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Creative Organizing

I’ve asked Cliff Wilson to share his tips on organization, which have made his creative experience more satisfying. We’re delighted that Cliff and his husband have become part of our Creative Minds family! — Judy

tiny flower brightening Cliff Wilson's sewing space

Guest post by Cliff Wilson

I have landed on the other side of the realization that life likely won’t be “normal” again this year. Being on the other side makes it a lot easier to figure out what you need to get through. One of the most valuable things for me is safeguarding my creative space. This isn’t a reference to square feet in a craft room, it is a view into empowering the creative mind to flourish. I found this empowerment through organization.

Before the pandemic, and buried deep in the back of the closet, was a simple sewing machine gathering dust. My husband and I both have several beginner quilts on our crafting resume, but it was far from a regular hobby. A month into being socially distant at home every day and we had not only dusted off that sewing machine but knocked out five baby quilts, finished several unfinished objects, and started to learn about an obsession with quilting fabric I didn’t know I had.

Cliff Wilson's Tula Pink Limited Edition BERNINA 770QE

Since that first month, we have added a Brother straight stitch machine, a unicorn of sewing with the BERNINA 770 QE Tula Pink edition (pictured above), and a BERNINA Q16 stationary longarm machine (below). A special shout out to Artistic Artifacts for their continued help and BERNINA inventory — a great relationship we never would have had without the pandemic. [Editor’s note, while the Tula Pink limited edition is sold out, you can learn more about the B770QE on the Artistic Artifacts website.]

Cliff Wilson's BERNINA Q16 and machine quilting example

With the new machines, we have created many more quilts and learned so many lessons. We have also found ourselves with a pretty healthy fabric hoard conservation practice. Most hobbies seem to be similar in that there are many things we “definitely need”…and that stuff can accumulate quickly!

All of these supplies quickly take up space and managing all the things can bring stress into the creative space. For me, I learned that if I didn’t have the ability to focus only on the creative and not also on a mess of supplies that it was a much more fulfilling experience. I am excited to share a bit of my approach to organization that has made my creative process enjoyable.

Fabric shelves with touches of whimsy in Cliff Wilson'e sewing space

Make it magical: Think of your favorite shops you visit to source supplies and how you feel when you are on the hunt for the next must-have supply. You get to decide how your creative space feels. I like to add funny items around the space that spark a bit of joy and keep things light.

Scissors on display on a jewelry stand repurposed by Cliff Wilson

You can also use things you may already have around the house as a sort of shop display. Take scissors for example — I love seeing scissors on display, so we repurposed a jewelry holder we already had and it became a magical scissor station!

Find your balance: Take the time to figure out how organized your creative stuff needs to be for you to maximize your creating time. I enjoy organizing, but I also know just the thought of organizing ignites stress in others. Make it work for you.

Beautiful fabric storage shelves from Cliff Wilson's sewing studio

Cliff Wilson uses comic book boards and fabric clips to keep his fabric stash neatly on display and easily accessible

An example of what brings me joy in the organization space is how we manage our fabric collection (pictured above). I like to see what we have and it feeds my inspiration. It is also a secret weapon when I need a little pick-me-up on those tough days. This spark happened when I read about using comic book boards similar to how fabric is wound around a cardboard bolt. I partner these with Pals Bolt Buddies and it easily provides a consistent process to have fabric on display and ready to be used.

There is a sort of internal alarm for me when the organization of something needs to be tweaked. A recent tweak was with how we store our machine quilting rulers. These are one of those hobby items that aren’t cheap, so they fall higher on my organization radar. Our machine quilting rulers are now organized within arms reach of the longarm and within protective envelopes with laminated labels (pictured below). Sometimes organization is a crafting process all on its own!

Cliff Wilson's machine quilting rulers are stored within protective envelopes with laminated labels

Make it easy to maintain: My creative spark can leave me as fast as it arrived. I have found that using totes helps me keep everything together for a project so I can easily put everything away. This helps keep my creating area ready for the next spark that comes along.

Cliff Wilson favors clear plastic totes to organize his current and planned projects

An added bonus is it makes things feel more organized with minimal effort! I am partial to these clear totes you can find at a certain store that pretty much only sells containers…and “container” may be in the company name 🙂

I hope you are all able to find the magic in your creative space this year and find joy in creating all the things. Stay safe!

Quilt featuring Tula Pink fabric being machine quilted on Cliff Wilson's Q16


Judy here again… thank you Cliff! I’m sure our readers will enjoy your ideas — you’ve got me inspired!

2 Comments to “Creative Organizing”

  1. Christine B Law

    Hey Cliff, all the supplies you talk about just fit nicely in the 5-by-5 cubicle shelving. Where did you find that?

    Reply
    • Judy Gula Post author

      Christine, we asked Cliff, who responded “That is the Kallax shelving from IKEA. They come in several different configurations.” Best wishes to you!

      Reply

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