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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Embroidery Studio Organization: Clear the Table!


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A miracle happened last week.

I actually ended the day with a completely empty work table in my embroidery studio.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the surface of that table completely clear. And seeing it – and enjoying the benefits of it – have made a world of difference in all kinds of things this past week.

For several months, I’ve been telling you about the grievous need to re-organize my workroom. I’ve been chipping away at it slowly, making small improvements here and there that make a huge difference in efficiency, time management, and productivity.

True, I haven’t quite achieved Organizational Nirvana! But I’ve found a few solutions that have helped me manage my workspace better.

I’d like to share an organizational tip with you and show you two Very Useful Additions to the studio. They’re not fancy or anything. But they’re well loved and they’ll definitely be well used!

Embroidery Studio Organization - The Table

There it is! The empty table!

Oh, how I love thee, Table Mine, when thou art CLEAR!

The table in my studio is a pretty simple set-up. The supports are three Bisley cabinets on each end (turned outwards) that I store my threads in. I’ve written about these cabinets before here, and you can see what they look like in that article. I still love them and use them faithfully!

On top of these cabinets is a plain white tabletop from IKEA, and on top of that, a green cutting mat.

The green cutting mat comes in super handy, even if I don’t use rotary cutters to cut fabric. It gives me a place to cut mat or foam core board for framing my own embroidery; it allows me to work freely with scissors without worrying about the table top; and it provides a ready reference for measuring things, squaring up fabric, and all that.

The Proliferation of Needlework Tools

Why is it such a big deal to clear my work table?

Well, unfortunately, the table ends up being a hot spot for collection. I stack stuff on it all the time – books, projects, frames, art supplies, fabric – to put away later.

But these bigger things are not really the problem. They’re easy to put away.

It’s the little things – needlework tools, notebooks, pens, pencils, pins, needles, tacks, hoops, scissors, and, in general, Things that Need Attention – that are more difficult to manage.

In the past, to keep some semblance of order to the tools and knick knacks, I used a series of tins, trays, jars, boxes, and other miscellaneous containers that collected at each end of my table.

These collection areas kept creeping slowly towards the center of the table, threatening to meet in the middle, leaving me less and less space to work in.

Enter: Carts

In the quest for an empty work table, I decided my tools and small things needed their own living space.

To this end, I invested in two rolling utility carts from IKEA.

Embroidery Studio Organization - The Table

These carts are great! They hold all the things that I use frequently – tools, art supplies, pens, pencils, scissors, pincushions, little hoops and small frames, notebooks – in a compact, organized, portable space.

One top tray holds Current Things to Address, whether they are small projects I want to set up, books to review, things I want to share with you, and so forth. The other shelves are the happy receptors of everything that used to occupy my work table.

The carts wheel easily, so I can pull them right up next to the table when I’m working, and then I can park them away from the table when I want them out of the way.

Clear the Table!

Ideally, my table would look like this at the end of every day.

True, it doesn’t always happen! But when I make a concerted effort to end a work day with a clean table, I accomplish a lot more – and much more efficiently – the next day.

So, here’s your organizational and time management tip for your needlework pursuits: end the day with your work area in good order!

Any tips for keeping your tools and small things in your workspace organized? Feel free to chime in and share them below, so we can all benefit from each other’s ideas!


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(65) Comments

  1. So happy you found these carts! I’ve been using them in my sewing room for a few years now. I even have one by my chair in the family room. It holds my current project and all the necessary stuff to complete it. I just roll it out of the way when I don’t need it. My floor stand for embroidery frames is also on wheels. My son added them for me. It makes it so easy to push it in or out when I want to get up from the chair; and I can push it up against the wall when I’m not using it.

    1. Great idea !

      A frame with wheels, that must be so nice to work with. Everytime I need to get up, getting the frame out of the way is no fun.


  2. Aren’t those IKEA carts pure genius! I do a lot of my stitching in front of the TV, so I can spend time with my hubby. I found these a couple of years ago, and love them. I can put most of the things I need at hand on the cart, and when company comes. I just roll it into my sewing room. Awesome!

