Jacinda’s Craft Cave: BEFORE


A few weeks ago I was debating “aloud” on Facebook whether or not I should tidy up the Craft Cave before I shared “before” photos so as not to humiliate myself and my family and destroy any credibility I may have. In an effort to build up my courage, I asked you to show me your messy craft spaces and the emails came in. I realized I wasn’t alone! I guess not everyone’s craft space looks like Heather Bailey’s or Anna Maria Horner’s (swoon, I want that.) So here goes… if you are ready to see a big hot mess and offer your advice on how to make my space tidy, functional and beautiful, read on. Eeeeek, I’m nervous and ashamed!!! And just so you are fully prepared, the above photo is the only shot that won’t make you feel like bathing. I wanted to ease you in. Don your hard-hats mamas, let’s do this!
Let’s start with the prison lighting in this windowless cell of crafting. There are 4 recessed lights with “too-yellow” bulbs in the corners and one bare bulb in the center. Tragic, especially since I shoot all of my step-by-steps for tutorials in here. What lighting can I add to optimize this space for photography? What lighting can I add to not feel like I’m doing 10-20 years in a sweatshop? What lighting can I add that makes me want to sing because I have a pretty craft cave? Ok. moving on.

You can’t tell here, but in the center of the room under all that stuff is a 4’x8′ cutting table that Rick built. Amazing! Except that it is usually covered with projects and ALWAYS is covered with a serger, an embroidery machine and 3 racks of thread. I want EVERYTHING off of this beautiful surface.

Ironing board. Always out, always in the way and always an eye-sore. I want a fold down, right? Maybe behind the door? Maybe that will stop me from stacking just-washed fabric on the corner? Maybe not?

Please ignore debris on floor. I also need a trash can.

Folding card table that shakes violently when I sew. Not much more to say about that.

And how about this back-breaking chair? If you are not going to be comfortable, at least be pretty. Or dare I ask for both?

The ubiquitous Expedit shelves. I like their modern style but open storage is not ideal. I do like having the fabric out and available looking pretty. It’s the upside of no sunny windows to fade it! But how do I utilize the rest of the shelves since they are new and here to stay?…

Especially these up high? Maybe a library ladder?

Along this long wall are more highly-impractical open shelves. The plan is to build a long row of counter for the machines. And move all this clutter. But where?

Some can go in bins in the Expidet but how about the larger pillow inserts, batting and poly-fil? Maybe under the cutting table? But in what if not plastic storage bins?

And how do I keep my desktop tidy? And don’t say clean up your junk. I need a realistic storage solution for the supplies I keep at the ready.

The room is now tidied up, the children and their mess-making ways have been banished and I am ready to do as I’m told. Help me take this space that I’m so lucky to have and turn it from my shame to my happy place! I know you can help!

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34 Comments

Juliette

Baskets. They create drawers where there are none and when you add those felt stickers to the bottom, they don't scratch your shelving. Baskets organize the small stuff -you just have to be good about delineating and maintaining what goes in what basket. Labels could be your friend here.

I also use old jam jars to contain small stuff, from spools of thread/bobbins to scraps by color. The jars stack, contain, and let me see what's in them. Even if they're behind a cabinet door, I can still see what's in there as soon as I open the door (without stuff springing out at me!). Personally cabinet doors freak me out b/c I'm scared of the whole 'out of sight, out of mind' thing, but if I know all small stuff is there, like notions, then I will see it all when the doors are opened.

Bonus: If everything is in it's basket/jar, then cleaning up is a breeze.

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randomcreativity

I wish I had a craft room instead of just a corner! My Mom has all of the stuff that she uses on a regular basis in jars, cups, and baskets on a few narrow shelves on the wall directly above her work area – that way the table top is clear, the stuff is within reach, and it looks organized. My stuff is hidden in tubs since its in my bedroom :-)

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small seams

So glad to see I am not the only one! I find my biggest problem isn't the lack of storage containers, but more the lack of time to clean up and put things away. With kids always underfoot- I am usually sewing furiously- trying to finish a project before they destroy everything around me…this causes me to leave things half done, on the floor, spilled over a table etc. I barely have time to "craft" yet alone clean up after!

