Organizing Your Sewing Room Part 3: Quilting Tools

I have more rulers and scissors than any one woman should own – and even worse – could possibly use at a given time. But as I always tell my husband, “Does a woodworker or auto mechanic only have one tool box?” So the magical question of the day is, what is the most efficient way to organize them?

I recently invested in a magazine rack, which I thought would be useful in my home for – you guessed it – storing magazines. But when I got it home it didn’t quite make it to the area I was hoping to use it in.

magazine rack I walked in the door with my new purchase and immediately heard a crash – I had bumped into my ruler stand, knocking them to the floor and cracking a few along the way. Looks like I found a new use for that magazine rack I had just bought! Turns out it’s perfect for keeping quilting rulers organized, at a glance, and safe from the next time I walk in carrying too much in my arms.

ruler stand My particular magazine rack came with a slotted piece of wood that sets inside to keep the magazines separate. Being fairly frugal, I didn’t throw this piece away. Instead I now keep it on my cutting table to hold some of the rulers that I use most often. I even kept that cracked ruler – it’s now good for those smaller cutting projects.

There are so many store-bought ruler organizers on the market today, some of which will save you time and some that will be cumbersome at best. One type is a large metal ring that has an opening at the top along with a hook to hang it on a round dowel or wall hanger. The problem with this type of system is that if you want to get a ruler off of the ring that happens to be in the middle of the bunch, you have to remove all the rest that are blocking its way.

The magazine rack idea was a fluke but was also invaluable as it has been the best way I have found to keep the rulers I need nearby and organized. I also sometimes use 3M hooks and stick them on the side of bookcases to store some of my smaller rulers.

tool organizer Another organization system I couldn’t live without? My tool organizer. I’ll tell you a secret about it: I got it on clearance 10 years ago along with a case to carry a kit or two with it. It only cost $7.00! What a lucky find. There’s loads of caddies available too that have lots of room to store your tools. These are nice and portable too, perfect for your next quilting retreat.

ceramic mugs I have also begun to use small plastic containers, often bought from the dollar store, to house buttons and safety pins and the like. But I think my favorite tip of all is to put treasured personal mementos to use in the sewing room, like the little ceramic mugs my children made in school way back when to hold snippers, marking pencils, and micro pens. I also have a little DVD/CD rack my kids made in shop class that I now keep in the sewing room to house my quilting DVDs. These little touches give my space some character and remind me daily of the joys in my life.

cookbook lighter And what about books? Do you ever have problems keeping your pattern book in place? I did too, until my oldest daughter bought me a cookbook stand. I now use it for my pattern books and keep it right by my machine – never losing my place again! And did you notice in this picture that I have a little case for all my machine feet? This is a handy investment to keep right on your sewing table.

scrap basket One final tip: Grab a cute little basket that you can keep on your sewing table near your machine to toss in all those small scraps you want to keep. That way you won’t accidentally throw away a piece you will cry over later. After a project is done I will usually transfer the scraps to a baggie for safe storage.

These are some of my favorite organizing tips for tools and rulers, but the list is nowhere near complete! What are your favorite tips? Let us know in the comments.

Happy quilting!

More in this Series:
Organizing Your Sewing Room Part 1: Thread & Bobbins Organizing Your Sewing Room Part 2: Fabric Organizing Your Sewing Room Part 4: Kits & Projects

Related Videos:

Get a Grip with Quilting Supplies and Tools

How to Store Quilting Supplies

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29 Responses to “Organizing Your Sewing Room Part 3: Quilting Tools”

  1. Kelly Arbogast

    For my ruler storage, I use a finishing nail (it has no head on it) in the wall stud and depending on the length of the nail you can get quite a few rulers on it. I have one nail for the long ones and another nail for the square shaped rulers. I also use a finishing nail for my calendar, it makes it easy to change months.

  2. Elizabeth Keay

    My favorite ruler organizer are napkin holders from the dollar store. I have three: long rulers, square rulers and triangles.

  3. Linda

    I use a wooden napkin holder for my rulers, the extra large hang on my wall with command strips. I also use another napkin holder for my plastic templates.

  4. Diana

    Ruler storage: I have a semi walk-in closet, where fabric and boxes are stored on the side shelves that has a door that is made to hang my rulers on (I don’t have as many as you do). I used the large Command hooks to put my rulers on and a piece of masking tape at the bottom of my longest ruler that keeps it from swinging when I close the door.
    For my cutter and 6.5″ square ruler, scissors, and other things I use the most I placed a cork board on the wall by my cutting table and another behind my sewing machine. I can pin patterns and samples to it as well as other momentos.
    I have a rectangle shelf below my window that holds three piles of quilting magazines. My cat likes to look out the window.

  5. Vivien

    I have a large glass vase for all my little scraps which I have in plastic zip-lock bags sorted by colour. That way when I’m paperpiecing it’s much quicker to find that right piece. Also I have drawers with each colour for my fat quarters. I use IKEA cubes.

  6. Kay Frank

    I really need your tips and more. I am becoming more disabled and believe being more organized will enable me to enjoy my hobbies longer.

  7. Gina M Pace

    A great way to keep project patterns/instructions that are not in book form is in a handbell music notebook. On the outside, this looks like a standard three-ring binder, however the bottom half of the front and back covers is jointed and detached from the spine so that it flips back to create its own stand. Place each page in a sheet protector for longevity. I have another one for recipes in the kitchen.

  8. Deborah S

    I put Command hooks on the back of the door in my sewing room. Then all of my rulers are hung in plain sight so I can easily access the one I need.