  3. Hi. I bought a nasty little storage box the other day; one of those with shelves that cantilever when you open it. More a proof of concept than actually because I wanted that particular box, because, let me tell you, that box was cr*p. Well the concept was good. When I embroider, regardless of the project there are always those tools and nick-nacks that I have to have. My globe pencil sharpener, 3 pairs of scissors, even though I only use one, the one true pair, you know what I mean and all the other things you just can’t sew without. So I’m waiting for a proper cantilever box to arrive, not a pritty pink one but £40s worth by a company called Artbin. I researched it but the clincher was that the dévideras between the little storage compartments can be moved. I was sold on it from that moment on. It should be with me within th next few days and I can’t wait; I’ll spend a good half day fiddling with it and deciding what goes where and changing my mind. Like a child with a new toy, but a child in charge of the budget and with the money as well; heaven. Thank you, by the way for your wonderful blog, I and thousands of others love it and when it arrives in your inbox, everything stops and we settle down for a good read. So thanks for the feet up rest and relaxation as well.

    1. I have found ArtBin products to be very good. I have several in different sized and for different purposes.

  4. I laughed and laughed…this is exactly what I was doing this morning before I read your post…clearing my table! It is so nice…to have a nice clean space. I also use a cutting mat on my table for protection. What I like about my table is that is is a piece of furniture that is a console that pulls out to make it any size I want..It has 8 leaves so I can choose to use them when I need the space …as I do a bit of machine sewing also. Mostly it is a dedicated handwork table now…
    I use an taboret (think art cart on wheels) that I have had for decades now to store my tools etc. Well worth the money at the time…It even has a specific swing out drawer for my “goldwork tools” and supplies. I also use a spinning office organizer that sits on top to put my pencils, pens, scissors and other do-dads in..The cart sits right by where I stitch and next to the table so everything is handy. Believe me this is a long way from the days when I only had paper grocery bags to organize my projects (shows I am getting old)
    Thanks for sharing Mary I needed that this morning!

  5. This book has made quite a difference for me. Though I haven’t fully been able to implement it in my craft room, it’s still a move in the right direction. I’ve been unearthing myself since Dec. and made quite a bit of progress. Check it out – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

  6. Thanks, Mary! These ideas are very helpful as I’m setting up and organizing the craft areas as I move into my new old house. I use clear plastic containers – thread organizers, fishing tackle boxes, little drawer units – to put the small tools and supplies in so I can find what I need without too much ratting around. I have a LOT of tools and supplies and it takes time to configure the spaces because to see how each setup is going to work, I have make something. :-)))

  7. Dear Mary

    It’s lovely when you have a sort out and tidy up, I’ve just come to the end of my fabric journals journey and I had to clear everything away for my next project which is back to L&S stitching, a poppy for my sister’s 70 Birthday which was in November, oh well better late then never. I love your Ikea trolly really useful for all those knick-knacks that are needed for embroidery projects. Perhaps that what I need for all my embroidery accessories? Thanks for sharing with us your studio organisation and for the tip on the utility cart very useful.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  8. I use a series of bags and baskets : some for sewing tools (attached to the sewing cabinet), some for embroidery with spaces for needles, scissors. Some zippered pieces have room for essentials when I travel. I also have special holders for knitting needles. I use plastic bags to hold projects, those underway and those in line.

  9. Hi Mary ~ your work space looks pretty good to me! I quilt and have a table and cutting mat like yours and I found by putting a solid shoe rack that would normally go in your closet floor for shoes, on the front edge of my table, saved my working space
    from getting cluttered with items needed for a project. I would just put them on the
    raised shoe rack and they were easy access and right there in front of me.
    Have a good Wednesday~Sue

  10. Since I don’t have a workroom, I have a chest of drawers in my family room that is dedication to embroidery supplies. The top drawer holds a tray which is stocked with everything in use for my current project. The tray lives on the coffee table during the day, but can easily go back in the drawer when tidying up. My Mighty Bright magnifying floor lamp is battery powered so can easily move out to the sofa and then back to its home in the corner. A bookcase in the room holds all my references. The key for me is to regularly organize the contents of the drawers. I use a lot of small containers and zip-loc bags.