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Stella

I put a skirt around the bottom of my cutting table using velcro. It hides those big ugly plastic tubs full of the pillows and batting, etc. However that would be the only semi-organized section in my entire sewing space, so I'm no help!

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megan.futo

For batting and other big but light "stuff" try a cute tin colorful garbage can with a lid. I was given one from my grandmother years ago and it has never failed me. I also recently purchased some from TJ Maxx in great colors and they were under $20! Woot woot. But it has worked so well for be and is nicer than plastic storage. And dont be ashamed, my craft room looks just like plus the hubs likes to throw all the clean laundry on my cutting table and pretend like he doesnt know how it got there. :) Good luck.

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Rachael

I have the same problem when it comes to organizing fabric. I use this tutorial to fold fabric with a ruler and that makes for easy putting away on your shelves. Folding Fabric with a Ruler. One thing you could do is move the paperbacks you have, a few shelves up, or leaf through them and see what you can donate to Goodwill. With more shelf space, you can buy clear see-through storage bins (that fit your shelves of course) for your folded fabric. For scraps, I'd use huge mason jars and either sort them by color or size or both! :) I also agree with Stella above for covering your cutting table with a skirt using Velcro. Smart! Thanks Stella, I plan on trying that.

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Erin

Hang your threads on the wall over your sewing table for the machines. The batting goes great in space saver bags and then can be tucked anywhere. I like setting a trash can next to the cutting table and one next to my sewing table close enough that I can throw cut threads in it as I'm sewing. Try to organize your stuff by craft (a box for yarn, cross stitch, scrapbooking, paper crafts) and keep the sewing stuff that you use most often easily accessible and at the ready. I organized my books and folded my fabrics like this http://adventuroushomemaking.blogspot.com/2011/09/project-updates-and-book-shelf.html to make things pretty and easy to get to.

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Cara

The expedit shelves are an easy fix. My office has a similar wall of Expedit, and I arranged the drawers, dividers and baskets/storage boxes – some from Ikea and some I picked up elsewhere and are prettier – randomly with the open squares. It looks great and contains the little and/or unattractive stuff. I also keep a nice footstool in a corner of that room, so I can easily get to the top. (And, just in case it isn't obvious, the drawers and dividers have to be the ones Ikea designed to fit.)

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Kristal

We just moved and I'm still getting the rest of the house in order before unpacking my craft mess;). I share space with our office stuff and am always looking for good storage ideas:). Ikea has these great plastic containers that hand on a bar mounted on the wall. I put one right near my workspace and its three bins have held scissors, sewing feet and bobbins and other accessories, and I use one to collect small scraps. And for the big fluffy stuff, why not a bean bag or large pillow? I am planning to make my toddler a poof of some kind and filling it with extra pillows and my fleece stash. You can get empty bean bags for cheap as they clear out back to school or make your own to match the room(which is my plan)

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Genevieve

I literally "lol" after reading your sewing on the card table comment. Since moving to my new house in Montana, I'm too familiar with not only this but chasing my machine while sewing. Lol How about using the very top row of funnies to put up inspirational pieces…like a vase in your favorite color, a fav scrap of fabric framed…etc. just an idea.

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Jess

would it be weird or cool to have some sort of storage hanging over your cutting table? like the hanging storage for pots and pans… someway to easily put away the things that live on your cutting table now, that you use all the time but they have no home. that way the babies cant get to what ever it might be and your work area will stay clear, but everything is within arms reach…

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Irishannon

These have been my all-time favorite solution for the sewing area. You hang a rail on the wall and these little pots hang on it. It makes it so convenient to keep your sewing table tidy since it is all within arms reach! All my scissors and seam-rippers, etc. are in one, random thread, bobbins and pin cushions in another, bias tape, elastic and measuring tapes in another….seriously, you will love it.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40116744

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Samantha

Frame a large piece of pegboard & paint your favorite color to hang above the long counter for your machines. You can attach your thread racks to it, & add dozens of hangers & even small baskets to hang EVERYTHING within easy reach!! You could even go uber-organized & outline all of your tools with permanent marker – ala Julia Child! It's pretty, & has the "everything in its place" quality!!

