Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Organizing Your Quilt Room into Zones

We have two weeks left of our current challenge to organize and clean our quilt room / sewing area. We've sorted and folded fabric, gotten rid of items that will never get used or that we've fallen out of love with, found inexpensive storage solutions, taught ourselves and our family not to use our quilt room/sewing area for a dumping ground. The next step is to sort, organize and store everything that's left in the room. Sound like an impossible task? It's not if you take it in small steps.

It may be of help to you at this time to re-read our guest post by Beth Dargis of My Simpler Life on staying on task and seeing this project through to the end.

One of my favorite time management authors is Brian Tracy, who has written many books on business management, time management, organization and overcoming procrastination. (I highly recommend his book "Eat that Frog".) One of my favorite quotes from his book is "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" If you're feeling overwhelmed at this point, break the task down into smaller "bites" and get one "bite" done at a time.


It's time to break our quilting room down into "zones". This is probably the universal rule in all of organizing, and it comes is particularly useful within the home... and within our quilt room/sewing area.

Take some time to sit and think about how you work in your room. What items do you need within arm's reach of your sewing machine, for example? You probably need some scissors or thread snips, a stiletto, a seam ripper, your sewing machine feet, extra bobbins, good lighting and perhaps a pressing board and iron. Obviously, you need a chair, a table and your sewing machine. This is your "sewing" zone.

Imagine how much more productive you could be if everything you need when you sew is at your fingertips. No hunting through drawers or, worse, looking around on the floor for that seam ripper you know you had last week.

Zones in a quilt room (and yours may vary according to how you work) might be:
  • Sewing machine zone - sewing machine table, chair, sewing machine, sewing machine feet, bobbins, small scissors for clipping threads, seam ripper, pin cushion, pins, small ruler, pencil, machine manual, quilting gloves, trash can.
  • Cutting zone - Rotary cutters, rulers, cutting mats, scissors, pins, magnetic pin holder,
    hamper for scraps, trash container
  • Fabric Zone - Fabric & batting storage
  • Reference Zone - Books, magazines, patterns (both purchased and printed from the Internet)
  • Paper Zone - Fusible web, freezer paper, interfacing
  • Notions Zone - needles, extra pins, chalk markers, glue sticks, buttons
  • Pressing Zone - ironing board, iron, spray starch/sizing, applique pressing sheet
  • Ironing Zone - your ironing board/table, iron, applique pressing sheet, spray starch, extra scissors, pin cushion
  • Other Crafts - Many of us do additional crafts - make sure you put these in their own zone

On paper, list your zones and decided what each should contain. Put a cardboard box, laundry basket, or any other container in each zone and label it accordingly. (This is temporary storage so it doesn't have to be pretty!)

Begin sorting everything in your quilt room. Start in one spot (closest to the door works best for me), and work your way around your room, touching every item in front of you, deciding which zone it belongs, and put it in the appropriate zone's box. Don't forget those items stashed on the floor, under tables, in the closet and in drawers and totes!

Try not to get sidetracked. It's difficult to not sit down and go through all those great quilting books for new ideas, or to fondle that fabric and think about your next project, but stay focused on the sorting. This is truly one of the most beneficial exercises in organizing your quilt room and having it stay organized!

As you sort, do keep an extra box or trash bag handy for those things that you now consider "clutter" -- fabric you will never use, duplicate notions, old brittle thread, patterns you're no longer in love with.

Your goal is to have a room that contains only those things you use or you love. Everything else is simply "clutter".

Of all the organizing we've done, this step is perhaps the most critical to a well-organized quilt room. Remind yourself what an organized, clutter-free environment will feel like when you're done. Close your eyes and envision the feeling of the end result. Picture yourself sitting down to quilt and knowing where every tool, every spool of thread, every ruler is, and how much more productive you will be. This exercise is labor intensive and will take time, but the time you put in now will be paid back hundred-fold when you spend more time sewing and less time looking for lost items.

"In the end it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are."
-- Max Dupree, Author

You can do this. You deserve this. Your quilting will be better and you will be more productive if you accomplish this task. Imagine - a place for everything and everything in it's place! What a concept!

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