  11. I recognized those Råskog carts immediately! They are very popular with weavers as well as there is always a bunch of little stuff you want to have near you. I think you can get similar carts elsewhere for those who don’t have an Ikea nearby.

    Love the clean table.

    1. The key to other brands of carts is stability and sturdiness. Not all are created equal! They have similar carts at Target which are pretty good. I own one Raskog and one from Target and like them equally as well. Costco currently has them in their stores and they seem to be sturdy. If you are a facebook fan, there is a page called “Pimp my Raskog” with wonderful ideas on how people use theirs and the accessories that they have for them.

  12. IKEA Variera trays.
    They’re simple, rectangular trays, made of white plastic, and they come in many different sizes. I don’t know if they stock them in the USA, but if they do, it’s well worth getting a few. Practicality in the true sense of the word!

  13. I, too, have one of those carts, and I love it! It sits next to my chair in the living room and holds all kinds of important stuff including whatever project is going on at the time. I also have a couple of cabinets the look very similar to yours although mine are from ikea. I have misc stuff in them, but, since it’s stuff I haven’t looked at in ages, I think I’ll clear them out and use them for my threads, ribbons etc. A good way to start organizing and purging! I feel better already!!

  14. Hi Mary,

    We just finished a whole home remodel and now I have a space for my hobbies (quilting, knitting and embroidery). I just want to mention another great work table I purchased at IKEA (KLIMPEN (table top) FINNVARD (base)) also–I live in Minnesota so we have easy access to a store there–but it can be purchased online. I bought a table top like yours but I also bought a drafting table legs (FINNVARD part–you can pick from several table top styles that will fit) that allows me to adjust the height of the table (from counter height up to bar height) by simply moving dowels. The table was VERY affordable and adjusting the height is very easy and can be done by one person. It also provides a shelf for storage underneath. I adjust the height so I can raise it when I am cutting fabric (saves your lower back) and then lower it when I am sewing or using the table for embroidery. I have an adjustable height chair as well. The table top I got measures about 58″ by 30″ so it is a really nice big table! I have one of the rolling carts too–they are wonderful also. With these items and an inexpensive shelving unit–I have a very high functioning space for very little cost.

  15. Tabletop or ironing board top
    are the bane of my existence.
    Constantly taking the oathe
    “not again”. sounds like I should
    get to Ikea for helpers. Thanks.

  16. On organizing the workroom, my space is U-shaped. Both sides have plastic drawers under the table top to hold all the notions. Also plastic drawers in the corners, facing out, to hold lesser used items, such as ribbons. On top the table is a rotating tool caddy with very frequently used items, such as scissors. Everything I frequently use is within reach. There are also floor-to-ceiling cabinets behind the table to hold larger items, such as frames. They also have plastic boxes of threads and beads. In another area of the room are plastic boxes bought at Costco with UFOs. They are large enough to hold everything needed to complete the project. There are shelves and wall space to set out patterns for inspiration and completed projects to enjoy. A full-size ironing board is stored behind the door. And a comfy office chair with a plastic mat so it rolls easy. My area is actually set up for machine sewing, but works for all the many projects I do. No pictures because the room is so compact, there is no room to stand back from it, but functions great.

  17. Lovely post Mary. I wish I could get my studio organized. It’s resisting. LOL. I would like to find the right rolling cart for next to my work area (my reclining chair.) 😉 It needs to be narrow, so I’ll be looking for something along these same lines, but smaller.
    I found these links to the lighting I told you about. I absolutely love mine, have all 3 types for varying places. The 2 table models (one with clamp, one with heavy base) are $10, the floor model is now only $20. I’m tempted to get another one!

    1. I love the Jansjo clamp lights – I have three. One in my stitching spot, one in my stitching travel bag, and a spare in reserve. I don’t get to IKEA often , so it was worth stocking up!

  18. I guess my tip isn’t rocket science, but normally I just put everything away at the end of the day before going to bed. I only have a desk in the corner of the living room, but I like it to be clear and tidy as a default. Of course, it doesn’t always happen and there’s usually something stored at the back of it (often a WIP or two).

