Intro: Organize Your Sewing Space!
I love having all my stuff where I can find it and get to it easily. I've come up with a few tips, tricks, and hacks to make things easier.
Step 1: Garden Hose Bobbin Holder
I hate, hate, HATE those plastic bobbin boxes! Why? Because I always drop them or knock them off the table, and then my bobbins scurry off to the far reaches of my sewing space, unwinding themselves as they go.
My solution was to take a piece of garden hose that's 5/8 inch (16 millimeters) in diameter and split it lengthwise all the way down. The bobbins then snap right into the hose and stay very secure until I'm ready to use them, even if I drop it on the floor. The sides of the bobbins are always facing out, so I can easily tell what color thread is on them. An added bonus is that the hose has a slight curve to it, which keeps it from rolling off the table.
I was lucky enough to find discarded garden hose, so it didn't cost me anything. But it would probably look even cooler if you got clear tubing and used that instead.
Step 2: Blocking Board Pegboard
Someone gave me a vintage blocking board, which was called a "doily stretcher" on its packaging. I don't do much work that requires a blocking board, so most of the time it stays leaning up behind my rotary cutting mat. I hang the rotary cutter on it, as well as my french curve rulers, protractors, craft forceps, scissors, measuring tapes, seam gauges, paintbrushes, and Woody and Jessie from Toy Story.
If I ever need to use it as a blocking board, I'll just take everything off of it temporarily, and voila!
Step 3: Tackle Box for Presser Feet, Buttons and Needles
Tackle boxes are great for keeping little parts organized, and they're so easy to tote around for projects on the go. The smaller compartments on top hold needles, thimbles, safety pins, presser feet, etc. The bigger cavity underneath the white tray is where I keep my stash of buttons, but you could fit a lot of different things into it. Notice in the second picture that I've kept matching sets of buttons together by using small plastic baggies or threading them onto string, bent paper clips, or safety pins.
Step 4: Neodymium Magnet + Bolt = Pincushion
I've tried a lot of pincushions before, but this gonzo version is my absolute favorite. The threads of the bolt keep the pins sticking out at crazy angles so they're really easy to grab onto, and the magnet ensures that the pins won't spill when you carry it around. It's also a lot quicker to wave the pincushion over a pile of pins like a magic wand, instead of stabbing them all individually into a soft pincushion.
Choose a bolt that has a flat top instead of a rounded one. It should be about 3/4 inch (19 mm) long, and of course it needs to be attracted to a magnet. You'll also need a small scrap of fabric, a flat piece of metal that is attracted to a magnet, and a flat neodymium magnet. Neodymium magnets are also called rare Earth magnets, and they have a lot of strength and holding power for their size. A regular refrigerator magnet would be too weak to work here. The magnet and metal piece I'm using came out of a discarded computer hard drive.
Sew the fabric scrap into a small pouch that's roughly 2 inches by 4 inches (5 cm by 10 cm). Slip the flat piece of metal inside the pouch. Now snap the magnet on top, and put the bolt on top of the magnet.
If you wanted to, you could just use a magnet and a bolt, but there are several reasons why I settled on this configuration. The flat piece of metal keeps the pincushion standing upright, and makes it easier to pick up. The fabric pouch keeps the metal parts from scratching your tabletop, and enables you to attach it to a horizontal surface, if you wish. I attach mine to the bookcase beside my sewing machine by trapping the top of the pouch between two heavy books. If you need to carry it around, just pull it out from between the two books and take it with you. You could even add a grommet if you wanted to hang it on your pegboard.