Organizing Cross Stitch and Other Needlework Projects

With the weather here in the northern hemisphere starting to warm up, thoughts are beginning to turn to spring cleaning and organization. I’ve been reading my way through a whole stack of decluttering books preparing myself for the tidying blitz that I’m just about to dive into.

Bags, bags and more bags!

Bags, bags and more bags!

While I’m waiting to get started on the big jobs, I decided to find some smaller jobs I could tackle to help me build some momentum. And, I figured that my workbasket would be a great place to start. It sits on the floor, under an end table, next to my stitching spot and holds all the projects I am trying to focus on. There are always more projects in there then there probably should be, but variety and choice make life more interesting.

Ziptop bags work well because they are cheap and see-through.

Ziptop bags work well because they are cheap and see-through.

I use three different methods for organizing my current cross stitch and embroidery projects. Most of them are stored in a ziptop bag. It contains everything I need for the project: fabric, pattern and threads. The bags are never closed, because I want the project to be able to breathe. (This is especially important if you live somewhere humid. You don’t want mould growing on your project!) This is a very inexpensive solution, and the clear bags make it easy to see what they hold. One the down side, the bags are floppy, not very pretty, and everything can fall out of them.

Fabric bags are very pretty, but it is easy to forget what is inside.

Fabric bags are very pretty, but it is easy to forget what is inside.

Method two is storing projects in pretty fabric pouches. My go to pattern is a modified version of Lazy Girl Designs’ Perfect Pouches, a pattern so simple anyone with basic sewing knowledge could make it. (This is a very good thing.) These have the advantage of being pretty, easy to close, and you can make them in any size you need. I have large ones for big projects, and smaller ones for ornament-sized pieces. Unfortunately, because they are opaque, it is difficult to know what is inside of them. If you are clever and a bit better organized than I am, it would be easy to sew some up in fabrics that match what you are stitching. But, I don’t always think that far ahead. 😉

These mesh bags are sturdy, but very expensive.

These mesh bags are sturdy, but very expensive.

My current favourite method is to use zippered mesh pouches. Expensive version of these have been available at my LNS for several years, but I’ve just recently discovered very inexpensive mesh pouches at my local dollar store. The LNS ones are very nice, and quite large, but the dollar store ones are less than a tenth the price and are more than big enough to hold a standard sized leaflet. They are both translucent enough to see the project inside, and they stack inside a basket or bag quite nicely.

These dollar store mesh bags are inexpensive and the perfect size.

These dollar store mesh bags are inexpensive and the perfect size.

I do occasionally do very large pieces, like canvaswork stretched out on bars. Instead of taking them apart and storing them in zipper pouches, I use clean white pillowcases. If there are a lot of threads for the project, I will either store them in a ziptop bag, or sort them into Floss-Away bags and keep them on a ring. I pop them, and the pattern, into the pillowcase, and everything is kept neat, clean, and together for next time.

How do you organize your current projects? I’d love to hear all about how you keep everything together and tidy. Share your ideas by leaving a comment below.


This entry was posted in Canvaswork, Cross Stitch, Hand Embroidery, Organizing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Organizing Cross Stitch and Other Needlework Projects

  1. I love those mesh bags! The idea is awesome as I too use large zip lock baggies to put projects in. Mesh bags are prettier 😀

  2. Amy says:

    Thanks for the tips about the Dollar Store bags, and especially the pillow cases! I’ve always left my bigger pieces just sitting out (collecting dust ?), pillow cases will be perfect!

  3. Suz says:

    I love organizing! I’m currently in “spring cleaning” mode myself, and I’ve made it through the master bath and bedroom and now I’m working on the kitchen and garage. I’m the anti-hoarder, and love everything to “have an address” so I can always find it 🙂 My Partner loves my organizational abilities, because it’s been teaching him how to cram more crap into smaller spaces (he’s a total hoarder).

    For projects I use the clear mesh bags to store everything (floss, fabric, pattern, needlebook, etc.) – my BigLots has them for cheap, but I’ve also found them even cheaper on Amazon. My old cheap “go to” was the outdoor store (Academy) – I always used those bags to store my fishing tackle, especially my saltwater stuff, and those bags were cheap). I have an old picture of some here: They live in one cubby of an Expedit shelving unit in my craft room/office/spare bedroom closet. They all stand straight now, because each project has been put in Qsnaps as I’ve worked on them (I have PLENTY of Qs for all of them)

    The bonus is when I want my project, I just pull it and throw it in my bag (which either lives downstairs with me, or goes with me on trips):

    I’ve been contemplating sewing some of those pretty bags, but I hate waste and the mesh bags work great (and are water proof). I’ve heard people safety pin a tag to the outside of the bags for ID, but I just use a PTouch label for the outside of my bags (not that I can’t see the inside),

  4. Katie says:

    I have a fabric tote and a plastic tub full of projects. We get a catalog in the mail called Current. They had these clear plastic envelopes that have a snap close. It lets air in but keeps the important stuff in too. If I run out of those I use ziplock bags but I agree with you I don’t like their look. I store my threads in plastic storage containers and mark the lid with what project they are for. Unless there are just a few threads then they can be stored in the bag with the project.

  5. I am most definitely planning a trip to the Dollar Store. I love those bags. I do use freezer bags – thanks for the reminder to keep the Top Open.

  6. Justine says:

    I love those mesh bags! I have a tiny cupboard for my stash (and an overflow in the top of younger son’s wardrobe! ) and a tote bag which contains my current projects, in storage bags. I’m about to start a major declutter too! It must be that time of year …

  7. Rachel says:

    Goodness, nothing like so organised. In fact, I need to do a bit of tidying up right now … *scuttles away, picking up errant threads*

  8. Heather says:

    Great ideas! I just keep my fabric rolled up in the clear plastic tubes they’re sold in and I just pull floss from my stash. The floss I have on bobbins inside a binder with trading card pages in them

  9. Bea says:

    You are much more organized than I am, but I think there are a couple of ideas here I could use. Thanks!

  10. Joanne P says:

    My WIPS I am currently working on are stored in either mesh bags or fabric bags. I have never bought a mesh bag, they simply arrive at the house somehow and get commandeered for service! I have two or three fabric bags made by dear blogging friends which I rotate.
    Other WIPs from the DUCJC2015 are stored in a large cardboard box until I am ready to start on them again.

  11. Great ideas! Love those pretty bags :o)
    Hugs xx