Sunday, September 30, 2007

Organizational Tricks Part One

While preparing the Green post, I had the idea that it might be helpful to some of you if I shared some of my organizational tricks. I have a lot of sewing stuff, since I've been sewing since the early 1970's and began seriously pursuing it again since finishing grad school in the (cough!) early 1980's.

Fabric Inventory: This box is an index card file I bought at Staples. I originally started with a little recipe style card box, but obviously, that became too small a while ago.

In it are index cards with swatches of my stash fabric, well 99% of it. There are always a few pieces that slip through inventory.

Each card has:

  • A small swatch of the fabric

  • The date (month/year) of purchase

  • Length

  • Width

  • Fiber content and washing instructions, if known

  • Where purchased and cost, if known

I've found that index cards give me the greatest flexibility in selecting and rearranging my collection. Plus, this system has been ongoing for a while and it would be a pain to change at this point.

You've noticed by now that the cards are grouped by rings. I started by arranging the cards by colors. Remember Roy G. Biv, that mnemonic for remembering the colors of the rainbow? That's how several of the rings are set up. Then I decided to keep knits, polarfleece, flannel, and cotton prints separately because that's how I was looking for them. They're arranged by color within each ring. The set of cards in front of the box contains the fabrics that I've chosen for the Getaway so far.

I don't know how many yards I have. A lot.

Although I probably should have the location of the fabric noted on each card, I haven't done that yet. Maybe if I do a big clean up and clean out, I'll get around to it someday.

Sewing Journal: I've referred to keeping a sewing journal many times on boards and comments on other people's blogs. Here are a couple of representative samples of what the pages look like.

I'm now up to Book 10, so I've been doing this a while. I just start with spiral bound notebooks, which are relatively small, inexpensive and portable. Then as I finish each notebook, or a significant number of pages, I transfer them to a loose leaf binder. The binders have a home in my sewing room and are excellent reference materials for me.

If I were starting to do this over again, I'd probably do it a little differently. I'd probably keep the inpiration pictures separate and arrange them in themes instead of mostly randomly posting them in the notebooks.

What really makes this system work for me is the indexing. I keep a little Excel file and place it in front of each notebook in the looseleaf binder. I also have an Excel file that consolidates each file so I know what each major entry has and what notebook it's in. This photo shows the master index (somewhat out of date) and the individual notebook index:

In writing this post, I realized that I haven't talked about how patterns are organized. I'll talk about that later, as well as some other things I do to try and keep my sewing and stashing under control.

Addendum to yesterday's post: I didn't make it to Santa Fe yesterday, having gotten caught up in an organizational frenzy that started when I couldn't find my camisoles with the built-in bras. I ended up rearranging my entire bureau. I also went through all the clothes that I'm giving to charity to find the dog-gone things. Grrrr.


Lisa Laree said...

Wow! All that organization and documentation is so inspiring! I've got my fabric stash sort of organized, but my 'sewing journal' is a combo of posted Pattern Reviews, the blog, and a box w/printed photos (from before we got a digi cam) and the 3x5 cards w/swatches of fabrics that are now out of the stash, with a notation of what I used the fabric for and when I made it.

BTW, I *totally* can identify w/the organizational frenzy...I had a couple of bookshelves explode on me in a similar fashion a week and a half ago ;)

Laura said...

Thanks for this post, as it's always useful to see how people organize their stash, ideas, patterns etc. What kind of things do you note in the index for each notebook? Types of ideas, which garment, etc.?

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

I have nothing on you in organization! I do the sight thing for shopping fabric - open the closet door and think what color I'm looking for and you saw my inspiration corkboard. This is just amazing!

Raesha D said...

I love the sewing journal! I had never thought of that, though I do keep a quilting jounral/scrapbook. Though that went downhill when I started making more doll quilts and wallhangings rather than bed size quilts. I am loving all your organization inspiration!

Cherie said...

Love, love your systems! I will start esp. that journal. I have my patterns down pat, it sure is fun when you can easily find things.

Linda said...

Wow, very impressive.

I am trying to get more organized by using OneNote which is on my computer. It allows me to type up information and then post a photo, picture from internet, etc. Similar to your notebook but on my computer.

The key word is trying! I certainly have a ways to go. Thanks for sharing your organizational tricks. I need help.

Karla said...

Your system is lovely - useful and so attractive that it must be a constant pleasure to use. More proof that I am a Failure. I'm sure it's a missing gene. I'll think of your system the next time I'm crawling under a table to find the missing foldover elastic.