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Jen Levitz

I got my mom a number of Tool-Turn-About from Pampered Chef when they still had the white ones. She has one by the sewing machines that had the Fabrice scissors (labeled of course) and other sewing stuff. (Including one of those tomato pin cushions that she sectioned off and labeled with a sharpie to hold the different sewing needles.) An then she has 2 over with her paper craft stuff.

For your Expidite, look in Target's Dollar Spot, they often have the fabric bins there. But I also forgot about the drawers Ikea has that screw in. They would be good for smaller items.

Additionally, Ikea makes a number of hanging lights that plug into the wall. So with a Reveil lightbulb, you can have great task lighting for inexpensive.

Also… fall in love with a P-Touch labeler. Items may still end up everywhere for a while, but at least you know they have a home.

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THE MATRIARCHIVIST

Thank you for inviting us to live vicariously through you. My craft cupboard is growing jealous of the possibilities for your space. Here is some food for thought…

Get a PAX wardrobe(s) with white doors. Just do it. You will be so much happier. All of your organizational woes will be obliterated and you can use your fun cube shelving to display your fave supplies or creations. But don't get the stock Ikea knobs, get some crystal-looking ones or splurge at Anthropologie.

The white wardrobe(s) will keep things light enough that you can paint the walls a dramatic colour. High drama. Charcoal even? Navy? Or whatever colour from that fantastic thread selection makes you happiest.

Go antiquing/ thrifting/ flea marketing and get yourself some vintage beat up tables for work surfaces. Leave them distressed or paint them a slick laquered black.

And put up a chandelier. Sounds ridiculous for a craft room, right? But for someone running a killer crafting blog, so easy to justify.

Oh, and something over your desk. Hang something huge and fabulous. Or, if you're feeling really gung-ho, maybe make a few of those gorgeous bustle backpacks you featured recently and hang them on hooks as extra storage for those trinkets and tools that never seem to have a home.

Voila!

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Jen Levitz

Ok, Jacinda. The paperbacks have to say, but do they have to stay… THERE??? Depending on how deep the shelves are, maybe they can go on the wall above the sewing tables. Or at the top of the Expidite?

They look similar to the Container Store's Elfa collection, so you should be able to get more tracks.

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the mighty guin

Does Ikea offer glass-fronted doors for Expedit as they do for the Billy bookcase? I saw a craft workshop where they used glass-fronted cabinets to great effect – awesome looking and dust-free.

Fabric storage: consider a pants rack on wheels for larger pieces – then you can move it wherever you like.

Your sewing table: I actually have an Ikea Norden gateleg table, but this would be a good idea too: http://ana-white.com/2010/10/sewing-table-small-spaces. There's space underneath the table center to store a sewing machine, or gear if you prefer, and if it's on wheels it's movable. Since you have a handy gent around the house (props on the table, it's lovely), this might be a good idea.

For works-in-progress that you don't want to entirely pack away: in my sewing class we used big lidless plastic tubs to store our projects. Maybe something clear and Expedit-sized would do?

Good luck! Whipping that space into shape will aid the creative process. Nothing inspires me to mess-making like a clean space!

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littlekahootz

Oh goodness, I'd have so much fun reorganizing that space. Such a great foundation to work with. First I'd check the fine print on the pre-nup and see if you could move those books to the top shelves of the expedits and add doors or curtains or something to cover them up. Because men are taller. Period. Then you have an entire wall of space to utilize. You need a better sewing surface. With drawers. I noticed in one pic you had what looks like white drawers from Ikea…they have table tops that work with them…which is what I have. The drawers are the perfect size for thread, notions, anything you need on hand while sewing. Also a great way to clean up the space instantly. You need a little trash bucket on your sewing table. I just use a little rubbermaid container but you could easily craft something prettier.

