The Learning Center - Hosted by Pat Sloan

To kick start The Learning Center our February topic is Organization and Storage tips!

I like to call this "Organization 101 a la Pat Sloan". I’m going to start you off today with what we’ll accomplish. Then each Tuesday and Thursday will be tips and tricks, along with a prompt, to be sure you are working towards your goal of an organized work area!

In order to have a tidy, organized space…. end of the kitchen table, spot in the dining room, corner of your bedroom, or a lovely FULL room of your own to called your “studio”… you first have to know what you have.

I am very Serious… you NEED to know what you own. Do you?

In order to know what we have, what we use most, and where to put all of our precious things, we have to know the importance of our items to everyday use.

Some items we use more than others… some we only use every so often. We want most-used items where we can get to them and the little-used items can be stored high/low or out of the way.

What you need to do first is think through your work to determine what you keep in your space. We are all different and use different things. So make a list and put the items in order of MOST USED.

Here is MY list…

Studio Priority List – Pat Sloan

(note – this will NOT all fit in my space.. note the order is in order of importance to my everyday creating)

Studio Priority List

  • Computer station
  • Sewing machine
  • Cutting table
  • quilt making tools (scissors, rulers, thread, etc.)
  • Design Wall
  • radio station items
  • Active Project Storage
  • fabric storage – active fabric
  • less used quilt making tools
  • books
  • batting, backing fabrics
  • trims, buttons, charms, beads
  • quilt storage
  • fabric storage – older fabric
  • inactive project storage (yes I have those too!)
  • Yarn
  • rug hooking/wool
  • stamps, inks, paints, scrapbook papers and embellishments
  • Biz items like store merchandise, travel info, teaching kits

Make your list.. share your thoughts here in the comments… ask questions.

Are you ready? This is step one to fully organizing… each post this month I’ll give you another step towards making this transformation happen!

So you have a priority list. Now you have two options: the BIG Overhaul.. or the SMALL Overhaul.

Let’s look at the BIG Overhaul first. This is what I do every time I do a big reorganization and I’ve done many over the years..WAY before they did it on HGTV.. LOL!

BIG Overhaul

BIG Overhaul

  1. Remove EVERYTHING from your area.. I mean EVERYTHING. You need to be able to see your space and sort your stuff. So clean out the closet, haul all the boxes from ALL the rooms in the house and put it all in one place. Maybe move the cars out of the garage or push the living room furniture back.
  2. Now put your most important and most used items together. Think hard on this. Don’t put things here unless you use them often. These are the things that must go back into the room no matter what. Like your sewing machine, threads, rulers, current projects, most used books, etc.
  3. If you have the time, go through each item on your list and work through the most important and used. And you’ll have stuff you don’t use, never have used, and wonder why you even have it. Those go in their own special boxes to be sent on to other homes to live out productive lives… wink!
  4. Start moving the stuff out of the room, start sorting. Next you’ll be looking at what is left and how you use it so you can put the room back in the most effective way for your work style.

SMALL Overhaul

SMALL Overhaul

So what if you can’t unload your room right now and still want to get organized? Let’s look at the SMALL overhaul.

  1. Identify your WORST area or problem. Maybe it’s over flowing disorganized project storage, a table that is crowded or piled high, or is it fabric in so many places that you don’t even know WHAT you have anymore!
  2. Problem is identified. Now let’s concentrate on JUST that. Don’t get sidetracked with OTHER problems. They will be calling your name.. hinting you should look at them instead.. but RESIST I say.. resist!! If you tackle one at a time you will make great headway.
  3. Here is an example of a problem. You have fabric in too many places in the house and it’s making you crazy. So you really MUST bring it all together for evaluation. Then sort it.
    • MOST love
    • sort of loved
    • maybe this can go to a new home
    • why in the world do I still own this stuff?

Take ALL of the last group, put it in plastic bags and CALL SOMEONE to come get it from you. There.. that’s taken care of!

Now you need to look at the ‘maybe’ pile… sort it down into give away and keep.

At this point, for this problem, you now have less fabric… or a bit less. Sort by color.. or whatever system you love. Maybe all backings together, all 30s, all Christmas, all cat prints, then sort the rest by color. Hopefully it now fits better in the containers you have and you can put those container back into your room!

Let’s Get Started…

Each post this month will have a tip or idea on how to work through common studio problems.

Now take some before photos, create your list, do a blog post and next Tuesday we’ll have a link party so you can share it with the world!

Before photo

These are the extra prompts we’ll do this month to get your space usable for the long haul!

  • Post 2 – Link Party of what you most need to organize. How to find/make a space of your own
  • Post 3 – Michele on Project Storage
  • Post 4 – Designer day – Tips on tools
  • Post 5 – Carrie Nelsons’ studio
  • Post 6 – Fabric storage
  • Post 7 – Michele on Digital Storage – tips on books/magazines
  • Post 8 – Tips on threads and link party of your ‘after’… or ‘almost after’ photos

Pat Sloan - The Voice of Quilting

Pat Sloan is owner and founder of the quilting design and publishing company Pat Sloan & Co. She has published over 25 books, more than 100 patterns, nearly 10 fabric lines, and has had her work featured in all the major Quilt magazines. In January 2010, Pat started hosting her weekly Internet Radio show called Creative Talk Radio.

Find Pat here:

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Organization 101 a la Pat Sloan

26 thoughts on “Organization 101 a la Pat Sloan

  • February 2, 2012 at 11:25 am

    This is a great post – I did this when I moved in May – but I definitely NEED to do it again! My sewing cabinet has overflowed so much that I have stacks of fabric on top of it and on top of my computer station! Thank you for the prompt to get started!