    It helps, I suppose, that my work station is in the most ‘public’ place in the home – the one most visitors would see and spend time in, so keeping it tidy saves face when people call in unexpectedly. ☺

  19. Love love love Ikea carts! I also use the plastic, flat jewelry organizers with the bobbin to put my less expensive floss on. I organize those into color families, also the little spools of silk ribbon fit into those orgaizers. They are also organized by color family. As far as my silks and wool floss i try to keep them also on the bobbins but these I cut from chipboard so there is no acid transfer or anything else icky to get on my threads (i am a bit protective of them ) and store those in chipboard boxes, again that i make, modeled on the flat plastic boxes. With everything done by color family, then by size etc. i can find what I need quickly and put it all away easily and nice and tidy. Plus those plastic bins and my boxes fit into the Ikea carts!!

  20. Funnily enough, I was looking at something similar to those carts in a local store just the other day. I decided against them though because the baskets were quite small and quite deep for their size, and I wasn’t sure what I’d keep in them. I did, however, pick up a whole bunch of plastic baskets to organise my fabric scraps into – if I can see what I have, hopefully I’ll be more efficient at using them up. I also recently ordered some plastic embroidery thread storage boxes (plus bonus card bobbins!) from Amazon, not realising that they’d be twice the size of the one I received my House of Embroidery threads in. No matter, I really do need something to sensibly store the threads I have so that, again, I can see what I’ve got and use it.

  21. I’m a confirmed neat freak. I use pencil drawer organizers from an office supply store. The small sections are great for needle threaders, glass vials for beads, needles, etc. the larger sections for scissors, cutters, plastic bobbins. And I have stackable drawers for threads, each type has its own drawer !

  22. I take my embroidery “studio “to my job every day. I use an oversized surger roller used to transport a surger to classes. It is large enough to hold the plastic floss containers in the main area where the surger is usually contained. I am able to carry 10. A complete floss line so I can change the color any time I need until I return home for refills.The pocket is large enough to store my stitch books and patterns. The large inside divider separates the piece i am working on at the moment.

  23. Hi Mary!
    Those cabinets from Bisley look great! And after seeing your drawers full of thread I feel better about the stash I have! 😉
    I store my Edmar Rayon threads inside several ‘three drawer’ stackables from Sterlite; they are economical to buy and since they stack well I can have a couple of them stacked without being too high. I have them inside a bookcase, of all things, and have each drawer labeled by thread weight and color range. I do have to admit that I enjoy seeing the marvelous colors of the threads through the opaque plastic drawers! I also use them to stash bead containers of the small bead assortment I have on hand for embellishing my embroidery, so needless to say, I have several sets of the Sterlite three drawer stackables!

  24. Mary – I’m feeling guilty looking at my own cluttered dining room table. Wow – yours looks great. Think I’ll get busy myself after I read the other comments here. Thanks for sharing. Be well

  25. While I don’t have an organizing tip to share, I do admit to making your roll cart picture bigger so I could really peek inside to SEE your goodies better!! A bit nosy.

  26. Looks wonderful. I’ve been trying to get organized for a while. I sorted everything all out and it exploded more than I expected even for me! I have a different cabinet system (I bought it more for beads) that I think will be good for threads just not archival levels. Best Craft Organizer out of Canada. You have plenty of choices on configurations as in drawer, and cabinet sizes, which you can add to over time and they have sales (visit website), they have a sale now. One of the dilemmas I have is fabric storage. As I bought patterns and threads I also bought fabric, because I thought I wouldn’t be able to find it later. I need to store it! I’m way ahead of what I can really do LOL! I found some artists portfolio boxes that are archival but wonder how you Mary or others store fabrics? You are such an inspiration. Thank you!

  27. Great Minds, Mary! I too have a rolling cart from Ikea! I love it! In fact, I have 2. One I use for my stitching beside the couch where I stitch and use my computer. It holds my books that I use almost daily and some of my sewing gadgets and tools. The other one I use for setting the table for dinner. It holds everyday plates, silverware, bowls- I can roll it over to the dishwasher to empty the dishwasher and then roll it to the table to set it. It works great with 6 grandchildren when I ask them to help- with the exception of the two youngest (under 2 years old) who will often empty the plates onto the floor… Great post as it is difficult to keep my work table clear in my quilting space! Lots of love and appreciation for all you do for us!

