Does Your Sewing Project List Spiral Out of Control?

How do you manage your list of things to sew? Do you keep a list in a notebook, a corkboard full of sketches or a computer spreadsheet? Is it all in your head, or does the pile of fabric remind you of what’s next to sew? And how do you keep it from becoming such a long list it’s completely unmanageable – or downright terrifying?

I think I have a very ambitious (and slightly skewed) view of how much time I have to sew. And even though I’ve been blogging about sewing for two years, and have a record of how many projects I made in the past year, I still seem to think I can take on more than normal!

Even at the start of the Minoru Sew-Along, I told you that I’ll be sewing three jackets. Ha! I am barely keeping up with just sewing one jacket.

And you know, I still wish I was sewing three Minoru jackets because I’d really like to wear them! And I could sure use a couple of skirts. And I’d love to be finishing the Wrap Coat. Perhaps getting a jump on sewing for spring with sundresses and light blouses. And sewing the fabric I got for my birthday back in September. I’d really like to sew myself a new dress for my birthday next week, but know that I’m probably too late. Already that seems like a lot of time to log in front of the machine! Some of these I own fabric for, some of these I don’t. How do you stop yourself from piling too much on your to-sew list? Do you stop yourself from buying new fabric until you’ve finished a project at a time? (But what if it’s on sale?)

If I took out all of the fabric it would take to sew everything on my imaginary list, and piled it up in a pile, it would look extremely daunting and nearly impossible. Which sort of takes the joy out of sewing, right? It’s no fun if it feels like homework! (And that’s exactly why it’s stored in boxes, out of sight!)

It’s a bit like your Ravelry queue, if you knit and use Ravelry. If you don’t, you can keep an online list for all the knitting projects you’d like to make. (Easily, with the click of a button.) See a pretty pair of mittens? Click ‘Add to queue!’ Found a lovely cardigan pattern? Click ‘Add to queue!’ Admiring a gorgeous lace shawl pattern that’s probably too hard for you right now, but figure one day, you’ll be able to tackle it? Add to the bottom of the queue, which is probably pretty long by now!

I try and control my knitting project list by not buying any yarn I don’t plan to use right away. And it mostly works, partially because I don’t have a lot of space to store yarn, and partially because I don’t have a massive yarn-buying budget. So that queue doesn’t bog me down, because it’s all theoretical anyways. (Especially the really hard projects.)

So how do you keep your sewing wishlist from spiralling out of control? Or does having a big long sewing list not bother you at all, because you know you’ll make it work somehow? How do you make your planned projects seem manageable, realistic, and still keep it fun? (Am I the only one who thinks they can pump out more sewing projects than humanly possible?) I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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73 Responses to Does Your Sewing Project List Spiral Out of Control?

  1. Hannah Jean February 13, 2012 at 6:13 am #

    Simple! I don’t think of it as a list I must do, but as one I can do. Sewing relaxes me and gives me a project to focus on with great results– a garment that fits! I think of sewing as like an art project. I love having ideas, but in the end if I don’t get to make every one, it doesn’t bug me. And yes, I do buy that fabric on sale, but my stash is pretty huge so I wouldn’t recommend it. :)

    • Liz Dickup May 28, 2015 at 8:31 am #

      Thanks for the insight on your blog. I can make projects and I don’t need to pressure myself especially since I am retired.

  2. Becky February 13, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    That’s why I only add things to my Ravelry queue that I have yarn for, and add everything else to my favorites!

    I’m not sure, honestly….it seems like every season I end up with more projects I’d like to do than I have time for. I just cut out a jacket that’s been on my fall/winter list for the last 3 colder seasons! And especially since I’ve gotten more concerned with finishing things nicely, it takes more time to finish each garment. I just try not to stress out too much about it….sometimes it’s better to let my fabric sit uncut anyway, because a pattern or project idea that’s better than what I’d originally planned often comes up!

  3. Sara February 13, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Hi Tasia :)

    I have a very long, very, very long to-sew list! :o/ Currently I am making my wedding dress, my Bridesmaid dress, my 3 daughters flower girl dresses and if I can’t find a suit for my son, then one of them too, plus a dress for my mum for the day and a dress that I can change into for the reception!!! And I only have 5 weeks left!!! EEEEK!!! But that’s cool, the kids are back at school and they do eventually go to sleep at night!! hehehhehe.

    But usually what I do, as not to get over whelmed with so many projects on the go at once, I do bits and pieces of 2 sometimes 3 different projects at once! I know, sounds crazy huh, but it saves the procrastination and boredom with some things! (like gathering, especially tulle!!! Pet hate!!!) I usually stick with things that can take the same over locker thread, and it really doesn’t take much to change the sewing machine thread.

