Organizing Your Craft Stash

Happily, I finally have a studio, in the largest bedroom upstairs I now have all my threads, my stash of canvases and all my needlework and design books. This represents a great step forward for me as the stuff used to be all over the place. And that space was stolen from the dining room, breakfast nook, my closet, and a ton of other places. I have been an expert of finding space when you don’t think you have any.

The key to organizing your craft stash is to know what you have. This accomplishes two things. First, you don’t buy the same thing more than once (and believe me I’ve done that often). Second, you can then find ways to store and keep track of everything.

Start with one area of your stash: in my case, these are threads, canvases, projects, books. Spread it all out and put like with like. For example, if you are arranging canvases, sort them into small, medium, and large, started with threads, not started with threads, and the charity pile. If you are lucky you can find a container to store everything. I still do this every time I put away threads from the last few projects.

Storing Large Items
Most crafts have some large items. These often require special storage.

Do they need to be flat? Think about plastic underbed containers (cheap) or flat drawers (more expensive). My dream is to have a set of flat architect’s drawers for needlepoint storage.

Other ideas include an empty dresser, a set of wire drawers, or even a plastic bucket or large basket if the items can be rolled.

Thread Storage
Threads can be stored neatly in all kinds of containers. Decorative tins are inexpensive and found at thrift shops. Baskets are pretty but are open. Often you can find lots of plastic buckets around in cheerful colors. Cigar boxes have a lovely smell and are beautiful.

In organizing thread, you need to decide if you want to have threads by type or by color. Decide this by thinking about how you dream about threads. I think about texture first, so I’ve organized by thread type. When organizing your threads, put them in piles according to type (or color). You will need a container big enough for each group of threads. Splitting up threads (especially overdyes) into more than one container can make it difficult to find things. I had my Watercolours in four baskets, warm, cool, multi and neutral, but sometimes two skeins of the same color would go into different baskets. The new bin is large, but I know where the thread goes.

Yarn Storage
Yarn presents different problems than thread because the skeins are bulky and there are so may of them. If your stash is not too big, store them in baskets. I have even used wicker laundry baskets and an unused bathtub for yarn storage. If your stash is large, invest in those canvas storage boxes. They will keep your yarn away from moths, but they won’t cause the yarn to deteriorate the way plastic does.

A less expensive alternative is to use old pillowcases, but be sure to tie them securely.

Storing Bits and Bobs
Every activity has little tools or items which don’t fit well into the other categories. These can be stores in inventive (and often lovely) ways.

Stick-like things, such as brushes or pens can be stored in jars, glasses, or vases. If you don’t have any vases, go to thrift shop to find inexpensive ones.

Flat things, such as die-press cuts, should be stored flat, either in file folders (I like patterned ones) or in sets of flat drawers.

Small, easy to lose items, like beads or buttons, should always be stored in containers which close tight. These can be as simple as disposable food storage containers, or as complex as bead storage systems. But get them into something — there’s nothing worse than spilling beads everywhere.

The Tool Box
Most crafts have a set of tools which are used often. These should be corralled into some kind of storage. My beading tools, which are used all the time are in an open box on my worktable. My needlepoint tools which are used often are in a tray on my stitching table. The less used tools are in a tin box under the table.

Book Storage
Books can be organized or not, I would say mine have always been semi-organized. I put groupings of similar things together, like stitch dictionaries. Being a compulsive book purchaser this doesn’t ever work for long.

Now that I have the space, I organized the books and put them into the same room. It rarely stays this way, but at least now I have a “go to” room for finding them instead of playing hide and go seek around the house.

The Big Picture
Once you know what you have you need to look for places to store stuff. Do you have tables with empty drawers? My floss (now my daughter’s floss) is in the coffee table drawers. Is there an old dresser and space in the house or garage? Turn it into canvas storage. Is there space near your stitching chair? Buy a basket and store your current projects in it. Use unused tote bags, storage space in your closet, the corner next to your nightstand. As long as there is a tiny bit of space and a container, it can help you get organized.

One last point, at least once a year, review your stash and donate stuff you won’t use to charity. This makes room for new pieces you will stitch.