September UFO and sewing room chaos

It’s the second day of September.  Even now that my children are grown, I think of September as the beginning of a new school year.  Time for fall clean-up; time to get organized.  A fresh start.

For me, it’s the perfect time to clean up my sewing room.  That’s going to be my UFO challenge for September.  I know, it’s not technically a UFO.  But it’s a priority and it will create space and efficiency and peace in my world.  Well, I don’t know if it will be that dramatic but I hope so!

The last few days I’ve walked into that space looking for a project to finish, continue, or start.  I have so many options pulling at me that I just turn around and walk back out the door.  Overwhelmed.  Disorganized.  Cluttered.  That’s how I feel when I walk in my sewing room.

The following photos were taken a few weeks ago.  This is where I come clean.  I sew and quilt in chaos.  Some people work better that way.  I’m used to it, but I wonder if I’ll be able to find anything once it’s all tidy!

Sewing room chaos 1

sewing room chaos 2

sewing room chaos 3

sewing room chaos 4


Something needs to change.  I need to purge.  I need to organize.  I need to prioritize.  Thank you September!  It’s a good time to start.  What are you working on this month?

One last thing.  I just saw that Craftsy is having an amazing sale on all of their classes.  Now through Sunday, classes are $19.99 or less.  It’s a great time to learn something new!

Craftsy sale

Have a wonderful weekend!

Julie 176 x 116

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About Julie Cefalu

Hello! I'm Julie and I love to quilt, craft, read, garden, hike and spend time with my family.

52 thoughts on “September UFO and sewing room chaos

  1. Interesting storage idea, I found a baby chaning table made it into an ironing board and used the underneath as storage for some of my stash.
    I also use a shoe organizer, not the plastic one that you hange in door, but the one that is square wood..

  2. Julie, Funny thing is I just see a wonderful opportunity to organize and make it like your very own Quilt store! But that is me. I am the girlfriend who comes over and re-orgs’ the canned food cabinet(with permission) while we chat! I fold fabric for the therapy of it and in a sick way have all my UFO’s in labeled bins. It is a sad disease and doesn’t mean I am a clean freak (so not) I worked on 4 Minecraft quilts this weekend (16 blocks each). My husband just shakes his head at the pile of fabric on my cutting table and tells me it looks like a BOMB site.

    We all ebb and flow when it comes to our creative spaces. I just wish mine was bigger. (really bad basement planning) Still racking my brain on how to fix it!

    Hope your weekend was full of stitches.


  3. oh my, i’d be so stressed out. I’m sure when you are standing in the door way you wouldn’t know where to begin! 🙂 I am messy when sewing and doing embroidery and multitasking with many projects laying around and coordinating fabrics all over and threads and scraps small space can look like a bomb went off! Time is short on my dedicated sewing days as I try and get as much done as I can,and it’s overwhelming at times, but at the end of the day i do a clean sweep, put up, throw out and some light dusting, so when the next time I walk in i can start all over again….

  4. With all the work you get done, sometimes I feel a little inept. At least this makes me feel that you are human. Good Luck cleaning, it is my least favorite activity. Seeing all your stuff will probably get you inspired!!

  5. Hi Julie,
    I too sew and quilt in chaos, and when I do tidy things up, they don’t even stay the day. My desk looks the same way. Not sure if I am just used to it that way, or is it the way I like it? The main thing is that we are doing something, so no need to feel guilty.
    Enjoy your day.

  6. Thank goodness I am not the only on that needs to purge; get better organize. I am just trying to get to feeling better cause I haven’t felt well for about 2 years now. So I really have a lot of catching up to do on a lot of things. I am beginning to cycle through my UFO’s to see which ones have a quick finish, like binding, and maybe, just maybe I will be in on the next giveaway. Anyway, here’s hoping.

  7. Reading your blog today really did my heart good! I figured you were super neat and organized, kind of like your quilts – perfect corners, perfect points and perfect stitching! I don’t LIKE to work in chaos, I just DO! Projects everywhere. I do paper crafts, too, so my room is really crowded. Thanks for your fun, real, and informative blog, Julie! It’s the only one I just can’t miss.

