CQMagOnline Staff Favorite Storage Ideas

Pat Winter © 2008

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Lately I have been noticing all of the publications available about studio organization. I thought I would ask the staff of CQMagOnline what their favorite storage methods are.

No matter if you create from a studio or a basket near a comfy chair, we all have to organize and store our stash at one time or another. Organizing your creative space is worth the time and effort because it saves money spent repeat buying an item you lost, which I think we are all guilty of. For me, an organized space allows me to relax and create because I know what I have to work with, and more importantly, where it is.

Being an organization freak, I have several storage methods. Below are two, showing how I organize beads and lace.

My bead storage wall units were brainstormed by my dear husband. After years of frustration over falling bead containers spilling onto white Berber carpet, I decided to store my small beads in the 6” tubes that many are already packaged in. My local bead shop ordered extras for me. I then needed somewhere to display them for easy access. My husband saw my need for flat wall storage and designed clear acrylic wall units. The tubes slide under acrylic on an angle and stack on each other. Beads are easily pulled out and replaced without any trouble. The colorful beads gracing my wall encourage use and are very pretty too.

No matter how I try to keep my lace drawers organized, they eventually become a tangled mess. The lace also becomes wrinkled and needs to be ironed before use. This led to my newest method for my vintage lace storage, which is also a lovely decorative element in my studio. I borrowed this idea from shop owners on Etsy. The use of painted vintage clothespins to wrap lace and threads around appealed to me. I purchased a few hundred new round wooden clothespins but did not paint them. I wanted the lace to make a statement. You can first wrap the clothespins in acid free storage paper, which most quilt shops sell to prevent any further damage to your vintage lace. I then needed a way to store my lace. I searched a few places for glass jars and found what seemed to be very large old fashioned candy jars. They have nice lids to keep laces dust free and they are clear for viewing and they sit on the floor so that I am not wasting shelf space.

I loved the look so I purchased three more for my trims and dyed laces. Displaying laces in this manner really is a crazy quilter’s version of candy shop treats.

Rissa shared this storage idea from her studio.

She loves the 12" square plastic drawers, because they are roomy and stackable.  They are actually storage for scrapbooking supplies, but they work perfectly for storing threads of every sort.

Cherie offered these two unique storage methods.

"An upturned coat rack holds my scissors - not exactly tidy but they're all in one handy place."

"A friend made me this lovely storage chest out of the drawers from my Grandmother's Singer treadle machine."

Allie shared this storage solution.

"I have six sets of plastic two-drawer units from Target, in three stacks of four drawers each. Each drawer is filled with fabric scraps of different colors: red/pink, orange, beige/yellow, green, blue, reddish purples, bluish purples (yes, purple deserves two drawers!), brown/black; and then a drawer of my hand-dyed rayon cording, a drawer for all my adhesives, and then my whites, and at the bottom the glittery glitzy  fabric scraps. I always can find exactly the scrap I need with this system when I am piecing my blocks."

Rita highly recommends the plastic boxes she found at JoAnn Fabrics. They are 14" x 14" with a 3.5" depth and are acid free. The size works well for unfinished projects. She also found a container that came with six of the plastic boxes about the same size and it is on wheels for easy movement.

Another convenient storage solution for Rita is the use of three sewing baskets. She uses one for appliqué, one for Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery and the third one for general stitching and CQ. "So if I am going to another stitcher's home or a meeting, I can easily pick up a plastic box with an unfinished project and the sewing basket that has the items needed to work on it."

Dean has a few ideas to share as well.

One storage method she used recently has worked nicely for her. She was given a box of flat boxes to be folded. The tops and bottoms are the same size but they fit together as a complete box. The size is a little smaller than the size box shirts come in when they are ready to be gift wrapped. The boxes are not sturdy, but work fine for her needs. Dean used old sheets that have been cut in smaller pieces to wrap fabric in because the paper in the boxes is probably not acid free.

Dean uses these boxes for many unfinished projects. They hold the fabric, thread and notions needed to finish the projects. Dean labels the contents of each box with a marker. The boxes stack nicely leaving no space unused. She has also stored dried flowers, leaves, leaf skeletons, favorite shirt patterns, and other such items that fit nicely inside.

Like many of us, Dean said she has used every conceivable container for bead storage. The ones she likes best and has stayed with are Tic-Tac candy boxes. She uses clear packing tape to group colors together. She lays the tape down on her desk with the sticky side up and sets the boxes side by side, bottom on the tape, and then wraps up on the two end boxes about half way. She then tapes the front and back with a long piece that covers the whole surface end to end. You can see through the tape, the beads are easy to get to with the little flip top, (which all need to face in the same direction so they will open on the same side). “Friends who know I use the boxes save them for me,” explains Dean.

I hope you have found new ideas to keep your stash organized and close at hand; and Allie, I agree, purple does deserve two or three drawers.

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