Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Sewing Space

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the transition back to warmer weather and all the changes in the scenery as the trees and plants wake up. The best day is when I can finally open all the windows and air out the apartment. This always leaves me itching to clean and purge.

My sewing room is never spared from this, and probably needs it more than any other room. I am lucky to have an entire room in our little apartment dedicated to my sewing. Since I work from home, it sees a lot of wear and tear, and things can get out of sorts pretty quickly. Not only does reorganizing help provide extra breathing room in a small space, but the lack of clutter usually leaves me more inspired and motivated to work. Whether you have a dedicated sewing space or not, it's valuable to take time to go through your supplies periodically.

A couple times a year, I like to reorganize my fabric. There are two reasons for this. First, the stacks of fabric generally need tidying every few months, so it’s nice to get things back in color order and folded nicely. Another reason is that it reminds me of fabrics I may have forgotten about and can spark new ideas. I usually end up with a nice stack of fabrics for new projects by the time I’m done. Bonus!

The most important thing to remember when tackling spring-cleaning in any capacity is that it usually has to get worse before it gets better. In my sewing room, I like to start this yearly task by emptying out my wall of closets. This includes boxes of project samples, works-in-progress, paperwork, craft supplies, and let's admit it, lots of fabric. It is a good idea for all of these things to be aired out once a year anyways, but it is also an opportunity to take inventory of what I have. Plus, I always manage to find a few things I have forgotten about, which is fun.

As I go through things, I decide whether to keep an item, give it away, sell it, or store it somewhere else. I like to be pretty ruthless at first, and then go back through my give away/sell pile a second time to make a final decision. I find I accumulate a lot of things I don't really need, and I am especially bad about holding on to craft supplies. I'm trying to be better about setting a time frame for supplies that I've had for a long time. Either use it or loose it. We'll see how that works out over time!

A few ideas for what to do with excess craft supplies:
- Give to a friend (someone just starting off would probably really appreciate it!)
- Take to your local quilt guild
- Ask your local library/school/community group if they accept craft supply donations*
- Bring to a retreat to share

*Sew Mama Sew has a great article with 12 places to donate fabric to.

I added some Work in Progress Bags (read more about them here) to my project organization this year. I also use gallon and jumbo ziploc bags and a few ArtBin Super Satchels for larger projects.

When taking inventory of all my supplies, I like to be sure I have enough stock of the essentials. I keep plenty of needles, neutral (white) thread, and rotary blades on hand at all times. There's nothing worse than breaking a needle in the middle of a project and not having a replacement! After replenishing those, I will restock other supplies like batting, pins, muslin, and interfacing.

After I've tackled the storage portion of my sewing room, it's the sewing machine's turn. I perform regular cleaning and maintenance on my main sewing machine throughout the year, but in the Spring I like to do a deep cleaning on all of my machines. Often times I will do this myself, but once a year I try to schedule a service appointment. Lately, I have been really good about keeping track of when I oil, change the needles, and change my rotary blade. I'm sharing a printable maintenance sheet to keep track of these below as well as some general cleaning tips. Don't forget about your scissors, this is a good time to have those checked and sharpened too.

Maintenance Tracking Printable Sheet
Download your printable maintenance tracking sheet here.

General Sewing Machine Cleaning Tips

1. Un-thread your machine and remove the bobbin and needle. Remove all the dust bunnies that have collected on the outside of the machine, around the needle, thread path, and bobbin area. I use a combination of a small vacuum, compressed air, and the lint brush that came with my machine. I also remove the needle plate so I can get around the feed dogs. Wipe down all surfaces with a soft cloth when finished.

2. Give your machine a new needle, if you're anything like me, it probably needs to be changed!

3. My main machine takes oil every 8 hours. Not all sewing machines do, so check your manual to see if you need to oil it and where. Only use sewing machine oil to do so. I love using a precision oil pen, it allows you to place a single drop at a time, so less mess.

4. After cleaning is a great time to check that the tension of your machine is set properly. Thread it and sew some quick test seams. Adjust as necessary according to your manual.

Here are a few other posts you may find relevant while tackling a bit of Spring cleaning in your sewing space:

Fabric Folding Tutorial

Tips for Good Quilt Care

How to Track Your Fabric and Yarn Yardage

Happy Sewing!


  1. Thank you for this! Your room is darling.

  2. Just finished my spring clean and I am ready to sew!

  3. Hi Jeni! Thank you for inspiring us to fix our sewing rooms and spaces! Your studio looks beautiful and I love always your fabric photos! I did some spring cleaning a while ago but I feel that I need to fix things again. So quickly everything gets mixed up. x Teje

  4. I've just finished going through my own studio, ruthlessly purging and reorganizing to make room for a new longarm machine (yay!). I was having a hard time letting go of things until I remembered that Japanese organizer Konmari Method: "Does this item spark JOY?" :-) And you're right -- I feel so energized and inspired to create now in my refreshed workspace!

  5. You are so organized! I love that and it has inspired me to get better at organizing what I have in fabric especially. I'm so bad that I've even ordered 2 of the same patterns forgetting I already have it (I'm at least consistent!) I ordered the Commando oil you recommended from Amazon. I like that it has such a precision point! Thank you :)

  6. you are so smart Jeni! :) I love your tracker page, I CAN NEVER remember when I changed my needle and blades!

  7. You have inspired me to set this weekend aside to tackle me sewing room it needs organising badly.

  8. After 10 or 12 years of use, I replaced the lint brush that came with my machine---I was horrified at the amount of crud that came out of my machine! (Who knew that quilting is such dirty business?) I do clean it and replace the needle at least after every project, but the bristles on that old brush were so worn that they weren't doing their job.

  9. Just looking at your clean sewing room has inspired me. Thanks for all of the tips.


Thanks for keeping this blog a positive place, I appreciate the time you are taking to leave a comment! I will answer any questions here in the comments section.

All comments are moderated to filter out spam. Your comment will appear after it has been approved.