How to organize your die cuts and machines ~ for Paper Crafters!
Adjustable open shelving hold machines and accessories!
When I first started using die cut machines, I never dreamed my collection would grow out-of-hand so quickly. I'm very excited to share some of the tricks and tips I've learned for storing and organizing die cut machines and accessories!
Key points of this article:
- Measure everything: that includes your craft space, wall space, and die cut machines and accessories. Know how many die cuts you have so that you can purchase enough bins in the right size!
- Incorporate baskets and storage boxes to keep clutter out of sight.
- Invest in your organizing products smartly. Don't spend more than you have to.
How I started out...
I did not always create scrapbooks. It's interesting to note that my main focus was on greeting cards. Rubber stamping was my main hobby for a long time. I accidentally made a scrapbook page out of some embellishments I had left over from a massive greeting card undertaking.
Soon after purchasing a few die cuts and machines, I realized how much space they take up. It became a challenge to figure out how to organize them all and keep them straight in my art studio.
The die cuts come in different shapes and sizes. The machines come in different shapes, sizes, lengths, widths, and weights. How was I going to fit everything together in a way that added to the appeal of my art studio. I also needed a practical way to organize them so I could access them all at any time.
Plastic storage bins such as these can be found online or at your local office supply store.
The very first container I purchased for my die cuts was this nifty little pencil box I purchased at a local supply store. I'm not sure they sell them there now, but I have seen them online.
This particular container fits small dies that don't have their own packaging or do not come in re-usable packaging. I measured them before finding something to store them in. (I measured the height, width, and how many I had so I would know how many storage containers I needed.) You can also buy storage boxes through the company who makes the die cuts. Most of them also sell storage containers.
Plastic bins fit neatly inside these individual wooden cubes to hold die cuts!
These plastic storage bins could easily be labeled in different ways.
- Use a permanent marker to write the contents on the side of the plastic or on a label.
- Create die cut circles, ovals, squares or something fun to adhere to the sides to create your own labels.
- Insert a piece of patterned paper in the front of each storage box to customize the look to match your craft space.
I left these blank because they are see-through. I know exactly what's in each bin so I never bothered to label them.
I also used baskets when I needed less or more space for certain die cuts.
I happened to come across these individual storage cubes at a local department store on an end clearance rack. They had the quantity I needed to create my die cut storage space.
However, while looking around for ideas online, I did see some nice bookcases turned into die cut storage as well. If I hadn't found these cubes, I probably would have purchased a bookcase.
My art studio is in a loft room. I have a half wall which the storage cubes fit up against. They aren't too tall.
There are many things to consider when designing an organized craft space.
Mixing up your storage elements
For this particular storage cube, I used a basket. The plastic storage bins fit perfectly taking up the entire area inside the cube. I had a set of letters and alphabet die cuts, plus another set of smaller mixed dies that needed to fit together in the cube but not in the same bin. I chose a basket that matched my craft space and would fit neatly inside the cube. Plus there was space enough for my mixed die cuts that came in their own case.
Tip! Consider the weight of the machines and accessories when combined.
Some of the die cut machines are heavy. When I designed my die cut storage space, I had to consider the weight of my machines and how heavy the storage bins would be with the die cuts in them.
I needed to find a sturdy shelving system or bookcase so that my end would result wouldn't turn out into a disaster with all of my stuff crashing to the floor from the heavy weight.
Store your heavier items on the bottom, such as the large die cuts and bigger storage containers!
It was important that the shelves could be adjusted to different heights to accommodate my machines.
Save the top shelves for lighter tools and accessories!
I can't resist those adorable boxes that are popping up everywhere now. They come in different sizes and shapes. This one adds so much character. It holds my light box for making embossed greeting cards. Next to it is a light-weight die cut machine and a greeting card displayed on a plate holder.
I use an index card file box to store my embossing folders!
- Use plate holders to show off your handmade greeting cards!
I found a few cute index card storage boxes and they measured just the right size to store my embossing folders.
(Tip! I use the clear plastic sleeves that the embossing folders come in to store my clear rubber stamps to prevent them from sticking together!)
Hide unsightly storage containers with photos or your handmade art work!
Shown above is the brown file box where I store my embossing folders. I bought two of those. The other holds fabric squares.
There are two additional containers on this shelf that store more die cut products. Behind the photo frame, there is a clear plastic bin with handles which holds all of my paddle dies. The bin next to it stores my extra die cut pads. It keeps them out of sight so my space looks less cluttered.
The cork board also serves another purpose! It hides some of the painting mistakes on the wall behind it!
- Use stick pins to pin-up your handmade work (or your child's art projects) instead of push pins!