I completely agree with velcro curtains around the cutting table with rubbermaid bins of larger things to store.

I really could go on.

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Jen

I have nothing to offer advice-wise…I sent you my horror craft room pics!

It's a nice-sized room, though…good luck in your organizing adventures! :)

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emmigraceandme

I LOVE YOU! So glad that I am not the only one! I recently had to reorganize because I got pregnant and the little one needs my sewing room. Here are a few tidbits that have helped me.

Go antiquing if possible. Beautiful furniture and if you can bicker a bit, you usually get a better deal than the cheaper prefab stuff.

Can your hubby make you more stuff? Mine made me a new, vibrating free table out of some plywood and molding for next to nothing. The best part – the exact size I wanted and it is pretty!

That being said – IKEA all the way if you need to. They have tons of options that are affordable. You know what will work and what won't. Baskets for me are useless, I am too visual. I need clear plastic or glass fronts, otherwise I end up pulling it all out and on the floor again.

It took me 3 months, but I love my new organized smaller space and I am keeping it clean. You can do it!

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CaroleM

We have family coming to visit and so my craft room (named "Sewrenity") has to be totally emptied out in order to make room. But I am using this as a chance to gather new ideas for revamping because my room is also a mess. Small. And shares space with various children's crafting things like an art desk and easel. I actually have a pinterest board with ideas for when I redo it. It will include painted peg board, putting cubbies under my cutting table for more storage, and keeping large containers of batting and fleece etc somewhere else. I am enjoying the ideas I'm reading here!!

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drgnflyfaerie

I love the fact that your craft cave is a disaster! My craft cave doubles as my livingroom so I have to disguise my mess as to not appear hoarder-esque! Frequently my ironing board lives among us, piled high with partially complete projects, for months at a time! Often with just enough room to iron hems and such on the narrow end! There is ALWAYS threads and scraps of fabric on the floor so I have to vacuum before anyone visits, and sometimes after the kids play on the floor we have to tape them off to remove all the bits lest they be perceived as filthy rag-a-muffins!So sad, my dream is to have a craft cave that has a door, then I can just close the door to my dirty little secrets!

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bryana

Sewing apron w lots of pockets when you sew you put everything in them as you use them and are not tempted to put them down cluttering you work space. As for the iron board I hated mine always out. So I got a roll around cart w. Drop table extender. The extender goes up when I iron and down as soon as I'm done. I have found easy solutions don't work for me I need to prevent myself from short cuts or I'll take them, ill stack the fabric where it doesn't go put stuff in the wrong bins bc that bin is closer and befor you know it the whole sewing room is horrid!

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Kate

I love so many ideas listed here… peg board, a "pot rack" holder above your table, etc. ALSO – I think you need to make yourself a bunch of fabric bins like these:
http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2011/09/fabric-storage-boxes-per-your-request.html

Use your favorite fabric, and coordinate colors, and hide whatever needs hidden in those great Expedit shelves!

For photography, use bulbs that are a true white. And I would recommend leaving the walls white, or at least, a light color, accenting with more saturated ones. Otherwise, your photos will be hard to expose correctly. You might pick up a reflector like this:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/358606-REG/Impact_R1122_5_in_1_Reflector_Disc.html
Or at the very least, use your white ceiling and bounce your flash off of it. Hope this helps!

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GIO

Hi Jacinda, if I was you I'd be thrilled with this project! I read every comment before mine, and everybody already told you what's best with your furniture and they also told you everything about your desk issue (which is mine also, btw). I only have one thing left to say: if you can, try installing led lights, both on the ceiling and in every workstation that needs additional light. The led light is pure white, which is very good for photos, they are strong and bright without warming the room and (that's a real plus) they are good for your energy bill… Hope to see soon your 'after' pictures!

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Maria G

As I was looking for inspiration on expedit shelving I came along your post. I have read the posts above mine and I could not resist the temptation to give you a comment even though is late in the game. I hope your project is coming along just the way you envision it.

