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Sewing Room Organization: How I Organize My Lingerie Supplies

sewing room organization
January is a month for organization. Oh please, who am I trying to kid? I’m one of those neat freaks, so every month is a month for organization. You should see me when I get nervous or anxious. Thank goodness I live alone, minus my homeboys, Sage + Basil.

I live in a super small condo – my entire place boasts a whopping 550 square feet. It’s just a hair smaller than Buckingham Palace. When I redesigned my sewing space last March, my goal was to create an area that was not just organized, but efficient and functional. For the most part, it has stayed as is and just as clean. Woot woot! As the amount of supplies have grown, I’ve starting using new ways to stay neat and tidy. These aren’t methods I invented; I picked up most of them by taking note of how other small businesses store product. Organization makes me happy – happy home, happy life, happy sewing life – so I thought I’d share. No one wants to see their sewing room turn into a jumbled elastic mess, right? So enjoy these few organization tips and please share your own! I’m currently trying to find a way to file patterns. Manilla envelopes? Plastic sheets? Help!

Fabric

Except for small amounts (less than a yard), all of my fabrics are wrapped around small, cardboard sheets and then placed (neatly) in this vintage sewing chair (most of my fabric are galloon laces; I don’t have a lot of full width fabrics) (at the time of taking that photo, I wasn’t using this method yet). Cardboard cutouts are really easy to source. You can cut down moving boxes or old packages using an exacto knife or a box cutter, or you can buy precut cardboard sheets. When you’re finished wrapping the fabric, use a pin to keep it in place.

sewing room organization

Elastic

When I first redid my space, I bought a vintage metal box from Etsy (you can see it if you click the link in the second paragraph). It was small and compact and kept my elastics organized. I loved that little box, but I outgrew it. Sigh! To replace it, I bought magazine/comic boards and used them the same way as my galloon lace – wrapping the elastic around each sheet and then using a pin to hold in place (you can also use a paper clip; vinyl covered or butterfly shaped work great). I chose magazine/comic boards over foam or cardboard because I have more elastic than I do fabric, so I need something that is less thick/bulky. It’s pretty cheap too. A pack of 100 cost $13.14 plus shipping.  I read on a forum that some have acids that can seep onto elastic and cause discoloration, but I have not experienced that. There are acid free boards if you’re worried about it. What I like most about storing elastic this way, even more than the metal box, is that I can see what I have. I’m more likely to use it rather than buy new if it’s visible.

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Hooks + Eyes AND Rings + Sliders

I store hooks + eyes and rings + sliders in small plastic bags and separate them by width, color, metals, etc. (some of the bags are mixed). A saved a lot of baggies from when I purchased, but I have bought lots from Amazon for my bra workshops. If you search mail bags, poly & plastic packaging bags, small take out bags, or disposable food storage products, you will find tons of options.

sewing room organization

STRAYS

You will never use an entire length of elastic. NEVER! At the end of a project I’m always left with 5″ here, 1/4″ yard there. I save and store in a small plastic baggie and use them for testing colors when I dye or experimenting with zigzag stitch width before sewing.

sewing room organization

Additional Resources

Pinterest has so many tutorials for fabric organization that could be adapted for lingerie supplies. Try searching DIY fabric bolts, fabric storage, or sewing organization. Some ideas include using glass containers, metal hangers, clear boxes and manilla folders. So clever!

The Fabric Organizer sells ready-made bolts in large (10″x14″), small (5″x14″) and shorty (7″x10.5″) size that have tabs that make wrapping super easy.

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16 Comments

  1. Reply

    Tracy

    Hi Madalynn 🙂 First off, I love, love, love your blog! (Cuddled up with a blanket, coffee in hand….kinda obsessed, haha) You inspire me every time I visit, and even more so, your “blog vibes” always excite and motivate me to just get on with it.
    Anyways, I have been storing my patterns in manilla envelopes for a while now, and I love my system. I attach a clear plastic sheet protector on the front of the envelope with double-sided sticky tape, and slide the pattern envelope inside. That way, it’s not only visible, but in a pinch, I can pull it out and look into any details the pattern requires without having to open the whole manilla envelope. I love using the envelopes because they stay clasped, and I don’t have to worry about folding all the sheets just right, and cramming them into a small space. Also, I usually trace my patterns onto pattern paper, or “pattern fabric,” and I have no issues fitting it all in, including muslins.
    If I just want to bring the pattern envelope to the store with me, I don’t need to stress about losing anything inside since it’s all secured back at home in its own spot. I use a sharpie marker to write the pattern # at the top right corner of the manilla envelope so I can quickly find a specific pattern while I’m flipping through. I keep everything inside a lateral filing cabinet, using the tabbed file folders to organize in different catagories.
    This system works great for me, and I’m loving filing away my own patterns I draft, blocks, slopers, and even ongoing projects….
    Anyway, sorry so long-winded, but I’ve learned so much from you, and thought I’d take the chance to give back. Thanks so much for ALL you share and do 🙂 *Hugs*