  9. Diana

    I don’t have as many tools as mentioned above, but organize them this way: I have a large narrow walk-in closet, one side has wire shelves to store boxes for fabric and other craft items. The short end has a hanging bar I can use for finished projects to be mailed. My large most-used rulers hang on hooks on the inside door, a piece of masking tape keep the longest one from banging or getting stuck when I close the door. I tried using magazine holders for the long rulers, but that didn’t work. I have a large cork board on the wall behind my sewing machine. (I pin up patterns etc.), a strip of fabric that shows all the fancy stitches on my machine, tape measure, and a couple of narrow rulers. Another cork board is behind my cutting table which holds scissors, rotary cutter, pinking shears, and a nail that anchors my 6.5″ square ruler I use a lot. This works very well for me. Large cuts of fabric are stored in an extra dresser, and my quilt magazines have a home in a low one shelf bookcase.

  10. Kay Deitering

    I want to sew not constantly search for my tools, i know put them away when done but i’m to anxious to get on the next project.

  11. Judi Casias

    Years ago my husband bought a silverware caddie at a yard sale maybe for $1, it holds scissors, rotary cutters, screw drivers, you get the picture. Easily moved and it sits on a table by my sewing machine.

  12. Rhonda Higgins

    I like to use mason jars for scissors, buttons, pens pencils and rulers.

  13. Becky

    I use desk wire file folder holders for my rulers. I have them sorted by size so I can see what I need when I need it. Works great for me. :)

  14. Pamela

    My favorite storage for tools are the small clear plastic 3 drawer stacking bins. One is next to my machine with feet in one, cleaning tools, extra snips, seam rippers, etc. and one for extra empty bobbins, needles and tweezers, etc.

  15. Linda

    I bought a large piece of pegboard from Home Depot – Had them cut in two equal pieces and use these for my scissors, patterns, rotary cutters, and all my rulers. The uses are endless. They sell the correct size accessories as well.

  16. Cal Wolfe

    I have an Akromills box, a metal box with many small drawers. Each drawer is labeled and in alphabetical order. It holds my safety pins, thimbles, markers, rubber bands, and many, many more. I use it everyday, and if my husband is looking for something, he knows which drawer it is in.

  17. Cal Wolfe

    My weakness is scissors. I have a long magnetic bar, like those sold in hardware stores, on the wall beside my sewing machine. I reach over to grab a pair of scissors and slap them back on when done with them, so I always know where they are. It is also great for any tool with metal, i.e. tweezers, seam rippers, etc.

  18. Dolores Hrlic

    I have all my tools in sight on a peg board and my fabric sorted by color in large plastic drawers and my books in a bookcase and magazines in binders sorted by year and magazine name.

  19. Lucy

    HELP!!!!!My sewing room is out of control! Any suggestions will be highly appreciated.
    Have been ill with COPD,moving around is difficult.

    • Deb Fulton

      I put things I use the most at eye level so I don’t have to bend over so often. Older mags and book go on bottom shelves. Since I use oxygen I put 25 ft tubing on my machine and put my work area in the center of the room under the light. You could also put your work areas around the walls. Try to place your work areas so that you can move around without tripping over the tubing or the electrical plug. If I’m not at home I use my portable oxygen concentrator and move it as I need to. Don’t let the COPD control you….adapt. ❤️

    • Carrie Caulfield

      Lucy, I have to use a walker due to a broken hip in 2016 with complications and 8 surgeries. I recently “Konmari’d” my sewing room. Took me 2 weeks. It looks so nice now. I gave away all small scraps and tons of other fabrics to a friend who makes dog beds. I have so much fabric — it’s an embarrassment of riches really — that I’m not keeping small scraps.

    • Melody Strahan

      I also have COPD. I have also had 2 artery resections and don’t walk much anymore. I use a wheelchair most of the time. My suggestion is this…place the things you will be needing for a project within reach of your workspace. I like to set up my workstation in an L shape so I can cut, press and sew all in the same general area. All I need to do is back away from the sewing machine and turn to the other table. I can have them as near or far from the wall as I need for power availability, and I don’t have to fight my oxygen tubing over much. I also find that it’s convenient to store a trashcan, some containers for fabrics and a drawer unit for tools under the tables at the junction area.

  20. Helen Kay Grant

    I love to have all of my things organized. About five years ago I bought a long arm quilting machine so we built a room on. It is my dream sewing room. Along one side I have enclosed shelves. Most things are sorted and put into the plastic shoebox container. Each one is labeled such as buttons, elastic, interfacing, beads, ribbons, etc. I use the little plastic baby food containers to sort buttons. When I am through making a quilt I always put the coordinating scraps in a bag. These are all stored in a tote. I have many totes with different kinds of fabric. One of the things I have is a tackle box. I have extra rotary cutters and blades, safety pins, needles, and all kinds of small sewing tools. I really like organizing ideas. My son-in-law made me wood holders for my rulers and also for my 1/4 inch longarm rulers. I have other storage things too, but that is all I will share for now.

  21. shoshana

    please please please, tell me what size to cut all the scraps i’m saving, not well, this or this or this might be good, just cut them this size and this size and this size. i will be soooooo greatful to the person who is willing to tell me what to do!!!!!! thank you in advance,

    • Customer Service

      This is such a hard question to answer because I don’t know how big your scrap pieces are right now and/or what you might be using them on next. For me, I like to have squares and rectangles of usable fabric. This means that I will take whatever scrap I have left and trim all 4 sides until I have a perfect square or rectangle. This them gets folded and put back in my fabric stack or stash. The small odd shaped pieces I cut off I then either throw away, or if I know that I am planning a project in the future that is going to require really small pieces I will keep them in a ziplock bag.

      I know this wasn’t the exact measurement you were wanting, but I hope this helps!