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How to Store Your Materials

Here's helpful advice on organizing your craft supplies.

How to Store Your Materials

Be careful not to use crafting as an excuse for collecting, rather than actually creating crafts. It's easy to do. There are so many books, videos, magazines, crafts sheets, new products, doodads, gadgets, and thingamajigs on the market you could fill, well, a whole STORE with them!

Make an honest assessment of which crafts you and your child really enjoy. It may take some time to figure that out and you may end up with some stuff you really don't use. Purge your crafts supplies periodically and pass on the projects that just didn't fly with you to someone else who'll soar with them.

Now that you've set up your crafting area and have a place for storage, you could probably use some ideas on how to store both general and specific items. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Some hobbies are self-contained; almost all the supplies fit in one box or carry case. An embroidery project can fit in a tote. I have a special travel case for my beading supplies and most of them fit in there, with a few additional plastic compartmentalized boxes to hold more beads. Look for totable bags or boxes that are especially designed for your craft and others that can be adapted. Fishing tackle boxes or toolboxes work well for some.

    Another advantage to having a portable craft case is that you can keep it where you're most likely to pick it up as moments present themselves, plus you can easily take it with you when traveling.

  • A rolling cart with drawers is a good place to store often — used tools and supplies. You can keep the cart in your crafts area and roll it to wherever you're working. You can usually find these carts in the closet department of your favorite discount or department store, and I've seen them at wholesale clubs, too. Be sure yours is very sturdy, though. I find that once they are filled, sometimes the drawers don't move as well. Since I use mine all the time and it works well for me, I'm planning on buying a more substantial wooden version from an art supply store.

  • A plastic box or bin works well for some materials, especially those that may be affected by light and moisture. Keep this in mind when storing anything — light, dampness, dust, and "critters" can destroy your supplies, so make sure they're protected and be careful where you put them.

  • When shopping for storage containers, check out the hardware store as well as crafts and department stores. Sometimes I find the hardware store has storage boxes intended for nuts and bolts or tools that work ever so well for crafts and are a lot less expensive. They may be a less funky color, but I don't mind when I can put more money back in my pocket and spend it on crafts!

  • Some crafts items or projects might be best stored rolled up in a clean, covered trash container. Certain pieces of artwork or even quilt tops lend themselves well to this. Use a cardboard tube to roll the work on. (Be sure to label the trash can, so no one gets the wrong idea!)

  • Power tools and other tools can be mounted on pegboard up and out of reach of your children. You might want to slip paints into individual zip-lock bags before storing them in whatever container you've chosen. This is double protection against spills and accidents.

  • Always clean paintbrushes thoroughly and wrap them in newspaper or rags before them putting away.

  • Often patterns don't fit back in their envelopes once they're used. If you have a filing cabinet for your crafts, you can put patterns in individual folders and store them there. If not, have larger envelopes on hand and store them in a portable filing box. Be sure to include all instructions and the original envelope, and label each so you don't have to open them to see what's inside.

  • Borrow storage solutions intended for other purposes when they seem to suit your crafting needs. A cardboard shelf unit, for example (available in any business supply catalog or store), might make a good system for storing quilting fabric squares. Dish pans or kitty litter pans can be labeled and lined up on shelves to hold fabric, paper, small tools, scrap wood, almost anything. If your Tupperware is languishing in a kitchen cabinet, get it out and use it to store crafts odds and ends.

  • A sturdy folding banquet or card table might be a solution to finding a work surface when you need to spread out. Banquet tables are heavy, so you don't want to be putting them up and taking them down every day, but they make a good temporary setup for a project that takes more room than you've normally got. I've seen them at wholesale clubs for around $30 or $40. Besides, you can use them as extra dining tables in a pinch!

  • Keep crafts materials close to where you use them. A centralized hobby/crafts area works best if you have the space, but if you don't, try to locate your supplies near where you and your child work most. If that's not practical (say, you work most often on the kitchen table), then have a mobile unit that you can move close to you. You want to spend time crafting, not gathering your supplies.

As you develop your crafting, you're sure to come up with your own customized storage and organizing solution.

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