    Although sometimes, it make take 3 times as long to actually finish something, but in the end, I have been inspired so much more, to make more gorgeous things!

  4. Jodi February 13, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    I have a written list of project ideas that aren’t yet started. I typically wait to purchase fabric until I am ready to sew. Then I try keep the number of “in-progress” projects to a minimum. I used to have a lot more discipline and less ideas and, therefore, a lot fewer simultaneous projects. Now I typically have 3-4 going at a time at a time.

    As for organizing, I like keep all the parts to my project together in a box or bin. That way I only have to pull out one at a time.

    Wow! This makes me sounds super organized… When in reality, I have fabric and patterns and notions slowly taking over every surface in my house.

  5. Lillie Bender February 13, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    I just don’t make a list; because as soon as I do it all becomes a “Job”, and I’ve made a conscious decision to sew only because I love it. I love browsing through my collection of patterns and fabrics, as well as adding to them whenever I can. What I did organize was my sewing room and designed a system to put pictures of all the pattern jackets on my laptop and separate patterns by garments, i.e. tops, pants, dresses etc. So I just make what makes me happy at the time whether its a new fabric, pattern, photo, blog….whatever.

  6. Heather in Oregon February 13, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    Both my sewing and knitting lists are out of control. My sewing list is broken down by season and would require me to finish 2-3 garments a week to actually get done. My actual real life possibly doable sewing goal for the year? Finish one garment a month. Yeah, disconnect. My list is a reflection of what I could do if I had no children and still didn’t have to have a “real job”. My knitting list has a few things on it that I’ve been wanting to do for 7yrs or more. I even have the yarn for them. One of the reasons for the backlog, especially the knitting backlog, is that in the middle of all this I got pregnant and had two babies. My size of course changed dramatically during and after each pregnancy and even though my “baby” turns 4 this month my body is still finding its new normal. It’s hard to imagine spending hours and hours on a sweater that might not fit after three months. My sewing backlog is a combination of lack of time and lack of fitting experience. I can whip out a little girl dress in a weekend but something for me can take weeks of trial and error to get the fit right, especially when my size tends to fluctuate with my hormones some. I try not to cut out things too far in advance any more. Last year I cut out 5 or 6 things in a weekend but it took me all year to get to sewing some of them. It turns out that I was almost two sizes smaller a year later and some of those things I cut out were not salvageable for me. I do get a lot of satisfaction from dreaming and scheming though. I know that I won’t actually get everything done on the list but it allows me to reevaluate my wardrobe regularly and decide what I actually need and would wear. The few things that I’ve finished for myself in recent months get worn all the time which was not the case when I first started sewing a couple of years ago.

  7. Nikki February 13, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    I love your photo of your pile! I keep my fabric and patterns in my guest room, but my sewing nook is in my living room. My guest bed has fabric scattered ALL over it, with patterns everywhere! I’m a finisher, though, so I only work on one project at a time. I’m pretty fast, I guess, because I do manage to get a lot of things made. I don’t mind the craziness on my guest bed. I stay home with my three small kids, so running out to the fabric store is not so easy–I’d rather have plenty to work on here at home!

  8. Stitch Parade February 13, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    I so hear you! I keep a list of sewing projects and always think I can accomplish more than I actually can – time is the big stumbling block. In order to keep things manageable, I try to prioritize so that my “must make” items are at the top of the list under the “Priorities” heading. I also try to assign fabric from my stash to each “must make” project. Anything that is not priority is listed under the “To make someday” heading at the bottom of the page. Of course this is a fluid list, but at least it keeps things in a somewhat organized fashion. On a side note, I do wish someone would come up with a site like Ravelry for sewing – it would definitely help with project planning and stash organizing!

    • Louisa February 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

      There is a place for sewers that is trying to fill a niche similar to Ravelry:

      I don’t think there are enough people or input yet to make it have the same kind of impact. I guess I’m not part of the solution either because I’ve been a member for 2 years but haven’t really used it. More helpful sites are PatternReview and the Stitchers Guild Sewing Forum. But they don’t have a place to match up your patterns and fabric in a queue the way we’d all like to. Not that I ever follow my queue!

      • Alessa February 14, 2012 at 8:23 am #

        Wow, that looks like a cool site. I just joined. Maybe we could get some more people to join up? That would be cool!

  9. Seraphinalina February 13, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Maybe every 3-4 months I’ll sit down and make a list of what I want to sew. It’s more of a guideline than a to-do list. Sewing is suppose to be fun and sometimes I’ll see a fabric or read a post and feel more interested in that than what is on my list. Sometimes a first version will work out and I want a second before moving on. And I’m okay with that. My list is for days when I want to sew but feel overwhelmed with choices. Usually one of the things on my list will get my sewing mojo going. Some things sit on my list for multiple lists and then I have to wonder why they are there. Is it more challenging than I’m really up to doing? Do I want to do it or is it just that I feel I should? If the passion to do it isn’t there, I’m not going to fight it, this is suppose to be fun and stress relief.

