Organizing My Sewing Stuff: A Blend of Gran’s Vintage & My Semi-New

Organizing My Sewing Stuff: A Blend of Gran’s Vintage & My Semi-New

I inherited my Gran’s sewing box years ago, and believe it or not, left everything in it. I’ve used a few things over the years, but have always just left it the way Gran had it. Well, maybe not exactly the way she had it… it’s a lot less orderly now!

And if you think this is bad, here’s a peek at the mish-mash of my own sewing box!

Enter the little red vintage tool box that inspired me to take charge of all this chaos.

Yes, this was a thrifting find from the other day, and for some reason I saw it becoming part of my sewing mix… even though this is what it looked like inside.

Some soaking, Goo-Gone, lots of elbow grease and a little steel wool took care of this, and then I lined the bottom with rubber shelf liner and red felt.

It’s actually this I was more worried about!

Sorting and organizing all the random contents of my sewing stuff along with my grandmother’s to become one! Eeeek. And getting better systems in place to boot.

My thread and bobbins were a tangled mess.

The idea behind this thread/bobbin caddy isn’t so bad, but it’s one of those organizers that doesn’t really work. I’ve moved my bobbins to this little case instead…

I still have to decide on storage for my thread. Do you have any favorite solutions to share?

And buttons. Who saves them in all these packages, anyway?

Well, that would be me! I’ve now sorted my buttons and separated them into little jars of darks, whites, metallics, mixed colours, and kid inspired!

My Gran made her own dresses, and she loooooved rick rack, seam binding and elastic. I wrote about a quilt she made here.

Did you notice the vintage labels with their vintage prices?

IΒ corralled all the rick rack and seam binding into a small box, and placed it with the rest of my craft supplies.

No need for this factory supply to be kept in my sewing box, right?

I did put all Gran’s elastic into a pretty little box, and it along with some other things you saw on the table now live in the bottom of my sewing box.

I also sorted and organized more things from the table into the top tray of my sewing box, and this is what lives there now.

The pink seamstress tape belonged to my Gran along with the very burnished thimble beside it. The tape is only in feet and inches, and it’s so old I’m afraid it might crack and break if I handle it too much. I have two of my own, but there’s no way I want to part with Gran’s, so it gets to take up a cubby of its own! Hey, do you know of any DIY ideas where I could showcase this special tape instead?

Remember all those envelopes containing spare buttons? Here’s how I used some of them for my larger needles and pins.

They’re now tucked down a side compartment in one of the trays in the top of my sewing box.

And by now I bet you’re wondering where on earth the little red tool kit comes in.

Well, tools of course!

Between my Gran and I, we had a few tools of the sewing trade…

Believe it or not, the wooden handled tracing wheel, seam guide, and large seam ripper were mine in high school! Never mind, never mind – I said my stuff was ‘semi-new’!

Here’s something of Grannie’s I never had! A scissors sharpener.

Do they even make these anymore? The scissors you see are mine… would you dare use them to cut paper? No, my family doesn’t either πŸ˜‰

Anyway, I thought the little red tool box would be perfect for our sewing tools!

I slipped the sharp objects into the little leather pouch on the right, just to protect them and the red paint that’s still in tact!

Everything fit perfectly.

And the lid even closed! πŸ™‚

My Gran’s sewing box is empty now, and all our sewing things combined. You see, I have to do some minor repairs to it, because the screws that hold the hinges in place are really loose, and the drawers are pretty shaky when they’re pulled open.

In the meantime I will just enjoy it for the beautiful piece that it is. Well used, and well loved!

Do you craft or sew? What kind of organizational strategies do you use for all the ‘stuff’ that goes with it? Oh, and if you noticed the old Aspirin bottle in the first photo, pop by next week… I’ll show you some of the other treasures that kind of go with it!

So happy to be featured over at Junkin Joe’s! Thank you, Andrea πŸ™‚


Published in the Home section of Savvy Stories over at Savvy Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!

Photographs by Sheila Zeller. Please link and credit if you choose to use!

21 thoughts on “Organizing My Sewing Stuff: A Blend of Gran’s Vintage & My Semi-New”

  • Sheila you always manage to find such fun items thrifting – I love that red tool box! And how lucky that you inherited your Gran’s sewing box. I laughed when I saw your sewing scissors too, my mom sewed a lot when I was growing up, and we did not dare use her sewing scissors. Have a great weekend!

  • Fabulous find, that toolbox. My mom gave me my grandma’s sewing things too except she kept the sewing box that is just like yours! I have needles and thread on wooden spools, old buttons made from ivory (I know – shame…) from abalone, and other great trims too. If I were you I would put the measuring tape in a shadow box. Homesense carries rectangular shadow boxes, you could also display the vintage trim labels in a row in a shadow box as well!

  • I just love stories like these. It’s so neat to see what your gran had and the packaging it came in. I really got a kick out of seeing that old aspirin bottle. I think you have done a lovely job organizing all of those goodies.

  • Wow sheila. I don’t have an inheritance like that but Ive managed to collect a whole lotta sewing stuff in my short turn as a pillow purveyor. I wish I could say it is organized, but no. I love that bobbin case with the foam. I need that!!! And just like the other comments…I adore your red tool box. So coool!

    • I bet you have a great collection of sewing supplies! The bobbin case was from Fabricland – they have a sale on right now until Feb. 14th, and I think I only paid $3.00 or 4.00 for it! I really like it, because the bobbins don’t move at all, not even when the case is turned up-side-down! I bought an organizer for my spools of thread as well – we’ll see how that works out πŸ™‚

  • I have so much sewing stuff from my days in fashion, as well as everything people gave me over the years. It’s somewhat organized in a dresser in my project room, but it really needs a good going-over. Where did you get that bobbin case? It’s brilliant. I think I have many of the same “vintage” supplies I got from my husband’s grandma. It’s fun to see the cheap prices and how well made some of that stuff is.

