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Tips & Techniques > Sewing Project Notebook

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Posted by: Noile

About Noile starstar
Member since: 7/3/04
Reviews: 108 (tips: 2)
Skill level:Intermediate
Favored by: 15 people
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Posted on: 8/13/05 4:15 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 3 people   Very Helpful by 8 people   
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I'm sewing again after many years, and am loving it. One reason it's so satisfying is that I'm a lot more organized than I have been in the past, which lets me get in many more mini sewing sessions of a half hour or so at a time. I'm just using time a lot more efficiently than in the past.

One great "helper" has been organizing my projects. I'm now using a sewing notebook which helps me to plan my projects, and also keeps me on track, finishing what I started. (If that's not the bane of sewers, I don't know what is!)

Here's how I've done mine, beginning with materials:

-- a 7 by 9 inch three ring binder (Staples usually has them; Wal-Mart has nicer ones, cheaper, this year -- 2005)
-- a set of light poly, tabbed, transparent, index dividers (wilsonjones makes the ones I use) these are regular size; I cut them to fit
-- white card stock, 8 1/2 by 11, standard size
-- a paper punch
-- a paper cutter with a sturdy blade is nice; otherwise, a ruler and scissors will do fine

I assembled my notebook by cuttiing the cardstock in half, and punching three holes in each piece, to fit the binder.

Then I cut dividers, using one of my card stock pages as a template, and punched holes in them. Cutting the dividers was really easy using my paper cutter, but punching the holes was another story. Brute force did the trick.

I use card stock because it is so durable -- a desirable quality in something that is used so much and carried around. It also has enough strength to cope with fabric samples.

At the moment, my notebook's sections are as follows:

Section 1 -- Patterns I am interested in buying. For this section, I print off a picture of the pattern in the online catalog, and trim it to fit my notebook. When I'm dreaming of the next project, I flip through these. If I see an especially attractive fabric on sale, but am not sure what I might use it for, this is a good place to look, too.

Section 2 -- Projects in the Works. Each page here is marked off in a grid -- six squares to the page. Each square has a pattern number and a description of the item I'm actually planning to make. When I buy the fabric for the pattern (or choose it from my stash), a swatch gets taped in place here. This is a perfect resource for choosing thread and trims, as well as linings and for planning any coordinating future projects.

Behind each project page is a photocopy of the back of each pattern, showing yardages and back views. (In the case of some patterns, like Stretch and Sew, you get front and back, as well as yardage, which is really nice.) Where I can (some photocopy very badly), I include a copy of the view I'm making from the front. Very convenient, and handy especially for favorites, which may get made again and again.

Section 3 -- Completed Projects. Part of the fun I'm having comes from writing up the finished projects, which I post to and to my own website. I print my website pages off, and include them in the notebook, with swatches of the fabric I used for the item. This is a great resource for reminding me how I used a particular pattern, and also for matching coordinating or contrasting garments or items in the future.

There's no reason that this section can't be handwritten, of course. Card stock usually has two sides to it, though, and it's easiest to hand write on the rougher side. Printing should be done on the smoother (and usually slightly glossier) side -- otherwise your printer's ink may smear a little.

Section 3 -- Tips. Here's where I have the settings (with samples) for serged finishes for particular fabrics, special stitches I used, with settings, as well as tips and tricks I want to remember for upcoming projects.

Section 4 -- The Sewing Room. Here's where I track changes I may want to make to my sewing area; functional notions and tools I'm considering purchasing, etc.

That's all I'm using at the moment, though I have one spare divider left in case I think of something else.

The small binder size makes it practical to carry around, and it's so helpful to have everything in one place. I love having the pattern information with me without having to drag the pattern envelope around. I also don't risk discovering that last year's pattern information is no longer in the current catalog when I'm about to make a fantastic fabric purchase.

As I move projects out of this "active" binder, I'll keep them and have a record of what I've made and how I did it.

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CindyP said... (10/22/05 2:02 PM) Reply
What a great tip! I'm always stopping by the fabric store to get something, then think about another project and can't remember what size buttons or how much fabric I needed. This would be so handy. Thanks for the great idea!
Brett Draper said... (9/5/05 0:01 AM) Reply
Just surfing tonight and came across your tip. An excellent idea and very timely for me. I haven sewn in a while and this will get me going again.
tabitha said... (9/2/05 0:08 AM) Reply
I am the OPPOSITE of organized--VERY unlike you--but using a sewing notebook has helped me, too. About 10 years ago, when I was in my previous "sewing phase" (I go in and out), I got a fat "3-subject" spiral notebook. I had some scheme of dividing my textile life into three areas, but it got very fuzzy. I had all kinds of notes in all three sections. BUT when I re-entered "sewing mode" this past year, what treasure-trove of design ideas, pattern notes, all kinds of stuff that my conscious mind had forgotten--but my "paper mind," in the form of that notebook, had retained!
cboots said... (8/26/05 1:08 PM) Reply
Great tip! I've been thinking about putting something similar together, but hadn't quite figured out how or what to include yet. Your tip gives me some good ideas!
Sew it seams said... (8/17/05 10:25 AM) Reply
Wow! You are *very* organized! These are the things I think about doing, but -sigh- never do. Thanks for the inspiration.
hongkongshopper said... (8/15/05 10:10 PM) Reply
Wouldn't it be great to be that organised!
tigger said... (8/14/05 1:41 AM) Reply
I love this idea - thanks! I think it's not only a great tool but a fun project to do that will help in enjoying our very addictive hobby. I'm going to start it today!
Georgene said... (8/13/05 9:19 PM) Reply
Yay! Great system, thanks for your outline of your technique.
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