  • February 2, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Dear Pat,
    I will be home any minute and make a video. I will start from there…LOL

    PS. Thanks for the push.

  • February 2, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Good tips, Pat. I’m fortunate that we moved five years ago and I got a big sewing room over the garage. Unfortunately, I have reached the point where I need to empty it again and then refill it like we just moved in! No time to empty the whole room so I have been doing it a section at a time. I want it all very organized by the end March. :-)

  • February 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    What a great post Pat! We recently emptied out my entire room and did some small remodeling. It is amazing what you find when you sort through things!

  • February 3, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Oh, Pat! Overhaul my room. Have you seen it. I do periodic clean ups but I am afraid to do a complete. I think I will start with the closet where things get stuffed (literally) when I don’t know where else to put them.
    I am going to mention the newsletter on my blog as I am sure there are many others who would like the push.

  • February 3, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Pat, you are right on the money re: knowing what your actually own/have. When I did the overhaul gig last spring there were several moments of “I didn’t know I had ____!!!

  • February 3, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I collect and use basket’s too…they make great storage that looks good out in the open. I reorganized a year or so ago when hubby painted my space, then had to tear it all apart [move it] when he put a picture window in for me. Now I’m doing it all over again…first step is done and the Humane Society Thrift shop has been my charity to donate to.

  • February 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Such a timely topic, I recently acquired more space. Which I designated as my personal sewing space (quilter for hire, here :))
    It is the best thing I have done for my self in a long while. In moving my stuff, and having to assess, and sort things somehow I jump started my ‘quilting mojo’ YEAH

  • February 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

    My sewing room has been a “catch all” since I painted all my rooms last Nov. Then Christmas came, more stuff stored in there. Now I’m ready to tackle “THE ROOM” and try to be able to get back in there to sew! Perfect timing although I don’t think I’ll be able to wait until all the post have been shown. Now to get the door opened!!

  • February 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I recently traded some quilting for cleaning/irganizing my sewing room. My friend Carol sorted and organized my fabrics, moved the current/big stuff into bins under the longarm, and bagged and tagged all the UFOs to hide in the window seat. She even organized “the drawer” – you know the one! Then I continued what she’d started and now I can even get to the sewing machine! Wonderful! “Will Quilt for Cleaning” blogpost here:

  • February 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Oh, the never-ending sewing room organization dance!
    I am actually doing my room AGAIN this weekend. It is so nice to have a sane voice to walk me through the steps. I keep starting to clean and then stopping to sew!

    When the whole house was taken over with my “stuff” I wrote a tongue-in-cheek blog post about it. (Well, actually my nutty alter-ego Mavis Quinn wrote it) Check it out – I hope it makes you laugh!

  • February 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    This is coming at the PERFECT time since that is the next thing on my list of projects…re-do my studio!

    The only people I share this room with is when my hubby watches tv in there (cause I’m watching the bigger one in the family room) and my adult son uses the closet.

    Mine will be a major overhaul, getting rid of the old and in with the new (furniture that is). This will be the perfect motivation for me. THANKS.

    I am truly looking forward to the upcoming weeks.

  • February 4, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I will just do a mini one. My studio is outside and I just have to much stuff! But I know which area do need to be reorganized and taking all of the things off the shelves is a good way to start. (I have tried to reshuffle but have not end with a better organization.)

  • February 4, 2012 at 3:37 am

    At last a practical, do able system. Thanks Pat. Can’t wait to get started, will be awhile in coming though as we are busy renovating the whole house!

  • February 4, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I am in the process of moving to a larger quilting space (don’t you just love it when kids leave home and you can take over their rooms?) I just bought fabric organizer boards from Polar Notions and I love love them!! FINALLY my fabric will be neat, organized by color, and Ill be able to find/use it when I actually want to. No pictures as yet, but I’ll try to take some soon.

  • February 6, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Boy do I need this right now, Thanks Pat!

  • February 7, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Yup perfect timing. I’ll be doing a small overhaul. I’m one of those that has fabric everywhere and it needs to be put on shelves so I can see what I have. I ‘m sure that i could start my own little fabric Thanks for getting the ball rolling for us.

  • February 7, 2012 at 2:29 am

    I do periodic clean ups every Saturday in my entire room, started in my closet up to the smallest toys of my son.

  • February 7, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Thanks for the topic. i’m so overwhelmed at the moment that any bit of organization would be a huge improvement. I’m going to try the small at first. Need to do the “full monte” but that is just too much to think about and nothing would get done.

  • February 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    I am shifting to another home next month, so will your ideas into practise. I have quilting stuff scattered all round the house, so will be confining it to one room. Well thats the general idea, I hope it works.

  • February 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Didn’t read my email properly….will put your ideas into practise

  • February 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    This is a good idea and so helpful. I cleaned not to long ago in my room. My space isn’t to small or too big so I have to keep puting things back all the time. I think the closet is the worse . I am getting some scraps from a friend and so I will have to give away some of my scraps , this helps me. Happy cleaning everyone.

  • February 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Oh, this is good! So good!
    It seems I am always organizing, re-organizing and getting buried again!
    I really needed some ideas on getting it set up for real!
    Your lists above have helped me already to prioritize the materials and tackle one problem area at a time. Great advice. : )
    Thanks Pat!!

  • February 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Yep it is time again to get things in order. Seems I need to do it about every 6 months or so. So easy to just set stuff down. Looking forward to all the information and inspiration.

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