  • I need to do this, but am still putting it off. Some of my sewing stuff is in a BOX. Like… shipping box. My little sewing box was overwhelmed years ago. Then there’s all the patterns, and buttons and trim and bobbins (why can I never find an extra one when I need it?). But… going to put it off a little longer, until I find something as striking and personally inspiring as your little red box!

  • I have that exact same sewing box – not sure if it came from grandma or her sister, who did some serious sewing her time. And I found a big box of buttons in the basement and separated them by colour into glass jars to display in my craft room. I made a piece of button art with some of them – which, come to think of it, I haven’t blogged about yet.

    The little red toolbox is perfect for storing your and your grandma’s sewing tools πŸ™‚ I like that you’ve combined all your things together – there’s going to be a little bit of grandma in every piece that you sew πŸ˜‰

  • Wow! That’s a lot of sewing stuff, and you have organized it so perfectly. How cute is that little red toolbox! I was thinking shadow box too, for a few of the vintage items, including some of that 25 cent rickrack. Or maybe just setting up a cute little vignette in a cabinet or hutch.

  • Sheila, on behalf of Auntie Sharon, I am responding to your blog about Gran’s sewing stuff.
    It brings tears to my old eyes as I think of the simple times when your Gran (my mom) made so many things for her family of seven kids and still loved to do her craftwork. Thanks for the memories. Uncle Ken

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Uncle Ken! What a nice surprise πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you got to read this post. I really treasure Gran’s sewing box and all the things that were inside. I only wish I could ask her about them. The day I went through everything I could really picture her so clearly quietly working away on something…
      xo Sheila

  • i loved seeing the contents of your gran’s sewing box. it made me think of my own two grandmas’ sewing boxes which i now have. a few things i didn’t see in your boxes that i have in mine are buttons still attached to a bit of clothing, snaps and other fasteners and marbles…yep! marbles! i also collect vintage sewing items…buttons, of course, as well as the other things listed above. i also have needle books that were given out at a bank and a grocery store (i think), lots of elastic, seam binding, rick rack and patches for knees and elbows and that thing that looks like a spur which was used for marking patterns (not that i have ever used such an archaic implement! never!) and the transfer paper to use with it! what a find for both of us! when i can, i will be show-casing all of these items in jars in my sewing space.

  • Nice job organizing it all. Wanna help me??? I inherited my Grandmothers sewing stuff (everything) the machines and mountains of notions and any and everything in the world to do with sewing. She was a seamstress. Well that’s not the end of it. I also inherited my Great Grandmothers sewing stuff all of it! Though hers was more simple. Then to make matters even more of a problem, my mother moved to Hot Springs Arkansas a couple of years ago, and she had a huge shop with everything crafty and her own mountain upon mountain of sewing stuff. Tons of notions, everything known to man / woman that involves sewing. I’m serious! You can’t imagine it. We are talking like 12 large Lowes moving boxes packed to point of barely closing. Then you add all the machines that I inherited from these three woman. Well I also sew! Yes I’m a guy, yes I sew! I make about everything. Period Reproduction clothing to modern clothing, blankets pillows, pouches, box pouches, ornaments, Curtains, blankets, canopy covers… and on and on……. Well here I am now with my mountain of everything sewing, seriously more than what joann or hobby lobby with hancock all stock in my local stores. NO LIE! It is a sewing notion nightmare. So combined, 11 sewing machines 6 sergers every attachment and accessory for everything. Then the probably 3,000 plus yards of fabric, and then all the interfacings and fleeces. Help! Putting it down in words is really making me anxious now! I’ve sorted this stuff, given away tons of it, it seems to multiply. For everything I give away or have put in garage sales, It seems that same amount plus a third reappears. I have purchases nice storage containers for certain things and end up buying more and more of them as the quantity grows. Today was zipper and needles hand/machine! I’m going nuts here. I love the toolbox Idea, it rocks! But I think I’d need the largest rolling one they make and not put a dent in ALL of this. Help me! Help me! Please!!!!!! Ric

    • Hi Ric,
      Wow, it sounds like you have some amazing things on your hands, but at the same time a heap of overwhelm. It also sounds like you have done a really great job of trying to sort, organize and store effectively. Now the question is how to move the abundance on. I am not an expert in this field, and I think I’m geographically too far removed to be much help. I know the sewing community is large and extensive, and is a niche all of its own. Is there any way you can connect with auctioneers, local groups, charities, markets, sewing circles, etc. to sell, consign, donate? If you don’t have the time, can you hire someone to set up and manage an online store for you where you can feature the big ticket items, then categorize and expand from there? I do understand and appreciate that even the thought is probably daunting! What about beginning the process of photographing key pieces that represent the range of what you have, and becoming a drop-ship vendor? The vintage and antique pieces would be a great place to start, so your biggest challenge would be to (a) photograph/catalogue what you have (b) ensure you would be able to ship. These are just a few ideas for you to consider that might broaden the reach to the right market for these things!
      Good luck, and thank you for reaching out!

  • My sister gifted me the very same sewing box. It was made in Romania and holds all the bits and bobs that I need quick access to. It holds a lot and definitely keeps your small notions and tools organized. Thanks for sharing you story.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, Bonnie! I really appreciate it. Isn’t this a great design for a sewing box? I love how beautiful it is to look at, yet how compact and functional it is, too. πŸ™‚

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