Sewing Room Organization Tips – No Cost Before & After Makeover

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This post is all about how I completely overhauled and reorganized my sewing room without spending any money!

I’m going to show you how I upcycled and reused things I already owned to reorganize my space and make it work better for me. A no-cost sewing room organization makeover!

sewing room makeover

P.S. my room is also my home office & general crafting space – not just sewing!

This post first appeared on our sister blog Upcycle My Stuff.

If you’ve already read my newer post 14 Fun & Pretty Fabric Storage Ideas then read on as there are some good ideas in this post that might be perfect for you. But if you haven’t seen that newer post, it has lots of new fabric storage ideas from me and other quilters and is worth checking out next!

sewing room makeover

Table Of Contents

  1. Sewing Room/Home Office Before
  2. What has to fit in my sewing & craft room?
  3. What is the problem with the way the room is organized?
  4. Fabric Storage Before
  5. Clutter and Untidyiness
  6. What was working?
  7. Home Office Area – After
  8. Sewing Room Area – After
  9. Folding my Fabric
  10. Small Scraps and Jelly Roll Strips
  11. My clear storage bin makeover
  12. Divided Drawer Storage
  13. Magazine Holders & Shelf Storage
  14. Wall Storage
  15. Easy Access Storage
  16. Occasional Access Storage
  17. Work in Progress
  18. Feeling so much more productive
  19. Video Tour
  20. Have you organized your own sewing or crafting space?

Sewing Room/Home Office Before

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I’m pretty lucky with space I have to play with.   I live in a relatively big house and we have two downstairs ‘living’ rooms.  One we call the ‘front room’ and that is what we use for watching TV and the kids toys, Christmas morning and all of that normal living room stuff. 

The room I am reorganizing is at the back of the house and we call it the ‘back sitting room’ for some odd reason.  It does have a small TV in it that no one watches and essentially I’ve taken over the room for my various pursuits.

What has to fit in my sewing & craft room?

Like many people, the space I have for my sewing and crafting also needs to be a bit of a multifunctional space.  It is my home office and a bit of overflow storage for a number of other areas of the house.

Many people will relate to having to use a guest bedroom or home office as their craft space – or maybe even your own bedroom or the kitchen table. 

Even if your room isn’t as big as mine I’m hoping you’ll get some inspiration about how to use the furniture and storage you already have but just using it in a different way.

As far as the home office part of my room goes I need to work on my laptop, print labels and invoices and store packaging materials and stock. 

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

As far as my day to day computer work and zoom calls I don’t do that at a desk I do it from the comfort of the sofa that is also in the room.   The sofa is a pull-out guest bed type thing from Ikea,  so the room is also an occasional guest room!

For my crafting and my sewing, there’s a sewing machine, fabric and notions, plus a whole host of ‘stuff’ that I don’t want to throw away that I am either intending to upcycle or am halfway through upcycling.

Other things that need to stay in the room are wrapping paper and gifts for the kids (it’s my hiding place before Christmas and birthdays! Shh!) as well as my mother’s old china set and some other bits and pieces that don’t fit in the kitchen but we don’t want to get rid of.

In fact, the hutch (or dresser) that I use as my main fabric and crafts supply storage used to be in the kitchen before we decided it made the kitchen feel too crowded.

What is the problem with the way the room is organized?

Well, there are a few issues with how the room was being used before.

First I for some reason had the printer over on the opposite side of the room to where I sit and work on my computer so that I had to walk around my sewing room and whatever crafting mess I’ve made that day to find the items I need to package out, print the label and get everything ready to send. 

It wasn’t ideal!

Second, there was too much stuff in the room that didn’t need to be. 

I accept that there are some things not related to my business or crafting that need to stay in this room but there are some things that don’t need to – like guest duvets and sheets when we haven’t had a guest in over a year! (This is being written in 2021 after all!).

I also had a massive coffee table sitting up against the wall in this room just because we couldn’t face selling it! (see the first before photo up above – it’s the bright blue table with all the stuff on it!

