Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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A Bit of Organizing: You Think It’ll Help?


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Yesterday, I addressed an inside-the-house issue of organizing my current needlework projects. I do this every so often, intending to become more efficient. If nothing else, I at least put myself to working in a specific direction, and that is always helpful!

Organization of embroidery supplies and projects is a good step towards efficiency. And if you’re more efficient with some things, then it stands to reason that you’ll get to spend more time actually stitching. Organizing the loose ends of various projects and gathering them together in one easily accessible spot reduces rummaging time. So this is what I set out to do yesterday.

Organizing Needlework Projects

I keep inside the house (as opposed to outside in the studio) a variety of smaller projects, and usually, they end up in a basket. Right now, though, I have a surplus of small projects I want to address in the next couple weeks, and my basket runneth over.

So I high-ho-hithered myself outside to the studio, fetched two more baskets, and set about organizing things in the order I want to address them. I failed to take a photo of the Stack of Stuff that didn’t fit in that first full basket up there!

Organizing Needlework Projects

Remember this piece? I want to keep it accessible, because I like to pick it up now and then and try to make a little progress on it. So it, and all its components – pattern sheets, threads – are going in this basket (for “ongoing” projects)

Organizing Needlework Projects

You might not recognize this in its present form, but its my Schwalm embroidery project, along with all its components – and it’s going in the Ongoing Projects Basket as well.

Organizing Needlework Projects

This isn’t a needlework project per se, but since I’m currently reading this book, it is belongs to my “inside needlework” stuff, too.

Organizing Needlework Projects

After organizing everything, I ended up with three baskets and a book. The basket on the left is full of tools, hoops, needles, magazines, and some threads – all miscellaneous items, but things I like to have quick access to. The basket in the back is full of “ongoing projects,” the projects that take a long time, but that I want accessible, because I’m still working on them. The basket in the front is full of current small projects that I will be addressing in the immediate week or so. It holds the crewel smalls I’ve been working on, the other two needlebook kits, some linen twill and wool threads that I’m going to be playing with today and tomorrow, and a couple other packets of threads that I will be photographing for upcoming blog posts.

The baskets fit on the floor of my bedroom closet, easily accessible when I need something, but not creating any clutter in the house. Perfect.

Going through and organizing this small collection of supplies (and a book) helped to direct my work for the next couple weeks. I was able to set goals around my organized supplies. Now I know I can work more efficiently, because I know where my immediately needed supplies are, and I can make the best use of my time.

Yes, I know it doesn’t always stay this way —- we can but try!

How do you organize your immediate needlework supplies in your house? Any organizational tips you want to share? We’re all ears!


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(18) Comments

  1. I have found the lids to paper boxes (the large ones from work) work great. They are large enough for the books I am using on a project, large frame and all of my other supplies. Then they are easily stack-able on each other. I have found my husband stealing some of my lids to do the same on his small wood working projects.

    However, I love the idea of pretty baskets. Maybe I should cover the lids with some pretty fabric with elastic holding it in place.

  2. Mary, your baskets are just adorable! Loved the bows!
    I myself prefer little (or big) bags. Since I enjoy other crafts besides embroidery, I try to keep them apart. Right now, I have a big one for knitting and a medium one for one of my embroidery projects. I also enjoy quilting, so one project I want to start soon is making more bags for my projects! 🙂 I have even put aside the materials for that – I guess I just need another bag to keep it in!

  3. Happily you don't forget the Schwalmwork!!! I'm much glad 🙂
    Mine is in a bag which goes with me everywhere – that doesn't mean that I've worked. Last week I haven't worked a single stitch… you already know why!
    All ended well and our Christmas Eve was beautiful!!! I've just posted some photos.
    Have a great New Year, Mary.

  4. My solution isn't nearly as aesthetically pleasing as yours but it's a lifesaver for me. I invested in several sizes of Rubbermaid plastic containers. Each project either currently or soon to be underway gets its own lidded box with a masking tape label. After I finish working on a given project for the day everything related to that project goes in the designated box. If the piece is too large for the box, I stand it on end in an open plastic box.

    Tools (laying tool, tacks, needles, scissors,etc. are in theory supposed to go in a smaller lidded box on the worktable, but in practice are usually left out on the table.

    One of my goals during semester break is to organize my stash of unstitched charts and kits into containers by technique — and establish stitching priorities for them instead of grabbing whatever catches my eye when I feel like starting a new project.

    Another big organizing priority is establishing intellectual and physical control over all of the needlework resources I've collected in hard copy and electronic form. These include articles torn from magazines, photocopies from library books I can't afford to buy, notes from workshops, articles from the internet (including your blog posts), and projects or articles in magazines that I don't want to cannibalize.

    I'm considering, for example, creating a stumpwork box that contains not only unstitched stumpwork pieces but hard copy information such as magazine articles, lists of stumpwork books in my library, list of articles/projects found in my magazines, and lists of files on my computer (related issue: do I print out the files on my computer or spare some trees?). I would be interested in how you and others manage this — or maybe others don't squirrel away information to the same extent that I do.

    Back to your blog post, I was reading along with interest when I was brought up short by your statement about storing the baskets ON THE FLOOR OF YOUR BEDROOM CLOSET. Your bedroom closet is clean and organized enough to store needlework in? I hope you realize that this sets an impossibly high standard of organization for some of us. I can't even remember the last time I actually SAW the floor of my bedroom closet.

