featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Note: This site uses Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Anastasia's semi-organized craft closet
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to organize your craft supplies? Today national bestselling and award-winning author Joanna Campbell Slan has some tips to help you fulfill that resolution. Joanna recently released Handmade, Holiday, HomicideBook #10 in the mystery series featuring ace scrapbooker Kiki Lowenstein. She also writes the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series, featuring characters who recycle, upcycle, and repurpose items to turn trash into treasure. Learn more about Joanna and her books at her website

Organizing Your Stash
 “If you can’t find it, you might as well not own it,” says Kiki Lowenstein, the fictional protagonist of my Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series.

She’s right. As a crafter, I have tons and tons of supplies. When I lived in a big house, they were well-organized. However, since then I’ve downsized several times—and keeping stuff organized is a challenge. It is so irritating to search high and low for that perfect craft product that I know I have…somewhere. But it’s even worse when I buy craft supplies only to discover I’ve duplicated my stash!

Combing the Internet, I’ve come up with these great organizing tips. There’s nothing new here, but they are all ideas I tend to overlook when I’m in a hurry. I plan to use these in the order I’ve listed them, and I’d love to hear from you! What are you doing that works and what doesn’t?

Start by Seeing What You Have

Drag everything out. Choose a day when you won’t have distractions or interruptions. Spread things out, so you can really see what you’ve got.

Dump the packaging. Packaging is designed to protect the product and to take up a lot of room on a shelf. You’ll save valuable space by getting rid of all that excess. Plus, you’ll discover whether those ink pads are dry, the glue container is empty, and so on. (Tip: I wind ribbons around flat pieces of cardstock. Saves tons of space because they can be stacked on their side in a plastic file container!)

Sort by type of object. For example, put all the papers in one place, tools in another. Make the categories as broad as you can initially.

Toss the trash. Let’s face it, most of us crafters can turn straw into gold, but along the way we accumulate … well … garbage. Stuff that’s ruined and can’t be saved. Send it to the recycling or trash bin.

Give away duplicates. You really don’t need SIX pairs of scissors, do you? (I thought not.)

Set aside what you don’t want, don’t need, and realistically won’t use. Be ruthless! Corral all this stuff in a box that you can carry so it’s easy to donate to your locate schools or community center. (Tip: Why not organize a swap with other crafters?)

Store with an Eye to Functionality

Buy a labeler if you don’t own one. It’s the BEST investment you can make! I like the Dymo LetraTag series.

Measure twice. Too often we run out and buy containers, only to discover they won’t fit, won’t stack, and won’t hold what we need to store. Instead, take careful measurements, both of your space and your items.

Buy containers that match, in multiples. If you store things in matching containers, they’ll always look neat. (Tips: Square containers are more useful than round, as are containers with straight sides versus sides that curve under. Try stacking your new containers. Also, try prying off the lids. If they come off too easily or not easily enough, re-think them.)

Sort and label. Do the labels right away! It will save time in the long run. Label the front and the top of each container.

Group like items, separating small from large. I keep all my small bits of paper in plastic storage bags by color. When I need a small piece, that’s where I go first, rather than cutting into a big piece of paper. I also keep all my pieces of wood in one big plastic bin. Inside that bin, I use plastic baggies to keep the small pieces together.

Store according to use. If you rarely use something, don’t give it prime real estate. Pack it away in your garage or up in the attic.

Create a site map. Make a list of where you’ve tucked items that you use infrequently. List also those items that are grouped with other supplies. For example, you might want to put your chalks in with your colored pencils, but two labels would be confusing. So list your chalks on the site map.

Sure, it takes time to organize your crafts. But that time will pay you dividends by saving you time, money, and frustration!

Handmade, Holiday, Homicide,
a Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-N-Craft Mystery
Super-crafter Kiki Lowenstein is cramming as much into the ho-ho-holiday season as she can. But Kiki’s ambitious plans come to a crashing halt when her student, Eudora Field, drops dead at the start of one of Kiki’s community center classes. An overeager security guard is convinced that Eudora didn’t make her transition without help. Now it’s up to Kiki to determine who was nice, and who was very, very naughty, indeed.


Kath said...

Site map!!! Genius! Thank you.

Angela Adams said...

I have a hard time trying to decide what's trash and what's a treasure! Happy New Year, Joanna, and thanks for the post.

Beaj said...

Thanks for the great tips,...yesterday turned out to be my day to do just that...and so I spent the day sorting out my Craft room ...so done all of the above and yes I agree one accumulates garbage...so purged that out as well.
Happy New Year..:)

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Last night I organized my closet and put old clothes into a huge black garbage bag. This morning when I opened it, I felt so happy! This really does work, ladies.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Kath, it occurred to me that if a site map worked for a website, why wouldn't it work for my home? And it does!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Angela, I'm with you. So I try to remind myself to be honest. Will I really use this or am I simply being overly optimistic?

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Beaj, I bet you feel really good about what you accomplished. Here's a virtual "pat on the back" -- * hug *

Tricia's Ink, Paper, Glue said...

Great tips! I especially like the site map idea. I have part of my stash organized. Just a little at a time.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Tricia, it does take time, doesn't it?

Dru said...

Great tips! Just the other day I got rid of some stash that I new I was never going to use.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Dru Ann, it's tough to let go of stash or clothes or anything of value, but I try to pick someone who needs it more than I!