    The problem right now is that I shop faster than I sew. I need a fabric moritorium for a little while. :)

  10. Hapa February 13, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    I used to be exactly like you, Tasia. I still have huge piles of unused fabric back at my parents, since I never got around to them and currently don’t have enough space to store them in my apartment. Almost all of them were purchased with a specific project in mind, but I didn’t have the actual time to make them happen. I had endless lists of pattern and project and would mentally add several with every new Burda magazine I bought.
    Over the past few years I’ve started to sew a lot of refashioned projects and using new fabric less. So I’m not hoarding new fabric anymore and hopefully I’ll use the stash I have for a few years.
    I’ve also gone through a shift in thinking. Instead of planning project after project after project in my head and never getting around to making it happen I plan my projects according to the amount of sewing time at hand. For instance if I have 4 hours, I look at my stash of fabrics and old clothing and come up with a project that can be finished in that time frame. Occasionally I take on bigger projects, but only if I know I’ll have enough time in the near future to finish them.

  11. Samina February 13, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    I don’t have much of a sewing list, but I keep my Ravelry queue in check by putting things I want to make in my favorites, not the queue. That way, I can weed out the things I really want to make (vs. those “ooh, pretty – I want one” impulse loves) & move them to my queue.

  12. Clare February 13, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    I also use the Rav favourites facility to keep my queue down (but it still has about 30 items in it that I don’t even have yarn for! The projects I do have yarn for go in my current projects even if I haven’t started them yet. I think it’s a form of denial..) Anyway, I am more organised when it comes to knitting projects than sewing, partly because of Rav, but also since I tend to only have one on the go at once – I usually knit on the go (on buses or in the cinema), so my current project lives in my handbag.
    For sewing, I tend to be a little less organised, and don’t stress about it too much. For me, planning and dreaming about projects is half the fun, even if I never actually make them! I have tons of half-completed projects that I start and then lose the momentum for. But then whenever I do have a stretch of time on a weekend, I will blitz a project and can usually make a lot of progress. It helps that I don’t really have particular deadlines for any of the projects; however, I’m going to a couple of weddings this year as well as a ‘bad bridesmaids’ themed hen party, and so will probably make specific projects for those. I tried to keep organised using a word document listing everything I have fabric for, and what I planned to make with it, but sometimes my ideas change, and I prefer to just have my fabric on shelves waiting for inspiration to hit!

  13. Leslie February 13, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    Great topic!! I was glad when I was asked to do fashion shows, because my stash was increasing at a faster rate than my output of finished projects. Now, I write sewing lists that help me sew and complete more projects. I still have incomplete ones though. I keep them in large plastic freezer bags when they are cut out, which go into crates or bins afterwards. Some projects just need hemming and I will treat myself to cutting out a new project if I complete one hemming project. I never completely finish a list but I still get more done creating a list and working on it. I also purchased a portfolio which you can slide in pictures of drawings or magazine photo shots. Those are my inspiration pictures and I will match them up with patterns I buy. My pattern stash is just as bad as my fabric stash. Although, lately I don’t buy as much fabric. I try to go to my stash. I color co ordinate my bins so its easy to keep track of what I have. So, I have a bin(or two) of all greens, one of all reds, one of all blacks and the fabrics that co ordinate with those colors goes in those bins. I get a little crazy sometimes and pull stuff out, trying to imagine what the next project will be and I can’t stand putting that stuff back, sometimes it takes me a day or two to put stuff back. UGH!!

  14. Erin February 13, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    I finally had to put my extra fabric away out of sight to avoid coming up with new projects when I’ve barely made a dent in my current list. I normally keep it in my head for lack of a convenient place to write it down. Which means I routinely forget items on it. I’ve been meaning to write it on a dry erase board or something so I can update it as I complete things. Which will be useful if I complete something.

  15. Catholic Bibliophagist February 13, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    I usually only cut out and work on one garment project at a time.

    But I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many quilting projects I have in progress!


  16. Gina Vintage Girl February 13, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    Great question! I started a personal project last year called closing the gaps. If I had a gap in my closet, I would sew a garment to fill that gap. This past week, I knew I needed a black skirt for spring/summer time. I still like to wear some black in summer. Anyway, I have been writing down in a notebook (no computer please because I am usually in my sewing area and a notebook is easy to get to) what I need, fabric I have for the project, and the pattern to use. It’s a simple system, but helps me. I am currently, along with the most needed, am doing fun projects while stash busting. Too much fabric gets overwhelming to me and I forget what I brought it for. There is a balance to this sewing thing I find too much planning makes things complicated and can take too much sewing time, not enough and you don’t have a good road map to get anywhere. I know women who have everything color coded and folded just so, but still don’t get much done.