  8. Oh, Julie,
    I can relate to your work space! Today I took time to sweep, vacuum, and mop my floor. Then I reorganized my project space before starting to sew again. I have confidence in you! Looks like a good work area. Sometimes my creativity seems to fade if things are too clean. You Go Girl!

  9. What a community of artists we are! Somehow we lose our creative spirit when there’s too much order. That being said, having a clean slate (fresh start) can also be inspiring. Julie, I appreciate your showing us all how real you are! Maybe we need a contest for the most drastic before and after photos. I think we can be inspired by seeing the efforts of others. I’m taking my “before” pics now. Thanks again!

  10. HI Julie,
    Well, it looks like alot of us are in the same boat! Confession is good for the soul, right? You were brave to be the first to show your room. My sewing room looks just like yours, many days it’s much worse. Any horizontal surface is fair game! I also worry about not being able to find things when I “organize” and put them away. I did a minor purge and clean up about 2 weeks ago but still have a long way to go. I like a clear space around my machine when I’m working so the supplies for that project are available and not cluttered with my other treasures so, sadly and with guilt, I sometimes (like right now)invade a clean space on the dining room table. You’ve inspired me to continue my attempt at organization. Thanks, Julie, and good luck to all of us.

  11. I need to feel organized even if I am in the midst of chaos. I dislike looking for something that I know is close by but not visible. My plan is that I really try to clean up after every major project is finished. I love baskets and containers and try to put projects … current, future and ‘should get finished one day’ as well as leaders and enders into their own container. And on first of each month I try to evaluate where I am with respect to what I really want to get done, putting away the extras… leftover bits etc. It always feels so good to me when my cutting surface is clear, my sewing machine is lint free, and fabric is filed back where it should be so I can easily see it and find it! You inspired me yesterday to spend the day sorting and organizing.

  12. It is wonderful to see my room on your pictures!!! Yes we have something in commune! I am trying to organize myself , but as soon as I start to create something new…big mess again. Hugs to you!
    from Italy Susy

  13. I’m so sorry that your room looks like mine! No, you won’t be able to find anything if you “organize” it. Ask me how I know. That was toast year’s mistake. This year I’m going for a path through everything! Good luck to you!

  14. You’re not alone 😉 my sewing room has looked very similar in the past! My family moved into a new house in April, and my sewing space now is an open secondary living room. Being open and exposed all the time has somewhat helped me keep it clean-ish, but there’s still a few stacks of things here and there.

  15. Hi Julie, had a chuckle seeing your room, it looks familiar. I love the piano keys fabric hanging above the window. I also have stuff on the floor, including a roll of batting, and on top of a chest of drawers and small drawers. Got an idea from seeing your basket with the books, so now I will get a basket and take books off the shelves, and put the containers, presently on the floor, up on the shelves! We can all get a tip from one another!

  16. Oh Julie… misery loves company!! I’m usually a bit more ‘together’, but lately, with several projects underway.. I’m living in CHAOS, too. I’ve heard that word used as an acronym – Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome, lol. It’s pretty bad tho, when we can’t even invite ourselves in our sewing space, huh?

    In my defense… I’m working on Christmas gifts, and a UFO and grandson stuff and… well, you get the picture. Another issue that seems to cause chaos in my sewing room is when I’m so busy in other areas of my life that I don’t make sufficient time to properly clean up after my sewing sessions. I will make it a priority over the weekend to tidy up in there, tho. Thanks so much for sharing your dilemma and giving many of us the impetus to clean our acts up a bit, too.

    Happy decluttering,


  17. Thank you for showing your honest sewing room, I’m so glad that your room looks like mine! My problem is that I don’t get enough time sewing, so when I’m in there I just want to sew and not clean up! I love all of the quilts on the walls!

  18. I enjoy and appreciate your blog so much! Thanks for taking the time to teach and share what you’ve learned. I cleaned and organized my quilt room back in January and it has made an amazing difference in how I work. I did away with my scrap bins, cutting them all into usable squares and strips and storing them in plastic boxes by size. The result is that I have bought very little fabric this year, making scrappy quilts (which I love) instead. I continue to cut up the scraps from each project and add them to the stored ones. I’m not sure how long I can keep this up but so far it’s working for me!

