Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A peek inside my stash storage

The other day, Michele asked how I stored my stash. Michele is a relatively new stitcher and she's been trying to figure out the best way to store her rapidly accumulating stitching stash. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but how much are a bunch of pictures AND a thousand words worth? Seriously. I talk a lot. I have degrees in English. I'm pretty sure I am supposed to.

Anyway, I told Michele I was thinking about doing a post like this anyway, so I dragged out a bunch of my stuff and take some pictures so she could see for herself what works best for me. I also thought it would be interesting to see how other people store and organize their stash, so if you've got pictures or done a post on this, let us know. I love seeing what other people do, and many times, I can adapt their ideas to my own needs.

Okay, here we have the bulk of my stash storage - my underbed storage boxes. As you can see, these are labeled on the top and on the front so I know what's in them by just pulling them out a few inches.

In case you weren't aware, I LOVE underbed storage boxes. I can get 6 under the double bed in our guest room, and at least 8, possibly 10 under the king size bed in our room. (And 3 fit nicely under a twin size bed.) I love these boxes because they make otherwise wasted space useful, and they're not so deep you have to go digging through them to find things. I have 2 for my stitching stash, and 2 for photo album / scrapbooking stuff. I also keep my bed sheets in them, as well as a whole bunch of other stuff. The plastic keeps them clean and dust free, and the lids snap on tight.

Now we remove the lids and see what's inside. This is my first box - mostly fabric storage. Most of the stuff on top are rolls of fabric I picked up at Wal-Mart when it was clearancing out the needlework supplies. I also have a few of those plastic "envelopes" underneath, and another roll folded over on itself.

I also found that I can get at least 2 cuts of fabric rolled up inside the plastic tubes or boxes, so I doubled up some of the rolls I had, which takes up less space. I also keep the extra pieces of the same count rolled up in those tubes. Keeping the fabric rolled is a good way to store it without worrying about wrinkles. But those boxes do take up a lot of space, so doubling up helps.

Also in the box are my scroll frames that are not in use. The largest one takes up the most room, but I do take all of them apart before storing them. The smaller frame ends will fit across the width of the box, but usually the scroll rods need to be put in the long way.

You can also see a book under the scroll rod, and underneath that are more printed items - mostly books and magazines. I confess to having some non-needlework related items in there, such as a few craft and beading magazines, mostly because I don't have anywhere else to keep them and I don't mind keeping craft related things together even if they're not the exact same thing.

Here's a close up on the ends of the scroll frames, some plastic DMC Envelopes and some small bags of fabric cuts from my LNS. The LNS labels them, so I keep them in their original bags until I use them so I know exactly what they are.

I'm not quite as fabric obsessed as I've seen some stitchers, though I am not saying this isn't subject to change. I've been known to become obsessed about things - who knows what could happen? But since my fabric stash is relatively small and simple, this solution works for me. I think the key is labeling, and putting things back where they belong. Because fabric count can really screw up a project in ways you don't even know until you're too far into it, it's important to know what count your fabric is and to keep it labeled. I also like keeping pieces in their own individual bags - I don't worry about it because I don't have any hand dyeds, but I would imagine bleeding might be a problem, especially in humid climates, if they weren't kept seperate from each other.

Probably I should also be concerned about using plastic to store my stash, but to be honest, I'm not all that worried about it. I don't stitch on or with super expensive fibers and fabrics, and I rotate through what I have pretty frequently so that things are not sitting in plastic for years on end. And since the boxes are stored under beds in our main living area and not in a garage or attic where extreme temperatures, humidity, bugs, etc. are an issue, I think I'm okay with these boxes. (Temperature and humidity control are another reason I love underbed storage).

On to Box #2 - Chart, Kit and WIP Storage

In this are most of my unstitched charts, kits and a few books, as well as some WIPs I got tired of working on. (My more active WIPs are in my stitching box in my stitching area.) I also have a few reference books in here, the ones that don't fit in the other box.

