Optimizing is an important word to me. It means fully filling every area of the space so it's not only quicker to find the things you need, you're also able to pack more stuff in to fill each drawer, bind, nook, and cranny to the max.
This process can take time. Time to see and experience a space, and time to learn how you use and interact with it. Today I'm going to share a small wall of my sewing room with you and how I'm planning to change it to make it better and the research process involved with deciding which pieced to buy.
Here's the space in question:
When I shot this photo for the Question Thursday post, I knew I wouldn't share it. It's just so cluttered and awful looking. It also regularly drives me crazy because I'm always losing things, dropping things, and despite lots of wall storage, the shelves have never felt just right. Here's a bigger shot of this space:
From a practical standpoint, this sucks. The drawers are narrow, but deep which means everything either gets lost in the bottom, or won't fit in the first place.
|I found 3 things I'd been looking for in the bottom of this drawer, but only after dumping everything out on the floor!|
So clearly this cabinet is cute, but cute isn't what's needed right here. In this space, I'm needing to organize a lot of thread, bobbins, and miscellaneous quilting tools. I do want those patterns organized here as well, but in a way that I can flip through them easily.
I also want a taller piece of furniture right here. This low cabinet is terrible about getting junked up and cluttered because it's the perfect height to just dump whatever odd and end on the surface.
Ultimately I've decided that more drawers are the answer. For this, we have several options both from the quilting / crafting world and beyond it.
First I decided to research the Recollections 3 drawer cubes I'm already using to hold my isacord thread collection to the right of my sewing machine.
Measuring carefully, I need to fill a space that's 44 inches long x around 50 inches high, though I could go higher by moving that shelf bracket if needed.
In this arrangement, 9 recollection cubes will fit pretty nicely:
|This is a guestimation layout created by measuring the space and comparing it with the size of each cube|
The one downside of these cubes is the drawers are not customizable in any way. You get all the same size drawer through every single cube. This would be fine if I just needed to fill these cubes with thread, but I don't (that would be a RIDICULOUS amount of thread!)
I have many other items that might not fit well into these drawers, like my pattern collection, which will again be thrown in drawers and difficult to sort through quickly.
The cost is also a bit high for this. At $39.99 regular price, the total cost for 9 will be well over $350.00.
Also, I don't think I've ever seen a Michaels store carry 9 of these at a time. The most I'd probably be able to find is 2 or 3, which will mean multiple trips to Michaels stores all over NC, which will be a royal pain in the butt.
So there's upsides and downsides to this system. It's good to look at all the angles and understand how it will play out. The cost, plus the hassle of finding all of them, PLUS the downside of not everything fitting is making this system take 3rd place for this particular project.
Let's try again, this time moving out of the craft / hobby market to IKEA. Here I found an awesome drawer set called the Alex:
These drawers are very nice. The first 5 are slim, but fit thread spools nicely. The bottom 4 drawers are taller and big enough to hold a jumbo 5000 meter spool of Isacord. Could they also hold patterns arranged on their side? Hard to say because I didn't have one with me at the store, but if it worked, the patterns could be arranged to at least be thumbed through easily.
To fill my space, I'd need 3 of these cabinets which would add 27 drawers to my sewing room. This could potentially hold TONS of tools and materials and really clean up the clutter.
As for downsides, again the drawers are the size they're going to be forever, so if something doesn't fit right, it's going to have to find a home elsewhere.
Also the drawers don't come out all the way, so if I fill up one with tons of thread, I might have to stick my hand in deep to get the thread at the back. It's a small thing, but something to remember. With the Recollections boxes, the drawers slide out completely making it easy to get to everything in the drawer, or pull it out to completely reorganize it.
As for the cost, each cabinet costs $119 at IKEA so again we're talking over $350 for this setup. Also when I was checking out this system at the store, the box is SUPER HEAVY. I'm pretty strong and have previously handled trips for several tables and big furniture by myself, but to lift even one box, I'd need help.
The tenant of IKEA is kind of a hands off approach to customer service. I've never even seen an employee working the self serve area, other than working the registers. To get these drawers I'd need to plan my trip ahead of time so I could bring Josh, but not James, because these probably won't fit with the car seat installed in the car.
Again, this might seem like a lot of detail to go into, but it's good to think about all these things BEFORE you're trying to shove a giant box in your car that will never fit and is too heavy for you to lift.
How big is your car? Do you know how much it can hold? Do you know the weight capacity? Do you know the max size of box that will fit? Understand these things before your trip so you're not surprised at the end of it!
Now there's one more system I've been researching and this is back in the specific Craft / Quilting world. The reason I'm making a distinction between the two is for two reasons:
1. Furniture / storage designed specifically for Craft / Quilting is designed to hold this kind of stuff, so it will potentially work better than furniture just designed to go in your office or living room.
2. Furniture specially designed will always be more expensive.
So there's the upside of getting something specifically DESIGNED to hold thread, but the downside that you're going to pay through the nose for it.
That is the case with this last option. This is a layout of Artbin's Super Satchel Cube which is designed to hold Slim, Single, and Double Deep Artbin storage containers.
I did do a bit of research and found Walmart.com to be the cheapest retailer of these cubes and satchels with the plus side of very cheap shipping. You can get it shipped to your local Walmart store, then pick it up with it arrives and have someone help you load them all into your car, or you could have them shipped directly to your home, which saves the whole process of having to shop and wrangle boxes in your vehicle.
The major plus side with Artbin is it's specifically designed for quilting and I personally happen to LOVE them. The thread organizers work wonders for keeping the thread cleanly arranged, and I've never found better storage for everything from colored pencils to fat quarters.
This system also has the bonus of being able to slide the bins out completely. Pull out a single to pick your thread color, or find the perfect fat quarter, then slide it back in place. Easy peasy!
So there's good and bad to all of these options. Not one is absolutely perfect, and all three will work with various upsides and downsides.
This is the process of researching storage for your sewing or quilting space. I've been working on this for 2 days, and spent at least 4 hours looking at different options, then drove 1 hour to IKEA to just look at the Alex. I might have even bought one on impulse if there wasn't only 1 left, and it was chipped and too heavy for me to budge!
But how could I have known it was so heavy if I hadn't got to look at it first? You might see 85 lbs written online, but that doesn't mean much until you actually wrap your arms around it, lift with your knees, and realize - baby, it just ain't movin!
Likewise, I remember buying my Recollection organizers from Michaels and the difficulty of even finding TWO in the store. How many stores will I have to travel to to find a set of 9?
And while the expense of the Artbin Super Satchel Cubes might seem excessive, the nice thing about all of this options, and really any storage system you install, is...
...you don't have to get it all at once.
Start with 1, fill it with bins. Then get another as budget and need demands.
Understand that this is a process and it pays to work slowly rather than jump in whole hog. I've ultimately decided to start with only 1 IKEA Alex drawer or just a set of 3 Super Satchel cubes. These will roughly finish up the same size and after installing one set, I can make the decision to add another if it's needed.
I might not end up filling this wall with tons of drawer storage, but instead leave the corner open for Lucy, my best quilting friend I've had since high school.
Also have FUN! Shopping is fun, especially when it's a buy you're confident and happy about.
Now let's not let the drive for super organization and optimization get in the way of something more important: QUILTING! Get off the computer and go make something beautiful today.
Let's go quilt,