Sewing is messy. Am I right, or am I right? As such, I continually look for ways to contain projects these days. Here’s one such idea that I’ve found very useful. I’ve been on a bit of a shoe buying binge lately. So shoot me! For some reason, I just needed shoes (like a hole in my head!). Especially shoes that were flat and less stiletto style and that could actually be worn on a daily basis. My whole Everyday Wardrobe thing, you know.

Anyway, shoe fetish aside, I procured two perfectly sized shoe boxes to hold sewing projects that I’m working on. By sewing project I mean the whole shebang: the actual project/cloth/pattern pieces, the sewing pattern and special tools I’m using for the project like special chalks, ribbons, buttons, tapes, etc. I’m constantly misplacing things like that and I can waste an inordinate amount of time looking for a said button. Freak!!! If I had a nickel for every time I lost something – in my small sewing room, no less – I’d be able to pay someone to organize stuff around here! Sheesh! It can be terribly annoying, but when you have it all contained, well there you go.

Like I stated, I have two boxes because some projects are bigger than others. I have a pretty regular sized shoe box, the one you see here and then I have a knee-length boot size shoe box that can hold bigger projects. The bigger shoe box was especially helpful with my man’s winter coat. I kept everything for that coat in that box and it was so easy to just open it up and find everything in there. Easy to clean up too. Like when I need to quickly get my table ready for some other thing I’m doing, all I have to do is throw everything back in the shoe box and then I have containment. It also can make projects portable. When I’m working on a project somewhere else, I can just take my shoe box with me – albeit people think I’m off my rocker a bit, but big deal.

Kind of seems a little silly, but seriously, this idea has saved me from loosing many odds and ends lately and I just had to share. Do you do anything like this? How do you keep all the bits and baubles for one project together?

By the way, the project you see in the shoe box here are some coral pants that I was working on. I know, coral pants. They turned out to be pretty awesome! I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the finished project – I know I have.


36 thoughts on “Containment

  1. Thanks for this tip! I’ve always been a big fan of shoeboxes, I think my love of them pre-dates my love of shoes, which is saying something!
    I’m already using shoeboxes for self-drafted pattern pieces and quilting scraps, must try this too. Especially since it sounds like it makes putting it all away a lot easier 🙂

  2. Brilliant idea!! I can definitely see myself using this method for future projects. The only problem is I don’t have any shoe boxes at the moment. …now if that’s not a good excuse to buy more shoes, than I don’t know what is 😉 😉

  3. I do this too! I cut things out upstairs and my sewing room is in our basement, so I pile it all in a shoe box to make it portable and keep it all together. I toss the scraps in there on the bottom, just in case–I’ve learned the hard way not to toss the scraps til you’re sure you’re not going to cut another facing or something!!

  4. I tend to corral project bits and bobs into plastic shopping bags, as I can hang them on hooks on a pegboard, or easily pile them into a basket or drawer for sewing up later. I am also fond of a clear plastic hinged-lid box that I scavenge from work, once all the special missions offering envelopes have been used during worship services. The boxes are about the size of a shoebox, and hold an amazing amount of fabric/pattern/thread/notions. I realize that this is a resource not available to many, lol. I store paper patterns in ziploc bags, with folded pieces stuck behind the pattern envelope, and instructions inside the pattern envelope. All these patterns — if not in use, waiting in shopping bags or envelope boxes — are stored in boxes in which cases of copier paper was delivered (again, a resource not widely available). They are (very) roughly sorted by genre: pants and skirts, dresses, bridal, hats, suits and coats, etc..

  5. This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing! For now I only organize my patterns, I never cut the patterns I buy, so I transfer them in a special paper that I got online and make the adjustments for my body, then I make a copy of the front picture of the pattern envelope and I store them together in a 3 ring binder in one of those plastic sheet protectors. I organize them by pants, dresses, coats, kids, etc.
    By the way…I have the same pants pattern and is my very favorite! Love the color!!! Can’t wait to see them finished.

  6. A shoe box a very good idea! Currently I’ve been using those plastic zip bags that bedsheets/linens come in. Now that I think about it it seems as though these have become more of my UFO storage than actual projects I’m working on. oops!!

  7. I believe you just gave me (and lots of others, I’m sure) permission to buy new boots! Yay!

    That’s very helpful. I’m forever losing little pattern pieces for things like cuffs.

  8. This is a GREAT idea! I need about 5 boxes because I am sure I have at least that many going- But I am on this. (Hey- I like shoes! A few new pairs for the good of my sewing room sounds like a plan!)

  9. I purchased 2-gal zip lock bags from the “$” store. I don’t like shoe boxes because I can’t see what’s inside without removing the top. You can also hang the bags on a skirt hanger.

  10. Huh….I never thought of doing this, but I’ve got one of those clear plastic tubs with the clip on lids that might work for most projects. Definitely something I should consider to keep myself better organized this year. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  11. This is genius! Your comment makes me think that I should also have a jar on my sewing table and start putting a quarter in it if I don’t stay organized and have to search for things. Kind of like a swear jar, but for being…messy? Ha! Anyway, I have a really cute box from a pair of shoes from Christmas that will be perfect for this. I have to admit, it helps when the box is cute 😉 Thanks for the tip!

