Quilts and Projects - Sew Orderly

Feb 2023

The way you store, sort and track your WIPs can make a huge difference to your productivity

Welcome to Week 3 of our Instagram #SewOrderly challenge!

In Week 1 we looked at notion storage and Week 2 we sorted our fabric stashes.

This week we are looking at organising all things quilty and project related.

Whether it’s a WIP or a finished project, the way things are stored, sorted and displayed can make a huge difference to productivity.

I’m going to be focusing my post today on how I store and keep track of progress for ongoing projects.

Sew Great to be Organized - old Tilda LemonTree Quilt top

1.     Keeping Track

Why should you keep records??

Isn't that just extra work that you could use for sewing?

1.      Keeping a written record of a project means you’re holding less in your mind.

I call this brain clutter.

It does take some work to write it down, but less work than holding a mental record in your mind.

If it’s logged somewhere else, your brain doesn’t have to.

Keeping a record of every aspect of a project from pattern and fabrics, and templates will help you have a better chance of success.

Consider how many times you've come back to a long lost project, only to find you don’t have enough fabric, and now its out of print??

It’s a real dampener on progress.

Photo Cred: Pixelstopatchwork.com

So there are many options available to keep track. You can keep your own notebook with a page for each project, or try using one of the many free downloadable trackers you can find online.

You can also buy specific printed planners especially for creative types and even for quilters.

If you’d prefer to keep a computer record,try drawing up a progress sheet on Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.


2.     You can track your progress

This is super useful for a number of reasons…if you have some kind of deadline, then you can tell if you’re on schedule.

If you have certain fabrics you’re beginning to run out of, you can decide if you need to order more.

You can record where they came from as well and not waste time hunting for the supplier.

Sew Great to be Organized - Happy Flower QAL blocks

On days when you feel like nothing is progressing, and your stuck in particular circumstances, rally yourself with a few reminders that some things are in your control, and seeing a visual reminder of progress is one them.

You can feel that passage of achievement!

Sew Great to be Organized - Happy Flower QAL Block Stack


3.      You can record finishes.

Don’t underestimate the power that checking off something on your list does to your self esteem.

Yes, ticking a box or writing out the word ‘completed’ or ‘finished’ actually gives you a physical boost of endorphins. Endorphins are good for your health.

Therefore – project finishes are healthy for the body and healthy for the soul!😉


2.    Coping with multiple WIPs

So how do you cope with multiple projects on the go?

Are you a mostly one at a time type person, or do you thrive with many WIPs at different ages and stages?

While my life is super busy with family and friends, I typically don’t like to overload myself with WIPs.

My approach to projects is to finish in a timely manner, not to have endless piles of half finished quilts, pouches and stitcheries.

They bring me joy as I work on them, comfort and solace and even energy from the textures, colours and patterns.

But the ultimate goal is always to eventually add the final stitch, then send them out into the world like a grown child to blossom and bless!

But what does a timely finish look like to you?

My preferred time frame and quantity of WIPs is going to be different to yours of course.

But for each of us, the goal is a joyful and fulfilling sewing feeling, not an overwhelming and de-motivating one.

Sew Great to be Organized - Tilda Pouch Design Phase

If you are finding that you have too many WIPs on the go atone time, try setting yourself some boundaries.

Be strict with a plan of getting things finished.

Prioritise your WIPs in the order that makes sense to you…maybe work on the one you are closest to completing first. Then perhaps choose the one that you actually have all the necessary parts for.

It’s a kind of Marie Kondo for projects. This is back to the record keeping that we discussed earlier. This fun set of sheets will help you chip away at a big stack of WIPs and get them down to what’s comfortable again.

Another great motivating tool is groups that hold each other accountable. Find a real life or online buddy or group who are also working to whittle down their WIP list. Everything is more fun with friends!

If you have tried everything, and just can't bring yourself to finish because you've totally fallen out of love with it, than acknowledge this and move it on.

Sometimes you can de-stash a partially finished project, or gift it to another crafty friend who would like to finish it.

They will add their own journey and layer of memories to it, so be sure to tell them how it was special to you.

What’s your acceptable length of time for finishing a project?

This is the first time in my sewing life that I have been working on projects for longer than a year. I still consider my Pemberley to be a current project, but that’s pretty unusual for me.

A long term project of many years may be something you’re completely comfortable with.

Remember, progress is progress no matter how slow!


3.      How to store effectively for best progress

Whether you use homemade purpose built pouches and bags, or plastic containers, keep everything for a project together.

Keep it in easy reach. Make life easy – start organised and continue organised.

Keep the box/bag in view where you are likely to be reminded and motivated to work on it. Remember out of sight, out of mind is a often true!

For example, my Pemberley EPP quilt has taken me almost 2 yrs to date.

Sew Great to be Organized - Pemberley Quilt Blocks and Pattern in 12" storage tub

I keep blocks and fabric for this project in a 12” scrapbooking box, with templates and papers so everything is there to go when I’m ready to stitch. I wait until these come on special, as they're even better value then!

I tick off blocks as they’re done to keep track of my progress.

And I’m so excited to be very nearly done! Like most of you I have a ‘stitching station’ next to the couch where all my sewing supplies are waiting for when I move to couch sewing. This makes it really easy to pick up and stitch for just bit here and there.

4. Display, Use & Gift Your Finishes

The best part of moving a WIP to a finish is that you can bask in that finished feeling.

Make sure you put what you've done on show so you get to see what you've done.

Enjoy the feeling of blessing others with your sewing abilities by gifting to friends, family and worthy recipients.

Best of all, don't be afraid to use them. Life's too short to store everything locked away. Use the good china, cuddle under that special quilt together.

That's what they're for right!?

Sew Great to be Organized - Display your proud finishes they are to be used and enjoyed!

Last but not least, don’t forget to allow time to dream and then plan for future projects.

Keeping a hopeful outlook for many sunny happy days of stitching ahead is all part of the magic!

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Meet Ali Phillips

So glad you stopped by for a read! I'm a sewist with a passion for family, creativity, & organisation.