  19. I am so glad that you shared your sewing room with all of us. I feel the same way when I walk into my sewing room: overwhelmed. I have now promised myself that every time my husband watches a football game, I will go and work on cleaning my sewing room. If I really keep to that promise, it shouldn’t be too long before my sewing room is clean! (there’s a LOT of football in our home).

    My biggest problem is coming up with a “scrap” system that works for me and that I can keep adding to. I just can’t seem to find a storage system that really works for me. I seem to keep “outgrowing” the system and then all my fabric is in huge piles again. I need to figure it out before I start all of my Christmas sewing! Good luck with your organizing, Julie!

  20. Thank you so much!!! My sewing room is a clone of yours. I don’t like the clutter and mess, but I pretty much know where everything is. I have multiple projects in process. One of these days I need to take time to sort, organize and purge. Some day…

  21. Sharing your sewing space when it was in disarray was very courageous of you. 🙂 I do think sewing just naturally lends itself to ‘mess’ and I try to embrace it as it’s happening. But…every once in a while, it’s important for me to straighten, put away, and organize. Yep, I do move things and can’t remember where I put them but it doesn’t take long to find and the calming effects of a more organized space is helpful to my creativity. I hope that is the case for you, too.

  22. OMG; I am facing the same thing. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone. I was sitting here wondering what to take up first. I’m making blocks for 3 different scrappy quilts; getting ready to put the binding on a quilt. I have wonderful fabrics, white and cheddar and indigo and cheddar for example; trying to find patterns that will do them justice. I did start to organize things last week, but that only produced possible projects and fabric I forgot I had. Maybe I should plow on with the organization. Is that your intention?

  23. Oh Julie, I am your evil twin! My room looks similar to yours. I have to move stuff off my cutting table in order to cut fabric. Then I get discouraged and go to hand sewing instead. I too need to organize.

  24. I empathize with your statement “I have so many options pulling at me that I just turn around and walk back out the door. Overwhelmed. Disorganized. Cluttered. That’s how I feel when I walk in my sewing room.” I took one of my machines in today for a cleaning, so I’m hopeful that I can attack the room to find my stuff! You know the stuff-you had to have it, but because out of sight, forgot you had it, and now have 3 of them! Thanks for the nudge to get moving.

  25. I “surface” tidied up a few weeks ago, but I need to really get into cabinets and organize fabrics and supplies in a better way. I like looking at other ladies sewing rooms for ideas of how to organize and display. Hope you share your finished “UFO” with us and thanks for the inspiration.

  26. love your room .. it looks comfortable and inspirering I also love the wall hanging in the back with the applique could tell me where I could find the pattern .. thank you

  27. I feel your pain. Sometimes I do have to stop and organize when I’d rather be working on a project. Lost my favorite seem ripped last week and have had to use my back-up. That probably means cleanup is past due

  28. I’m just sure you took pictures of my room!!! A friend of mine is having a “Pretend I’m Moving Sale” in her home to clean up a lot of her unused fabrics, kits, and books. It’s been very successful.

  29. My sewing room looks almost like that. I did organize things about a year ago…. but new stuff just keeps appearing there and wants to be done first!

  30. Yeah! Now I donot feel so bad, looks like mine. I do try to cleanup and put away when I finish a project, but sometimes too excited to start the next. Oh well, it’s my happy face! Just do not know what to do with the leftovers after I cut out a project!

  31. If your sewing room isn’t messy, it means you aren’t sewing or quilting. Mine looks like that too but, I do
    straighten it up ever once in awhile. I have to or I wouldn’t be able to cut on the cutting table or assemble my projects on the other table. My ironing table stays up 24/7 ready and waiting. Isn’t that normal? Keep on sewing gals and making lots of quilts and gifts for your family.

