Organizing In Plain Sight… Why I Don’t Always Put Everything Away

posted by Andrea | 01/19/2018
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Several years ago, I inherited my grandma’s sewing machine and all the accessories she had when she passed away.

Since then, I have used her sewing machine on a very regular basis for everything from curtains and baby bedding to pillows and baptism outfits.

And then there are all the alterations, “fixes”, and… doll sleeping bags I’ve done on this machine 🙂

I’m definitely not a professional seamstress, but I sure have gotten my use out of my grandmas old machine!

However, there were many years when this machine sat in a dark closet and was rarely ever used… not because I didn’t know how to sew, and not because I didn’t have any sewing projects to work on.

It sat unused because I didn’t feel like walking upstairs, hauling it out of the storage closet, lugging it downstairs, setting it up, then going back upstairs to grab the sewing box with all the accessories, walking back downstairs, fixing a hem or making a quick project only to pack everything up again, lug it all back upstairs, and put it all away.

I know that might sound lazy — but it’s the truth.

I put off SO many sewing projects because I just didn’t want to spend the time getting everything out and putting it all away again!

Then, about 3 years ago, I finally decided I would store my sewing machine in plain sight.

My sewing machine now sits right next to my computer, on my office desk. It’s still mostly out of the way since you really can only see it when you’re in the office. Plus, the cabinets above the desk are the perfect spot to store spools of thread, bobbins, scissors, etc.

Now, I use my sewing machine weekly — often several times a week — because its all set up, ready to go, whenever I need to fix something or do any type of sewing project.

Just last week, I used my machine to…

  • fix 2 outfits I purchased from Goodwill for Clara (they each had a small rip in the seams so I got them for $0.50 instead of $1!)
  • cut off the feet of Nora’s footie pajamas (also a $1 thrift store bargain) and sew elastic cuffs on the end
  • hem up the sleeves of one of Nora’s shirts and Simon’s shirts (my kids all got my short arms!)
  • alter one of my old shirts to fit Nora
  • sew the ties back onto James’ crib bumper
  • turn a pair of flare jeans into skinny jeans (I’m still perfecting this technique… it isn’t easy!)

There is NO WAY I would have gotten my machine out 6 different times last week if it were still stored in our upstairs storage closet. So all those projects would still be sitting on my desk… waiting for me to make the time.

Now, all those projects were finished in just a few minutes, right away! 

I’m definitely an advocate for creating a “home” for all my things — and then putting my things back in their home when I’m done using them. But I do believe there are some items that just need to be sitting out in plain site in the name of practicality.

No, my old sewing machine doesn’t look all that nice sitting out on my desk, but I sure do enjoy being able to use it whenever I want and without the chore of hauling it out and putting it away again.

I do make sure to put all the thread, scraps, and other sewing items away each time I finish a project, but that only takes a few seconds to do!

I’d love to know…

What items do you store or “organize” in plain sight?

Filed under: OrganizingHomeStorage

 
 

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43 comments

  1. Kate

    01/22/2018

    I have twin girls and we have a lot of hair bows! I leave them in a big basket on the bathroom counter. There is a place for them in the their closet for when company comes.

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  2. Debbie

    01/20/2018

    I have my sewing machine out in a little sewing table that extends and collapses in one of our guest bedroom. We also have a coffee maker, toaster, and Kitchen Aid mixer out on the kitchen counter. I only use the mixer every now and again but it’s so heavy that it would be more work to pull it out from somewhere than to just leave it on the counter. It also becomes a nice decoration.

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  3. Wendy

    01/20/2018

    I leave my vacuum sealer out. I had it for a long time and rarely used it (because I didn’t want to haul it out and put it all away all the time — just like your sewing machine). My good friend told me that she used hers all the time, but she left it out. With much trepidation, I made a spot for it out on my counter. I did put it on a pretty tray, and cleared out a drawer just underneath for all the accessories and random bits. But now I find that it is one of my MOST USED kitchen gadgets. I love that thing. In addition to vacuum packing my meats and fruits/veggies (which prevents so much freezer burn and saves so much space), I can reseal the packaging that so many foods come in. Great tip!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I know lots of people who keep the vacuum sealer out for this very reason. We don’t have on, but if we did, I have a feeling I’d want to keep it out too!
    At least you have a nice tray for it 🙂

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  4. Joy Eckstein

    01/19/2018

    I have my powdered laundry soap, baking soda (detergent boost) and vinegar (fabric softener) in large apocathary jars and a pourable glass jar on the laundry counter. I do laundry daily as thats the way it works in my routines and I always HATED hauling the boxes in/out of cupboards for every load.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’m hoping to do this when we renovate our laundry room (which we’re tentatively planning to do this spring/summer. I’d love to be able to keep those items out, but still look nice too.

