Zipper Organization: A Quick Follow-Up

Hey, everyone! Remember my quick attempt to organize my messy notions box? (If you missed it, my notions box had become a tangled disaster zone, making it near-impossible to find what I was looking for. Here’s the post on how I started tackling it, fifteen minutes at a time!)

Since then, the zippers have been pretty much laying exactly where I left them on the floor. Embarrassing to admit, perhaps, but true. I reached the point where I needed floor space, which forced me to finish them up.

Where we left off… invisible zippers on the left, regular zippers on the right.

Over the last couple of weeks, I finished sorting the zippers by type. When I needed the floor again, I scooped up the piles of each type of zipper and placed them in leftover boxes. It may not be pretty, but it works!

One box for regular zippers:

And one for invisibles. Can you tell which type of zipper I prefer?

What have I learned? That organization doesn’t have to be expensive or pretty.

I can now find an invisible zipper, or a regular zipper, and I’m able to check for materials on hand before shopping. I used the same scrap-paper labels to clip onto each box. I save all old cardboard boxes for reusing, for shipping and storage, and for moving stacks of envelopes to the mailroom. They also come in handy for notions storage, too!

If I really wanted to, I could look for nicer-looking containers in the future. I now know the approximate sizes I would want, and as I come across other empty containers in my life, I might find the perfect one at home that will hold zippers! (Yup, I’m that girl. The one who empties a tin and thinks ‘hey, this tin would be great for storing _____!’)

I’m the wrong person for Pinterest-worthy organization. But, I can show you that organization doesn’t have to cost a lot, or anything for that matter. It’s better to know where your zippers are, and be able to find one quickly, than have coordinated designer containers to store them in.

Organization: it’s both my enemy, and my very good friend. I want to be able to find my stuff easily, but I’d rather spend my money on actual materials than pretty containers to store them. I want to be able to find what I need, but I’d rather spend time sewing than cleaning or sorting.

How do you feel about organization? Are you the type of person who saves cookie tins for button boxes, or the kind whose beautifully-designed storage containers are practically a work of art on their own?

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23 Responses to Zipper Organization: A Quick Follow-Up

  1. DianeDrexel November 20, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    Like you, I was loathe to spend money on bins and other organization/storage systems.
    Last year I put them on my Christmas list and am now enjoying them without begrudging spending the money on them.

  2. annabelvita November 20, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    I don’t mind ugly organisation if it’s hidden (you should see my kitchen cupboards and sock drawer), but my sewing stuff is hidden in plain sight in the living room, so I like to hide things in vintage suitcases other pretty containers: – some stuff is in old ikea boxes (I’d love to buy new ones that all match, but it seems such a waste!) but most is in pretty stuff. I definitely save old packaging (especially tins) that I think will one day be useful.

  3. funnygrrl November 20, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    I think I am more apt to use the storage containers if they are pretty. But I will use anything that suits the purpose.
    I love being organized but with such limited time to sew I hate to use that time sorting things! Better to put it in the right place when you bring it home… That happens sometimes…

  4. Caroline November 20, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    LOL I’m definitely more like the first … though sometimes I wished I had everything beautifully organized in lovely matching containers … Ha!

  5. Lauren November 20, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    I like pretty storage container myself, but I never like to pay for them (I feel like they are expensive even at the thrift store!). My solution is to spray paint cardboard boxes, or wrap them in pretty paper. Win-win!

  6. Stephanie November 20, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    I am all for cheap storage and actually have been repurposing diaper and wipe boxes as for that very reason. But I also like things to look pretty and fit in with the room’s overall vibe. So I have been covering the side of the boxes in brown kraft paper and the front with fabric. I found the inspiration via this tutorial on Make It and Love It

  7. Seraphinalina November 20, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    I tend to hang onto shoe boxes for things like this. I have one for all of my bra fixings, another for interfacings, wide laces boxed by colours, etc etc. It’s cheap, the boxes are pretty durable (although I prefer the ones where the lid is attached as I seem to misplace or mix up lids from time to time) and it’s a good second life for the box.

  8. Rachel M November 20, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    SInce I’m not very organized to begin with, I like all organization whether it’s makeshift or pretty:) I’ll take any that I can get at this point!

  9. Nothy November 20, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    I use the small wooden crates that the mandaran oranges come in at Xmas time to organize zippers. I even painted one white!

  10. Kate November 20, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Very definitely the cookie tin saver! And shoeboxes with lids that flip open are great, too! My zippers sit in an old 2l-canning jar though..

  11. Tasha November 20, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Good job! I recently put all of my zippers into the cardboard lid of a flat of cat food cans. lol But I *desperately* need to organize my sewing table. It’s supposed to be my cutting table but it’s been taken over by everything, so that I have to move everything off of it in order to cut!

  12. Leslie November 20, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    I am a sewing teacher at a high school and I have a lot of zippers! I have found the most efficient way to organize them is by colour. I have medium zip loc bags for each shade
    ( i.e. mauve and purple together) . For busy classes I find this is the best bet as they can usually find the colour they need and if it’s too long, they can shorten it. The bags are then stored in plastic crates so the bags stay together. Like your method, not too pretty but it works!

