Here’s a summary of my fourth “Give It a Month” birthday challenge. Each month this upcoming year, I’m conquering a new quilting technique. This past month, I did a major declutter of my sewing room.
I love organization and decluttering. And while I have no problem letting go of things in the rest of my home, the sewing room is a black hole where fabric and supplies enter, but nothing ever leaves. I decided that a more organized space (and one without things that I didn’t need or love anymore) would allow me more room to get creative and enjoy my sewing time more. And let me tell you — it was hard, but it was freeing.
I wrote an entire blog about how I approached my sewing room declutter here. There isn’t a magic process. I just really needed to be honest with myself about what I needed, what I would use, and what I had space for. I was posting my progress on my Instagram stories, and I got A LOT of advice from people. Many were telling me what storage supplies or new furniture I needed. While I appreciate everyone’s input, I wasn’t looking for a sewing room transformation. I was looking for a solution that would work for the space I had now and that could evolve with me no matter what space I had in the future. I kept it simple, and it worked!
Organization is so personal, so I had a lot of learnings in my journey — but many were personal learnings about what fabric I loved, what fabric wasn’t my style anymore, what supplies were hard to get rid of, and what areas in my room were more valued than others. But there are a few learnings that I thought would be helpful to others, too.
1. You can break up your precuts. I had a large amount of fat quarter bundles, charm squares, and mini charm squares. I just had them piled on shelves around the room and they were taking up a lot of space. I ended up breaking up some of the precut bundles. I took the fabrics I liked and organized them with my other fabrics by color. I put the fabrics I didn’t like into a donation pile. And most of my mini charm squares and my charm squares were added to my scrap bins.
2. You have to continually re-evaluate. I went through each piece of fabric on my shelves one by one. I took it off the shelf, decided if I loved it, refolded it, and stacked it back on the shelf with my other fabrics I was keeping. But as I continued to sort through more fabric around the room (why does it hide in so many places??) that needed to be organized on the shelves by color, I needed to take everything off the shelves again and see how the fabric I was adding fit in. Do I like the fabrics I’m adding to the shelf more than what’s already on the shelf? Do I have space for it all or do I need to purge more? It’s a never-ending process.
3. Organize it by how you’ll use it. My large yardage is stored in my closet. Because it’s behind closed doors, it was very unorganized. I usually only use my yardage for pieced backings or backgrounds of quilts (I prefer to use my stash/scraps for my quilt tops). I ended up organizing my yardage by style of fabric: holiday, seasonal, modern/traditional, florals, novelty, etc. Because I pull my backing fabric by style and not necessarily by color, this type of organization made more sense for my needs. And because the organization makes sense, it’s more likely to stay organized. My other fabric is sorted by color, my solids are stored separately, and my holiday fabric has its own drawer. Organize how it works for you — not just with a “one size fits all” system.
Before and Afters:
Now you can see the pictures! Some areas look more transformed than others, but overall, my room is working much better for me than it was before!
Bookshelf #1 (stores neutral fabrics + books):
Got rid of fabrics, so I didn’t have fabric piles over the edge of the bookshelf, and left room in each pile for additional fabrics.
Bookshelf #2 (stores fabric by colors):
Got rid of fabrics (you can especially see it in the green, teal, and purple sections). Separated some of the precuts on top of the shelf into the rest of my stash, or got rid of the ones I didn’t like.
I don’t have an “after” pic to share, but this table went from storing extra fabrics and supplies that didn’t fit anywhere else to being storage for my works in progress. Each drawer houses a project (all blocks/units, extra fabrics, tools, pattern, etc.) As I finish one, I have an empty drawer for a future project. I’m testing this system out to see how it works for me, but so far so good!
My cutting table was constantly covered in fabrics for current projects. And underneath the table was all my solid fabrics in a disorganized pile. It also had a tote of batting and pillow forms. I cleaned off the cutting table, found a storage cube for the solids, and have a home for my scraps and fabric for current projects underneath the table. It’s not a perfect system, but it works completely fine for what I need.
Bookshelf #3 (stores precuts + books):
Put most of the mini charms piled in the fabric bins on top into my scrap bin, separated some of the fat quarter bundles, and got rid of some fabric.
Closet (stores yardage + finished quilts):
I got rid of a lot of fabrics, then reorganized the yardage by type of fabric. I also refolded and organized all my finished quilts.
What I Donated:
I didn’t count it. I was a lot — and I don’t even notice it’s missing. Some of it went to family and friends who claimed what they loved. And the rest was donated to local organizations. (Here’s a list of ideas to consider when donating fabric.) There was also a large pile of fabric that went to my scrap bin and a pile of trash or broken items that got thrown out.
Don’t worry — I still have so much fabric! I’m hoping to cut back on what I’m buying and use only my stash this year. But I can honestly say now that every single thing in my sewing room is something I love and that brings my joy. I don’t have one item in my room that I was iffy on or that I was only saving because I felt guilty getting rid of it. And that’s a great feeling!
Thanks for joining me for “happy hour,”
Have you ever done a sewing room declutter? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments!