Friday, January 10, 2014

A Day of RE -- Studio Organization Tips

Yesterday was my annual  'RE' day in the in REorganizing, REarranging, REvising, REviewing, REevaluating, REfolding, REsearching, REviving, REthinking, REflecting (you get the point). It's something I like to do when I clear out the Christmas decorations and start putting back the regular things I had packed away to make room for Christmas.

My tip for successful organization is to take the time to evaluate how you work/live/play and what you need to do so and then arrange your space and materials in the most productive and pleasing manner for your own personal needs.  A good mantra to adopt when doing this is 'cluttered space = cluttered mind'.

Don't be afraid to remove what you don't use on a regular basis. I'm not saying throw it out (though if you haven't used it for a couple of years you really need to seriously ask yourself if you will ever use this item), just clear it out of your space. Put it all in a box in the attic/basement--and write today's date on that box. After a year (or two),  realize that what's in that box clearly isn't something you need taking up space in your life. Get rid of it! (Donate it, have a yard sale, take the box to your next Guild meeting and write 'Freebies' on it--someone, somewhere wants, and will use and will appreciate what's in that box. Everyone wins.)
What's the worst that happens? You suddenly decide that now you have an immediate and urgent need for that safety pin closer that sat in your studio for 5 years and in the box in the basement for 2? Go buy a new one (and on your way to JoAnn, do yourself a huge favor, and ask yourself if you really do need to buy this item again.)

Face it, we all buy notions that purport to be the next best quilting tool, only to get them home, and try them out and find that they just don't work for our needs. Maybe we prefer to make our HST's the old-fashioned way and not with Thangles....or we're perfectly happy folding our squares in half and stitching and don't need those special tools we bought that are used to draw the fold line and then draw the stitching lines.  It's okay to let them go. Really.

But sometimes, we need/want/collect multiples of notions that we just can't see letting go of...buttons, pins, scissors. Obviously, I have an affinity for marking pencils (among other items). Clearly, I could evaluate this collection gathered from various drawers, tool caddies, baskets throughout the studio and toss out a few, but rather than 'sweat the small stuff', I've repurposed a small storage box and tossed them all together in one place. 

They all fit into my container of choice, so it's okay that I didn't spend an hour testing them out and 'culling the herd'. The next time I'm marking something and find that one of these pencils doesn't erase, or has dried up, or just doesn't show up on fabric, I'll toss it out. In the meantime, when I need to mark something I need to check one space for all of my options. And most importantly, when I'm finished marking, I will put that marker back where I found it.

(While we're on the subject of marking pencils, let me give you a helpful tip regarding the type that contain a liquid ink. Leave them in their original packaging until you are ready to use them. And once you do use them, store them in an air-tight zip storage bag. It will prolong the ink from drying up.)

As you look around your space and think that organizing it would be an overwhelming and impossible task, remember that small steps will get you where you need to go. Empty a drawer, or clear off a closet shelf. 'Cull the herd', so to speak. (Place an empty box in the corner for what's not going back into the studio, along with a trash can for what's not short-term storage/donation worthy) Now evaluate that empty space and decide what will be the best use for it. If it's a drawer in your sewing table, you'll want to use it to store the items you use regularly. If it's a shelf in a dark closet it's a perfect place for fabric--shielding it from light and dust. Gather those items, 'cull the herd', containerize them (a must if they are small and numerous), and place them in their new home. One small step for you to undertake, and a giant leap toward studio organization. 

Stand back and admire your efforts. Tomorrow is another day. Check back for more tips.


  1. Aaahhhh - What timely and reat post. Thanks for empowering me to get rid of those notions/fabric I might not use.

  2. Oh my gosh, are you organized!!! I just might have to get myself to a Micheals


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