Because I love these techniques, and because they require such a wide range of materials, I also collect a wide variety of supplies. I've got fabric, patterns, and threads. I've got beads, buttons and glues. Ribbons, lace and vintage linens all live in my studio. I do most of my collecting at thrift stores, flea markets and discount stores, so there is much less money invested than there could be. But a girl only has so much room to store these things before they take over every empty space. I have discovered I work better when my work table has ONE project on it, and there are some empty spaces in my sewing studio. I don't like a completely empty, Spartan look. But I am much more creative and productive when the room has some empty surfaces and when I can find things easily, without having to dig through layers of stuff.
My system now is to choose an appropriate size of container for each supply - say, an organizer drawer like this for my embroidery threads.
The Omnigrid ruler is 6" wide, shown as a size reference. These plastic organizers are easy to find at dollar stores or Walmart. And here's what you'd find in the top drawer of this organizer:
It's a jumble of threads, but it's not overstuffed, and this drawer contains yellows, oranges, reds and pinks. To some people, this is way too many embroidery threads. But it's an amount that works for me. Four skeins of DMC floss isn't enough variety for the kinds of work I do. On the other hand, I don't need to own every color of every weight of every brand of specialty thread. So I use the confines of the container to keep me from overpurchasing. If the drawers are getting too stuffed full, it's time to sort out what I'm not using and give it away. Remember, it's about having the materials to make clothing and art, it's NOT about collecting enough supplies to start your own Michaels store.
Another type of material I collect is what I categorize as "recyclables and junk". Let me explain - when our kids were small, they loved to watch Mr. Dressup. Hey, I watched him when I was small. Ernie Coombs was a wonderful children's entertainer, and also a talented artist.
By the time our kids watched the show, there was a growing emphasis on "reduce, reuse, recycle". Craft projects were created to show ways to reuse egg cartons, bottle caps, cereal boxes, and the like. So, while we as parents were rinsing out milk jugs before recycling them, there was no way at the time to recycle the plastic cap from said milk jug. Mr. Dressup to the rescue - use those plastic milk lids in fun crafts like these:
After 5 shows a week, over a couple of years, our kids learned to NEVER throw out milk jug caps, paper milk cartons, egg cartons, bottle caps, bits of yarn.....it was like living through the Great Depression. It was wasteful to throw out used tinfoil or little bits of string.....why not make your home into a landfill instead?! I loved doing crafts with my kiddos, but at some point you just want to throw out the garbage without a tiny recycling Nazi trying to rescue tiny bits of detritus.
My husband and I are still affected by what we now call Mr. Dressup Syndrome. Empty jars can be so useful, it's hard to give one away or recycle it. A coffee cup that leaks could be used as a plant pot or a pen cup. I have used old CDs as the base for pincushions, and I use soup can lids or the caps from non-stick cooking spray as circle templates. So, here again, I employ my container strategy. I have one small drawer to hold all the tiny plastic containers, onion bag mesh, and twist ties that I "might need" one day. I can keep whatever will fit in that small drawer. When the drawer is full, I stop collecting, or throw out something to make room for the new object.
So, quilters, sewists and crafters - you know what I am talking about. It's time to pare down your collections of craft supplies, items to recycle, and sewing notions. You'll never live long enough to do all the great projects you find on Pinterest. At some point you need to say "Enough is Enough"! Go through your collections and sell the extras at a garage sale or online. Give the extras to your local thrift store, day care or kindergarten class. Give your studio some room to breathe, and give yourself some space to work. Don't be like Dory: