Friday, October 25, 2013

Creative Spaces: Decor and Organization

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the Creative Spaces Link-up Series! You can find the rest of the series here.

There are so many things I love about sewing and crafting. Making something yourself allows you to combine beauty and customized utility, while simultaneously offering a satisfying creative outlet. But one thing that drives me up the wall is all the stuff. It seems that creativity comes with a compounding price tag -- not only do you have to purchase supplies, but you then have to figure out how to corral your assortment of specialty tools, thread spools, notions, scraps, and all manner of what-not.

I've tried and failed many a system -- I'm a thorough believer that organization requires not just diligence or enough storage bins, but also a system that works. All the baskets in the world won't solve an organization problem, unless there's a good system in place to ensure things go back where they belong.

Here are a few systems that are working for me!

1. Pegboard for Tool Storage

I'm sure all seamstresses and crafters have had to sort out tool storage at one point or another. You'd think that I'd have it figured out already, considering how many years I've been doing this (and how many storage methods I've tried). But the perfect solution eluded me, until I saw the idea of using pegboard in the craft room (probably via Pinterest).

Serendipitously, we had a long strip of pegboard in our garage, left over from a similar tool storage project. I decided that I'd prefer two smaller boards, so I cut the strip in half and bought a 2x6 to make frames. This is where I thank my husband for his willing contribution, in the form of table saw operation. He cut, mitered, and beveled everything. He even cut a notch in each piece to allow the pegboard to slide in -- the notch is spaced close to the front of the frame, to allow room for pegboard hangers. I have to give Pablo another shout-out for the beveled edge idea. I had been planning to apply a thin piece of trim around the edge of each frame, which would have been much more time consuming and complicated than a simple bevel. And I love the result!

The color is darker in person

For the paint, I used a Valspar sample size that was free with a coupon. The color is called "Tranquility" -- a soothing name for a soothing color. It's sort of a minty blue (less green than it looks from the Valspar website), which is a color that I love but would probably never use elsewhere in my home -- perfect for a project like this. After that, all I had to do was screw some D-rings to the back and hang them up. I know D rings are not a traditional method for hanging pegboard, but since my boards were relatively small and wouldn't be holding much weight, I decided that it would be sufficient for my needs (not to mention easier to take down when we move).

In the short time I've had this up, it's made a huge difference in the overall organization of my most-used tools. I'm no longer searching for the items I need (especially scissors!), because everything is easy to access and easy to put away.

2. Photo boxes

I love my photo boxes -- which are now uniform, thanks to some kraft paper and spray adhesive (you can read more about that in this post). I find them more decorative than plastic shoebox containers, for just about the same price. As you can see, I keep quite an assortment of items in my boxes!

The "Jane Austen" box (bottom center) houses all of my Jane Austen paper scrap -- those inexpensive paperbacks fit quite nicely in these boxes! You'd be surprised how many are tucked away in there.

Colored cardstock and washi tape function as cheerful labels. They'd be simple to change out with new labels, should the contents of the box change.

3. Locker Bins for Current Projects

I scored these bins at the Dollar Tree about a year ago, and I can't believe how well they fit my bookshelf (which I actually purchased several months later!). Despite my best intentions, I always have several projects underway. These bins help me keep all my pattern pieces, fabric, and half-finished projects in one spot. The little chalkboard labels and clothespins are a new addition that have made it easier to identify each bin's contents, without needing to pull it out.

4. Plastic Baskets for Fabric Storage

These little $1 bins have saved me from the colossal disaster that used to lurk inside my fabric cabinet. Long-time readers may remember when I bought this cabinet waaaaaaay back in 2010. If you'll notice, in that post all of my fabric was neatly and attractively folded. It stayed that way for about two seconds.

