I tried to spend as little money as possible on this. I already had lots of bins and file folders, and a label maker. I wanted to pare down the stash to fit into not only the bins I already had, but the space I have as well. I ended up buying two plastic file boxes (buy one, get one free!), another large bin, and a refill of label tape. My goal was to fit everything onto no more than two of the several wire shelving units in our basement.
The categories I used in the sorting process were: Fabric, Patterns, Current Projects, Unfinished Projects, Tools, Trims, Notions, Ribbon, Toy Making, Millinery, Corset Making, Quilting, Embroidery, Books, and then the piles for Give Away and Sell.
I was able to reunite lone, lost pattern pieces with the rest of the correct patterns. I made two bins of "Projects On Hold". At some point I may get rid of them; the fact that they are in a bin labeled as such not only reminds me they are there, but also will hopefully will either inspire me to get to work on them, or give them away, discard, or use for something else. I have all of my over-sized patterns with their toiles in a separate box since they won't fit in a conventional file box (the toile pieces are just too big to cram all together to fit in a file folder. But again, they are labeled so I know where all are).
My patterns were purged of ones I will not use. This was so painful! The keepers are now in file folders, in chronological order, the labels showing the range of time periods for each box. (For example, "Medieval-Civil War, Part I".)
I still want to go back and micro-organize the interiors of a couple of the boxes. My box of trim and my small box of ribbons could use this. I did micro-organize the drawers of the small chest of drawers that sits next to my sewing machine table. I have these small boxes that my kids had to get with their school supplies ages ago. Each one contains different notions (such as elastic, or hooks, snap, and fasteners, etc.), each one has a label so I know what's what.
Finally, I would like to purchase one of those fabric-lined baskets to put my Current Projects in (not too many please!). This will sit atop my chest of drawers, neatly, for when I am ready to sew.
Here are the results:
The small chest of drawers by my sewing machine table. Most of my notions are in the middle drawers. Sewing machine manuals, machine needles, bobbins, and presser feet are in the topdrawers. Tools, pattern weights, measuring rulers, etc. are in the bottom drawer.
Sadly, I don't have a dedicated sewing room; my machine is up in the dining room and my stash is stored in the basement. However, now it is all in one area, not scattered about in various parts of the basement. And I was able to achieve my goal of only using two shelving units.
One of the fabric bins. This my Whites bin. I had many of my fabric lengths measured already, and indicated that on each label. Not everything in this bin was measured. That's another task I can go back and do in the future.
Two of my pattern files.
I have a separate bin for my Titanic patterns (my favorite fashion era). The box next to it are my over-sized patterns, including the majority of my Sense & Sensibility patterns.
Yesterday I sewed for the first time since I did this organization project. It was delightful! I worked on my corded petticoat. I knew where it was, where my crochet cotton was, I was able to use my fresh new pins for pinning the cording in place. Also, I didn't have a ton of stuff to be transferred from atop my sewing machine table before I could begin sewing (and before this it was really a huge, intimidating pile of stuff). It was just my small pile of other current projects (that will someday soon be in the designated basket I mentioned above), my little notions caddy, and my large pin cushion that needed to be placed on the dining table so I could open up my machine. When I was done sewing, the crochet cotton went back into its labeled bag in the labeled drawer, the petticoat was folded and placed in the Current Projects pile, the machine was tucked away into its cabinet, and the items placed back on top. It took a few minutes, that is all. Lovely!