  28. Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips. I’ve always wanted to go to an IKEA store. The closest one is in Houston and I have not made it there yet. Love your blog!

  29. Just yesterday, I received an email from Totally Tiffany (.com) She was showing a new cart with a wrap-around apron. It wraps around three sides of the cart and has pockets on the sides and on the back. She said the one on the back would hold a cutting mat. A gift wrap apron is also available; it has pockets on the front and deep pockets on the side to hold tubes of wrapping paper. The cart is 26”H x 17.5”W x 10.5”D so the apron(s) would go around that.

  30. Mary, please come clear my table. I can’t work like this. The books are stacked so high I keep knocking them over. Bits, bobs, pieces, miscellany…how did this happen? It was so neat, it was so tidy. I could cut foam board. I could study a design. I could even take out my porter trace.

    But alas the creative people were here and left behind their clutter. Now the stitcher can’t work.

    Maybe I’ll sneak downstairs, so I don’t have to see it? Sigh.

  31. It definitely would be a huge miracle if my cutting table EVER looked like this!! I love the idea of the Idea rolling tables but my sewing room doesn’t have a spare inch of space where I could fit one, handy as it might be. I can only but dream!


  33. I love love love those carts! I bought FOUR in blue. One is in my blue kitchen to hold snacks, crackers, etc. The other 3 are for crafts. I have my 1948 Singer Featherweight sitting on the top of one and underneath is a box of scissors, rotary cutters, blades, etc. The other one has a lot of sewing items also. The last one sits next to my recliner and has all my in progress items. Embroidery threads, hoops, crochet thread, yarn and my box of crochet hooks, a box full of needles. I also bought the little cups that hang over the lip-I bought 9, 3 for each tier. They’re all full. I would love one for fat quarters but don’t have anymore room for one. I love that they are not cheaply made-I was really worried about that until I seen them. They are reasonably priced and well worth the money in my opinion. Keep up the great work.

  34. My workspace isn’t too bad because I keep my WIP to only two or three projects. My problem is that I just love the colours of floss and I used to keep on buying more. My organisation breakthrough was a few years ago when I bought two small 4-drawer plastic cabinets to store it in – an on-the-cheap version of your Bisley cabinets – and made a list of all the thread I had. One cabinet is DMC, sorted by number; the other has many decades of stash thread, roughly sorted by colour. Both are packed tight. Doing this has brought my random thread-buying under control because I can see what, and how much, I have. I try to choose my colours from the stash and only DMC gets replaced, so in theory the stash should diminish.

    1. In theory? How is that working out! LOL! I try to keep only DMC floss and the stash floss is packed away for a group of ladies in the Congo who do embroidery to support theselves in a much better way than how they were previously. Spare fabric and hoops as well.

  35. My pegboard is the thing that brings me greatest pleasure in my studio. For the first time ever, I can see all my tools. I also use two sets of Ikea storage drawers for all my floss, fabric and light sensitive items. Your table looks like a great place to work.

  36. Hi Mary,

    A clear table, it looks great. I also like the idea of the carts, good place to store your working tools. A nice organized work room. But, I’m still using little boxes, tins and jars. My husband built me a sewing table, 3’x4′. Then he added a shelf under it. Works good for storing all those small tins, boxes, and jars. Then I had him build me some wooden crates to keep all my pattern books, fabric, threads, and yarns. He made the sides with slats, so I can see what is in each crate. I’m in the process of having him make me small crates to store me tools. My old treadle still stores my in process projects. I have to pretty much put everything back when I’m done, Or my cat has a hay day with any project that is sitting loose, so my table does get cleaned off and the end of the day. Weather is still quite chilly here in Wisconsin, I am making some progress on my petti point. Oh yea, I have to share my sewing room with my cat!

    Happy Stitching
    Louann P

    1. Louann, I have the same issues. I have 2 cats that will play with and carry off anything that is left lying out. Drawers and plastic bins with tight lids are the rule of the day in this house. Of course, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I’ve just learned to work around their needs….. Yes, I’m definetely ‘cat pecked’.