I just had the same dilemma you have with my daughter’s toy mess in the smaller expedit shelving, my tadda! moment was when I figured out that two of these see thru containers fit perfectly in each cubby of the unit ($3.97 ea. @ walmart store)

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-15-Quart-Latch-Box-Blue-Eclipse-Set-of-10/20699636

It is great to arrange things by use (glues, paints, etc) in ea. bin. You may even consider putting your fabric by color and arrange them following the color wheel. It helps reduce dust in the fabics and makes dusting (I use a swifter) and cleaning a breeze. Send me an email if you would like me to send you a pic of how they look stacked together. Don’t forget to label each bin! And ea. shelf so when you have helpers they will know where to put them! Also make sure you have some empty bins (no more than 4) on the shelves and number them, when you run out of time in the middle of a project put everything in bin #1, that way you will be aware of how many projects are pending!

Like some ladies have suggested, try to lighten up the paperbacks and my suggestion is to place them on the higher shelves so you would free up space at waist level to place units like these for really small items:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-3-Drawer-Wide-Organizer-Set-of-3/10877954

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-Flip-Lid-Box-Set-of-12/20699721

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Trademark-Tools-Deluxe-42-Drawer-Compartment-Storage-Box/19716837?findingMethod=rr (also available @ kmart.)

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Stack-On-30-Drawer-Storage-Bin/17657568?findingMethod=rr (also @ Kmart)

For the ironing board find it a nice cover and get an ironing board hanger. It will be like artwork when it is hanging.

Also as said before, hang all your threads by your sewing machine and again arrange by color.

I love clear thumbtacks to hang light items like the felt baskets behind your sewing machine. Just push in and hang, no holes to patch later. They also work for light picture frames.
http://www.123rf.com/photo_4307167_macro-images-of-three-clear-thumb-tacks-on-a-blank-background-not-pure-white.html

You may use hooks on a plywood sheet or a 1″x4″ wood slat along one side of your sewing table to hang these ikea containers for scissors and like items.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30011832/

If using a plywood slab trace the items you are hanging on it using a sharpie so everyone knows where ea. one goes.

I am thinking these units may fit under your sewing table for batting or other items.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-3-Drawer-Wide-Cart-White/8282897

Over your desk these may work.

http://www.melissaottdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/wall_organizer_front.jpg

On the last picture there are some rolls of something, there you may use inexpensive cafe rods to hang them on the wall where you can take them on and off; or contain them in small plastic boxes.
For rolls of fabric you may put them in tall cardboard box covered with nice gift wrap or tall laundry basket.

Maybe you can put the two drawer units that are under your sewing table together and place your paper cutter over them and tuck all under the table neatly. Try to create secondary/ complimentary surfaces with the furniture pieces you have laying around by placing them together, think of what you can put on top of those surfaces to clear up floor space.

In reference to lighting I always go for track lighting, try the ones where you can use screw on bulbs, like the one shown here
http://www.building-your-model-railroad.com/model-railroad-lighting.html

And place CFL bulbs that give daylight 6500k Which are great for pics.
http://www.lampsplus.com/products/26-Watt-Daylight-6500K-CFL-Twist-ENERGY-STAR-Light-Bulb__35256.html

The most important thing give “Everything a place and keep everything in its place!” (Seriously frame this saying in a decorative font in your fav. color and hang it in your room where you will see it often, it stays with you!)

Select one area at the time and work until everything in there has a home (the floor is not a home! LOL) and yes, the true is that we have to make time to tiddy up. Once a person told me how nice my house looked implying hers couldn’t look similar, I thought to myself, it is not that we are not messy (ask my hubby) is that we need to make time to keep it that way. Label everything so you can have help with this chore. If you get a ladder also hang it.

Don’t forget to decorate your room, yes it makes it more pleasant!

I have done the longest post in history, I hope it helps! Best of luck!

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Jacinda

Amazing Maria! Thanks for taking the time to comment. Love your ideas. I’m inspired to get back in there and make it an inspiring space.

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