Lastly, the way I had been storing fabric, craft supplies and tools wasn’t super intuitive or practical so I decided I needed a complete overhaul!

Fabric Storage Before

My previous fabric storage solution was to store my fabrics (mostly scraps and other people’s remnants I buy of eBay – I have a bit of an addiction!) in clear bins sorted by colour. 

Apologies for the slightly fuzzy photo! I forgot to take a ‘before’ close up so I had to zoom in on a far-away photo!

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Now that sounds organized and also like it could be pretty, but in reality, once you go rummaging around in these types of bins the fabric inside just starts looking messy and so all you have on your shelves is a colour coordinated mess….not great!

I also found that even though the bins were see through it was still hard to find what I was looking for or to quickly check what I had.

Clutter and Untidiness

I am the first to admit that day to day tidying isn’t my forte. 

I am more of a massive systems overhaul kind of a girl.  By which I mean I am constantly trying to completely reorganize entire rooms to make them work better for me in the hopes that that will make it easier to keep tidy on a day to day basis.

The thought process is basically ‘if I organize it just right I will unlock the secret code that makes keeping it tidy easy!’

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

So a big part of what was making the room unworkable was that it was just messy, a bit of a dumping ground kind of room because once you dump one thing it becomes easier and easier to dump another and another. 

So obviously reorganizing the room also means tidying it up and for me, that means a fresh start to treat the room right and stop everybody just depositing things in here when they don’t fit anywhere else.

What was working?

sewing room organizations
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

So basically my room before was a hot mess.  But there was one thing I had done when I set it up originally that I did like – and that was using a sideboard to divide the space between the sofa (my work area) and the table (my sewing space). 

So going forward I decided to keep the sideboard as the divider, but rearrange pretty much everything else!

Home Office Area – After

I rearranged all of the furniture in the room and one of the changes resulted in me moving the sideboard that divides the home office and sewing room areas right up against the back wall and also moving the sofa back against the wall. 

Previously I had stored boxes of stock for my business behind the sofa – thinking that would make them look less in your face – but all it really did was make the room seem smaller.

sewing room organizations
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I moved the wooden unit where I store my work papers and packaging supplies over to beside the sofa up against the back wall and moved the printer with it. 

sewing room organizations
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I made a magazine file out of a cereal box for my printer paper and used an empty jar for my pens.

The boxes of stock that I still need to keep in the room are under the window.  Still not the nicest to look at but they are easier to access than when they were behind the sofa so it’s a lot more functional.

Also in the ‘home office’ area is the wrapping paper, gift bags, tags and gift boxes. 

All of that fit in the sofa storage compartment that previously had bedding for guests that haven’t been to stay in ages. We kept the bedding but it’s up in the loft and we’ll just have to make the effort to go get it when we can finally have guests again!

Sewing Room Area – After

sewing room organizations
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
sewing room organizations
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

And the decluttered view from my sewing table:

sewing room organizations
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

As you can see I moved most of my furniture around.

The relationship of the sewing table, sofa and sideboard stayed mostly the same but I moved the dresser/ hutch over to the back wall where my printer used to be and pushed everything else closer to the wall so that I have more floor space for laying out quilts in progress or doing other craftwork that needs a large space.

You can get a better sense of the before and after from the video tour that I’ve linked to at the end of the post.

Folding my Fabric

The thing I spent most of my time organizing was my fabrics.

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I stuck with the idea of sorting my fabric by colour but instead of the clear plastic bins, I decided to fold the larger pieces and stack them on the dresser shelves and organize other sizes of the same colour beside each stack.

sewing room organizations
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I basically cut a piece of cardboard, roughly the size of what I wanted the fabric stack to be, folded the raw edges of the fabric into the width of the cardboard and then wrapped it around. 

Finally, I pulled the cardboard gently out and placed the neatly folded fabric on my stack.  I found this method for folding fabric here where you can see all the instructions.

sewing room organizations
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

My fabric stacks make it look like I have a lot more fabric than I do because a lot of my pieces are actually oddly shaped remnants from other people or bits I’ve used a bit of but not all of them. 