  37. Good for you! I’ve made a small amount of head way with my table that seems like it is stacked to the rafters with quilting fabric, garment fabric, lace, quilting projects, books, magazines, items I want to machine embroider and then review for Amazon, and the list goes on. I have three thrift stores that have been fueling the pile on the table and other than the shopping for it, I haven’t felt up to doing much with it. When I am in it, I try to sew in my sewing room. But like I said I am making progress. At least for the last couple of days. And I bypassed the thrift store today when running an errand in town.

    I was ahead of you on the carts though. I found one at a yard sale that has four baskets that are attached and it can hold most of my hoops, most of my boxes of floss and another container of perle cotton, projects instructions, fabrics, etc. I have bad arthritis and the last thing I want to do when my hands are feeling good enough to do handwork, is hop up and down to go fetch different different colors of floss from my sewing room. I can haul it over to where I sit when I want to work or then it sits in an empty corner of the living room when I’m not using it. Now to get my hands to co-operate so I can do some handwork again. I love seeing how others organize their things, especially if you are a pack rat person like me. Some of the ‘stuff’ is potential things to sell in my store, but no room in my office for it at present.

    I just got a book in the mail via Amazon that I got today and am waiting to open it this evening. Needlework: A Selected Bibliography with Special Reference to Embroidery and Needlepoint by Catherine Sestay which is probably going to send me down another rabbit hole in the books I have! If I can’t do the needlework, at least I want to read about it!

  38. Well done Mary! The cleared table looks wonderful. I’m inspired to finally attack mine now. Love the carts on wheels and I like Jan’s idea of being able to roll them into other rooms when a change of scene (or a TV program) beckons. When I worked full time I would never leave my desk cluttered or disorganised at the end of a day’s work yet somehow I have never managed to bring this level of organisation to my sewing room. I’m now determined to bring this mindset to my home embroidery area.

  39. Hi Mary- I always love to read your posts!
    Today I’ll say “thank you” for sharing your clear-up story! I know some similar by my own. I’m running a sewing atelier togehter with my daughter and it is the same problem- the big table for cutting out fabrics is planned to be empty- of course!! and like with you the mess is growing nearer and nearer to the center….so we shuffle things from one side to the other, each day talking of “we have to clear up”… Problem IS, that in the meantime space is rare,and it makes no sense to store things we need always away into the drawers or closets. But your idea with the rolling carts is brilliant, and think I’ll put them to work for us very quick. The main thing is to get started- to empty the table and to sort in all these things we use every day, and then to go on with sparing a quarter hour each evening to just reorganize the table so that next day we do not have to do excavations before being able to start… it is excellent to get your little kick to do something – thank you again! cheers from Switzerland Martina

  40. Unfortunately, embroidery is only one of my crafts requiring organization. For quilting I have 6 sets of Closet Maid wire basket units, each with 3 deep baskets and 1 shallow basket. I use them for my fabric stash and supplies. I put them back to back (a 3 X 2 arrangement) and my husband made a huge top for it that serves as my cutting table. It occurred to me that one unit would make great storage for stashes of embroidery cloth, linen, etc. Because they are wire, they allow fabric to breath. Casters can be added to them for ease in moving about and they also raise the surface top a few inches for a good cutting surface height.

  41. I purchase a rolling Craftsman Tool Chest (3 tier) from Sears on sale. I store my needlework tools, awls, xacto knives, pencils, pastels, scissors for cutting canvas, tassel making tools, punch needles, frame weights, portable lights etc. When I am setting up to work on a new canvas, everything is there. This saved me hours of looking around and digging into other closets, drawers etc. Because I seem to collect small screwdrivers and multi-purpose tools I have them all here in my room rather than having to go to the garage every time I want to use one. I also like the three tier artist pencil/supply holder that holds many of the frequently used smaller items. As it can turn 360 degrees, I always have immediate access to any part of it.