  5. Wow! rubberduckiemom had a great idea with the boxes and to cover them with material,very cost efficient. I currently use rubbermaid totes for larger projects such as my yarns and wool material for braiding rugs.For my embroidery patterns I use a tote bag which is in great need of being organized, wicker baskets, (like a picnic basket) for my embroidery projects.For my bead work I use pretty metal tins I pick up from garage sales and store my metallic threads, beads and sequins. I would love to have a room or even a wall with a lot of shelves to put these things on to really keep them altogether. Maria in Kansas

  6. Totebags. I get lots of them at conferences, so I am using them to store everything from work-related books and papers to hobby stuff.

    One tote has all my current projects and related materials. Another has materials for upcoming projects. Because my university is 70 miles away, I stay at my parents' house during the week (they live down the road from my uni) and I can just grab the relevant totes to take with me. They hang on the doorknob, out of my mother's way.

    Stash I don't want to carry around lives in a plastic art box that, natch, fits into one of my totes.

    The totes were "free" but are still very nice and very sturdy. Easy to move out of sight and the cats don't try to sleep in them!

  7. HI Mary, such an intersting and very pretty organistional technique. Thank syou for point the way.

    I can relate to Janice's post; I too need to do more organising, and to stop buying up old patterns at an online auction site – now there is a new years resolution.

    & Carol, I too have a lot of tote bags and 1 already holds all my scrapbooking stuff.

    Maybe my storage & organisational ideas were not so out of tune with everyone else, just a bit more disorganised.

    Thanks everyone for your inspirational ideas.

    Happy New Year everyone.

  8. Brilliant ideas here, I'll have to read more indepth on this. I use a toiletry bag that my son gave me for Xmas two years ago, it's not too big, but will fit a 8" hoop inside and most of threads and things.
    I have bloged about my "to do list door" which I have in my craft room, I do my work in there now, except when hubby is home or I want to wat something on Telly, then I put stuff in my bag and toddle on out to the lounge room.

  9. Ziploc bags are my friends! I made myself a big knitting bag which is *supposed* to hold my current project. Well…good idea, in theory…but somehow my project has morphed into several and now I have multiple knitting bags (none as big as the original though). Needlework generally gets stored in appropriate size plastic totes with lids. I also use several cheapie tote bags each holding the supplies for an individual project – these I hang on hooks in my studio. It's simple then to just grab the tote bag and move it to where I want to work. Currently I have a metal 'suitcase' (originally held artists oil paints I think) which I use to hold all my essentials (tape measure, ruler, various scissors, etc). I find myself not using it though, so I think I will be revamping that particular area of storage.
    Happy New Year!

  10. Hi Mary, You are very well organised and I well try to be organised. I have little boxes for my needles and tools which along with my fabrics go into totes that suit the size of the project. My current projects are all afghans and I have little bags with a zippered compartment to hold my crochet hooks when not in use.

  11. I love the boxes! Very practical, and so pretty too.

    Have a fabulous new year, and I can't wait to see what you'll be working on in 2010.

  12. Your baskets are very organized, and pretty! I use a combination of zipper bags, I'd like to get some more of the re-inforced bags with "real" zipper. They last a lot longer than the food bags. I have to keep projects covered, or the kitties will turn them into their napping place, or run off with bits. I also can't put projects in the closet, I tend to forget about them. If they are kept in sight, there's a better chance of making progress (no guarantee though!).

  13. Oh my gosh and good grief, Mary!

    I usually do counted thread using cottons and silks. I'm used to my modest stash of flosses and pull from them as needed.
    I haven't done crewel work outside of large kits I did back some 20 to 25 years ago and just about fell off my chair when I saw the luscious assortment of threads you have.
    What fabulous colors!
    Now I'm worried about beginning a whole new stash collection! 🙂

    I love this rooster and am going to gather the things I need to do him up.

    Thanks so much for your generosity in sharing your stitching life. If you hadn't shared I'd be trying to set up for this project in the same manner I do for counting projects….and it would NOT have worked

    Hugs, Marlon

  14. Have been working on organizing my needlework stash. It is a long overdue project. I put each partly finished project in its separate bag along with instructions, related threads and a few needles. For the perhaps 4 projects I am currently working on, they go bagged up in a small fold up, standing knitting basket next to my favorite chair. The basket is made of quiilted fabric and has a fold up wood stand. For my projects that I would like to begin after my to-do stash has decreased, the projects are again individually packaged in the same way and are in a small cedar chest out of sight but immediately accessible. As for kits, unworked needlepoint canvasses, linens threads and the like, they are organized and put into labeled plastic bins in my closet. Some of my needlework tools are in the small cedar chest packed together. The more decorative or antique tools are displayed in a pretty wooden tray atop the cedar chest and are immediately accessible. This afternoon, I sat down and organized my DMC threads by their color number. Put all of the 700s, for example in a ziplock bag and labeled the outside of the bag. Imagine… I can now easily determine whether I have a specific color. My silks and other threads are also organized by thread type with all of the Ping Ling silks put together. Organizing can be a big plus for anyone who loves to stitch. We can find what we need without unnecessarily tearing our house apart or buying duplicate supplies.

  15. It is great to have all your things in order isn’t it? Since I am travelling all the time at the moment, and living in a tent, I can’t have baskets, everything must be in bags, but I have sewn some linen bags in different siyes, some with pockets etc to have my threads and tools in order. I have to sew a few more, because I have gone from “only-one-big-project” phase to a more “messy-little-things-all-at-once” phase. I try to keep all the little projects separate in little transparent plastic bags for the time being, together with their threads. All the little bags fit in one mother-of-all bag, whicha have sewn last year, but, because of travelling and camping reasons, Iwant to stich anew bag in waterproof terrycloth (? is that the right english word for the waterproof thingy you put on the garden table in summer?).

  16. What is the pattern or project in the second picture? The one with the small boxes? I love the look of this.
    Thanks for some great organisation ideas!

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