Great $1 sewing tool

I was tempted to title this “Best $1 sewing tool” but that started an internal debate regarding best and an attempt to remember how much I’ve spent on various doodads (how much is my favorite ruler again?)…


I’m not talking about the iron, or the ironing board, I’m talking about buying a gallon of distilled water for your iron and keeping it stored as closely as possible. For a long time, a very long time I just used some of our filtered tap water, running downstairs the to the kitchen when I needed it, or pouring it out of my water spray bottle (which I think cost $1.60). Finally I bought a gallon and sometimes it is the little things – but it felt like a great improvement to my sewing space. My iron only holds about 4 oz of water (yup, I measured) and I’m a big fan of steam so it drastically cut down on water-gathering trips.

Additionally, I don’t think I ever wrote about my ironing station. In my last sewing space I didn’t have room for my ironing board to stay set up and not be in the way of something (the closet where my supplies were stored, the shelf the printer was and my futon were the usual things blocked). And I noticed that for quilting I wasn’t using most of the board anyway, so I re-purposed this cart (it fit in the space perfectly). I love that I can store things under the ironing space. When I need a larger surface I pull out my ironing board, when I need the narrow end I try using my sleeve roll first.

ironing station in a former sewing space

The ironing surface is an unfinished wooden shelf I picked up at Ikea (the size and price were right), but they don’t carry the exact piece anymore (part of a discontinued secondary storage line). Then I covered it with insul-brite, two layers of cotton batting and light-canvas cotton fabric – in that order, using a staple gun to tack everything down. The covered board is just over 12″ wide and about 30″ long. I meant to fully attach the board to the cart but never got around to it and I find it stays put decently. Of course I don’t have little ones, or cats to cause it to go tumbling to the floor.

June 27, 2013. Tags: . Organization, Sewing, Solutions. 2 comments.

Quick Clean Up

I store my thread in a 6″x15″ tray often meant for organizing utensils.  The tray lives in on the keyboard tray of my desk, which is almost exclusively used for sewing.  I prefer to store my thread away from constant exposure to light even though it is less aesthetically pleasing than a wooden thread holder.  My bobbins also live in this tray and eventually it becomes a big mess.  I didn’t think to capture a photo of the mess, but one day I was inspired to find a way to keep those bobbins in check without buying another plastic doodad (no offense to plastic doodads, honestly they sucker me in way too often) so I grabbed a colored pencil (in a color I don’t use much, also it was already close to the perfect length) and sandwiched it in there.  And it worked (the grey liner at the bottom has little raised dots that help keep it in place, surely the thread spools help too). My wound bobbins are lined up neatly and no longer rolling around spitting thread out.  Then I was inspired to resort my threads by color (and size).  It was a very quick project and pleased me so much that I snapped a photo.


Next to it is a second tray, 6″x12″ that holds my pinking shears, my rotary cutter* and a large spool of cotton thread (hopefully I’ll continue to use up the thread collection and integrate it with the rest of the thread then the extra bobbins will take its place).  The left tray is shorter because otherwise it would block the magnetic catch to close the keyboard tray.  The weird white thing is a sewing machine part that doesn’t fit in the accessory box or my sewing binder.  And the orange peeking at the left side of the photo is some cabinet liner I use to keep my rolls of masking tape from sliding off the back of the keyboard tray every time I open the “drawer”.  I do love having the thread so close to my machine.

*not an ideal location, I’m testing out a new location and will share if it proves successful

February 19, 2012. Tags: , , . Organization, Sewing. Leave a comment.

Baby is in the corner, er closet

I was aiming for a Dirty Dancing pun, not a closet pun… also I’m testing blogging via the WP app.


I recently hit up Ikea for a second Helmet drawer unit and put it together today.  As I was reconfiguring the craft space I decided to try out the two Helmers as a home for my precious, my new to me Featherweight.  Now I just need to sit down and test it.  If all goes well I will be able to keep both my machines set up and ready to go.

February 5, 2012. Tags: , . Organization, Sewing, Solutions. Leave a comment.

FF: A dollar short, a week late

I finished the bedside pockets project last week but ended up with really crummy photos (our bedroom has horrible lighting on the best of days and is pretty much avoided unless we are going to bed or changing).

