28 May 2011

Guest Post by Casey: Planning Your Sewing

Hello! Casey of Elegant Musings here. I am so delighted that Tilly asked me to guest post for her. I have long been a fan of her blog and jumped at the chance to help out and say “thank you” for all her inspiration and sewing know-how she shares with us. Today I wanted to discuss the idea of planning your sewing: how do you prepare each project? What method do you use to keep track of things? How do you stay organized with your sewing?

I think I, like many who love to sew, tend to sew based on whims. For a long time I didn’t have a set idea of what I really needed to sew and just let whatever caught my fancy dictate what I occupied me next. Which is fine—I think sewing should be fun and enjoyable! But in many ways this approach left me feeling a bit dissatisfied that there were things I did need to sew that weren’t getting addressed. So I started to keep track of things and plan them out a bit.

Last spring I started making spreadsheets of my projected sewing plan for the season. Sometimes the majority of projects were completed, other times they were not. For me it’s a good way to list everything out at once, prioritize projects, keep track of supplies I need, and also log adjustments I’ve made. Above you can see what my late spring/early summer plan looks like. I unfortunately didn’t have a plan for early this year—and I feel like it showed a bit with my sewing productivity. This summer I plan on spending some time working on a few garments that have been on my to-do list for a bit, and I have a visual way to keep track of things and see my progress (or lack thereof!).

To create this document, I just use a spreadsheet program; in this case Open Office. There is no fancy coding or formatting—just simple rows of information in each cell. Pretty bare bones! I have the following columns:
  • Project number (I rank them by priority or urgency)
  • Project Title/Description
  • Pattern Number: to easily reference my stash.
  • Fabric: what I plan on using from my stash or envision and need to acquire. I also usually add yardage if I have to buy fabric. I will usually bold-face or highlight the specific materials I still need to purchase.
  • Notions: I use the same method as fabric for tracking what I still need to buy.
  • Fitting notes: I like to keep track of any changes I’ve made to a pattern by jotting down the basics here. I’ll usually write whatever else I’ve done on a piece of paper that goes in the pattern, but the synopsis goes here.
  • Construction notes: any changes I want to make to the pattern, ideas, etc.

Once a project is completed, I’ll highlight the entire row for that project. It’s really satisfying to see a solid block of highlighted cells towards the end of a season! Or motivating to get done what is still undone…

I also keep my seasonal sewing plan ideas in my sketchbook or have a folder of images easily accessible on my computer’s desktop for reference. Another method I have tried is keeping loose-leaf pages with sections to write in the particulars for each project, and swatches and sketches stapled on. I love this method too, but often forget to pull my binder out to double check! This method, for me at least, is easier to pull up when I check my email and manipulate the data and see at a glance what is done and what isn’t! Case in point: a skirt I was able to cross off my list recently:

Because I’m always the nosey type… what is your favorite method for planning sewing projects and keeping track of things? Or do you prefer to let the spirit move you when it comes to your next project?