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  5. pw

    01/19/2018

    I also had the same sewing machine, the best easiest reliable machine around, even though old. I used it a lot and cried when our finished basement flooded and it was stored on the floor in a closet where it was easily accessible. I do not like stuff sitting out especially on our kitchen and bathroom counters. However I do keep in the kitchen a spray bottle of down soap diluted next to a spray bottle of vinegar, and it is in a pretty clear plastic tray that shows the granite counter. I use it constantly. My hubby keeps his shaving cream tooth paste stuff like that out in his bathroom so again it is confined in a pretty clear plastic tray. Easy to move, dump out, clean and put stuff back. I also have on my counter some pretty crystal bowls my mom gave me (now deceased) that I keep fruit in, nuts in, might as well use them and they look pretty. That is about all we leave our except our Jura coffee machine which we use way too much to put away.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh no — bummer about the flood in your basement! That’s definitely one way to do a major purge!

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  6. Liane

    01/19/2018

    Oh my goodness. I have that exact same machine from Sears. I bought it probably in about 1978. It’s in a closet . My mom left me her Bernina but I’ve had it 20 years and never used it. The last thing I made was my daughter’s Senior Banquet gown. It was a nightmare concoction of 20 yards of tulle. I used to quilt all the time until my husband threw a fit after stepping on (multiple pins) in the kitchen. I put it all away. Thanks to you I’m going to make a sewing room before my eyesight and arthritis keep me from it. My grandma taught me to sew in the 50s. My daughter was never interested. Good for you getting Nora involved in learning. I think kids loves stuff like this until they discover it’s not “cool” so sew on!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know so many people who have the same machine as me — it must be a good one!

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  7. Terri

    01/19/2018

    Love your posts! I can’t believe I have the exact same sewing machine. I bought it when single in the 70’s and they had a free class for it (almost all day also). We even bought a new machine about 8 years ago and I just cannot get used to the new one! And our local sewing repair center has been able to repair whatever this goody has needed!! Just talked to 2 ppl at a networking group meeting today that neither could sew a button and were asking for recommendations on someone to do it. Very sad, sewing basics is something even boy scouts should be taught! Was so funny to see part of your machine in the picture and then see the whole thing show up, a good laugh and can’t wait to tell my hubby! See we are thrifty in some ways!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Terri! Hopefully my machine lasts for a LONG time!
    I actually have another sewing machine from my grandma that’s much older than this one (it’s in a little cabinet) but I don’t use that one because it’s much bigger and bulkier. Maybe I’ll pass that one on to Nora someday!

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  8. Jamie

    01/19/2018

    During December I worked on several sewing projects. Some of them gifts and some items for our home. I even made matching pajama pants for our family of 6. I asked my husband to set up a table in our bedroom so that I could leave it out. I have since made throw pillows for our home, a couple outfits for my little girl and turned some curtains into a valance so that it would match the others without having to spend extra money. My machine was stored in a closet and even though we don’t have a second story it still seemed too much of an effort to get it out and set it all up. Now that it is set up, whenever I have a few minutes I easily sit down and work for a bit. I love the dress you made for Nora out of one of your old shirt. Will you post the steps?

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Jamie! I did try to show the steps in my photo collage… and you could probably find more detailed instructions on Pinterest!

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  9. Hannah Beth Reid

    01/19/2018

    I think your two work stations look great right next to each other! I seem to always have a stack of things needing repairs because I also hesitate to get out my sewing box (no machine).
    I will have to think of where in my house I can save myself time and trouble by storing things in a more visible place. Great post! Thanks!

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  10. Lynn

    01/19/2018

    My daughters require a lot of medication, so as much as I’d like it all hidden, it is much easier to store it in a pretty basket on the kitchen counter! I’m sure there are many other things I store in plain site as well – like our many blankets in the living room that are constantly on our couch and chairs. I am very lucky to have a large walk-in closet where I keep my sewing machine on my mom’s old sewing table – so it is always available to use and I have LOVED that!

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  11. JoAnn

    01/19/2018

    I made a cover for my sewing machine years ago. It was mostly to keep the dust out. It was a very simple toaster cover type of thing I made.

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  12. Ruth

    01/19/2018

    off topic, but it’s crazy how durable the older things are! Your grandma’s machine being used for her great grandkids! Makes me wonder if my machine will last as long…

    have a wonderful weekend!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, they literally did make thing better in the old days. Now days, they make them cheap so people have to replace them all the time!

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  13. Olivia

    01/19/2018

    Bathroom stuff – toothbrushes, hair dryer, lotion, face moisturizer, etc. Growing up, my mom had us put EVERYTHING away, save for the decorative soaps (you know, the ones shaped like seashells or birds) and pretty hand towels that no one ever used. It seemed so odd to me back then that we put our toothbrush in the drawer instead of keeping it in a cup or something on the counter like at my friend’s house – surely our guests would understand that we brush our teeth, right? 🙂

    I also have a pretty jar by the stove to keep my most-used cooking utensils handy.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — and I’m the exact opposite (probably like your mom without the cute soaps and towels) I don’t like anything on my bathroom counters except the soap pump!

