in it's own area of my sewing room, I'll be OK. I still feel better if I totally put away all the extra fabric, paint etc. from each project before I start something new.

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    1. Ooo, me too. Cleaning up a project when it's all finished is definitely how I regroup and get ready for the next project. Thanks for the comment Marlyn!

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  5. just spent two days last weekend cleaning up my drifts instead of sewing !! while I was in the cleaning mode I decided to organise my fat quarters and was amazed at the amount of fabric I own !!! thanks so much for your tips and I need to keep the mess under control so I can spend all of my sewing time actually sewing to try and get rid of some of that fabric ! so much fabric, so little time :)

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    1. I just did the same thing. I got all of my fabric in one place instead of having it scattered everywhere. I had a lot more than I realized too. Now I just want to dig in and use it all! :-)

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  6. I keep my sewing room organized because I wouldn't be able to go in my room if it wasn't clean and organized, much less create something. :-). I do keep some of my to do projects in clear storage containers, so when I'm ready to work on them everything is together.

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    1. That's awesome, Cecilia. Crafting definitely feels nice when you have everything in order. :-) Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Wow. You describe my craft room, and problem, expertly. I have drifts by the lounge, by my bed, all over the studio. But your solution is genius!! I'm going to start project bags and a goto kit as I start my next project. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Awesome! Let me know how it goes. :-) Happy Crafting!

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  8. Thanks for your ideas. I will definitely learn from this

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    1. Yay. That's great to hear. Happy crafting!

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    2. This has worked wonders for me. Thank you! A difficult project is now almost finished because it was all in one place, whenever I had a few minutes to stitch. I'll post a photo once it's finished completely!

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  9. I have been keeping project boxes for a while now (on sale at Michaels) and it's amazing how much easier it is than putting them away in a drawer. I made the bionic gear bad this summer for all my travel tools and I've found it a life saver! Over the years I've picked up extra tools to keep just for traveling.

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    1. Yes! boxes are so much better than drawers. When I put something in a drawer it disappears forever. And it's missing one of the key points of a good project container, portability. I love that you have tools just for traveling. It really does come in handy. Thanks for the comment Kathie. :-)

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  10. Wow, you are having best and best and best things in your page. Lovely stuff ! Congrats.
    Yes, I love zip-lock bags, make easier to put everything in place, and find everything also.
    Sandra, from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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    1. Thanks so much Sandra! You're so sweet. Yup, zip-locks and old plastic sandwich containers are my friends. :-)

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    2. I used to find all the clippings and thread dropped on the floor and made my area messy, so I now have a small 22cm diameter little basket into which I toss all of my clippings and overlocker cuttings and removed threadmarkings into and it has helped keep my area more workable

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    3. nice! every little trick helps for sure.

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  12. I often classify all things into the small boxes and bags. From working tools, cosmetics, and papers are stored in the special containers.

    http://teflstore.com/

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    1. That's awesome Annette. I love everything stored so you can find everything quickly

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  13. Classify the tools to leave your work better and more convenient. You can avoid the lost materials and the time in finding everything.

    Helen's blog

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  14. I have tried various methods for avoiding the drifts and have found ways that do work and others that do not work. For my embroidery projects, I found a wire roll cart with 3 shelves at a garage sale that holds everything embroidery related. It has been a stupendous time saver. For a couple of bigger projects that are long term projects, I leave the needle and thread attached by a safety pin right to the project and that works excellent. I have a special tote container for all of my beads and accessories. I am just learning bead embroidery and trying to learn a beaded Christmas ornament pattern so will discover this month if this system will work or not. My main focus craft is quilting and I have a sewing machine in every room, sewing supplies in every room and fabrics in every square inch available. LOL. With it just being myself and hubby it has worked out fine. Recently though, my brother has moved into our spare bedroom. Like overnight everything from in that room had to be moved into our closet. Thankfully, the majority of items were already stored in totes...but because of how quickly everything was moved I really do not have a clue as to what is what. So it is not a good set up at this time. But until after the holidays it will have to stay the way it is. LOL. I did enjoy your post, of course...I always enjoy your posts. Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful creative day!

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    1. Hi Brenda. You're so sweet, I'm happy you liked the post. I love the idea of having the needle and thread attached right to the project with a safety pin. Totally going to give that a try. Have a great holiday and good luck with the post-holiday organizing!