  12. This is a good idea. I have sometimes used bags to store embroidery projects and such. By bags I mean the “free gift with purchase” that comes with certain cosmetics. I have several that are tote bag size, but I think the shoe boxes might keep small parts, like facings and cuffs, a bit neater.

  13. Great idea, Sunni! I usually stuff my projects in a plastic bag, but it looks really messy, so I’m gonna look for a box and do this instead. Thanks for the tip!

  14. Firstly, this seems like a brilliant reason to go out and buy more shoes and secondly, a great place to store sewing kits (UFOs)!

    Where do you keep your shoes if the boxes are full of sewing?

  15. Thanks for sharing this tip with us. from necessity I always had to clear up nightly no matter what i was working on (except for the sewing machine) as I worked in the family dining room. As a result I used the bag that the shoe box comes in. If they stay upright you can tip everything you are working with — within reason — into the bag and it will be there the next time you are ready to do some more work on on whatever project is on hand. I found that this was the best way to safeguard all the little bits of patterns etc. Your suggestion is a refinement on my method and I will be using it into the future. I already use shoeboxes for storing lots of items. In particular I have all my bits and pieces of lace and ribbons in shoe boxes. I usually leave them open and use the lid to reinforce the base of the box and then slip the entire into a see through plastic bag. I’m sure your community use shoe boxes –covered or un covered — for lots of purposes, it will be interesting to hear about them.

  16. Great idea! I use a square plastic basket/bin to “contain” my current project. I find it really does help me stay just that little bit more organized! Thanks for sharing!! Happy Healthy New Year to you!

  17. I use shoeboxes to stay organized but in a different way. I keep all my notions and tools in ziplock baggies and stash them inside a big shoebox. My current project goes in a Trader Joe’s totebag along with my sewing machine pedal, tools I need for the project, my tailor’s ham and all my notions in a bag. Then I just carry the tote and my machine to wherever I’m headed (most often my boyfriend’s apartment for the weekend).

  18. Oh my, I wish I could be that organized, but it’s just not in my DNA. Fortunately I have one of the world’s smallest work spaces, about 5′ x 10′, so it’s hard for things to get hopelessly lost.

  19. I was just thinking about project organization over Christmas. I have a nice lidded basket at my sewing station to keep track of my current project, but I always struggle with what to do with the projects in the wings. I usually buy fabric with a project in mind, so then I have the thread, notions, and pattern to keep with the fabric, but no good system to do so! Then I am frantically looking for the notions when I am ready to sew. The shoebox idea is a food for thought!

  20. This is a great idea! I use bags to hold projects or future projects together, but they don’t stack tidily like shoeboxes do, so I may have to make the swap. I lose stuff in my small sewing room CONSTANTLY (well, to be honest, I lose everything in my small apartment and used to misplace things in my closet-sized dorm room, so it’s not a big shock, but…).

  21. OK, now I’m regretting about telling my sister to stop hoarding her shoe boxes!

    This is how it usually happens with my sewing projects: I leave the sewing room and use a large table in another room to cut the fabric pieces, interfacing, etc. I pile all the pieces onto a large rotary cutting mat I have and use that as a carrier to move the pieces to the sewing room. I place the mat on a specific, small table that is just to the right of the sewing machine. Now, I typically go straight to the construction because I am all excited at this moment in time, but for whatever reason the pieces wind up being untouched for weeks, I move them to a 2 gallon plastic bag. I REALLY try to avoid doing this because for me: out of sight is out of mind and once in the plastic bag, I will not get to them for months.

    And we all know what happens when months past. . . How does this thing go together again?! 🙂 So if you do find yourself storing works in progress, I suggest to include excessive amounts of NOTES!

  22. Love it! I have long been an advocate of repurposing boxes from purchases for organization. I am a bit uptight though so I cover them with pretty contact paper so they look a bit nicer, and, if the corners & other stress points get wrapped with contact paper, the whole thing is more durable.

  23. I use ziplock bags to put my patterns fabrics and all notions in. I then stack these in a basket and pull them out when needed. My current WIP gets put back in the bag at the end of every session. It is a great system as you get everything you need for that project ready and keep it all together. Love the coral pants!!

  24. Amazing! yes I use alot of shoeboxes and also boxes from cider – I use duck tape and cut off top and tape down sizes for extra strength.

    Do you label your boxes? For boxes I don’t want to damage and perminantely mark I use masking tape to label.

    Only problem with this is when I get lazy and forget about a project or two and bits of my kit are missing in all my project boxes!


  25. I’m a big fan of shoe boxes too! I always have several projects going on at the same time so I have several boxes sitting at the top of my shelves. It is just too handy, for the reasons you stated. I also use plastic food container with lids for smaller projects.

  26. I like to use shoeboxes- or any other type of box for that matter. But I like to cover them with pretty fabric first! One of the easiest ways to do that is gently take the box apart, cover one or both sides with fabric glue (or spray adhesive) and then glue the box back together. It lets me use fabrics from my stash that I like, but would probably never use.

  27. This is a cool idea, especially since I stop project in the middle tons of times and have the leave the area clean after I sew, I’ll definitely think of doing this next time!
    Also, the name on the box “Miz Mooz”, if you connect the words together it means “to feel up” in Hebrew. That’s ones sassy box you got there! lol

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