Paperwork? What paperwork? Oh that paperwork…

How do you organise your sewing projects? Do you keep a list and a timetable of what you want to do, approach it methodically and with plenty of prep so you have everything to hand? Or do you do what I’ve historically done and arrive at your sewing desk on a Saturday morning in your pyjamas with no breakfast in your belly (just a cuppa tea) and no preparation, throw everything from the dining table onto the floor and start an ill-thought out project only to find halfway through that you haven’t got the right thread, needles, fabric or skills? Cue tiny tantrum and a stomp back to bed for a pity party with the cats.

I’ve started trying to get a grip on what I want to do, so I don’t start a million projects at once and so I know what I need beforehand. And I’m a sucker for a nice notebook so I got this little Liberty fabric-covered beauty to try to organise myself and get inspired.

My sewing notebook

I’ve written a series of ‘sewing resolutions’ on the inside cover – I’m not going to share them all because they’re a bit naff. But one of them is not to spend more than £50 on fabric in a month. That sounds like a lot doesn’t it? But if you’ve ever been browsing through sites like Backstitch, Fabric Rehab or even Ebay then you’ll know what I mean when I say £100 can go just like that. Poof. Gone. Oops. Plus I work on Regent Street so I’m right by Berwick Street’s plethora of cloth emporiums and not far from John Lewis’ haberdashery and textile floor. I don’t even need to watch my step on the escalators anymore. And it’s four floors up. If I’m quick I can make it in six minutes.

What I have found though is that when I take the time to write up a project before I start, it begins to take form and structure in my imagination, and I start to think about how it will look, feel, what embellishments I might add, how can I adapt the pattern I’m using etc.

For example, I’ve promised my mum an apron for her new kitchen. Previously I would have just rifled through my fabric stash, pulled out something that vaguely suited and got down to it, probably stopping along the way because I’d run out of something or other and casting the unfinished project back into  stash, doomed to wait until another moment of inspiration struck. This time I’ve noted where I’m getting the pattern from (online), how much fabric I’ll need (so when I’m out and about and spot the perfect match I can get the right amount instead of buying too much), what notions I need and how I’ll go about adding little touches like the pockets or the neck… string? What’s the right term for the thing that goes round your neck on an apron? Neck strap? Sounds dodgy. Anyhoo, back to pockets.

Apron project page

Is a wide across-the-hip pocket the best way to go? Would my mum prefer two wee pockets either side? What about a touch of rick rack or contrast piping to jazz it up a bit? I’ve got Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Carol (of Angry Chicken) which has a whole section on apron pockets so I’ve put a note there to remind myself to check it out.

I still think I have a long way to go before I hit these sort of standards in planning and productivity, although eventually that’s my plan.

Project list

In the meantime I’ve started this list so I can see what’s ongoing and what’s been finished. (Another resolution is to make one thing every week, no matter how small. We’ll see how that goes.) I’m also going to start snipping little bits of fabric and adding them to each project page so I remember what I’d earmarked for each item.

But for now, this works for me. What works for you? Have you got any tips for a beginner in sewing admin?

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