  42. Thanks for sharing, and showing the rolling carts. I have seen other crafters with them but did not know they were from IKEA! I too have rolling carts that I have gotten over the years from clearance sales. And, as you say they are awesome for moving them around. Since I have so many hoops including quilting ones, I like to use an over-the-door rack to hang them. I have also seen some that have an additional wire basket or shelf to accommodate smaller items. As for the table, “I dream of having a BLANK table”….just a dream though since it calls for “de-cluttering”? Have a great week.

  43. I use a two-sided hanging jewelry organizer with clear pockets for very small items such as thimbles & needle packs. Each side stores about 20 items and hangs in a closet or on a wall.

  44. Huzzah! Huzzah! For the clear table top! So Soothing to see it that way when it is rare to see it that way, I should know, ha! Clear space is a infrequent thing in my tiny craft area. But I like you, I am trying to organize it better. Best tip I have is to pull like things together. Its amazing how things can get spread far and wide. Another tip is to always look for organizers that look appealing to you. Even if you are a little messy if you like what you’re looking at it will still give you pleasure to be there. Next tip is try to use what you already have so that you don’t have even more to deal with. I can’t wait to see what everyone else’s tips are too!

  45. Oh I do enjoy a good tidying up sort of post! 🙂 Those carts are just perfect for the job, and I agree it is lovely to have a tidy table to start each day. I am in the middle of having fitted storage put in, so my room (and several others) are in chaos and overspill just now. It’s a pleasure to see your tidy space … I live in hope I will soon achieve the same! 🙂

  46. Mary – is that cart from Ikea a dark/medium blue? My husband bought one of those carts )in black) for his weaving and the only blue they had here was a light aqua?

    Long post – we have a lot of craft space and a lot of supplies –

    Husband and I both work in a variety of crafts and have several rooms in the house plus the garage for the different crafts. My crafts involve our “studio” (intended to be the family room behind our kitchen and one of the reasons we bought this house) and the finished part of the basement (the unfinished part has some of his craft stuff in addition to the finished part, our studio, and the entire garage).

    In the basement we have a double rack (in height) for fabric on bolts – mostly from when we were more actively quilting and selling baby quilts and quilted wall hangings. We have several 2 drawer file cabinets for storage (2 drawer units fits under our electric table) – one drawer holds sewing patterns, another needlework kits “to do”, and another holds standard size frames for finishing work. There is a also a cutting table for fabrics in the basement, which doubles for also cutting mat board.

    Our studio is a good sized room. We have 6 dressers/chests and a unit with shelves and 2 drawers for storage, plus we have small drawer setups on top of some of the workspaces. We each have a 6 ft x2.5 ft table to work on – the tables sit next to each other, so if needed we have a 6 ft x5 ft work space – for cutting large fabric items or such. I also have a bridge table forming an L with my table – the bridge table is in the corner of the room and touches 2 walls – there is a 3 drawer chest of drawers under it. Under the tables we have additional storage with boxes pushed towards the meeting of the tables so that there is still ample foot room under the tables. Items stored there are basically part of our setup from when we did (and hope to do again) craft shows including some of the inventory. Under the tables is also the large box of polyester stuffing, some work boxes of husbands (including quilting) and a dowel on a stand with assorted wide, non-sewing ribbons on it.

    Now for our needlework storage in all this. Husband has a half width drawer for his lucets (he makes then and makes items from the cords which he also makes). He has a drawer for his miniature punch needle supplies and finished pieces. I have a drawer for my needlework in general – small hoops, some started projects, some finished or “tried it” projects which will not be be framed, etc. are stored in there to take to demonstrations. There is a half width drawer with iron material and some wool batting. There is a full drawer with unstarted cotton floss sorted by number in plastic bags (we bought two of each color when Walmart discontinued it years ago) and also all of crewel yarn (not as much as the floss). In the shelving unit are several plastic tackle boxes and a craft box – you know, the ones around 1.5-2 inches tall with sections. The tackle boxes hold the started skeins of floss – stored by color – and started and unstarted assorted other threads. The craft box holds smaller amounts of floss – leftovers from kits, etc – wrapped on paper bobbins.

