Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Creative (and Frugal) Quilt Room Storage

We'd all love gorgeous wooden armoires or walls of matching cabinets or floor-to-ceiling shelving units cut perfectly to store our fabric. And if you can afford it -- go for it (and share photos!). But for the rest of us, the answer is in CREATIVE FRUGAL STORAGE IDEAS.

I'm hoping everyone in the group will share any creative storage solutions they have. Here's some to get you started.

2 or 4 drawer filing cabinets - A 4-drawer filing cabinet was my main fabric storage unit for a long time. I folded my larger pieces of fabric so they would "stand up" in the file drawers, and labelled each drawer according to the fabric it contained -- ie, blue/green, red/pink, black/white, floral, etc. When looking for a particular fabric, I just pulled out the appropriate drawer and all fabric in that color range was visible.

Tote bags - There's a million free patterns on the web for easy tote bags (start with SewMamaSew's blog. Use some inexpensive muslin or fabrics you no longer care for, and make yourself some extra large tote bags -- 14 x 14 would be a good size. Include a large pocket on the outside. Store fabric and thread for a "current project" in the bag, and place the pattern/instructions in the outside pocket. Make as many of these bags as you have the need for, and hang them on hooks in your quilt room.

Old Kitchen utensils - In a recent issue of COUNTRY HOME (one of my favorite magazines), I saw a wonderful idea for notion storage. They took an old-fashioned cheese grater (the kind that's flat on at least one side), turned it upside-down, put a small piece of wood in the bottom, and hung it on the wall to hold pens and pencils. This would be a fun idea for storing your rotary cutters, scissors, etc. Think of a whole row of these on your wall -- how cute! Another good storage idea from the kitchen - silverware drawer organizers. Use this in your sewing table drawer to hold the items you use the most - scissors, seam ripper, sewing machine screw driver, etc.

Fabric baskets - Here's an online tutorial for very sweet fabric baskets. Use them to store fat quarters, notions, threads, patterns and more! Use up some of your least favorite fabric to make them!

Fabric Boxes - For your Fat Quarters, how about these great fabric boxes? Adjust the width to match the size you fold your fat quarters. Another online tutorial for you!

Old furniture - If you have an attic or a basement, chances are you have some old furniture stored. If it has shelves or drawers, think storage possibilities! In my quilt room, I have two old dressers, and on top of each I placed two old 4 shelf bookcases. (Use small L-brackets to connect the two if they aren't stable). This is more than enough shelf storage for my quilt books and magazines, plus drawer storage for paper goods (stabilizer, fusible web, graph paper) and more. They aren't pretty, but they sure do their job.

Here's a photo from Pottery Barn - What a great sewing space table this would be! So much storage! So much work surface! I bet you're thinking a table like this would be waaaayyyyy too expensive for your budget!

But take a look at what you already have. If you have two matching 3 or 4 shelf bookcases and a large piece of laminated wood (or old solid door!), you can make this type of table yourself. Use L-brackets to attach bookcases to the top and paint all one color to give it a one-piece look. You have your own custom-made work table! And look on the wall in the back - see the gift wrapping center? That would make a great place to store rolls of fusible web or freezer paper! Keep your eye out at yard sales for one of these!

Old cedar chest or trunk - An old cedar chest is a great place to store finished quilts (protects them as well), and you can sew up a cushion for the top for some extra seating in your room.

Cereal boxes- cut down to the shape of expensive magazine holders, and cover in some pretty fabric. Here's a tutorial to cover it in fabric.

Wide-mouthed jars - Take a look at this "How To" video (scroll down the page about half-way) on how to place jars UNDER shelves to take advantage of unused storage space! Great idea for bobbins, extra pins and more.

Old Suitcases - Another trip to the basement or attic and you may be lucky enough to find some old suitcases. Stack these up and use them to store your fat quarters or smaller pieces of fabric!

Painted aluminum cans - Don't throw those empty food cans out! Give the outside a coat of paint, put on some cute stickers or decals, and use for pencils, pens, fabric markers, etc. Collect 10 cans, and place them in rows, side by side -- 4 in bottom row, 3 in next row, 2 in next, 1 on top - screw them into a piece of wood and mount on your wall for some great storage for small items. Use large coffee cans for this and create an entire wall unit of storage!

Plastic shoe organizer - Hang on on the back of your door, or on your wall next to your sewing machine. Great for rotary cutters, cone thread, your mini-iron, etc.

Make your own Fabric Bulletin Board - or better yet, an "Inspiration Board" to hang photos and fabric samples to inspire you! Here's a great step by step tutorial.

Plastic shoe boxes - often on sale for .88 each, I have four of these (without tops) on a shelf near my cutting table, labelled "squares", "triangles", "strips" and "Other". As I cut fabric, I place the scraps in the appropriate shoe box for future scrap quilting projects. Can't afford the plastic shoe boxes? Use regular cardboard boxes instead!

Folding Mesh Hampers - I found these at a local dollar store for.... (drum roll....) one dollar! I have one next to my cutting table for scraps that don't fit in the categories of the shoeboxes listed above. As I cut my fabric, I throw unusual sized and shaped fabric into the mesh basket for cutting and sorting later. You could also use these to store fabric by theme or color. For example, store all your Christmas fabrics in one, Halloween fabrics in another. Then - think UP! Put hooks close to your ceiling and hang these hampers up until it's the season to use the fabrics.

I hope this helps you think of new storage ideas by looking at what you already have with a new eye! Storage solutions do not have to break your budget!


Anonymous said...

I liked it, you can find more storage furniture from spacify.

belinda said...

nice blog....i will probable do a link on my blog for this.....lots of good info and ideas...thanks!

Jess said...

those plastic salad containers from the grocery store (you know, when you buy salad mix or spinach). The 2-lb size is PERFECT for fat quarters and they're see-through.