Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Cleaning 2015 & Pattern Pattern Everywhere!

Keeping my room tidy was particularly difficult last year while studying full-time for my board exam. With barely enough free time for my projects, keeping the space clean became a low priority. Up until yesterday, I had the bulk of my stash sitting on every available table space so I could see everything. After a year of semi-neglect, and a lot more stash, quality time spent on organization was long overdue. I don't mean just sweeping the floors, dusting, and putting things away. I mean pulling everything out, and then re-sorting.

Up until this month, I had what I considered an average to low collection of patterns. I have been stumped with what to make because I had more fabric than actual pattern choices. I realize now that it should really be the reverse. 
These are my original pattern containers that I now have categorized by type. The left box is filled with dress patterns. The blue striped box on the right are separates, costumes, men's, and accessories (basically, all the other categories). Before yesterday, I had all my patterns crammed into this shelf space. It was a mess.
I found these IKEA storage boxes on my top shelf, and realized they were completely empty! Since these were solid, I made labels to help me sort them in the future. The lidded boxes made stacking a breeze, not to mention tidy.\The green box above is for jacket patterns, and the red box is for odd-sized patterns like my Folkwear, StyleArc, downloaded Burda, Eva Dress, and random Indie patterns. 

One of the really difficult things about using a lot of patterns is what to do with the patterns when I'm done. I would be interested in knowing what others are doing. I keep telling myself that I might use them again, and I think for patterns I really, really love, I should transfer them to tag board so they can be a part of my permanent collection. But that is a project I have not attempted, even though I have a small roll of tag board ready for use. My current used-pattern drawers are full. My next project is sorting through these and throwing out patterns I don't like.
These drawers are filled to the brim with used patterns.
Used patterns on top of those white drawers. It's difficult to store without folding them down to smaller pieces. 
I bought this gift wrap storage container on sale at Joanns, and it's long and wide enough to fit all those taped-together downloaded patterns. It's already mostly full, so I have to start throwing some of these patterns out. 

I repurposed my extra clear shoe boxes for storing notions a couple of years ago. But I didn't really do a good job sorting out all the notions into categories. Items were scattered across boxes, causing me to waste time digging through several boxes for items I needed. My zippers are now all in one box, bias binding in another, and so on...
Even after sorting and labeling each container, I think I could separate items out further. For example, I could go through the buttons and separate them out by size. I'll let you know if that happens.

Here's a picture of my more organized shelf. Even though it doesn't look less cluttered, everything is a lot more accessible. 
 Here's an example of narrowing down my notions to a specific category by task. I placed all my hemming supplies in a single bin. This included fusibles, lace, and any other task-specific tool. These are items I use really often, and spend lots of time looking for in bins.
Since purchasing my new Juki, having a convenient place for all the feet accessories was a problem. I like to use the extension table, and the storage space is in the regular pull-out table. I emptied everything, and placed all the feet in a small rubber container. Up until today, I had the feet scattered around the table, and inside the extension bin. 

My needs shift with my sewing skills. As I'm utilizing more complex sewing methods, my need to have tools scattered across different areas of my room become very important. I was worried about the number of scissors I owned, but now, they are just enough to have at every work station. I need some identical tools as well as project-specific ones. 
This art caddy was originally at my cutting table. I found that the deep and wide bins did not really hold all my cutting, marking, and measuring tools well. But it is a perfect caddy for my ironing station where my needed tools are taller and bulkier. The similar items are scissors, chalk and tape, but I have found that I like to do a lot of hand basting, collar or corner turning, as well as ironing. With everything organized mostly in the caddy, it makes it easier to move it around the ironing board. I replaced the pink caddy with this popular desk organizer.
I opted for this little spinning number over the art-specific ones because I don't need to store markers. I prefer having more tiny trays for the small, hard-to-store tools. I use lots of clips to hold pattern pieces for example. I also like various chalk and marking pens visible.
This is another view of my spinning tray. I remember donating this very item a few years back before I started sewing again because I found it cluttered up my office desk. I am not suggesting that we should keep everything we own. But many office supplies I used to own could be great storage now. 

Another item that I never regretted buying was a simple tall basket from TJ Maxx to hold all my rolls of fabric, paper, and miscellaneous vertical supplies. This bin keeps all these items in one corner without tipping over, and the bottoms clean from dust.
My IKEA shelves got a slight adjustment after repeatedly digging around for my interfacing, lining, and muslin fabrics. I decided once and for all that I needed to have all these items visible, and roughly organized at all times. I use some bit of these materials for every sewing project. I took a shelf out of the top, and moved it into the open shelf section where its at arms reach. 
By eliminating one of the top shelves, I created more room for thicker and bulkier fabric inside the top cupboard. The third shelf was often too high for me to see or organize the stash. It ended up being a space I rarely used.
I store my most frequently used knits and cottons here. Here's a picture of the cabinet now.
A few feet away from my sewing studio, in the second and bigger half of the barn sits a china cabinet. I sold the matching table and chairs during one of my many moves, but no one wanted the cabinet. My don't have room for it now, so it's been relegated to storage. With its glass doors, it's a perfect storage unit for some of my fabric stash. I've still got more stash that's hidden under tables around my sewing studio. I don't judge either...

My sewing area is an ongoing organization project. The re-sorting of thread, bobbins, and re-tidying of the tools tray which houses everything I need for the machines will never end. If I do not clean regularly...usually after every sewing project, I find it difficult to be efficient. Here is what my table looks like as of today. It might look different next week!
This sewing table is crowded! If I had a choice, I would love to have about a foot more space between each machine. My sister visited this week, and we shared this sewing space. Let's just say, we bumped into each other a lot. Behind the three major machines are two backup machines in the far corner. They are there because I don't have any other place to store them. But I'm considering relocating them into one of the shelves as soon as I sew some of my stash down. That might not happen for a while...or never. My stash tend to multiply and grow with very little effort. I need stash contraceptives...

If you want to see how much more stuff I have now compared to before...check out my previous blog entry on my sewing room re-org in April 2013 HERE. It's two years...and much fabric shopping, including trips to Asia later, I'm still busting at the seams. This little Spring cleaning took me nearly six hours. But I did it leisurely, and enjoyed every minute of it. Happy sewing!