7 ways to ensure your craft room isn’t a DIY vomitorium

Guest post by Alison Headley

You might remember Alison’s post about making a dry-erase to-do list or the tour of her place in Austin, Texas. Today she’s all up in craft room tidyness — funny Ancient Roman misconceptions aside.


I have a lot of craft stuff. No, seriously, I have a lot of craft stuff. I’m one of those people whose friends ask her questions like, “Do you want this jar I found?” and “Think you might be able to do something with this roll of twine?” My answer is always, “YES! I’ll take it!” It’ll be good for something someday, right? I’m also a person who needs her ton of craft supplies to be organized and displayed attractively!

Hey, I’m a complicated girl. Here are some things I’ve learned while organizing my myriad craft supplies.

1: Have a place for everything, and I mean everything!

an organized craft room

I have a little divided drawer that has velcro in one side, elastic in the other. I’ve got a box that’s labeled “craft patterns and fabric dye.” I’ve got a glass jar full of dark-colored buttons, a jar full of light-colored buttons, and a jar full of buttons that are still on their original cards. If a type of craft supply doesn’t have a place to live, it will either pile up annoyingly on your desk or work table or it will get lost.

2: Label your containers!

an organized craft room

If a craft container has a space for a label, use it. If it doesn’t have a space for a label, make one. Your future self will thank you.

3: Categorize your things in a way that makes the most sense for you.

Lots of people recommend organizing yarn by color, but since I’ve only got two boxes in which to put yarn, organizing by color wouldn’t work for me. Instead, I have one box full of yarn suitable for large projects (e.g. things I have multiple skeins of), and one box full of lone skeins of yarn and scraps. Sometimes I even organize things by size — I have a bin in the corner where I keep things that are long.

I’ve noticed that if I trust my organizing instincts enough, I’m often able to find things I don’t remember putting away by asking myself, “Where would a person like me put those cord stoppers?” I open the drawer where I keep what I can best describe as “little plastic and metal sewing notions that get put onto a garment but aren’t buttons or snaps or grommets,” and bingo! There they are, right where the me from the past put them.

4: Use lots of shelves and hooks!

an organized craft room

If your craft room or area isn’t large, you’re going to need to store things up instead of out. All that wall space you have is great for yardsticks, rulers, circular knitting needles, spools of thread and more. And you can always find a shelf for even the narrowest, weirdest wall space. There’s a shelf above my door that I can’t even reach, but it holds lots of stuff I don’t need to access regularly.

an organized craft room

5: Have a system for organizing current projects.

an organized craft room

I made a little rack of hooks out of old sewing spools and attached it to a low spot on the wall, and that’s what I use to hold my unfinished sewing projects. Each project is clamped into a vintage pants hanger and hung on the rack. It keeps my desk area clear and reminds me of what I still have to do. If your projects aren’t hang-able, use bins or trays or whatever works for you.

an organized craft room

6: Use the containers you have.

an organized craft room

I bought a bunch of cardboard IKEA bins a few years ago, but these days I’m all about fabric-covered shoe boxes, tin cans and glass jars. They save me money since they come from stuff I was going to buy anyway, and there’s the added recycling bonus!

7: Have fun with it!

an organized craft room

I like to mix my craft-supply boxes up with some of my favorite knick-knacks on the shelves. It makes things so much more cheerful.

What strategies do you use to ensure that your craft space isn’t out of control?

Comments on 7 ways to ensure your craft room isn’t a DIY vomitorium

  1. I hate to say this, but I read the title and thought “but how can my craft room be a passage way onto a stage from under the seats?!?” I was so confused for about 5 minutes!

    Anyway, pedantic drama geekdom aside, thank you for a fantastic article, I especially love the current project hangers, that is a genius idea!

    • ME TOO. I clicked through from pinterest just to faux-whine to Ariel about the word vomitorium, which is an exit passageway.

      But then the article was so good I decided to clean up my office instead.

  2. Any suggestions on how to organize your supplies when you don’t have a dedicated craft room? We live in a one bedroom apartment, which means our living room has to serve as our living room, dining room, home office, library, workout space, and crafting space. So far I have a knitting bin and an everything else bin, but things do tend to spread around and create chaos.

    • I used to have my studio in the large living room of our apartment. I claimed a corner, set up a desk, and tried to keep everything over there — it helps in this case to get some furniture. A locker, a half-height set of drawers, and some bins did wonders.

    • any way you can go to a hardware store and get shelving? or will the landlord have a fit?
      i did this in college–pump up the bed a little higher, if possible and use under the bed as storage too.

