Introduction: Mother of All Sewing Boxes

About: At the Eureka! Factory, we love making things, and thinking about things, and learning about things, and enjoy helping empower others to a curiosity driven life, too, so we can all live and learn in meaningful…

Years ago, when my grandmother died, I inherited a vast and wondrous collection of sewing kit odds and ends that she had amassed over the years, some of it clearly collected from her parents and grandparents. I remarked at the time, "I need a serious sewing box!"

So my co-maker and then mini-makers surprised me with a tackle box for Mother's Day. I was puzzled (I like fishing, but this is a BIG tackle box!). But I looked more closely and read the attached labels, which read: "A Serious Sewing Box for Terri". Like, totally! It was, and still is, the Mother of All Sewing Boxes for a Mom who still appreciates, values and uses it.

Recently I pulled out my Serious Sewing Box to give it a much needed restocking, and appreciated anew the remarkable and durable sewing organizational resource that tackle box has provided all these years. When I was in the store the other day, I decided to look to see what kind of sewing boxes were available these days, and concluded my Serious Sewing Box still rules, for both cost and organizational effectiveness!

Here's how you can make your own.

Step 1: Scope Out Your Options

Your average sewing box is pretty modest, and costs about $10 to $25. Those are okay for equally modest sewing needs, but if you want something more robust that can serve a wider range of craft needs, look in the hardware or sporting goods section.

My cursory evaluation of the tackle boxes didn't reveal anything too promising and the tackle boxes were far more expensive than either the sewing boxes or the toolboxes, so I left those out the equation this time around. I did find a newer version of my Plano online for about $35, but the tool boxes still seemed like the better deal, ranging in cost from about $15 to $30.

Step 2: Consider Your Craft Style

Sewing boxes, like any toolbox, need to be well organized to be the most useful. Throwing everything in is a guaranteed way to just make it a sewing junk collection instead of an organized collection of sewing resources.

So look over your chosen box and consider the following:

  • What do you use the most often?
  • What do you use the least often?
  • How would you make the best use of your box?

The questions are similar but significantly different. The things you use the most often you'll want easy access to. The things you use least often, you'll want out of the way of the things you use the most often, but easily accessible for those times when you do want them. And how you think you'd use your box involves considering where you'll be keeping it, whether you're someone who is detail oriented and wants neatly labeled bins or sections, or whether you're more of a grab and go kind of person - basically your own personal craft style, which will also have some bearing on what you put where.

Step 3: Consider Your Collection

That collection of old sewing materials and tools I inherited is still with me, some of it used, some of it just safely stored in my box, where I can see it each time I use my box, and be reminded of my grandmother and all the other great Makers of Old in my family.

I love the old measuring bookmark menu, which I had found among the collection, and then laminated for protection. A Big Whitey Burger for 40 cents, a slice of pie for a quarter, and coffee in a carry out cup for 15 cents. Can you imagine? All that for less than dollar!

The bird scissors, the gold needle envelope, the amazing collection of vintage buttons! I love these things, and my Mother of All Sewing Boxes keeps them safe, accessible and enjoyable, all these many years later.

Step 4: Stock Your Box

Of course I have useful everyday stuff, too, and I want that where I can get to it easily. So the thread, needles, thimbles, etc all go in the big top area, where they fit quite nicely.

Step 5: Move Down in Order of Use

The next layer in my box consists of things I don't need quite as much as the stuff in top, that I can get to just by popping open the lid. In the slide out try just below the top section, I put in my sewing machine items - bobbins, sewing machine needles, different types of sewing machine feet, and then some related pattern tools, fabric glue and so forth.

Step 6: Least Used Last

In the bottom two trays of my massive Mother of All Sewing Boxes, I sorted my buttons (more or less kinda) by size or style, and then patches below that.

Step 7: Quick Access Lid Storage

It's a good idea to get a box that has little tool access section on the top of the lid. I actually use this section more than any other in my box. In there is where I keep needles and pin cushion, safety pins, a few buttons and some thread - essentially the every day sewing tools that you need the most often. (And there was a spot left over for an extra pattern tracer!)

Step 8: Sew Awesome!

There you have it! The Mother of All Sewing Boxes stocked for all your creative textile needs!