Speaking of reference books, one I highly recommend is 2001 Cross Stitch Designs by Better Homes and Gardens. I don't think it ever hurts to have a few good stitching reference books, not only for small motif type patterns, but for basic stitching and finishing techniques. My recommendation is to hit up your local library and see what they have, and more importantly, what appeals to you, then purchase the ones you like the best for your own collection. You can go the bookstore route, but don't forget about half.com, which is where I got my copy of the book (after checking it out at the library). You don't need to go crazy with reference books, but it's nice to have them on hand. At some point, my reference books are going to need to move to an actual bookshelf because they're taking up valuable stash storage space.

Also in Storage Box #2 is my collection of unstitched, unkitted charts and a few stitching magazines. The charts are grouped by subject / occasion, as in all the wedding charts are together, all the lighthouse charts are together, etc. These are all charts that I haven't stitched, or will stitch again at some point. If I think I'll need it, it stays in the box. If I don't think I'll ever stitch it, or a portion of it, again, the chart gets moved into one of my binders which is the subject of another post.

Also, because I don't have a lot of magazines to worry about, I just keep them in with my other charts. For people with a lot of magazines, I'd probably recommend looking into a magazine specific storage solution, especially if your magazines are rare and/or expensive.

You can also see my small kits, mostly Dimensions kits, in the box. They're all removed from their plastic store packaging and put in quart size ziploc bags, which take up MUCH less room and are easier to store.

I do confess that some of these charts have been in there a while as I don't stitch much from kits anymore. Eventually I will probably make myself complete the kits as part of a stash clean out challenge, but I don't think that will be for a while yet.

On top of the magazines and unstitched charts, I put kitted up charts, each of which gets their own plastic gallon size storage bag that contains the chart, the fabric, and the necessary fibers for the project. You can also see I fill in the space between the two piles with my extra scroll frames.

So there was your little sneak peek into my stash storage solutions. Next time, I will post pictures of my thread storage and my active stitching boxes.

UPDATE: Check out blogs by Cathey (Pumpkin Patch & Co.) and Teejay (The Passion of my Needle) for their storage solutions.


Linda said...

Wow Jennifer, you are organized! Even the insides of your boxes are neat and tidy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. My stash is organized pretty close the same way. I am an organized person. I might just post my little arrangement too.

Julie said...

Thanks for sharing your pics, it's all so neat and tidy

K in NY said...

Wow are you organized! Thanks for sharing. I have some clearance fabrics rolled up in boxes but never thought to combine them, thanks for the tip!

You will be seeing photos of my storage system, um, never. That would imply the existence of such a system, which would be incorrect.

Pumpkin said...

I LOVE seeing how others organize their stash :o) I'm an organizing freak! LOL! You are very neat and great idea about under bed storage.

I did a post on mine awhile back and you can read it here - http://pumpkinpatchandco.blogspot.com/2007/11/enter-if-you-dare.html

Dianne said...

Very good! Wow, it's so wonderful to be this way. I don't have a ton of fabrics, but need to move them to their own box instead of where they are in a basket in my family room. I have a pie safe of hardback books-yes the entire thing (and a stack of those that won't fit) and then a rubbermaid container and two crates for leaflets.Then I have a plastic bag with my WIPs. Yours looks much neater.

quiltorstitch said...

I remember having this conversation with you :) I did go out and buy a lot of under-the-bed boxes and they are great. I had a few already for my wrapping paper and whatnot, but now I am more organized. I still have too much stuff and am trying to organize it better, and get rid of what I know I won’t use.

Kim said...

What a fantastic entry! As a newbie to stitching, I don't really have much of a "stash" as of yet. But I'm sure someday your tips will come in handy. What is the concern it sounds like some have with storing in plastic?

Thanks for the great entry! There's so much to learn from all of you experienced stitchers!

Cindy said...

It is always so fun to see posts like this...thank you for sharing! Your stash is so neatly organized :)

Novice Stitcher said...

Jennifer - thank you! Not only for sharing your system but for taking the time to do all the great pictures - as they say a picture is worth 1,000 words, though your words in this instance are just as helpful. Your organizational plan makes total sense to me, and I will use what I've learned from you as I attempt to cope with the piles of charts and fabric that are rapidly accumulating. (Amazing how one thing leads to another, isn't it?) Thank you so much for doing this. I hope you inspire other stitchers to post their secrets too. And hopefully one day I'll have a system I can post about too!

Vonna said...

Looks like your all organized! Very similar to how I do it as well!

Rachel S said...

Everything looks so neat and pretty!