    • a good suggestion (that would work better if i actually did it) for small spaces is to have an “in progress” box, so that there is somewhere specific for your stuff to go when it’s not done, but still needs to be put away so that you can eat at the table.

      also, this post is awesome. i have some work to do.

    • Another thing you could do is use a small bookcase and put a removable cover on it. We just redid my studio and I did that with our IKEA Lack bookcases. I dedicated one of them to smaller of my crafting essentials but needed something to shield the chaos. I made grommeted vellum covers but fabric could work just as easily!

      Here are a couple of photos:



    • I also live in a 1 br, and I found the best way is to keep everything under my craft table. Instead of getting a desk with all sorts of compartments and things, I bought a roller cart of drawers and some stacking storage bins. When I’m not using my craft table, it all sits together underneath the desk, and when I am using it, I roll it all out around me until I’m done. Here’s a pic (slightly crooked):


    • I use a ‘gentlemans wardrobe’- that’s what they call them in Australia anyway- its a 1930’s 1 metre wide wardrobe with shelves and drawers built in- also a baby wardrobe would work.

      They are small (as far as cupboards/wardrobes go) with a good storage layout and you can reach above them easily as they are not too high either

  3. Oh. My. God. I needed this post so bad right now. The current state of my studio is downright SHAMEFUL at the moment. I graduated art school in May… and I STILL haven’t cleaned up from the right-before-graduation mad scramble to get projects done. It’s been sitting for seven months because a) I am a total slob posing as a responsible adult and b) at first it was way too daunting a task to even wrap my burned-out-on-school mind around, then it just started to make me sad.

    But this post has given me the confidence to tackle it finally! Also made me realize that I need shelves. LOTS of them. There is a ridiculous amount of wall space going to waste. HANGING MY SEWING PROJECTS. GENIUS!!! Shoeboxes. GENIUS!

    Thank you so much!!

  4. Your craft area looks about the same size as ours (which is a work in progress at the moment). I love your idea of storing current projects and I second labelling and storing everything in its own place!

    I’m glad you also choose to put knick knacks around your craft area, my partner doesn’t like this idea but I think it adds a nice personal touch to an area I’ll be spending a fair amount of time in šŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. oh em ge thank you so much for this! such common sense but holy crap did i need it written out in a numeric list. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

  6. So the thing about organizing yarn by amount instead of color sort of blew my mind. In a very good way. I currently have my yarn in three big boxes in a closet, and was trying to figure out how to sort them once I have a good place to put them. That method makes way more sense for me and my stash. Thank you!

  7. Great advice and great creative space! We still need to make a spool holder, one with enough room to house both the spool and it’s matching bobbin.

  8. oooo this article is very timely, I have a craft cupboard but am feeling my good intentions are remaining just intentions if they are hidden away.
    QUESTION (at risk of sounding lame)- how do you cover shoeboxes with fabric, expecially the ones with the flip lids?

  9. This is VERY TIMELY! I have hired someone to help me with my shit as my new business is acquiring a lot of, well, shit. I LOVE these ideas. I have a very small space to deal with (I have kitchen appliances in my outdoor/unlocked storage. eek.) & I think these tips with extra shelving (doy, why didn’t I think of that) are just what I need.

  10. Yes, love the fabric-covered shoebox idea – thanks so much! I often keep shoeboxes because they’re particularly robust but then I’m not sure what it was I thought I would do with them. It turns out this was it! It will also help use up some of the fabric I purchase compulsively on clearance…

  11. Mr Ivriniel and I want to have a craft room in the 140 year old house we bought in April. But the room we want to use needs a new floor.

    We started out raising the carpet and pad. Under the carpet was an ugly tile floor that looks like it was made out of leftovers from tiling a school in the 50’s which may or may not contain asbestos. Under that was decking, under that was planking. In the past, one of the windows leaked, and the water soaked down through all the layers, so it all has to be pulled up.

    Oh, and at some point after the planking was put down, someone must have insulated the room, and built new walls on top of the planking.

    This project is a lot more complicated than we thought it would be.

  12. You’re a woman after my own heart! I LOVe this post. And as I am currently mid office-cum-stuio makeover I am inspired. I love it so much I plan to mention your post in my own blog next week.. prior to posting about my made-over office

  13. I love when posts pop up here that are perfectly timed to what’s been going on in my life.

    Our second bedroom is our craft/computer room. Fabric, yarn, paper, origami, STUFF everywhere. Finally got my yarn organized, but now I’m totally asking The Spouse to bring home empty wine boxes to organize everything else for which I shall make fancy shmancy labels.

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