The way I folded it was to try to hide the scraggly off-cut bits and put the widest bit of the fabric on the fold.

Small Scraps and Jelly Roll Strips

For jelly roll strips which I often buy in Moda Scrap Bags, I like to divide them by colour rather than keep them as a roll because I don’t often sew with them in all one project.

sewing room organizations
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
sewing room organizations
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I used a range of empty jars from Nutella Jars to olive jars and basically whatever I could find that would fit whatever amount of fabric strips I had in each colour.

For smaller scraps that are too small to display a whole fold like the ones in my stack I tried to fold them in to coloured ‘overspill’ piles and put them either on top of my stack or beside it depending on how much of that colour I had. 

To be honest I don’t love this solution for the small scraps so I might come up with something better!

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

As well as the video tour of my sewing room that you can find below I also have a youtube video about my scrap fabric management system – specifically how I manage my scraps to prepare multiple scrap quilts at once!

My clear storage bin makeover

My bins!  I’m now in love with my bins!  Yes, the same ones that I hated when I started this – the clear ones.

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

As I said above, I started out storing my fabric by colour in these clear bins – see the photo above for what that descended into overtime – what a mess!

After I folded my fabric onto the shelves during my reorganization I decided to use the bins for more distinct items, like ribbons, my husbands old shirts for upcycling, and orphan quilt blocks that I don’t know what to do with for the moment.

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

But even after I sorted them into their bins like that, it still looked awful sitting on top of the dresser above all my pretty folded fabric.

So I decided they needed a bit of a facelift.

I used some leftover super pretty wallpaper from a wall art project and taped them to the inside of the front of the boxes using big, clear packing tape.

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I then printed labels on my home printer and cut them up.  All I did was type the text I wanted into a normal word document, picked a cute font and printed. 

Then I cut around the text and taped them onto the lip or front of the box (depending on what kind of box it was because I had a few different types) with the same clear packing tape.

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I currently have bins for:

  • WIP (work in progress)
  • English Paper PIecieng
  • Mending (essentially my kid’s clothes with holes in the knee that need mending)
  • Jeans (material I’ve cut out of old jeans)
  • Seams & Pockets (also from the old jeans)
  • Shirts (my husbands old shirts that I often cut up to do things with)
  • Ribbons
  • Orphan Blocks (quilt blocks I’ve made that weren’t for a particular quilt)
  • Christmas Fabric (I just don’t need to see that all year round!)

Of course, the boxes can easily be switched by just replacing the labels.

Divided Drawer Storage

I have 3 small drawers in my dresser/hutch where I can store things I don’t need to see all the time. See the video tour below to see inside all these drawers!

Drawer 1:

  • Zippers
  • Keychain findings
  • Soft toy accessories/rattles
  • Bias Tape/Bias Binding Maker
  • Trims & Piping
  • Elastic

Drawer 2:

More works in progress but on a smaller scale – these are slow projects where I am cutting up a certain size of scrap for a quilt pattern or making the occasional foundation paper piecing (fpp) block that will eventually come together to make a quilt.

So for example I have a tin with flying geese FPP blocks that I make occasionally with my scraps – one day I will make a scrappy flying geese quilt out of them.

I’m doing something similar with log cabin blocks and I have a couple of other boxes in there of slow projects that may or may not get used!

Drawer 3:

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

This drawer is the closest to where I sit at my sewing desk and it is full of all my thread. 

I’ve divided different types using empty Tupperware containers I already owned as well as a couple of empty ferror rocher clear boxes that I saved from Christmas. 

I’ve divided the thread into:

  • Larger sewing machine spools
  • Small sewing machine thread
  • Hand sewing thread

I currently have embroidery and darning thread elsewhere but I might move it into this drawer if that gets annoying.

Magazine Holders & Shelf Storage

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

On the bottom shelf of the dresser, I have quilting and sewing books, patterns & templates. 

For loose papers and quilt magazines, I made magazine holder files out of old cereal boxes and more of the leftover wallpaper from my large wall art project.

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I also have another jar for selvedges as I like to save them for various projects.

