Organizing The Sewing Room + Making It Stick

I’ve been organizing my house and life for a while now. Who would have known it would take so long? Last year I started the year off great. I started 2018 by taking an online class with Daily Om. I think it’s a great class and has great prompts and more to help you clear your life of clutter.

Organzing sewing room
Getty Image

But, by February, I was slowing way down with making my life and space more minimalist in nature. Best intentions right? Life gets in the way of some many things.  Further complicating things my mom died in August. And, as many know when a family member passes one is often left to sort out, in some cases an enormous amount of personal items. I made of point of taking only the things that really mean a lot to me. I have many of them in my house now and it brings me a lot of joy seeing them around.

In December Netflix began airing the Magic Of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I bought her book when it came out a couple of years ago and found it very helpful. I highly recommend it for starting your own journey in minimizing and decluttering. The Netflix series is great too and inspired me to get back on the decluttering wagon.

Every December during the holiday break I tackle rooms to be organized and cleaned out. This year it was my sewing space. I’ve been dreading this room. There’s so much stuff. I started with my sewing fabric stash. Next, paper patterns, digital patterns, and notions.

Prior, my fabric collection was located in three rooms in the house; sewing studio, bedroom closet, and guest room. My goal was to get it all in the sewing studio. Did not happen. My sewing space is surrounded by windows which I love and I will not sacrifice open, natural light for a wall-to-ceiling storage unit. So, what’s a sewing gal to do?  I deleted a lot.

Four boxes plus, a garbage bag full of scraps a ton of muslins, samples, and prototypes I was hanging on to, all gone.  I now have my fabric stash located in my sewing studio on this rolling rack.

sewing room organizationHere is another cart located in an abandoned part of the house (long story). Next to it is the filing cabinet where I keep my paper patterns.

organizing sewing room

All fabric is gone from the bedroom closet, the basement (not sure how it got there) and under the bed. Progress my friends!

I organized my fabric by seasons; spring/summer and fall/winter. I have the season I’m working on in the studio and the others are tucked away clean and folded into tubs. If there are wools and such I make sure they are protected with lavender and cedar blocks.

The patterns I took a hard look at what I was REALLY going to sew vs. fantasy. I also deleted patterns that closely resembled one another. And, dear, dear sweet Burda.  I finally admit that oh, how I do love you and your so fashionable I can’t stand it. But, seriously woman I do not have time to:

  • copy your crazy ass diagrams
  • draft down a size or petite it
  • put in seam allowances
  • test it, ’cause your directions are cray-cray
  • finally, sew it
  • finish it a year later

Sorry girl. You are out. But, I’ll still get your magazine, because…love.

I have been putting a lot of vintage patterns up on sale on eBay. Slow and steady but they’re getting up. Those are harder to part with for sure.

One huge benefit of going through your sewing stash is the creative juices flow like crazy! I have so many ideas and plans I can’t keep up and I’m so excited to get started.

The sewing space I occupy was once used as a large dog house for one small beagle (previous owners). Here’s what it looked like in December.

sewing room
Sewing space in construction. Click on image to enlarge.

They never had an exterior door on it. Instead, the door was a lightweight interior closet door! Needless to say, the room in winter was freezing.

Finally got one in this year and yea!

I had a card table in the corner of the room that was covered with a tablecloth but didn’t quite hide everything. So, I created a covering for it but I didn’t take into account the width of risers and they didn’t quite fit under the new covering. So, husband made some extensions using PVC pipe from good old Home Depot.

sewing room organization

sewing room organization

Now it looks perfect.

sewing room organization

I have heat now! Next step is flooring in the spring and paint. The window sills have all been tiled, I washed all the blinds (ugh, what a chore that is) and next spring I’ll be tackling the backyard to make it more inspiring and pretty. All the while sewing away my shrinking stash.

Next big step I took was deleting the JoAnn app from my phone. Plus, I removed myself from text alerts and emails. Only thing I have is the paper flyer that comes in the mail. That one small thing has saved me so much cash just in the last couple of weeks alone!

Bigger steps! As I embrace a less is more lifestyle I have looked at my shopping habits, why I buy etc. And, one reason I buy like so many is to fill a void. Maybe it’s boredom, sadness, both.  I try to ask myself whenever I’m out shopping is –

  • Do I really need this?
  • Do I have something similar?
  • Can it wait?
  • Why am I buying it?

In 2018 I did buy a boiled wool orange long coat by Tahari. I was going to sew one and even had a pattern. But, the wool was 25.00 a yard. I would have needed 3 1/2 yards. The coat was on sale and I bought it. I love that coat and have worn it countless times this season alone. And, that is how and what I want to sew. I want to sew things I absolutely love, that fit my style and life and I wear over and over.

I love clothes. No doubt about that. I love making them, I love buying them. I love looking at them! I love the feeling of wearing something spectacular, that makes me feel fabulous. But, I also fall easy prey to the relentless machine of Instagram.  Seeing other sewcialists and fashionistas out there with their newly made fill-in-the-blank made with  X fabric from X store is too tempting! I don’t know how many patterns I’ve bought that I’ve never used because some sewist made it and it looked cute. I’ve got to look with a more discerning eye. So, we know what the solution is to that!

What are your plans for your sewing room for 2019? Have you de-stashed, made any resolutions? What are ways you keep on track?


  1. You’re an inspiration….
    I have to admit that my cluttered sewing room has been driving me crazy. It really is hard to be creative or get inspired when your sewing space is over-whelming to be in. I’ve made a start ( a very slow start) this past year to get rid of stuff. I’ve donated fabric to a church group, sewing friends, thrift stores and am very proud of myself for staying away from fabric shops. But— I have a long way to go. I, too, have been asking myself why it’s so hard to let go of things. Hopefully I’ll figure that out this year and make more progress. I remind myself that it’s taken over 40 years of sewing to accumulate this stuff so it might take a year or two to purge… 😀 thanks for sharing.


    • So glad to hear! Yes, I’ve been ‘de-cluttering’ for about 2 years now. And, some would hardly know it! It does take time, I hope you keep on your journey!


  2. My granddaughter needed a closet which meant my indoor stash storage went from 4 shelves in her closet to just 1 3/4 in another. SO hard to get rid of good fabric, but honestly, if it’s not my color or type that I will use at this stage in my life, it has to go! Great article and inspiration, Jill!


  3. Your post struck a nerve! I am in the midst of a purging project in my sewing room. Too much fabric, too many notions and patterns. I don’t darn socks so I guess I can get rid of the darling egg for example.

    My plan is to pull out the fabric that I want to keep and match it to a pattern I want to use. Add the notions needed. I have all the elastic, thread and buttons available. Everything else goes out the door.

    I am excited to finally clear out so that I have room to sew!

    Beth from Philly

    Liked by 1 person

    • The darning egg! I find that funny, it’s crazy what we hold on to. I’m also getting to an ‘age’ where too much stuff is driving me crazy. Once we get our rooms where we’re happy, watch out we’ll be sewing up a storm!


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