Thursday, 23 June 2011

Getting Organised for Stitching

A while back I read a guest post by Casey of Elegant Musings over at Tilly and the Buttons about Planning Your Sewing.  Now I'm a bit of a sucker for organising (I used to do it for a job), so how I went for so long without bringing that love of organising to my sewing, I have no idea, but somehow it happened!

I love Casey's ideas for planning your makes ahead of time, prioritising them and ensuring they work together (so necessarily for a cohesive wardrobe, which I utterly don't have!).  And, don't tell anyone, but I'm the kind of sad person who quite likes spreadsheets.  The shame!

A couple of months ago I actually went through my stash and measured every piece of fabric and wrote it down, so seeing Casey's post inspired me to get my sewing-geek on and take it that one step further (a step too far, perhaps?!):

Yep, that would be a spreadsheet showing all my fabric.  Colour-coded and sorted by yardage.  I told you it was a step too far!

There are headings for:
  • a description
  • the composition - I try to note this when I first buy it as sometimes I forget.
  • size of piece - from a scrap to metres and metres!
  • the project concept or pattern I have planned for it (if any!) - I might have a vague concept that I want to make a wiggle dress and, if I'm really lucky, I might even have a pattern picked out!
  • further info - for instance, one of the fabrics shrinks loads when pressed - eek! - so I'll be sure to pre-wash that!
  • colour type - this is just one word for the dominant colour for very geeky reasons ... It means I can sort the spreadsheet/database by colour, so I can see what fabrics I have that go together or fit a particular colour scheme.  Yeah, you can mock me now if you'd like.  *Hangs head in geeky shame.*
  • colour description - a more detailed description of the exact shade of colour and the colours and patterns going on.
  • plain colour?  This is to flag up those plain fabrics - this has shown me I have far too many prints and patterns!  I must get some flat colours.

But let me defend myself!

You see, what I've done is make a spreadsheet like Casey's for projects with separate workbooks for fabric and patterns to help me marry up patterns with fabrics I already have.  The fabrics are colour-coded by yardage (blue for 2.1. to 3m, for example) and then the patterns have the same colour-coding:

Seeee?  So if there's a pattern I'm eyeing up and it's coded blue it requires between 2 and 3 metres, I know to look at blue-coded fabrics to find something with enough yardage to work with it.

I think there is probably an easier way of recording all these patterns - I had to do an entry for each view because of the different yardage requirements - but this seems to work.  The headings for patterns are:
  • Description & View - a brief description of the pattern and this particular view.  I haven't put pictures in the spreadsheet, so this is to remind myself of which pattern I'm talking about.
  • Item - what kind of item it is.  Again, this is a bit of organisational geekery so I can group all my dresses or skirt suits together.
  • Manufacturer - self-explanatory.
  • Number & View - ditto that!
  • Vintage?  Whether or not it's vintage or a repro pattern or simply a modern one.  I'm not sure why I put this in, really, just out of interest, I suppose!  Plus it probably helps me to remember which pattern I'm talking about.
  • Size and Recommended fabrics - self-explanatory.
  • Fabric 115cm, Fabric 150cm - the metre-age required for each of these fabric widths.  This is what I've sorted the spreadsheet by.
  • Notions - notions, interfacing, lining, interlining, etc.
  • Requires re-sizing?  Notes on fitting.
  • Fabric assigned (if any) - self-explanatory.
  • Love rating (out of 5) - simply how much I bloody love the pattern, with 5 being adoration at first sight.  The spreadsheet is sorted by this as a secondary sorting category.
So, while that's all rather boring, it's proving all rather useful, too. I'm already thinking about what I can do with that 2m of taffeta that's been hanging around for ages with me wondering what to make from it ... hmmm ... decisions, decisions!

What about you, are you organised in your sewing?  If so, how do you do that?


  1. I used to have a system like that. It died!

  2. Haha, Dreamstress! I know what you mean! I always say there are two kinds of list-makers - those who write lists, but never use them after that and those who write lists and keep to them. I'm the latter (nowadays, anyway, not in the past), so hopefully I'll keep this up ...


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