Organization pros & cons

Misty
Misty

I love to organize almost as much as I love to craft. What I don’t like is spending a fortune on specialty craft organization. I drool over all the beautiful craft furniture out there, but when I look at the price tags I go right back to my old standbys: Ikea, the office supply store, the kitchen section of my grocery store and yes a few affordable items specific to the craft market. Let me walk you through what I do to keep my storage budget well under control but still get the tidy and expandable space I desire.

Like many crafters, the bulk of my supplies are stored on my Ikea cube shelving (Expedit or Kallax depending on the era the shelves were produced.) While these are an investment, shelving is general furniture anyway, so it is flexible if life changes. Within each cube I can use different options to organize different supplies. Yet almost all my organization is about creating “drawers” to pull in and out. I find drawers very easy to open, pull something out, pop it back in and close right back up again. Now none of these systems is perfect and what works for me might not work for you. I hope to give you some ideas you may not thought of.

So, Let me walk you through my spaces and tell you the pros and cons of the current ways I organize and offer some suggestions on other options. Please know that I am not telling you how to do you, I’m just sharing how I do me. And perhaps some of my ideas will be helpful for you too.

If you want to see the video version, with more details,  you can check out my YouTube episode of my craft room tour. Otherwise read on for my storage tips.

Paper

 12×12 papers, pads, bagged kits, and cardstock go into these file boxes from the office supply store. I use either letter size hanging files or legal size hanging files to sort the papers into categories that work for me. I use binder clips to keep the hanging file bars from sliding so the papers can’t sag. I’ve been using this system for years. I made a small tweak this year by placing my most popular files on top of a kitchen cart to make access easier. Before this I had to pull them in and out of a bottom bookshelf and they were getting a bit heavy and the bottoms of the bins were getting torn up.

Pros: Affordable and readily available storage supplies. Easy to flip through. Holds a lot.
Cons: Open tops may get dusty (not a problem I’ve had). Expanding means needing a whole new big box. Heavy, so movement is limited. Sagging papers (I solved this with chipboard dividers and binder clips)
Another cheap option
: Use simple file folders to separate categories of paper, stand them up on a bookshelf and use book ends to hold it all snugly vertical. A sheet of chipboard can go at the end to help support papers so they don’t get dented by the book holders. (My finished layouts are stored this way as you can see in that last photo.) Then pulling out one paper category at a time is easy. Just push the book end tighter to keep things secure.

Ribbon/Fibers

I create my own “ribbon spools” in this way: I wrap them on 4×6 index cards and file them in an index card file box. Easy peasy. Well…To be a little clearer I glue several index cards together, trim long notches from either end to prevent the ribbon from slipping off, and punch a hole near one end to thread the loose ribbon end through and paperclip it there for easy removal. To be the most honest, I ended up creating an svg cut file to use on my electronic die cut machine with extra thick cardstock so I don’t have to do the work of gluing and trimming index cards by hand. (Free cut file available here!)

2021-09-22 14.24.19

Pros: Storage items are easy to find and very cheap. You can easily add more boxes if you need more space.
Cons: Time consuming to create your own ribbon cards.

Washi tape

Stored in a divided supply tray in a drawer by color. Yes this supply tray was a specialty storage item. And I actually regret buying it as they were pricey for a plastic tray and I’ve discovered that pencil trays work just as well for a cheaper price.

Pros: Divided to keep styles/color separate.
Cons: Once full I need an entire new drawer and tray for just a few items, which leaves a lot of wasted space. (I have used this “its full” problem to my advantage by purging stuff that I just don’t use much.)

Embellishments

Stored upright in pouches or photo “bins” in a pull out fridge tray. The photo bins are boxes designed for 4×6 photos and they work well for chunkier items or just lots of items. The pouches are designed to store stamps and dies and work great for flatter embellishments. Plus the trays can hold average size full packs of embellishments without even having to use other storage supplies. I was thrilled when I came up with this system. It is working so well for me.

Pros: Easy to flip through bins/pouches to find what I’m looking for. I can keep whatever supply categories I desire. By color? Yep. By manufacturer? Yep. By type of embellishment? Yep.
Cons: The fridge trays are a pricey specialty item from the kitchen department and I would like to find something cheaper. These also don’t fit larger items, like full sheets of chipboard. (Those go into 12×12 page protectors or pouches and are stored upright on a shelf with a book end to keep them in place.) Also, the double-wide bins are heavy and while I like to put the bin on my desk for clean-up, I’m finding the weight a drawback.

Alphas

These I store sideways in their original packs inside these shoe type “drawers” that I repurposed from a shoe rack that I no longer used. One drawer is for basic alphas sorted by color. The other is for specialty alphas (holographic, foiled, glitter etc) also sorted by color. Chunky or loose letters go in more photo bins.

2021-09-22 14.24.03

Pros: Repurposed storage is free!
Cons: Because my shelves are tall, the full height of my shelf is not utilized. I’m experimenting with a way to add extra diy shelves to fit more stuff.

All the little tools etc:

I do have two sets of actual drawers (also IKEA) that are for office storage. They have divider trays in them for all the little things like tweezers, hole punches, hand-held punches, glue dots, foam adhesive etc that I need close to hand every time I create. The items I use most are at the top, and the least used are at the bottom.

2021-09-22 14.28.03

Pros: Ease of use. Tidy look.
Cons: This furniture is pricey. Alternative plastic drawers are more affordable, but less tidy looking, and a tad less sturdy.

Stamps

Clear stamps are stored upright in pouches a la Jennifer McGuire. The pouches are filed into fridge bins and placed on the Ikea shelf as a drawer. Wood stamps in sets are labeled and go into boxes with the label facing up. I try to unmount wood stamps when I can to save room since they can then go into pouches.

Pros: Organized clear stamps in pouches is a huge space saver and easy to use. Storing wood sets in bins efficiently uses shelving space.
Cons: The fridge bin “drawers” are expensive and can get heavy. But you can find other alternative office supplies that can work similarly. The wood stamp bins are quite heavy and I have to remove the top layers of stamps to see underneath. (Unmounting the would stamps is my answer to this problem)

Inks & Markers

Small plastic drawers divided by color.

Pros: Easy to separate by color.
Cons: That may drawers adds up cost wise. I have some colors that are way more full than others leading to just a different organization challenge.

That wraps up my various storage areas. What I hope to leave you with is some practical ideas for storage as well as a way to go about evaluating what you have going on. When you sit down to craft make a list of pros and cons for your current systems and see if anything can be tweaked. Good luck!

Don’t forget that there has been organization inspiration all this month on the blog. Be sure to check out the other blog team members ideas on this topic. Nikki shared how she approaches organization as a journey. Alison shared some tips she’s learned through experience. And finally Kathy shares a cautionary tale of being prepared for a rainy day.

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