And more binding and binding, ugh.  Did I tell you I had to go buy binding for this twice?  In the end I was able to return two packages but still…


Originally I bought I a package of 1/2″ single fold bias tape (4 yards) because I wanted skinny binding.  Then I realized that my guesstimate was wildly off and had to go buy another package.  Then once the pockets were together I realized how thick the multiple layers of fabric because and was worried my skinny binding just wasn’t going to cover it so I went and bought 2 packages of 1/2″ double fold bias tape (which is turns out comes in shorter lengths and might not have been enough).  But in the end I decided to try and make the 1/2″ single fold tape work – and it did, with barely any leftover (18″ at most). I also managed to use the machine the entire time (I was not looking forward to that much hand stitching).  Yay for being able to return things.

Ta da.


There are only two issues: 1) do not look closely at my edges, my binding did not cover my basting stitches (which I didn’t pull out because there are areas where my binding is so close to the edges I worry about stitch integrity) and 2) we aren’t really using the pockets. I mean I did store my reading book in it for the week, but that just meant I ignored the reading book all week. I’m not sure if I should blame the book or the pocket on that.

March 11, 2011. Tags: , , , . Organization, Sewing. 4 comments.

WIPW (ish) Making the Pattern

Step 1: Figure out what the finished size should be:


Step 2.5: Cut out Fabric (see cut list)

Step 3: Interface, Interface

Step 4: Bind the edges

Step 5: Almost there… putting it together


March 3, 2011. Tags: , , , . Organization, Sewing. Leave a comment.

Entryway Keyholder

I used to be one of those people who misplaced their keys all the time.  Finally I adopted the habit of putting my keys in the same place every single time (well 98 out of 100 times).  I’m continually tweaking our entryway and way back in March I finally got around to making my version of How About Orange’s DIY Key Holder.  (I think that is where I got this wooden board + cup hook idea). Apparently I didn’t take any photos and so never blogged about this keyholder. I think it is very successful since we’ve been using it for the last 6 months.


Instead of painting and decopauging pretty paper on it I wanted to use a scrap of this Amy Butler fabric I had that coordinated with the big wall pocket* I made a while back. I bought a 24″ long 1 x 4 – the big box home improvement store I went to had a variety of shorter lengths in the same aisle as the rest of the dimensional lumber, a package of cup hooks, and a yard of iron-on vinyl.

First I decided how many hooks I wanted on the board (4 gave me the best spacing for hanging keys, though 5 would have looked nicer if I wanted to hang this horizontally), then I drew a line to bisect the 4″ width of the board and lines to indicate where the hooks should be screwed in.  I drilled pilot holes at the intersections.  Next I cut out the iron-on vinyl to be about 4″ wider and longer than my board and fused it to my fabric, and trimmed my fabric down to match the vinyl.  I used a staple gun to attach it to the board, used my awl to locate the pilot holes, poke small holes in the fabric and screwed the cup hooks into the board. Then I nailed a picture hanger into the top back of the board and eyeballed the picture hanger for the wall (hence the key holder is slightly higher than the wall pocket).

IMG_3485 IMG_3486

*I made the wall pocket back in late 2008 and it was loosely based on a smaller Wall Pocket from Craft Apple; I used a corkboard from Ikea (minus the wooden frame). I was hoping to create something that also held our keys but that didn’t pan out (I attempted to add a magnetic surface behind the fabric, but either my canvas is too thick or my magnetic hooks weren’t strong enough). Each pocket is dedicated to certain types of mail/paperwork (coupons, take-out menus, bills/important deal-with-it papers, seasonal paper reference like the art museum’s quarterly calendar).

September 20, 2010. Tags: , , . Organization, Solutions. Leave a comment.