I have a box for measuring tapes and a two drawer organizer that I already owned for FPP patterns and craft paper.

I’ve also got a decoupaged coffee canister full of buttons (see photo above).

Wall Storage

The back wall behind my sewing machine isn’t finished yet.  I’m going to add some sort of wall hanging directly behind me just to make it pretty. 

But for now, what I have is a hanging organizer with 3 pockets that I stole from my son’s room and the rack from an old dish drying rack that I’ve hung vertically on the wall.

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Both the organizer and the dish drying rack are meant to be for items that I use often enough that I want to know where they are without searching around, but not often enough that they need to be right beside me at my sewing desk. 

So at the moment, the dish drying rack is holding 3 pairs of large scissors – and a DIY binding tool that I use anytime I bind a quilt (which obviously isn’t every day!).

Easy Access Storage

The stuff I’ve put closest to my sewing desk is the stuff that I use a lot more often.

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

On the shelf beside me I have:

  • Rulers
  • Sewing Feet
  • Pins & Clips
  • Timer
  • Vase full of hexies to be basted on to EPP papers

In a little wicker bin immediately beside me, I have:

  • Rotary cutter
  • Thread cutters
  • Seam ripper
  • A regular pen
  • A fabric pen (friction pen)
  • Stand for holding my mobile phone
  • Small scissors
  • Screw driver for the sewing machine
sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Below my table, I have an old wicker Christmas hamper with a lid that I am using as my day to day scrap bin for pieces that are far too small to add to my folded piles on the dresser.

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I am considering making something else for on top of the table to help me sort smaller scraps by colour and then maybe decant them into more glass jars – not sure yet.

Occasional Access Storage

There are some drawers down below in my sideboard/room divider that are harder to access than others. So I’ve tried to fill them so that the ones that are harder to get at are the ones I’ll want things from the least.

Again if you want to actually see these drawers head to the video tour below!

Easiest drawer to get into:

  • Brushes & compressed air for cleaning out my machine
  • Quilting Gloves
  • Spare machine needles
  • Acrylic templates for cutting hexies and other size scraps
  • Sewing machine feet that I don’t use very often

Least accessible drawers:

  • Larger pieces of upholstery fabric
  • Hodge Podge of old clothing to be upcycled
  • Old belts
  • Old leather samples for use in bag straps
  • My son’s slow quilting project
  • Quilting practice swatch

Work in Progress

I feel like I made some big changes in this room but there are still a couple of areas that are working in progress. The main one being the bottom section cabinets of the hutch/dresser.

This is what I’m currently storing there – but it could be stored both more neatly and probably in a more practical way….I’ve still got my thinking cap on!

  • Interfacing
  • Sewing machine manual
  • Embroidery hoops and thread
  • Larger iron
  • Mod podge, gold leaf, stencil and other craft supplies
  • Stuffing from old cushions to use in soft toys
  • My mum’s old china set
  • Large serving trays from the kitchen
  • Other bits of kitchen storage overspill.

I also have a large black bin on wheels that is tucked in beside the sofa that has all my batting in it.

Feeling so much more productive

sewing room organization
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Overall I am pretty happy with the overhaul of my sewing and workspace.  It is working so much better for me!

  • I can see and pick out my fabrics much easier.
  • I’m spending less time hunting for things and more time making and doing.
  • My home office work area makes more sense and speeds up my packaging efforts.
  • PLUS: It’s more visually pleasing to me so I’m keener to come in and work, sew or craft.

My room is still perhaps cluttered by some people’s standards, but for me, it feels much neater and much more usable.

Video Tour

Want a tour of the whole room? Check out the Youtube Video here:

I’ve also completely overhauled my sewing space again since I wrote this post!

You can see the updated sewing room Makeover video here.

Have you organized your own sewing or crafting space?

I am the queen of the massive room makeover/overhaul so I will no doubt reorganize everything again in a year or two.  So I’d love to hear what you’ve done in your own space to give me more ideas!

What’s working well for you and what are you struggling with when it comes to organizing your creative space? 

Leave me a comment below – I respond to them all!