Tip! Hang a corkboard to display your artwork between shelves that leave a lot of open space.
The middle of the shelving unit holds my heaviest machines. The way the adjustable shelves worked out, there was more wall space between this shelf than any other. I filled the void with cork boards.
Tip! I display my children's artwork and some of my handmade work using stick pins instead of thumb tacks to go along with my crafty theme!
Decorate with stacking boxes for extra hidden storage!
I purchased some pretty stacking boxes that fit nicely side-by-side to go on top of my shelving unit. I can hide remnants of craft supplies that otherwise make an unsightly mess.
The largest box holds accessories for one of my die cut machines and keeps them dust free.
Storing these die cut machine accessories in a large stacking box keeps them dust free!
Stacking boxes come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. They display so nicely and can hold a lot of stuff. The stacking box in the picture to the right measures over 13" wide. It houses accessories and cutting pads to one of my machines and keeps them dust free.
My adventure with die cuts...
Die cuts are very popular.
I volunteered at a school a few years back and decorated the main bulletin board by the office. It was adorable with big bumble bees and flowers. I used some of the die cuts to create embellishments to pin up around the bulletin board.
We used to have a little scrapbook store in town owned by a long-time resident. She wanted me to hold demonstrations for a club that met there weekly. The timing was all wrong for me, but I felt very honored that my handmade work was well received.
And most recently, I was hired by an arts director to work from home creating thousands of embellishments for a project she was working on.
Tip! Use a baker's rack to store all of your cards, die cuts, embellishments and scrapbook layouts while they are drying!
Embellishments drying on my baker's rack
My art studio would not be complete without a baker's rack! My first attempt at creating die cuts was when I hosted a baby shower for a friend. I made her a three-tier cake with stars cut out from cookie dough that hung from ribbon in the middle like a crib mobile. It's no wonder I have a thing for die cuts!
I now have a baker's rack in my art studio. (It helped that I know someone who used to own a restaurant!) I purchased disposable trays that fit in the slots.
When I'm working, I cover a tray with wax paper and dispose of the paper when I'm done with that tray.
This allows me to keep my craft table clean and clutter free from all the mess I create when I'm working.
Everything I make goes on a tray in to the baker's rack until it's dried.
I used to make about 75 handmade Christmas cards every year. It was such a challenge when space was an issue. Especially when I was using glitter glue and dimensional adhesives that take time to dry.
Once I got the baker's rack I was able to make so many more things all at one time without cluttering up every space, counter, table, etc., just to allow things to dry.
We all have to start somewhere. Ideally, at the first purchase, you'll have a goal set in mind for how to organize your craft items as you accumulate them. But if you are like me, you don't really do anything to organize until it becomes a necessity.
Here are some tips for helping you organize your die cut machines and accessories:
- Measure your space. How big is your craft room? Do you have multiple craft rooms (I wish!)? Do you have space designated specifically for your die cut machines and accessories?
- Measure your machines. Keeping weight in mind, measure your machines to know what type of furniture you need to store them. Will a bookcase be sufficient and strong enough to hold the weight of one heavy machine or many die cuts in a storage box?
- Measure your die cuts. There are different sizes of die cuts. Most die cut companies offer storage containers. Measure your die cuts to make sure you're maximizing storage potential to match your style!
- Does everything have to match? Do you want to use plastic storage bins? Do you want to use baskets? Do you want to use storage boxes? All these things need to be considered because the cost can add up if you don't purchase smartly.
- Never purchase anything on a whim and hope it fits. Most likely it won't fit. There's nothing more frustrating than going to the store and finding the best storage box with the prettiest design, buying it, and realizing it won't fit on that bookshelf you intended to store it on! Don't waste money. Save money to buy more die cuts!
- Think about how you will organize your die cuts. Mine are organized by theme. I knew that I would need 9 plastic bins because I separated them out first by theme. Then finding more storage containers to complete my space, I went by measurements and what would fit.
- Find creative décor to hide unsightly supplies. I store my die cut paddles in a plastic bin with handles, but you wouldn't know it because I have a picture in front of it to hide the mess.
- Use elements in your organized space to match elements in other areas of your craft space. I have an index file box to store my embossing folders. I bought a second one to hold fabric remnants on a bookshelf next to my die cut machine storage. It brings your craft room together with visual appeal.
- Put lighter machines and accessories on higher shelves. Heavier items should go on the bottom shelves to prevent the shelving from breaking or falling.
- Don't forget to decorate the top of your shelving. Whether it be a vase with your silk flowers or boxes to hide craft supplies, it adds a finishing touch to your craft space!