    We also have a 3 drawer unit – a little larger than a foot by a foot and the drawers about 6-8 inches high. We each have a drawer in this for storage of what we are working on. (The third drawer is the glue drawer.) On top are tapes we use frequently in dispensers and a cup with odd use pens, etc. Next to this one side is a school Ellison machine and on the other side there is a “pot lid rack” with sliding paper cutters and a guillotine cutter next to that.

    The top drawer under the bridge table holds my sewing supplies. On top of the bridge table are several sets of small plastic drawers (the ones intended for offices) which hold items set aside for specific projects (of all sorts) of mine and are labeled on the front, some are started, some are not. My big sewing machine sits on the end of the table against the wall and husband’s sewing machine is next to it on his table. (My smaller one is on the floor for now as it needs a home.)

    Two of the dressers are filled with fabric – sorted by purpose/color and folded for each piece to stand up so that all can be seen – when the pieces were stacked it took forever to find a piece. (I have a swatch book I made of the fabrics to help find what I want with a “map” of the drawers in the front of it.)

    Felt squares are kept in a drawer in another chest, which has general scissors in the top drawer (with other craft tools) and other craft supplies in the other drawers including a “tape” drawer. There is a small 3 drawer plastic unit on top of this chest which has an “office” drawer – pens, staple remover, the supplies for making swatch cards, etc.

    There is a large plastic box of sewing type ribbons and another of elastic on top of the big shelf unit.

    There are 4 shelves of embroidery and fabric books and magazines, as well as shelves with books of other crafts in 2 6 ft high bookcases.

    There is a shopping bag of started EGA projects next to my table.

    I have an embroidery project – a reproduction of a late 18th century chair cushion in – in the wooden box/bench (kept in our dining room) which is brought to reenactments. The piece, scissors, small hoop, needles, and threads needed for current work are in a round wooden box. The rest of the items needed for the project are in a plastic zip bag. I photocopy the section I am working on – zoomed a little bit larger – and cut out what I need and put it in the wooden box so I don’t have to take out the modern instructions at events.

    Our living room has been taken over with husband’s loom and related weaving items.

    So with all this – where do I work? Generally at the kitchen table so I can put the TV on to listen to while I work.

    1. Hi, Meryl – the carts are a smoky charcoaly black. Not really black-black. They didn’t have the aqua in stock, or I probably would have gotten two of them. I bought an aqua one for my sister last year, and she really likes it. The kids tend to empty it, though, and use it as a “tea cart” with their tea set, a doll carriage, and sometimes a three story impromptu doll house.

  47. If you have an old glass frog (for arranging flowers in the base of a vase), or can find one in a junk shop, they are fantastic for your small scissors and other small tools like awls. Just glue a circle of felt or cardboard to the base, and drop your tools point down into the holes.

  48. Yes Mary I have just one of these fabulous carts, it is one of the most useful things I invested in, I take it anywhere around my home when I wish to sew elsewhere other than my sewing room, even outside in the garden, I have everything on it that I need and the bonus is it is so easy to move

  49. I am so happy to see these little carts being put to use! I have been admiring several of these for the past two weeks at Costco and thinking they must be useful for something…….. Now I know! Thanks for the great tip!

  50. Brilliant, Mary!! I have a very long table that supports everything when I get busy from sewing machine to cross words!! I know the happiness you’re feeling just now. Mine’s clear at the moment but I’ve got another project in mind…..

  51. Hi.
    I have recently found your treasure trove blog… it is a God send.
    One thing I’ve researched a lot with no real success is finding a comfortable chair for hand embroidery.
    I don’t like sitting in my ‘comfy’ chair but I want to sit in my lounge room, without a table.
    I have a sit on stand, but really need a comfortable, not oversized chair.
    Is this domething you can help with?
    Many thanks.

    1. Hi, Rhonda – It’s hard to recommend chairs. Everyone is different! When I’m at home, I sit on my sofa, but I prefer a chair, at a table. Mostly, I stitch in a regular office chair or an office stool on wheels, at my studio. So I’m probably not the best person to ask! I’ve often thought that someday, I’ll find just the right home chair to stitch in. And maybe some day I will! Perhaps someone in the wider Needle ‘n Thread community will see your comment and offer some suggestions.

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