Organization and Storage for Crafters

Storage and organization are big issues for most people, and crafters are no exception! Today this blog is specifically aimed at crafters.

Though I was trained as a home economics teacher, I have not been the most organized person in the world! So for me to do this particular blog post, you know that it has become important to me to easily find whatever I’m looking for, without sorting through everything I own! The idea, therefore, is to develop a system to not only store the items, but also to be able to find any single item for quick retrieval.

Hints to get started:

1. Start with the EASIEST craft to organize, working on only ONE CRAFT at a time, and then you will be able to work toward the most difficult. That way, you will already have developed some ideas of your own long before you get to the most difficult tasks.

2. Set aside enough time to finish the first project, preferably in one time slot, so that you will feel like you accomplished something!

For simplicity sake, I will walk you through one of the simplest crafts I do: jewelry-making. For this craft, the tools and supplies are fairly simple, though they tend to expand over time, the more deeply one gets into the craft, and the more complicated the projects you want to do. The same is true of MOST crafts!

TO GET ORGANIZED:
1. Gather all your supplies and tools in one place. However, since you need to allow for expansion, you may need to make a list of the items you plan to add within the next year, so you can include them in your organizational plan. (If you haven’t done a project in this craft for awhile, it might be easier to get into that mind-set if you first complete a very simple project, so that you remember all of the things that you need to have available in order to complete a project in that craft.)

2. For some crafts, it is easier to keep tools and supplies together, such as in jewelry-making. In that case, it may simply be a matter of acquiring appropriate storage containers and determining where you have space for keeping them all together. It will be easier in the long run if this location is nearby where you like to work on the craft. In jewelry-making, most items can be stored in a small space, but require a lot of small containers for various beads.

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HINTS FOR ORGANIZING JEWELRY:
* – I keep all of my tools in one container (I live in a humid climate, so this container is air-right). Plus, I have a couple of other containers filled with supplies, including all my beads. These containers are stackable, and can be found at various dollar-type stores. The key to the containers being usable is a tight-fitting lid (does not have to be air or water-tight).
* – Other ideas that might work: A cheap plastic drawer system; a large plastic tool box (tools in the tray on top, supplies in the larger bottom), any kind of carry-all container that is large enough to hold all your supplies and tools — maybe a tote bag you make yourself?
* – Small zippered bags are superb for keeping the space needed for supplies for jewelry-making to a minimum. There are several different sizes available, in craft stores, drug stores, etc.
* – Since it is essential to “sort” beads regularly, I use the lids of my storage containers — doesn’t disturb the rest of the supplies that are stored inside while sorting!

3. Once everything is organized as compactly as possible, find a place to keep them together near where you will use them. Unfortunately, this may require organizing something else in order to find the space for this (or any) craft. Time to downsize something else that no longer holds much interest for you? We don’t want our crafts to drive us from our homes for lack of space! I have had to down-size considerably the last few years, so I know the pain — and the joy of having a place for everything, and the ability to find what I need quickly!

4. Next comes the question: WHAT DO I WITH FINISHED PRODUCTS? Jewelry boxes are bulky, expensive, and generally a big nuisance! Since I make so MUCH jewelry, and seem to keep a good bit of it for myself (why would I make it if I didn’t like it, after all?) I also had to find a way of decreasing that storage space, as well. I think I found the perfect solution, though it isn’t pretty by comparison to what other people do. However, it works for me! I found a plastic container at an office supply store, large enough to hold a ream of paper, that works perfectly. It doesn’t have to be air-tight, but it needs to stay closed. What a jumbled mess, right? Wrong — zipper bags! It solves the tangling problem, keeps “sets” together, and everything is easily found, because everything is visible through the plastic bags! I may have to take a bunch of bags out and spread them out to find what I want (very fast and easy), but they gather up just as easily and slip back into the box for safe-keeping! I LOVE the snack-size zipper bags for this purpose! You are thinking at this point that I should own stock in zipper bags, right? Wish I did — I sure use a bunch!

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Image courtesy of Surachai / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A FEW HINTS ON SEWING STORAGE:
Sewing:
* – Fabric – Fold fabric small enough to put in hanging files, and actually FILE them in file drawers or boxes! That way, each fabric can be retrieved easily, without moving the tons of fabric from above it on he shelf! My only caution on that would be: Make sure the hanging folders will NOT bleed, discoloring your fabric, especially if you live in a humid climate! This method would work exceptionally well for scraps!
* – Fabric – If you have a little-used closet or could sacrifice one, another option would be to hang fabric on hangers in the closet. You could add two additional bars so you could hang more fabric!
* – Fabric – I have seen it stored, on its side, on shelves similar to bookshelves, only a bit deeper. Seems to work pretty well, particularly if you have adjustable shelves. Would definitely be better than STACKING them on those same shelves!
* – Patterns – This a tough one! What has worked best for me, is to file them in a filing system, by type of pattern (children’s clothing, men’s clothing, dresses, tops, pajamas, etc.) in a regular file drawer. But that is a lot of wasted space, unless you file them up-right and side-by side. So that’s what I did, in hanging file folders!
* – Thread – I found a stationary box that was tall enough for the thread to stand up-right, and then coordinated them as best I could by color.
* – If you are a seamstress, you can MAKE many different types of storage containers. For some ideas on that, visit (AllFreeSewing.com)

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