First Thing’s First: Organizing the Chaos

I’ve just moved back to Columbia for the Spring and decided that I’ve had enough of working in a disorganized space. It is time for me to take some time to organize everything I have for making gear. Because of this problem, I have been purchasing unnecessary hardware or fabric I already have, and sometimes forgetting to get certain things because I assumed I had it. Other times, I simply can’t find my tape measure or zipper foot. It ends now.

I am introducing several different items into my sewing arsenal on this project. Not each will be necessary to everyone out there, but some may be useful.

First, I have purchased a table (the last one I was using wasn’t actually mine). It is a simple 5′ long wooden table from Staples. It cost me $75 after tax. It was a bit expensive, but it is a sturdy table, very wide and long, and will last me quite a while. It was definitely worth it to find a table that won’t wobble under my heavy sewing machine. For others out there, a table already found around the house, or perhaps the kitchen table could be used. I think a dedicated area can make all the difference though. This five foot table has proven to be large enough for me to do most all my measuring and cuttting work on it, as long as I am not making something like such as a quilt or tarp.

Next, I needed a way to organize all those small bits that are needed for gear. This is where I collect the most extra gear. I pick up an extra cordlock here, order a spare lineloc there, and BAM!, I’m overrun with hardware. My solution to this is very simple: a small, clear container from HobbyLobby. Using the 40% off coupon that can be found (I think always) on their site, it is even cheaper than the $9 marked value. Into this goes my grosgrain, snaps, hooks, velcro, zippers, zipper coil, and any other small materials. This box let’s you place dividers where you want, and it is just clear enough to see what you have inside of it. I labeled it using some masking tape so that I could change the labels later.

Fitting grosgrain was something I really wanted, but was impossible on the rolls that it is sold on from stores like Walmart. To solve this, I took a minute to transfer it to a bit of a straw that I cut just for this purpose.

The third thing I organized is my fabric. For this I went and purchased a scrapbook paper storage rack, again from HobbyLobby with the 40% off coupon. I’m still testing how this will work. It isn’t the best shelf (I’m using zip ties to hold the shelves in place) but it gives me theoretically 23 shelves for the same price I would get six Sterilite plastic drawers, plus I can change the spacing by just removing shelves. This will hold my fabrics that are not on rolls, as well as fabric cut out for projects I am currently working on. If I run into any serious problems using this shelf into the future, I will mention it. As of now though, it seems sturdy enough for the purpose and I like the size. The shelf is basically split into three cubs. On top, I have my 3D mesh and notions box. Then the top cube is for shelves containing spare fabric from past projects. In the middle cube, I have four shelves to house the materials and bits I am using for projects I am currently working on. The bottom cube has no shelves added, and it has most of my insulation, Apex and down.

Next, I have my miscellaneous storage. Starting from the left, I first have a box containing some Apex insulation that wouldn’t fit on the shelf, as well as some posters to use for making some patterns. Next is the large container I use for odds and ends. I was sure to label on the top what is found in the box. This contain foam, some scrap cotton for patterns and testing new stitches, some tools for working with aluminum projects, etc. My container is a 68L bin, and this size seems to be just about right for me. The final container is my file box to hold the patterns I have.

Finally, I have a container for storing my sewing tools. I will try to discuss what tools I use in another post, but they include scissors, alternate machine feet, pins, thread, etc. The hard part here was finding a box that would hold my scissors as well as be easy to carry around when I needed to. I tried searching hobby stores, and some sewing companies make similar boxes, but they are either very large, or they sell them only with a plethora of tools and threads, which I already have. Instead, I went to the fishing section of Walmart and found this little gem. One section is large enough to hold my scissors, and there are dividers I can put in as well to add sections for my box of pins, needles, threads, seam ripper, pens, etc. It is the perfect size, and at $6, the price is more than right. There are other boxes made by Plano similar to the box I got for my notions. If I had to do it again, I would probably get a Plano box for my notions instead of the box from HobbyLobby, because the clasp seems stronger and it is easier to see into.

I think getting by without organization is an option, but just like with UL backpacking, it is easier to get started if everything is packed and ready to go. With this, I don’t have to go fumbling around for tools or fabric, and I can get started right away. Plus, even though I have collected even more stuff than I previously had, it all fits into a smaller space thanks to these new steps.

The final cost of these pieces is listed below. I decided to show the price both with and without the table, because I understand many people don’t need a table. Plus, it looks so daunting when you add in the price of the table. This really was a fairly inexpensive project for how much I got out of it.

Item Cost
Table $75
Notions box $6
Fabric Shelf $32
68L Sterilite Bin $8
Plano Tools Box $6
Total: $127
Total (minus table): $52
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