Quilting Blog

2 Fantastic Tips to Organize Your Quilting Projects (& Get More Done)

If you’re a Craftsy addict, like me, you probably have several quilting projects in the queue at all times. Working on several things at once is thrilling and  inspiring, but the truth is, it can be hard to organize and keep a handle on all those quilting projects.

 Without a system in place, you might find yourself forgetting about once-beloved, half-finished quilts, as you shove them aside for the promise of the joy of starting something new.

Craftsy's Organized Quilting Space

In this post, I’ll share my two favorite tips to keep track of the projects you’ve begun.

After trying these methods, you’ll find you finish more quilts each year, use the supplies you have, and enjoy a great sense of accomplishment in the skills you master along the way.

Tip #1: Use a projects-at-a glance planning page to list all your ongoing projects

First things first: Sit down with a cup of tea, and make a list of all the projects you are currently working on. Savor this quiet time. The simple act of putting a pen to paper to write down all your projects is motivating and inspiring.

Tea and Planner

Photo by Quilter’s Planner photographer Kitty Wilkin, The Night Quilter.

You can design your own project tracking page, or you can use the one shown below in The Quilter’s Planner. Think through all your quilting projects, list their names, and consider when you’d like to finish them. Don’t be afraid — write down a deadline for each one.  

This projects-at-a-glance page may be something you work on a little at a time as you remember and find things you started that you had completely forgotten about!  

Quilter's Planner Color Coded

Photo by Julie Schloemer of That’s Sew Julie.

When you make your list, consider using bright colors to keep track of where you are with each project. We are visual people! Use color to your advantage to organize and inspire yourself.  

Color Coding Quilters Planner

I love having this page bound into my Quilter’s Planner, because I never lose it. My planner stays with me in my sewing room, or the kitchen (my two main work areas in my home), since it also contains my calendars with my entire family’s schedule and my lists of things to do. 

If you use another planner, you can always add a projects-at-a-glance page to your planner.

Tip #2: Use a visual labeling system on project bins

Whatever you do, promise me that you will never — I mean NEVER — stuff your UFOs and fabrics in the drawer or in the closet ever again. No matter how frustrated or confused you are, please have mercy!

This behavior means certain death to that beloved quilt.  And no quilting project deserves that kind of passive-aggressive behavior (save that for your in-laws).

Quilting Fabric ORganized in Drawer

Instead, invest in an inexpensive shelving system (places like Target, Amazon and Ikea are always well stocked), and add colorful baskets or buckets to your shelves that are properly labeled with your quilting project.  

Sounds simple, right? I bet you’ve even thought of this before. But here’s where I’m going to remind you of something again that is essential in the organization game: Quilters are visual people!

Many of us are “out of sight, out of mind” people.  So when you stuff your unfinished quilt and the pattern in your bin and tuck it onto the shelf or in the closet, your brain quickly forgets what’s in there.  

When you label your bin, print out a picture of the project to secure to the outside.  

Quilt ORganization Bins

Each time you glance at that bin on the shelf, you will have a visual reminder of what the project is.  If you’re using different fabric than is featured in the photo, take a quick snapshot of your chosen fabric, and attach that too! You can use giant paper clips or sticky glue dots.

This method has helped me immeasurably in decreasing the number of abandoned (and lost) projects over the last couple of years. 

And guess what? This method also works beautifully for storing toys in your child’s play area too. It’s not particularly helpful to write the names of the toys on the bin because toddlers can’t read, right? However, they recognize the pictures of their toys on the outside of the bins, and then they can recall exactly what is there waiting to be played with at any given time.  

Just like us! We just need a visual reminder to pull out our toys and play!

A cheaper alternative to the shelf and bin method:

If you don’t have space for another shelving system, you may want to purchase a few clear, plastic storage bins like the one pictured below.

Quilt Organization Bins

I have a row of these on my floor, and each one has the pattern taped to the top (in plastic).  I don’t like to stack them, because as soon as the pictures disappear, it’s out of sight, out of mind for my poor project again!

Now it’s your turn to get organized and get inspired!

For some of my favorite Craftsy classes, with projects that will want to make you sew more, try:

Click here to learn more about The Quilter’s Planner!

15 Comments

Libbie Kirby

All great ideas – but not everyone has the room for storage systems. I prefer to do one or two projects at a time and concentrate on them. – Libbie

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Stephanie Palmer

Yes! Space is always a consideration. For that reason, I love the plastic bins shown above that fit right under my sewing table, with the patters taped on the top (or the side if you need to stack them!)

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Dee

Love the suggestions for staying on top of current projects. I struggle with that. Yes you are right I am a outta sight out of mind kinda gal so I will be trying your suggestions as this is my year to get UFO’s completed and I truly think this will help.
Thank-you, quiet faithful reader.

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Jazz Caldwell

I always have multiple quilts in mind and in process. For some reason I am able to keep progress and details together in my head but I must say I love that project page! I have been storing individual quilt projects in their own containers for years now but I don’t have room for too many – guess my brain is pretty much the same way.

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Diane Williams

I will give this a try! I have a few projects in giant plastic baggies but not labeled. Recently I cut out squares and triangles for several days and then put in a plastic grocery bag. When I pulled it out I couldn’t remember what pattern I was using!! Thank you!!

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Grace

To keep me from forgetting which pattern was intended, I make up kits with my pattern in the bag or container with the materials for that project. I then place a visible label on the outside. I love the picture label idea, but for me my small label maker has become my best friend. Using the same font throughlout my room gives me visual peace and is less taxing on my brain.
If the pattern is online or in a book I am using, I place a note of the pattern name and location with the materials.
I have recently made a go to basket for multiple use patterns that may go with more than one kit.

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Jane

Thank you for some interesting tips which are perfectly timed as I am in the process of reorganising my sewing room. I have several of the plastic boxes you refer to and I’ve stuck pictures on the sides so I know what’s in them and I can stack them easily. I’m trying to decide the best way to sort my fabrics, whether to keep plains separate from patterns etc. Do you have any suggestions?

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Linda Anderson

Love the ideas!

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Doris

Very good information. I’m in the process of getting my act together for the projects.

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Rebecca Brannon

Such simple powerful ideas. Thank you for sharing. My sewing room is filled with UFO’s and fabric I can no longer remember what project I purchased it for. I think one box labeled “focus fabric” might be helpful.

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Denise

Started a project planning book like you suggested but I listed ALL needlework UFO’s and their location. As I do a myriad of different types of projects there’s a LOT in the book.

Then I lost the darn book!! Oh well, someday it will resurface!

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Audrey

Great ideas. Those along with my Quilters Planner and I’m doing great. I’m much more motivated when I am organized.

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Sue Sheridan

I just had the water heater break in the sewing room closet. Warning keep everything in plastic off the floor. Now my stuff is in the living room dinning room and outside on the deck. This is forcing me to organise everything. The sewing room is empty except for cutting table and ironing board.

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Doreen Hammond

I have some cheap shelves and got some dish pans from the dollar store. Put my projects in them and wrap plastic bag around them to keep out the dust. Oh and I label the dishpan.

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Lisa

I like the idea of the pictures. My space is limited but I think I could put some bins under the sewing table.

Reply

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