making space monday :: organizing and beautify-ing a la *rock, paper, scissors*

if you have ever visited rock, paper, scissors in montclair, nj then you already know…the store is beautiful, inspiring and peaceful.  the kind of environment that makes you want to sew and make your own beautiful things but also gives you the feeling you can do it, seamlessly and with ease.  the owner, Beth, is obviously an expert in organizing but there is also something more…it’s as if she knows how to breathe fresh air, creativity and serenity into space.  so, I really wanted to get a peek into her studio on this–the final monday of *making space mondays*.

but, Beth insists that her studio is a ‘mess’ (not sure she has seen my studio!).  so she oh-so-kindly volunteered to discuss how she works her magic in the shop.  and, did she ever!  Beth is chock-full of wonderful ideas and has taken gorgeous photos.  she told me “I may have gotten carried away!” and lucky for us, she did.  she calls it organizing but it is really so much more and I’m hoping that some of it will rub off on me. (really, this woman throws around terms like haberdashery and antique egg basket…with seductive language like that she could control my brain if she wanted to!) here is Beth:


Hi, my name is Beth and I own Rock Paper Scissors, a little neighborhood craft store in Montclair, NJ.  We carry supplies for jewelry making (the Rock), card making, scrapbooking and the paper crafts (the Paper), and fabric and other supplies for sewing and embroidery (you guessed it … the Scissors).  We have a little bit of lots of things (and lots of fabulous fabric), as well as classes, groups and other fun stuff.

I am really flattered that Melissa asked me to share some thoughts on organizing crafting and sewing stuff.   She actually asked me to share my studio space and I had to say no.  See, my home studio space is really a disaster –  scary, messy, piled too high, behind a locked door kind of disaster.  So, Melissa graciously let me write about some storage ideas and I took the photos in our lovely shop instead of my disastrous studio at home.  So, thank you, Melissa, for letting me keep the inside of my studio a secret!

I have a few simple rules for organizing my stuff.

Keep it handy, keep it visible, and keep it beautiful.

  • I think most people can figure out the handy part.  No one likes looking for a tool in the middle of a project!
  • Keeping everything visible does two things.  One, it simply makes everything easier to find.  Two, it helps to inspire creativity.  Who doesn’t love gazing at their fabric or button or paper stash, imagining all the possibilities.
  • Keeping it beautiful?  That is all about making your space yours, in whatever way makes you happy and makes you want to be in that space.  It matters not the size or location of your studio.  It only matters that YOU love being in that space!

In the organization of our space, both in the store and the workshop,   I follow my little rules above as best I can.  I love walking through antique stores and yard sales and such to find little treasures for storage.  What follows here are some ideas but mostly inspiration to make your space all your own.

Let’s start with the big stuff  ….

I was lucky enough to find this fabulous old haberdashery cabinet from a local antiques store, Little Cricket, here in Montclair.  It is not in perfect condition but who cares when it is full of gorgeous fabric!

One of my favorite things for storage are cubbies!  They store everything oh, so perfectly, from books to fabric and yarn.  You can get doors and baskets and all sorts of things to keep you nice and organized.

Now these drawers happened to be an antique piece from the Naval Observatory that we bought years ago but you can still get old card files from libraries as they get taken over by computer systems.  Fit cardstock on the bottom and you have the perfect storage for fat quarters and zippers and adhesives and all sorts of stuff!

These drawers that house all of our embroidery supplies are the best!  From Ikea (who doesn’t love Ikea for inexpensive storage stuff), they run about $120 each (2 are pictured here) and are sturdy as heck.  Stick labels on them and you have some fantastic storage in the graduated drawers.  They also have a smaller and wider version with flat drawers that are great for paper projects.

Don’t forget to look up!  Utilize your wall space!  This craft shelf happened to be donated to us by a wonderful customer but you can make a storage system out of any combo of shelves that suit you.

And don’t just go to the “home storage” section of a store.  These great wall rails were designed for a kitchen (from Ikea also).  The movable hooks can hold tons of different things.  From scissors and hoops to strands of beads, they are super fabulous!  Install one on the side of your cutting table and they become a great rack for cut pattern pieces, freshly pressed fabric, or partially finished projects.

Buckets, buckets, buckets!  Need I say more?  These little pails from the dollar store hold all of my little tools for marking, tracing, writing notes on my patterns, etc.  I love the color and can move it directly on to my work table when I need it.

We run lots and lots of classes here so we have a gazillion crafting tools and supplies.  These galvanized flower pots  came from the gardening section of Ikea.   We use them for workshop tools, as seen here, as well as in lots of display throughout the store.  They are super handy and come in lots of different sizes!

Pattern control has always been one of my downfalls.  Here’s a few ideas … place them in labeled and sorted plastic containers.  Photo boxes also work well.  Finding your favorite pattern gets easier if it is labeled!  Can’t get it back in the envelope?  Slip it into a clear Ziploc and strop struggling!  We also have a clear bin of all of our templates that we use for the many, many crafty projects we do here!

Since I trace all of my patterns, I use baskets to store them, all rolled and labeled with pattern name and size.  When you are done cutting, reroll and store all pieces together right away.

A trick I teach all of my new sewers …. Wind a bobbin all the way up.  Then store it in little plastic bags with the spool of thread.  These all reside in the “thread box” (another clear plastic bin).  Always have a bobbin wound, no more hunting for the thread-to-bobbin match, and no messy threads at the bottom of a basket.

Here are additional ideas:

  • Little spice jars, canning jars, any jars at all become cute little holders for buttons sorted by color.  Keep the jars small and sorted for the best results! No more hunting for button matches through piles of buttons.  And could they look any prettier?
  • Think outside the box (or basket) … an old cheese box turned vintage tool box becomes a seam binding holder.
  • An antique egg basket holds ric rac.
  • Beautiful old coated wire baskets hold small pieces of fabric or rolled wool felt.


For my embroidery friends out there, here’s my last hint of the day.  I buy my most commonly used colors of perle and other threads by the spool.  I store them in little metal cans that I have punched holes in.  Thread comes out cleanly, without knots, every time.  Who can ask for more?

Thanks again to Melissa for giving me the chance to write and get to “chat” with all of you through her blog!  If you are ever in the area, we hope you stop by to see us at Rock Paper Scissors!


and, there you have it.  our month of peeking at sewing studios is done (waahh!).  I hope you are as inspired as me to spruce up your sewing space or even set aside a little room for the creative work you do.   I have had such fun exploring the spaces and places where making reigns.  I happen to think highly of studios…they not only make it easier to answer when inspiration comes calling but they also assert that there is indeed a place for the fun of invention and creation.  enjoy!

2 Comments on making space monday :: organizing and beautify-ing a la *rock, paper, scissors*

  1. kristen powell
    May 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm (6 years ago)

    beautiful post beth! melissa, loved the ‘space’ month!!

    • ahappystitch
      May 3, 2012 at 8:46 pm (6 years ago)

      I agree Kristen. Beth’s style is so inspiring. Glad you liked the month.


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