One of the more difficult things about making embellished quilts is having ready access to all of the little bits and pieces that you need. Beads, buttons, thread, sequins, the list can become endless.
Over the years I've discovered that the best thing to do is to create a "kit" for each embellished project. When I've decided what I want to work on I go into my cabinet of "stuff" to pull things that I think might work.
I've collected all kinds of "stuff" over the years, things I've made, bought, been given, even inherited. All of these things except seed beads are categorized and put into those plastic floss boxes you can buy at the craft store.
I handle the seed beads differently. Everytime I purchase beads I add to my "mix." I keep one floss box with mixed beads of the same color. For instance, one compartment will have a mix of all of the green beads I have, another all of the blue ones. I store the individual bead types in those large CraftMates bead holder cases. That way if I need a bunch of the same color bead I can find them.
I also collect little boxes to hold my embellishments in my different kits. I prefer the boxes with individual snap top lids on each section. A great place to find these is in fly fishing stores. My favorite recent find is a set of 7 4-compartment pill boxes. I bought them at the Dollar Store. You can organize all of the beads for a small project in one set of them.
Above is a picture of my current workbox. It fits neatly beside me on one side of my oversized chair, with Indy the dog tucked in on the other side of me.
Let's go through the sections briefly one by one so you can see what I like to have on hand.
The first compartment has my needle and pin cases. These are double sided and magnetized, and they have a tight lid on each side. They're by Generation Y and I bought them at Tuesday Morning recently, (they might still have some in stock, they also had Fiskars 12 inch rulers for 1.99 . . . it's a great place for craft supplies!).
I use one for needles. One side of the case has unthreaded needles. The other has needles that still have enough thread on them to use. Since I switch colors a lot, instead of removing the thread and re-threading with another color, I just save the threaded needle and use the color somewhere else.
Another case is for pins. I have a selection of empty pins on one side, and the other side has pins that have been threaded with beads. When I'm doing beading I will usually thread my beads on a pin and then stick the pin into the arm of my chair. It's easy to access the beads I need this way, and when I have leftover beads I just leave them on the pin and put them in the case for future use.
The third case I use for embellishments that I'm going to be using a lot. In this case it's the Butterfly Body Buttons. I use the other side for my templates.
The next two sections are for thread and miscellaneous embellishments. I have my variegated threads on plastic bobbins, and cut lengths of solid thread tucked into the side. I also have a small ziplock bag where I put my leftover strands of thread. My sequins and a selection of buttons are also in ziplock bags.
The next section holds my beads. The top case is a flip top fly box that I put little butterfly stickers on years ago, (how appropriate!). On the bottom is my 7 day pill box that I got at the Dollar Store. I also store a few more bobbins of thread, and a couple of other small embellishment boxes. I stole those from my son! They're actually Game Boy Advance game storage boxes that he never uses.
More Gameboy boxes and another fly box full of buttons, and a spool of thread!
The largest section holds two little boxes of embellishments, (note the Hello Kitty one!), my needle threader, a mechanical pencil and fine line Sharpie, a small piece of cardstock, (in case I need to make a template), some fabric scraps and two pairs of scissors, (one with a fine point, the other is a smaller pair of shears).
I usually tuck a 6" square grid ruler on top before I close the box. You never know when you might need to measure something!
I also always have a small zipper pencil pouch with me. This can be used for scraps, or as a traveling embellishment bag. If I think I might have some time I'll tuck my zip lock thread bag, my needle case, and a small box of selected embellishments and I can take it on the road. This one's a soft vinyl and I picked it up at Target.
I bought the box at Ikea for $3.99 so it was a bargain. Next time I'm over there I may pick up a couple more. They're great when you have multiple projects going. I could add a label with my label maker and stack them in my studio.