  32. Thank you for sharing your sewing space! I have been sewing/quilting/painting much of my life and no matter how little or large the space I am blessed to have for my projects, I am always “messy”. One of my daughters (when she was just visiting with her husband) helped me for a few days to get a head start on cleaning it up and getting more organized. My fabrics are organized on shelving by color, except for my huge Kaffe Fasset and Amy Buttler collections. I’ve gone through a lot of quilting magazines and donated them to my quilt guild. I donated 71 fat quarters for their “fat quarter baskets” (a fund raiser for the quilt show), fabrics to the church sewing group, and to Salvation Army. I’m also selling fabrics on Etsy now. I tend to clutter up my space (and it is large) with all my projects, books, stuff I need to file in my project notebooks, etc. When I clear off the long tables it feels like a brand new space. The problem is keeping them cleared off! I can so relate to all these comments! 😉

  33. “The last few days I’ve walked into that space looking for a project to finish, continue, or start. I have so many options pulling at me that I just turn around and walk back out the door. Overwhelmed. Disorganized. Cluttered. That’s how I feel when I walk in my sewing room ” This is exactly how I feel!
    I was thinking about setting the timer for one or two hour intervals…then changing projects when the timer goes off. Maybe pick the next 3 to 5 projects and try that method- making sure that one of them is one of the new things I want to try. There were about 25 projects on my list from last week. That doesn’t count most of my ufos. There are 3 kits (not on the list) I really want to make. It’s 2:42 pm and I’m reading mail etc. and I haven’t seen the new quilt show that I really want to see!
    PS your room really doesn’t look that bad. At least you have space. (sigh) Sorry to rant; but it’s off my chest

  34. I love your room, even in chaos. I’m actually trying to purge and organize my room, too. I’m transitioning from papercrafting to my new hobby, quilting, and I need more space!

  35. Hola Julie!
    Perdona que te escriba en español y tengas que pedirle ayuda a tu hija, pero mi nivel de inglés no me permite escribirte que a mi me pasa igual. Tengo la habitación igual de desordenada y es un alivio ver que es lo habitual cuando se hace patchwork. Yo que siempre me he sentido culpable por tener todo manga por hombro cuando empiezo un trabajo nuevo!!
    Recibe un saludo muy cordial, tu Blog me encanta.

  36. I find that I have trouble categorizing my fabrics. Do I separate by color only, or by type, such as polka dots, or genre such as civil war inspired? Paralysis by analysis and nothing gets done.

    I’ve experienced the same situation where I wander into my sewing room, look around, and just walk back out. Generally when that happens it seems to be associated by a task I would prefer not doing. So, I either wind up getting that task done which lifts a weight off my mind and I can progress to another project….or, I give myself permission to defer the task.

    Good luck with your UFO. Perhaps you will find a fun project at the bottom of a pile.

  37. It’s funny you think it’s an unorganized mess and before I read what you wrote I was thinking what a cute sewing room. I loved the wall hangings and fun colors. It also made me feel better about my mess and I’ve been trying to organize and dejunk. So take heart I think all of us quilters rooms look similar.

  38. I feel so much better when I see the reality of someone else’s clutter and chaos! I feel kinship with those who try to be organized and aren’t always successful. I think I need a sewing area as large as a small house so I can organize a my stash, WIP, patterns, etc. without sharing the space with anything else. Good luck with your efforts!

    1. Funny you should say that. Since my husband passed, I am using the whole house for sewing space. It doesn’t help. There is just a bigger mess to reorganize.

  39. Okay; guess it’s time to join your UFO challenge my sewing room makes yours look neat. I start cleaning up get distracted by something really interesting and before I know it I’m on to a new project. If I clean it up I’ll find stuff but I’ll probably miss the treasure hunt.

  40. My goodness, my sewing room looks just like that. I have been trying to organize and clean for a while. Unfortunately it is also the office and ironing room. As messy as it is I usually can find what I need. You have given me the incentive I need to get cracking and get it done. Have been following your posts for a while and have taken a couple of your classes. Enjoy all that you share. Thank you.

  41. Your “chaos” looks pretty good to me. I wish my sewing room looked that good. Love that you have quilts displayed on the walls, too.

  42. I taught art in a public school for 38 years. A photo pf Picasso’s studio was prominently displayed,
    primarily for the custodians. I do like organization and cleaning up actually may foster those creative sparks.

    1. I’m trying to finish a quilt that feels like I’ve worked on forever. Sewing on last row. I desperately need to clean up the “closet”. I have fabric stacked everywhere from pulling it out to audition or cough cough another purchase. Live your wallhangings.

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