    • Reply

      maddie

      A big hug right back at you! Thanks for sharing how you store your patterns. I do the same, minus the sheet protector taped to the front. I like that!

  2. Reply

    Ping

    That’s such a great idea to save elastic ends for dye experiments! I’ll have to start doing that. 🙂

    • Reply

      maddie

      It has been super helpful and saved me from dyeing a whole lot the wrong shade.

  3. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    Honestly I wouldn’t store any of my inventory on boards. I have experienced elastic being ruined by being stored on cardboard. I also dislike rolls as well. Why? Because the elastic starts to distort and you end up with a lot of waste. I prefer elastic being stored loose the way it actually comes from the factory. (Yep they don’t roll it for production that’s something that only happens for retail)

    But I store 1000’s of yards so I have a different system entirely.

    http://www.bramaking.supplies

    • Reply

      maddie

      These tips are definitely geared for the home sewist. Most, if not all, of the yardage at my house is between 1-15 yards. I have a wholesale account with BMS, so the minimum I buy is 10 yards, but that goes down as soon as I make something. When I have to order 100+, like I did when I was working with a local manufacturer for my intimates line, I had it shipped directly to them. If I continue to grow, I’m sure I’ll have to develop other ways to store larger quantities, but for now, this works!

  4. Reply

    Laura Turner

    Hi Madalynne. Love the blog and your tips. I store all patterns in gallon size zip close bags. Then all bags are sorted by type and size (dress, tops, pants, nighties, women men kids, etc.) in my file cabinet which keeps bags secure. Plastic bags keep paper patterns safe from ripping and let’s me see pattern envelope at a glance. Happy organizing!! Laura T

    • Reply

      maddie

      Oh thanks for the tip! I like the fact that the ziplock bags are clear, so you can see what’s inside.

    • Reply

      mel

      I store my patterns in gallon size ziplock bags too. I usually write the pattern name and other info on the bag.

      • Reply

        maddie

        Easy and cheap!

  5. Reply

    Sian

    Brilliant tips! I’ve only got into lingerie sewing in the past couple of months, but my sewing room is already littered with bits of elastic, random pieces of lace and I have rings and sliders everywhere! I started by trying to keep them all inside a little a box with a lid, but that’s definitely already past overflow point now, oops!
    I’ve been reluctant to buy more due to storage issues, but at the moment I’m stuck with random colours that don’t match or more than enough band elastic and not enough strap elastic in certain colours – typical! I’ll be taking your ideas on board then stocking up with what I need 🙂

  6. Reply

    Janee

    I store my patterns in 7 x 10 ziplock bags that I got from a jewelry bead catalog. The bag holds the patten pieces and instruction sheets and I can always go up to a larger size if needed for extra copied pattern pieces. The bags are labeled with the pattern number and stored vertically in dresser drawers. I file the pattern envelopes themselves in clear page protectors in large binders by category. This works well for me when I need to choose a pattern for a client’s project, I can look through the binder for the particular design element I need without having to sort through the bulky patterns themselves. I’m still training myself to file new patterns as I get them, it would help because I’m less likely to remember a pattern if I haven’t used it yet.

    Love your blog and your photos!

    • Reply

      maddie

      I’m also training myself to file my patterns. Too often I leave them around and when I need them, I can’t find them or I don’t know which pattern is which.

  7. Reply

    Cristal

    Thanks for the tips! I just organized my fabric stash with cardboard boxes as you said. Looks much better than the plastic grocery bags I was using, not to mention now I can actually SEE what I have.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Oh awesome! Hello organization!

  8. Reply

    Kristine

    Wow, thanks for sharing here on how you keep your sewing room clean and tidy! I love the cardboard box idea for fragile materials like lace! I just typically keep them bundled up and stored in a big box but I think wrapping these in cutout cardboard will make things easier for me to find a certain material I need for a project.

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