Every time I needed to find fabric in this cabinet, the piles in the front would come cascading down. Every time, they were replaced a little less neatly than they had been before. These Dollar Tree bins were the perfect solution! Yes, they're not perfectly tidy (it's hard to do when you're dealing with random scraps and oddly shaped pieces), but I can quickly find what I'm looking for. I just wish I could say this was all of my fabric. *ahem*

5. Candy Jars for Crafting Tidbits

I firmly believe that planning ahead is the best way to achieve the craft space you want on a budget. But I'll be honest: I bought these jars because they were cute, and they were only $1 each. I didn't know they'd fit perectly on this shelf. I just knew they were coming home with me. Do what I say, not what I do. Quite honestly, I was racking my brain (and my craft room) for items to put in the last few jars! But with the chalkboard contact paper labels I added, it will be simple to erase and relabel the jars if the contents change.

Note that these are screw-on lids, so chances are I'll have to rewrite the labels every time I access something.
That's a price I'm willing to pay for the style aspect.

6. Mini Fabric Bolts

I'm sure you've seen these before. You can pay through the nose for specially designed mini fabric bolts, but mine are cut from sheets of Dollar Tree foamboard (comic book boards appear to be the easiest option). This is not a good solution for ten yards of denim! These bolts don't hold much before appearing a bit bloated. But I do love have a tidy way to display some of my favorite small cuts of fabric.

7. Memo Board

The trusty memo board has been an organizing favorite for years. Mine, however, serves no functional purpose! I always clutter my memo boards with bits of paper that I don't want to deal with or am too lazy to put away. So this is a purely decorative board -- though not without a purpose. It sits right above my sewing machine, so each time I look up I'm greeted with a pleasant view.

My sister actually had this memo board before me -- I believe our father built the frame. I removed its original fabric and recovered it with burlap. I opted for the less traditional vertical/horizontal ribbon placement, Dollar Tree ribbon (you can't beat their prices on ribbon!), and the largest vintage buttons from my stash.

Since I have an addiction to scrapbook paper without being much of a "paper artist," this also gives me the opportunity to use some of my favorite papers and such. Add to that some old-fashioned keys, antique patterns, and various other ephemera, and

8. Sewing Ephemera

I try to keep knick-knacks to a minimum (I want to spend my time sewing, not dusting!), but I do like to have a few sewing themed things about. Currently that consists of a jar of vintage wooden spools -- I purchased this exactly as-is at a thrift shop! -- and an antique French needle case. The crepe paper flowers you see in the background are from my wedding bouquet; I kept a few as a memento.

What You Don't See:

The rest of my supplies and fabrics are stored in the closet -- I have about eight plastic shoeboxes, six medium clear plastic boxes (each about the size of 3 or 4 shoeboxes), a drawer tower for patterns, a file box for homemade or printed PDF patterns, and a few other miscellaneous storage containers (like my scrapbooking tote bag). I also have a few pieces of fabric in a container in our garage -- it's my goal to use up or give away enough fabric to do away with that container entirely.

My thread is stashed in two drawers on the left side of my sewing desk, and machine notions, vintage patterns, etc., fill up the remaining desk drawers. I could definitely use those spaces more efficiently, which I'll probably be forced to do when we move.

And that's it! If you've stuck it out this long, you deserve some kind of award. *wink*

If you have any thoughts to share on decorating and organizing a craft space, please share! You can link-up below, or jot down your ideas in the comments! Let the sharing fun begin!

Creative Spaces: Decor and Organization


  1. Shannon,

    Thank you for sharing so many wonderful ideas this week! I have enjoyed all of your posts.

    I have to say that the chalk board idea for your current projects is ingenious!


    1. Sarah,

      I'm definitely having fun with my chalkboard contact paper. :-) Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments!


  2. I'm really loving the pegboard idea! Now I just wish that I didn't have a good place for all my scissors, etc. already! ;-) I'll have to try to work that idea in somehow...

    Thanks for the step-by-step on how to do the candy jars- loved those! And I love all your mini clothespins. :-)

  3. Lily,

    Already having a good place for your tools is hardly something to bemoan. :-) I'm just wondering how I"ve been sewing this long *without* a good solution?

    Thanks for your sweet words!



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