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  14. Luba @ Healthy with Luba

    01/19/2018

    I store my husband’s buckwheat for breakfast right by the stove. In addition, my dish soap sits on top of my sink even though it would look “better” under the sink. Our diffusers are always out too, along with our vitamins (on top of our kitchen table).

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  15. Avia

    01/19/2018

    This post inspires me to find a home for my sewing machine. I don’t enjoy sewing as a rule but I know I would do little projects if it was already set up. Thanks for the idea!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes! Find a home for it!

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  16. Susanne

    01/19/2018

    So funny you mentioned this….just since Christmas I have left my sewing machine sitting on the floor beside a hutch in my dining room. To do a project I just need to set the machine up on my table and go! I have done so many small projects because it is already out! (I am no seamstress either, and hire some jobs out, but love to be able to do a small project myself.)

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  17. Michelle

    01/19/2018

    Yes! So many things if I think about it. Essential oils, kitchen tools, certain toys for the children… I knew a lady who was very careful to put everything away all the time. Including storing hand soap under the sink. It was so odd to be told to open the cabinet under the sink to use soap but to please be sure to put it back after washing my hands. I guess everyone is a little different with what they want to see out in their home.

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  18. Karen

    01/19/2018

    I want to learn how to sew! We have a new sewing machine but it terrifies me, lol. Could you do a post on the basics or simple craft projects?

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    Andrea Reply:

    I probably won’t ever post any tutorial as that’s not the focus of my blog — but I’m positive you could find SO many posts about those sorts of things just by doing a quick google or Pinterest search!

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    Chris K in Wisconsin Reply:

    Just go on YouTube and search for basic sewing or sewing a blanket, or whatever you want to do. There are SO MANY to watch. They can inspire you to try!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yeah, I never think about the youTube videos — my first thought it always to checkout Pinterest.

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  19. Mary Patt

    01/19/2018

    I thoroughly agree – especially about the sewing machine! A neighbor gave me a patchwork quilted pillow sham that I throw over the machine when not in use. It looks kinda like a giant toaster under a cover, but my machine MUST always be “at the ready.”

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    Andrea Reply:

    good idea with the pillow sham. I actually have an extra one of those too!

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  20. Rhonda

    01/19/2018

    I love the shirt dress that you made for Nora. Do you have a link to the pattern? It looks pretty simple…maybe you didn’t even need a “pattern”.

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    Andrea Reply:

    sorry Rhonda, I don’t have a pattern, but it was really easy! You could probably find a pattern on Pinterest though!

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  21. Trudy

    01/19/2018

    A couple weeks ago, my friend looked after my grand daughter for a snow day. In her basement, she has a “craft” area which is amazing. During the visit, she showed my grand how to make a simple tunic shirt out of an old t shirt and material. I realized that it was somewhat easy because her machine was out. Ding, Ding, Ding…..angels singing….why didn’t I keep mine out? I have a small craft spot in my basement and there’s no reason why not. So, I hemmed the curtains I’ve been puddling for a year and couldn’t be happier. I have to laugh though….I have had this machine for close to 35 years and had to replace the needle once….well. I broke it during my hemming of the curtain….and had no other. So now I’m stocked…lol

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  22. Chris

    01/19/2018

    Great tip! You could sew a cute cover for it if you get tired of seeing it. I sewed a simple cover for my machine out of an old curtain, just to keep it dust. I do keep mine stored though.

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    Chris Reply:

    Edited: Dust free.

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  23. Deb

    01/19/2018

    I feel the same way about my Kitchen Aid. I only have a few things on my counter, tool caddy, coffee pot and paper towels, but I keep my Kitchen Aid stand mixer out in the corner because it is so heavy and clunky to move in and out of cupboards. And it is just horrible when I want to make cookies and am too lazy to get it out of the cupboard! 🙂

    My mil and sil redid their kitchens and put in a stand the comes up to counter level and then stores away out of sight when not in use for their mixers, but I just have a standard kitchen with normal cupboards so alas, it sits on the counter just begging me to soften some butter and make cookies!

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    Andrea Reply:

    you know what, I actually got rid of my Kitchen Aid mixer simply because I didn’t want it sitting out and I didn’t like to lug it out of the cabinet every time I wanted to bake something. I do all my baking on my island, and there was no way I could work in one of those fancy cabinets your MIL has (they are amazing though) so I just got rid of the mixer! Now I use a small hand mixer for all my baking 🙂

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  24. Gail

    01/19/2018

    I leave out–on one of the surfaces–my current library book, a throw blanket (which I have decided NOT to fold, but to drape over a chair/couch),my cryptogram book and pencil. My house is definitely uncluttered, and I have found these usually colorful items make the mostly neutral and bare decor look better to my eyes, at least.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I love leaving a few colorful blankets out on our WHITE couch too — makes it look more homey!

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    Liane Reply:

    Because throws are both functional and decorative at the same time! And good you have on hand for when the furnace dies….after you posted that I bought an electric throw and an electric heater. Just in case my 30 year old furnace decides to one day just stop.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, we were definitely fortunate to have our space heaters (and we also have 2 heating blankets). Good thing you’re prepared now!

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