Tips for Keeping Your Sewing Table Organized and Clutter Free

Friday, April 24, 2020

Happy Friday! Last week I put a call out on Instagram (I'm @jenib320) to hear what kinds of struggles folks have with sewing space organization. I want to start writing regular posts on organizing because it's something I really love. With so many of us spending more time at home these days, having our spaces work well feels extra important!

DIY Thread Storage Shelf

I made a big list of everyone's suggestions and issues and will be pulling from that for topic ideas. If you'd like to share yours, feel free to leave a comment here or on this instagram post. Today I wanted to tackle tips for keeping your sewing table organized and clutter free. This was a common issue that came up, so hopefully these tips will be helpful!

Evaluate Your Space

In my opinion, the easiest and best step to take first when organizing is evaluation. Take a moment to look at your work table and take stock of what you see. Ask yourself a few questions to get started:

What kinds of messes or piles do you make? (unfolded fabric, fabric stacks, tools, thread, scraps, trash, projects, etc)

Where are those messes or piles concentrated?

Do you have dedicated spaces for these items to be put away? (tools, fabric, etc)

When I'm trying to set up a new organization system or change my habits, I like to work with my natural tendencies rather than against them. Personally, I find that this makes me more likely to succeed. The easier it is for me to keep things clean, the more likely I will be to follow through and keep it clean. Let's go through some practical examples of things that I do in my space.


Fabric is what makes the biggest mess on my sewing table. Fabric waiting to be cut up, already cut up and tossed aside, and fabrics ready to be put away. I found I was always stacking up used fabrics in the same spot on my table. So I put a basket there! This way they have a place to go if I don't have time to put them away immediately. It's just as easy to put them in the basket as leaving them on the table top, but it feels more contained.

Scraps + Trash

To keep fabric scraps and trash under control, I keep a small trashcan and a tub for scraps right next to my machine. They're within reach of my cutting mat and machine, so it's easy to keep tossing them as I cut or sew. If you don't have a dedicated sewing space, a small dish or basket for scraps on the table works well too!

Tools + Notions

If you have available wall space, I highly recommend getting your tools and any notions you can off your tabletop and on the wall. For tools, I've loved having a couple simple shelves above my sewing machine. Just a few boards and cheap brackets from the hardware store. They're also a great spot to keep often used notions like your go-to thread and extra needles/pins.


A pegboard is a great way to store rulers and/or tools. It doesn't have to be that complicated though! Stick a few nails in the wall and you have instant ruler storage! Add ribbon or twill to your scissors and rotary cutter and you can hang those too.

Tool Caddy
If you're storing your tools on your work table, a system for corralling them is key. Keep it simple with a few mason jars or baskets. Or make yourself a tool caddy. I've made a bunch of the #10 Caddy Pattern* by Sew Can She, they're fun!

Patterns + Paperwork

I struggle with keeping my various paperwork organized on my tabletop, so I recently added a metal letter organizer to help me out. It's a great spot to store small works in progress, patterns I want to make soon and a notebook. I was always piling up papers in that corner, so this feels neater.

Projects in Progress

It goes without saying, but good project storage is key to keeping your worktable tidy. I keep the projects I'm currently working on in this cabinet that sits directly underneath my cutting table. Having storage within and arms reach of my machine and table means it's super easy to put things away and access other projects. Next week's post will be on WIP and UFO storage!

I hope these tips and ideas are helpful for keeping your work table more organized. There is no wrong or right way to keep things neat. Work with your unique habits, work flow and space. We're all different, and not every method or technique will work for every person. And that's okay! It's all about adapting to your personal preferences.

Happy Sewing!

*Note: Any links marked with an asterisk in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click through and buy something, I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.


  1. Such great ideas. I am always trying to organize

  2. Love these tips, Jeni! I keep looking at those Alex drawers but have wondered if dusk gets in through the hole in the drawers? Have you had a problem with that?

    1. I'm sure some does, but it hasn't been a noticeable amount!

    2. I have 3 wool pressing mats. Two 12 x 18" are end to end on my ironing board. The other 12 x 12" mat is on a pulled out drawer next to my sewing machine. I love them. Pieced quilt blocks lay flatter and folded pleats are much sharper. I recommend them to any quilter. I am chergene, not clever n cute 1. Don't know how to change profile.

  3. What do you think of the wool pressing mats that are so popular right now? Are you making face masks? What is your favorite kind to make?

    1. I've honestly never tried those mats! I have made some face masks, so far I've only used the Craft Passion pattern.

    2. I bought one of those mats. The mat melted and left residue on my iron.

    3. Those wool pressing mats are wonderful. It's as if the fabric is being ironed on both sides at once. The pieces come out so nice and flat! So very glad I bought two of them!

  4. Great tips. I end up with so much mess on my cutting table. I definitely need organizing help!

    1. Hopefully this series will be helpful for lots of organizing needs! :)

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on keeping our sewing spaces neat and tidy! My sewing table is a HUGE mess, to this post was perfectly timed for me.

  6. Thank you! My sewing room has so much clutter it’s driving me! I love the shelving slots for paperwork. Looking forward for more tips and ideas.

  7. Oh my, your tidy sewing room looks so inspiring.
    Now, my space is not horrible but I do have a lot of things I could file away, and I do have several boxes with just stuff, kind of like junk drawers. I need to make an effort to tidy up more. Fortunately, I have a lot of space in my house and my sewing space contains just what I am using, and all of my cottons. Upstairs I have a room full of notions, and just a lot of sewing things, mainly "inherited" from those I love.
    I really like those drawers for filing projects.
    I have made a few efforts to go through some of these mountains of sewing things I have and have given much to the local sewing school, Sew Magarbo. She is a doll
    Thank you for sharing your neat and tidy room

  8. Some truly good ideas. I need to go evaluate and decide what containers I might need to corral stuff. Thank you.

  9. Thanks for getting us started! I was sitting here reading and POP I saw the filing cabinet from old files. Everything is on line pretty much so will take that for a vertical file for projects. The boys age 5 and 6 share this area. We also need dust and dog fur proof storage! Thanks

  10. Nice tips! I like the idea of having a scrap bin you can just throw right into- and your tulip trash can is just darling!

  11. Great ideas! My favorite tips are the basket on the cutting table and the letter organizer.
    Will you be covering storage of finished quilts?

    1. I will add that to the list of potential topics, thanks for the suggestion!

  12. Very Helpful Information Thanks For Sharing!

  13. Yep, I can't start a new project until my room is organized...again
    . Then, I'm relaxed and can tackle the next thing. My husband bought me plastic shelves (42×16x72 from Lowes...they deliver!) What a difference! Great way to organize. I also took my threads (taped the thread to spool)and sorted by color, put them in zip lock bags, and threw them in a pretty hatbox. I just grab a bag of color and decide which shade, zip shut and toss back in the box!

  14. Qurstion: Does anyone tape two cutting mats together? I want a bigger mat but storage for 30x59 is almost impossible...some you can roll but...well don't want to ruin an investment. Thinking that taping like a hinge then being able to fold and store flat in a convenient place may work.
    Comments please...


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