Crafty Organizing

Last week I got disgusted with my left desk drawer where I keep the officey things that I grab regularly – mostly pens plus a few other things.  The drawer itself is pretty small, just over 6″ wide and not even 3″ deep and maybe 11″ long.  I’d been meaning to measure it and grab some small dividing bins the next time I saw some the right size, but I’d had it, plus I had fears of loosing some of that precious storage space since many store bought bins have sloped sides.  Then I remembered making origami boxes many years ago, so I decided to grab some of art paper hanging around since college and try folding up a couple boxes.  I decided on two boxes, each 3″ wide, 6″ inches deep and about 2″ tall.  I found the center of the paper, drew out my footprint (going from the center out) and then scoring, folding and a little trimming (no longer considered origami) to my finished box (no glue, tape or staples since I added the cuff):

Pen Box

Once a second box was made, the contents re-arranged (pen boxes in back, otherwise they would have entirely blocked access to the back half of the drawer) and I had a much neater desk drawer for free.

Desk Drawer - Improved

April 10, 2009. Tags: . Organization, Solutions. Leave a comment.

One year later

Circular Needle Organizer has become this Now with labels

In early 2008 (or was it late 2007), I sewed two needle organizers. This Sunday I finally put the finishing touches on the hanging circular needle organizer. I replaced my office supply circle sticker labels with embroidered buttons and I finally hid the last few threads (this had over 84 threads to hide and while I did most of it right when I made the organizer I left around 8 to 10 threads in view for the past year).

 Details Let me say, embroidering 1/2″ tall numbers is not the best way to re-introduce yourself to the craft. I got hooked on embroidery back in 7th grade when I learned how to do the stem stitch for my ice-cream cone pillow in home ec. That summer I made myself a few things, including an 8″ hoop with muslin and my initials in pink, it is still hanging on the wall at my room in my grandmother’s house. Ah, that room had dark brown carpeting, wood paneling to a chair rail and a oh so seventies yellow, cream, avocado green and maybe tan striped wall paper. But I insisted on accenting it all with pink.

I wonder where my rose-plastered two-tiered ruffled bedspread went? ?

February 5, 2009. Tags: , , , . Organization, Sewing. 2 comments.

I can’t stand cord clutter

I tend to be very good at keeping cord clutter at bay.  One key element to that is to make sure that cords don't twist with other cords.  Having a laptop for your desktop machine also helps :)  Typically I store all my gadget cords in this cute metal lunchbox.

However with the new office and desk set-up the lunchbox cannot be stored right above the desk on pretty shelves.  So when I get out the cell phone cord it lays around all messy (and sometimes disappears under other piles of stuff), same for the palm cord and the camera cord and… Within the last month I saw a fabulous "hide all your gadget charging tools" idea in Blueprint (or was it Martha Stewart Living or Real Simple?).  They took two fabric covered document boxes, storing the power strip and plug-ins in the bottom box and feeding the cords through the grommet and storing the chargeable (cell phone, palm, ipod, etc) in the top box (imagine the boxes on their sides, stacked on top of each other, the grommets facing the wall).  I looked around town for similar boxes but didn't see anything that caught my eye.  Then I decided that I could convert the bottom tray of my tray stack for this purpose.  Due to bulking plugins I only fit three items on my powerstrip, but they are the three I need to charge the most.

I tied the powerstrip to the back of the tray with some spare clear elastic (meant for beading) that I already owned (can you see the clear elastic strips?).

I did need a second set of hands to help with this since the weight of the powerstrip cord kept trying to pull the powerstrip out of the tray and the tray was sliding all over my desk (scratching the top).  See the little white dots, I added felt to the bottom of the tray to keep more scratches from happening.

I plugged everything in (using twist ties to keep the length of cord not needed from tangling) leaving just enough cord to peek out of the tray and stacked the other trays back on top of the first.  I used velco cord bundling straps to keep the power strips cord bundled and off the floor (this took two strips since they weren't long enough to go around the desk leg and extra 6 ft of cord length.

Now when I look under my desk I don't see any cords collecting dust bunnies on the floor, just one plugged into the outlet and going towards the desk leg.

My desk "inbox" trays now look like this when I need to charge something and I still have an extra outlet for the less used chargers (like the camera):

Now I just need to tackle this cordkeeping dilemma (sorry honey, I know you worked at keeping the cords neat, now we just need to figure out how to keep them off the floor)

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

October 1, 2006. Tags: , . former Vox Blog, Organization, Problems. 2 comments.