How I Organize Sewing to Get More Done

I think most crafters can relate with the difficulty to keep your sewing/crafting area clean. But we can also agree that when it is clean and organized, we get a lot more done and are happier while doing it! Jennifer S. is a mom of 3 with a full time job and an obsession for sewing. Somehow she manages to run our monthly sew alongs AND create tons outfits for her kids for each season. Last year, she took a week-long disney vacation and the entire family wore themed clothing every day. I wish I had that amount of determination! But Jennifer says her secret to getting so much done is in how organized she is. So I’ll just turn this over to her..

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A lot of people comment on (WARNING- TOOTING MY OWN HORN ABOUT TO HAPPEN 😂) my ability to get so much done sewing wise, considering I have 3 kids, a full time job (and a boatload of overtime) and up until a couple months ago, homeschooled my oldest.

There’s really 2 parts to this- the first is the luck of the draw as far as my job. Working 3rd shift there can be a lot of down time, and we’re allowed to do whatever we want as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job. I can print, cut, and tape patterns at work, and I’ve even cut fabric there. I’ve also brought projects to pin, so that way home time can be primarily machine time. (When I cut projects, I cut a LOT at once, and store them in labeled ziplock bags so when I can sew I can just get to it). I call being able to do stuff at work “cheating” 😂, sorry 😛

HOWEVER:
A HUGE part of my success is intense levels of organization. I have a huge spreadsheet organized first by season, then by person the item is for.

I plan ahead, and cut bunches of projects at once, and store them in a Ziploc bag with the sticker listing what pattern, what designer, what size, what fabric choice, notions etc. etc. etc.

I keep my solid coordinates organized with like colors together, and I keep my fabric swatches handy so I can just match a coordinate to the print I’m using easy peasy.

I keep my supplies organized in a toolbox. The top is for stuff that’s too big for the other compartments and stuff I used very frequently. The other sections are organized by item type.

I have a special little box specifically for the items I use when I change thread colors- tweezers, machine oil, screwdriver, little brush to get rid of fluff, qtips to get the oil back into harder to reach areas, floss threaders from the dental section of the store to help get woolly nylon through the loopers, spare needles of all types, etc. That way I don’t have to go into multiple sections of my box or try to dig up the individual items each time (I change thread colors a lot. I’m kinda OCD about matching.)

I have a storage organizer from target with 3 drawers- one had all my sewing machine thread, organized in large ziplock bag by color family, and organized further in snack size ziplock bags with the matching bobbin threads. The second has all the “decorative notions”- buttons, trims, etc. the 3rd has all my “functional notions”- zippers, elastic, etc. all again organized in ziplock bags.

I have a special organized for my kam snaps so they mostly stay separated by color.

I have my serger threads zip locked together by color again, so I just have to search for 1 bag as opposed to 4 individual cones.

My patterns are stored alphabetically first by designer, then by pattern name in a filing cabinet I got for free from work when we upgraded our center. On the front of the file folder, I write the extra pieces that need to be cut so I don’t have to keep referring to the pattern or the pattern pieces (or tape a copy of the chart provided in the pattern). (I also write those measurements on the sticker I put on the ziplock bag when I’m having a cutting day.)

It’s not witchcraft or anything 😂, it’s just a lot of work, assisted by my OCD. I decided the use my ‘crazy’ as a force for good as opposed to letting it annoy me 😛 aaand the baby’s awake, but I think I pretty much covered everything I do. If y’all have any tips, please share! I’m always looking for ways to get even more efficient!

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And there you have it! “How to Organize the OCD Way” 😛
I would like to add that the hardest part is to STAY organized once you’re done sewing. After the project is finished, you still have tons of tools to put away, fabric to fold, thread to sweep up, etc. But I challenge you to spend the 5 minutes after sewing and clean up. Do that for 3 weeks and by then it will be a habit…so hopefully putting the scissors back when you’re done will come as naturally as taking them out when you need them.

Don’t forget to Sew It and Show It in our Sew Along group where Jennifer S. is doing a “Swim Free For All” this month with the chance at winning patterns and fabric!

That’s all for today, Stitch Junkies!
Jennifer G.

11 Responses to “How I Organize Sewing to Get More Done”

  1. Lots of good ideas here. I use a baby changing table to the right of me with different containers for scissors, rulers, marking tools etc. My problem is I have sooooo much of everything hence the changing table, lol. I also next to that have a multi drawer rolling bins with more tools. I have so many machines some usable some need to go with all of their feet in one bin funny I know which goes to which. I need to get more organized.

  2. You sound super organized! A while back I started cutting out scrundies for me and my daughter with whatever left over fabric I had from the current project. I would put them in a ziplock bag until I had several pairs for each of us. It’s amazing how much quicker I can make them if I have several pairs cut and ready to stitch at one time. Plus it’s a great way to use up scraps!

  3. Thanks for this post. Lots of helpful tips in here. I also have 3 kids to sew for so it’s not just about staying organized but also making efficient use of my sewing time. I will cut out 2-3 pieces at once (depending on fabric thickness). For example I will fold my fabric in preparation for cutting and then do that for 2 or 3 fabrics, then stack them on top of one another, put my pattern piece down and cut. I was amazed at how much time this saved me.

    • Thanks for that tip. I was tempted to try the multi-layer cutting the other day when I had to make three pair of the same size scrundlewear. Do you have problems with the pattern or fabric shifting or moving when you’re cutting multiple layers?

  4. I like the idea of doing a bunch of cutting head of time and storing in bags, once I cut something I tend to lose all the pieces if I don’t sew it right away. However, I am impatient and find myself staying up too late because I want to get my project done! I also am a much happier sewer when everything is organized!

  5. Thank you so much for the tips! I love how you organize your patters and put the measurements on the folder! im so doing this! Thank you!

  6. Wow!! I need to work towards this level of organization!! Thank you for the helpful tips!

  7. I like you ideas! My sewing place is totally a mess… lol! Thank you!

  8. Great tip on bagging the serger threads by color. I’m always searching for the same four colors in my bin. I’ll use that one for sure 👍🏽

  9. I have a garage organizer system on the wall in my sewing room, just above my cutting table. It has hanger pins, large and small bins, a shelf for my laminator. I hang my scissors, rotary cutters, quilt rulers, measuring tapes, and lots of other sewing tools on the pins. The small bins have things like safety pins, fray check, tape, extra rotary blades , pattern weights etc. The large bin holds spools of serger threads. This has worked great for keeping everything with hands reach and organized.

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