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  15. I too have drifts, I clean them up every so often, they usually come from pulling from my stash for the latest project and then not putting it away. :P I do put each project in some kind of container to keep it coraled. I have coffee mugs in a box on my sewing table with all my regularly used supplies so they are easy to grab. This has worked real well for me.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing Julie. Sounds like you have a good thing going. :-)

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  17. I have projects in boxes, two different "go"bags.... I still end up with drifts, very large ones ;)
    I quilt, and do bead work; generally have five or six different projects in the works at the same time. One main project, and a few others, I use pieces of as leaders and enders, while piecing. The bigger the quilt gets, the bigger the drifts get. I have short term memory problems, and if I put too many things away... I forget where they are. I need to have anything I am currently working on in sight.
    I have recently discovered that cardboard photo boxes, designed with holiday motifs,go on sale right after the holiday. They are great for cut pieces of blocks!!! Easy to label, and easy to change labels, when project changes. I try to clean up drifts as I end a project, but it doesn't always happen.

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    1. Love the idea of the photo boxes to store blocks. Then you can still leave the project out and have it organized. Great tip.

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  18. I have projects in boxes, two different "go"bags.... I still end up with drifts, very large ones ;)
    I quilt, and do bead work; generally have five or six different projects in the works at the same time. One main project, and a few others, I use pieces of as leaders and enders, while piecing. The bigger the quilt gets, the bigger the drifts get. I have short term memory problems, and if I put too many things away... I forget where they are. I need to have anything I am currently working on in sight.
    I have recently discovered that cardboard photo boxes, designed with holiday motifs,go on sale right after the holiday. They are great for cut pieces of blocks!!! Easy to label, and easy to change labels, when project changes. I try to clean up drifts as I end a project, but it doesn't always happen.

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  19. My process is similar, I keep my projects sorted out into plastic scrap booking containers. Felt, embroidery thread, patterns, notes, sketches, several needles, etc are all in there waiting for me. They stack so nicely and I can see inside them without having to open them all to find the right project. Then when the project is done, the finished piece goes into a large zip lock bag and in a larger multi gallon bin for storage until sold.

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    1. Nice! You sound super organized. It makes the making process just that much easier. Thanks so much for the comment.

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  20. Wait a sec while I put a sack over my head. I'm so unorganized. My drifts have become a tidal wave. Thanks for the organization tip! I have some projects collected this way, but scattered around my small sewing room. There's a major purge coming soon. My guild is having a yard sale. Some of the purge will go there. There may also be some IG destash as well. See you on periscope!

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    1. Oooo, great ideas. I may be heading towards some sort of purge myself. ;-)

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  21. The scrapbooking boxes from Michaels hold a 12.5" square. I use them to keep
    things together. NBig baggies too!

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    1. ooo, I'll have to look for those next time I'm there. Love a good box.

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  22. I have only been seriously crafting (aside from knitting - but that's another yarn storage story) for a few years, and my organizational system keeps changing. Since I started The Splendid Sampler (and with a lot of inspiration from you!) I've rediscovered my love of embroidery, so I am now collecting a lot of embroidery "stuff" that isn't as well organized as I'd like. I have a rolling set of thin drawers that I may reorganize those in - but right now all of my current embroidery materials are stowed away for a trip to see my daughter (who wants to learn how to embroider, too).

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    1. How fun that your daughter wants to embroider too! I definitely like my embroidery things to be as portable and easy to grab as possible. I like to have a plastic bag with everything ready to go in it including a few of the next colors I plan on using in the embroidery. Good luck with the rest of The Splendid Sampler!

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  23. I have drifts, but also have projects in the craft boxes like you have mentioned, my scissors and rotary cutter usually stay in specific areas, so that hasn't been a problem, my problem is companionship! Even tho I have drifts, I have been at home so long, wanting and needing someone to chat with and craft/sew with I'm almost lost! I have no social output! And I feel like I'm starving for some type of social communication. I have done everything you can think of. However when I do manage to get in my room, I turn on the radio, and sometimes manage to pull off a block or two, but when no one is interested in what you do... It gets hard. But one step or block at a time & GOD's grace I'm still trying g!

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    1. You should come join me in my 9:30pm central periscopes. (I'm "penguinandfish" on Periscope). Then we can chat every night and sew together. I actually won't be on tonight or Tuesday but that's super rare that I'm not on. Wednesday I'll be sewing on The Splendid Sampler quilt along, block 53.

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  24. I too have drifts that have become mountains from time to time, but that's when I go in with my shovel and get things back into place. I really should just keep abreast of things so they don't get out of control like that.
    I use gift bags to organize some of my projects, and the baggies as you described. And I now have about 8 of the plastic craft boxes too. You see, I've been sewing and crafting most of my life and I just turned 70, so I have lots of stuff.
    But I love it all, am using much of it, and now making charity quilts as well. Life is good...God is good!

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  25. Yes I to have many drifts. Some of my current projects I place in a container I get at the dollar store. I have many patterns I have copied from the computer do you have suggestion how to organise these? Thanks Elaine

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  26. Yes I to have many drifts. Some of my current projects I place in a container I get at the dollar store. I have many patterns I have copied from the computer do you have suggestion how to organise these? Thanks Elaine

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