Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Organizing my DIY stash

Fact 1:
I love order and cleanliness. One might claim to a point of unnatural obsession even.

Fact 2:
Living in a storage capacity challenged apartment (yes there is no limit to political correctness bs) may present a problem.

Fact 3:
I have more than one hobby. Currently sewing and jewellery making occupy most of my available space but there's also knitting and gift wrapping. Trust me that can be a hobby.

My jewellery box:

My gift wrapping supply:

So how to keep everything neat and organized. Sure I could probably pack everything into a large space bag,.. but that clearly defeats the purpose. The goal is to have everything packed neatly so that at any point in time I know where everything is, what exactly is in my stash and accessibility is a big factor as well.
So if I put something in the back of my closet or on the very top shelf and I use it weekly that's no good.

My Burda Style magazines are stacked in these boxes organized chronologically. All the patterns I've traced are in the two folders in the far left corner.

All of my tools are stored in the drawer underneath my desk on a black cat mat. The mat serves a dual purpose: the surface is protected from nicks and the tools stay in place. I also put a black cat mat underneath my sewing machine for the same reason. It really diminishes vibrations and the machine stays put during sewing.

All of my most common jewellery findings are stored in this tin box: ear hooks, crimps, spacers, head pins,...

I thought I'd share with you my various strategies. First of all I separated all my hobbies so that each has their own storage box. That proved to be a tremendously effective strategy. No more rummaging around my gift wrapping satin bows looking for a crochet hook.
Second I equipped myself with boxes (Ikea, I love you!) that enable me to put labels on them. I also have a huge stash of clear zip lock bags of various sizes. These are invaluable for storing beads, findings, buttons and various sewing notions.

I keep all of my leftover fabric in this box:

And here's another great strategy for fabric stash: immediately after I purchase it I wash it and iron it so there's no confusion later. Then I take a picture of it and store it in a corresponding folder on my computer writing down the composition of the fabric as well as its dimensions.
After that it's a breeze. Just think how many times the following scenario has happened to you: you have the perfect pattern for a project, all the notions required (a miracle in itself) and the right fabric. You take the effort to haul it all on your work desk and only after you begin tracing pattern pieces you notice that there isn't enough fabric...

I currently have my notions stored in two separate boxes. Not an ideal situation, but since I haven't found a perfect replacement it will have to do for the time being.

It's really a very old, oddly familiar story: I started with the white/grey box which quickly became too small for the all the little bits and pieces I've accumulated over the years.

And here's another neat trick: I remove all the spare buttons off any garment I purchase or always buy extra for a project I'm making. I store them all in my notions box with a tag to which particular item of clothing they belong.

Ignore the wrong spelling of Chanel on the top right side, I always get that one wrong. and I blurred the name on the bottom right side. I don't mind sharing my identity with my readers but I guard my family members' privacy.


  1. Are you a Virgo? I could use you in my life.

    Lovely blog.

  2. Geeez, that obvious?! Yes, I'm a Virgo and I guess aliving, walking proof that there is (at least) some truth in horoscope.
    Thank you for your sweet compliments.

  3. My MIL always had a button tin full of the most interesting buttons she collected over the years.
    Great post. Ida

  4. I am impressed. I never knew you are so interested in doing things with your hands. You have organized everything so well too. A miracle how you manage to store everything!!!
    Btw. There is a blog- chez Larsson- by a Swedish woman, who has organized just about everything in her house ( she has a lot of stuff too ). She has even organized her husband out of the house ; )
    Go see for yourself, if you have not yet seen it!

  5. Ida: my mum had an old cookie tin as well as did a lot of our female relatives and friends. Tin boxes don't work for me again because it all gets too mixed up. I like to keep sets of identical buttons in separate ziplocks. I'm incorrigible, I know ;-)
    Metscan: thank you for the blog suggestion, I'll check it out tomorrow. And yes I've always been passionate about crafts. Were it not for financial/space/amount of free time consideration, I'd probably have a few (a lot) more!

  6. Ummm... I couldn't even read this whole post because I had waves of guilt riding over me. I am the worst at organizing stuff. Short term, I get a bee in my bonnet and I start a whole new system for jewelry or crafts or whatever. Within a week, though, it's reverted to chaos. Looks like you've implemented some great systems.

  7. amazing. i try and try and it never works. i'm a neat freak to say the least, but the organizing part of that just didn't take i guess. ;)

  8. Vanessa: To be quite honest this is very hard work and I have my off days when I don't put things back where they belong. But the truth is chaos makes me nervous.
    Meredith: First time commenting on my blog, so sweet! As I mentioned numerous times before, our apartment really is small, so there is the physical limitation of space that forces us to be organized. And I've only shown you my stash. Mr. Coffeeaddict has his boxes of DIY stuff, so imagine the chaos if we didn't organize things. I wonder if we could even get through the front door ;-)