A collection of sewing room salvage items should be an organized part of your sewing room. Fabric scraps, buttons, zippers, ribbons, yarn and trimmings should be systematically saved so you don’t waste time searching for them, nor spend extra money replacing something you have but cannot find.
Over the past 30 years we’ve talked about the importance of removing all the buttons, zippers, trims and the like from old clothes that are being discarded, and many people are doing that. The problem comes with not having an organized “system” for saving the items. The “box” is too small, or the “drawer” is so full of assorted items that someone would spend the entire day trying to “sort through” the things that were all simply dumped into the drawer.
In addition, the fabric scraps themselves can become a real problem – the scraps are too big to throw away (such as having perhaps 1/4 yard or 1/2 yard extra, or nice big sections of pieces left after cutting out the pattern), and if you do a lot of sewing, those “scraps” can add up to a lot of fabric.
The solution to “sewing room salvage” is simple. Make a list of the items that you know you normally save, then go to a local store and purchase an assortment of sizes of the clear plastic containers – be sure to get a large one for the fabric then various other sizes for the other salvage items. Take a day and sort through all the boxes and drawers of “stuff”, and separate all the items – zippers, buttons, appliques,lace, etc. and put each into its own container.
The fabric scraps should be rolled neatly, then tied, and if possible a small piece of paper attached to each stating the approximate amount of fabric left. NOTE: if saving the fabric from the discarded clothing, be sure that only CLEAN fabric is saved, and I would recommend separating the used fabric into categories, such as “denim”, “cotton” or “flannel”, in order to make it easier later on, if a project requires denim fabric, for example, all the pieces of that type fabric would be together.
When cutting buttons from a shirt or dress, be sure to string them together, and not just dump them into the box, so it will be easier to know exactly how many buttons you have of that particular type when needed, and not have to dump the box and sort through them to find buttons of the same size and color.
An empty mint container, such as an “Altoid” container works very well for snaps, hooks and eyes, beads, and could be a “starter” for buttons, until it gets full, and you’d need to substitute a larger container for the buttons.
If you don’t have enough shelf space to keep all the smaller boxes together in an organized fashion, it might be a good idea to purchase a larger box that would hold all of the small containers. By keeping all the “salvage” containers together, it’s easy to look through them for necessary items before you head out to the fabric store and spend money on items that you already have.
By Sarah J. Doyle
About the author:
Sarah J. Doyle is author of over 25 sewing, craft and how-to books, as well as author of online pattern making, sewing and craft classes. Visit http://SewWithSarah.com for information on books, classes, newsletters and the latest hints and tips.
(c) Copyright 2004, Sarah J. Doyle. All Rights Reserved.