  13. Pennie November 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    When I was growing up, one of the most fascinating part of my Grandma and Nana’s houses was an old tin. In each house it was the same, the old tin (which usually had previously held, toffees, tea or biscuits) was home to the button collection…I loved the button collections, there were hours of fun to be had, either just looking at the buttons or making up stories about the buttons…

    When my Grandma passed away we inherited her button collection and I still look at it from time to time…it holds memories

    My Mum kept her buttons in an old tin. When I went to university she packed me off with a basic sewing kit in an old shortbread biscuit tin, which I still have…and it now houses, you guessed it, my button collection…

    I like tins. matchy matchy looks smart but old tins are much more fun

  14. crystalpleats November 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    I appreciate your honest post. We’re living in a time of “pretty”, so its good to remember that the function should come before form.

  15. oanh November 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    Why not sew up some lovely fabric boxes?

    Here’s a link to a tutorial:

    I’ve not done this myself, of course. My notions are stored in ziplock bags and old yoghurt containers, and then that’s all stored in a lovely shopping bag that my sister bought in Paris, and that’s> all hidden away in my wardrobe. However, having only just started garment sewing, I only have 2 zippers in my stash. But I do need somewhere to stash all the bias binding that I am amassing! And thread! All that thread!

  16. Sewing Sveta November 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    I am both%) So I keep boxes from tee or from shoes or something like this, but also I buy some plastic baskets to organize different staff or folders for magazines.

  17. Lorinda November 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    I have to admit for years everything in any old container was ok, but I save large and small candy and cookie tins, for thread, needles, etc. More recently I have added the shoe-box size containers that i found on sale (for next to nothing). I like having the notions and supplies organized more than I really care what kind of container it is. I love that it takes so little time to find what I need, and takes up less space.

    After I read your first organization post, I decided it was time to sort buttons so I used snack sized clear zipper bags and sorted buttons by type (shank or flat) then by color so now I can just limit having to look through buttons to type and color. I put all of the smaller zipper bags into a much larger container. The clear plastic makes it very easy to find what I am looking for.

    Thanks for keeping us inspired.

  18. Allynara November 21, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    I don’t buy fancy storagebins for my notions. Instead, I keep all the tin containers from cookies and stuff and reuse them. But because I don’t want a knickknack of all sorts of different coloured cans, I spraypaint them in a neutral, but warm light beige. I keep my buttons in glass holders that used to have pudding in it. I seal them with a scrap piece of fabric. My inspiration for this are those old jampots with red gingham cloth.

    So, even if you don’t want to spent a lot of money on your notion box, you don’t have to let them be they originally were: spraypaint doesn’t cost that much :)

    Here are my boxes after I spraypainted them:

  19. Karin November 21, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    I do like to re-use things like old tins, jam jars and like Allynara those little pudding jars because a) I don’t have to spend any extra money on it and b) it recycles stuff that would otherwise land in the rubbish.

    To store small notions like buttons and snap closures I’ve started to collect empty Bonne Maman jam jars because they have pretty gingham lids. But any glass jar with a pretty lid will do really.

    I also use old small tin boxes (some inherited from my gran) to store spools of thread and clear plastic storage boxes in different sizes for the rest. I like storage where I can see what’s inside and also find stuff quickly.

    For my sewing patterns I’ve scanned the back and front of the envelopes, printed both out on one A4 sheet per pattern, stuck each on a big C4 envelope which contains the sewing pattern and all the envelopes now live in a cheap big clear storage box I got from IKEA.

    I guess for someone who’s generally pretty untidy (I prefer to call it creative chaos …) I’m actually quite organised when it comes to storing things.

  20. Deanna November 21, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    I recently organized my zippers but in addition to separating them by type, I also separated them by length so that I don’t have to go through all of my zippers to find one appropriate for a certain pattern. I stapled all the ones of the same length together so that I can rip one off of the staple when I need one. It isn’t pretty since they’re still all thrown in a bin but it makes it a little bit easier to find what i need.

    I reuse the plastic bins that some lunch meat brands comes in. The Buddig brand comes in some pretty high quality plastic with a lid and everything. It seems so wasteful to throw away so I have all of my notions organized in those…after a thorough cleaning, of course!

  21. Jamie November 24, 2012 at 6:42 am #

    I love mason jars. I don’t have nearly as many notions as you do, so we’ll see how long this works, but right now I’m storing a lot of my sewing supplies and notions in mason jars of varying sizes. The smaller, wide mouth jars are especially nice because I keep thread and things in them on my sewing table.

    I also bought some containers with little compartments specifically for buttons because I wanted to organize them by color/shape. I did keep them loose in a tin for years, which was nice but a bit clunky when I needed to find a button.

  22. Mitch December 5, 2012 at 6:50 am #

    I keep my notions in various things – plastic containers, canning jars, tins, a sewing basket, a glass canister set. I use the canister set to hold my buttons – sorted by sizes and then divided into colours and black/white. It’s all definitely mis-matched.

  23. Lynda December 11, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    I find Iris drawer cabinets of various sizes are very helpful for organizing supplies like zippers and threads. You can find these at various places including yard sales. You can write the item(s) on masking tape on the drawers if you don’t want to use other labels.