    • Bela Saudade February 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

      Gina, I really appreciate what you wrote here.
      Sometimes the simplest plans are the best. “Closing the gap ” is a fantastic and simple framework and approach. It has inspired me to finish my Minoru even though I want to get to Spring sewing. I need a warm casual coat (gap) so whether this Winter or next Fall it needs to get done. Thank you so much for sharing.

  17. Katitarian February 13, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    I sew for deadlines. Nearly all my sewing projects are outfits I need for specific dates and if I miss that date, then I won’t have a chance to wear it for several months or until the following year.

    As soon as I miss a deadline, the project tends to drop out of sight. I have a few gifts that have met that demise. oops.

    I have tons of projects I want to do. It doesn’t fully align with my fabric stash… but mostly does. Maybe ~60-70% overlap?

  18. Lysy February 13, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    I’m so glad to hear you say this – I’m just the same! I keep lists either of projects or of fabrics I want to use up, but I’m always suddenly promoting new items to the top of the queue because I fancy them on a whim! But I do try not to buy fabric without a project in mind or all the exciting options suddenly become a big tension headache – and that’s a bit of a shame.

  19. Janice February 13, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    I keep a list of future sewing projects on the sidebar of my blog, and also keep track of the current sewing project I’m on. I’ve also learned to slow down with my sewing, and to be less ambitious with my project list.

  20. Jessica February 13, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Well, I can’t say that I have it totally under control, but it’s certainly more under control than it used to be. The main thing I do to clamp down on the madness is just control my fabric buying. If I can keep that to a manageable level then the to-do list stays correspondingly small. I also satisfy my fabric buying by purchasing small amounts of quilting fabrics. That way I’m wasting money on stuff I love, but in very tiny amounts. Even with this, though, my list-of-apparel-to-be-sewn is…pretty large. Basically the point of this is that I’m really kind of terrible at managing the list and just sew what I feel like sewing rather than what I need to be sewing. But I’m not that broken up about it :)

  21. Kris February 13, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    I love seeing shots of people’s cork boards with fabric swatches and patterns. I don’t have space for one at the moment but it looks like such a nifty way to keep track of the patterns I want to sew and a reminder of the fabric I have on hand to sew them with.

    It also helps to prioritize my projects. I know I need more pjs so those will happen first. But I might take a break from pjs part way through (after making one set or something) to work on a new shirt or doll clothes project.

  22. Rebecca Prange February 13, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    My list of sewing/craft projects reaches from here to infinity and beyond!
    Part of my list is in my head – the least reliable method, so I scribble it onto scratch paper and post it on my metal board where it stares at me. I try to sort it by category; samples for classes, samples for future patterns, for me, gifts, etc.
    I also sort projects into clear plastic project bags which provides a visual list if I put them away properly.

  23. K-Line February 13, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    Fantastic post. I sure wish I had some sort of plan. I try. I set myself “goals” i.e. my latest spring basics palette, and then I find 6 other patterns I must make now or I decide to compare two patterns on the blog and I’m, if not derailed, very definitely sidelined. It’s really hard not to be overwhelmed by the urge to learn and make everything. But it’s much preferable to the alternative of having no motivation to make anything.

  24. Marloes February 13, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    I have an excell spreadsheet with the projects I wish to sew. Some of them don’t get made, mainly because I decide that I want to use the fabric for something else. But it keeps things clear in my head and helps me figure out what I can make next… Also as I write down the notions I will need for it, so when I am actually making the project I know I have everything I need..

  25. Rachel February 13, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    I grossly overestimate the time I have to sew, and unless I plan on opening a sweat shop in my kitchen I don’t think I’ll ever catch up. While I logically know that though, I still continue to buy patterns and fabric as if one day the heavens will open and I’ll magically be able to sew all I want to and get it all done perfectly.

    • Sandra August 21, 2013 at 11:25 am #

      This is me!

  26. Lauren February 13, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Haha of course my sewing project list is spiraling out of control! That’s part of the fun, right? RIGHT?

    But in all seriousness – I was definitely having a problem with getting everything organized. I do sew fairly quickly, but I also like to make muslins and pay special attention to finishing, so my projects still take a little longer. Add that with mini-wardrobes and an overflowing fabric stash and – eee! Too much going on in that tiny room!

    I started out by organizing my fabric stash (and I have a personal NO-BUY rule until at least halfway through the year, just to keep things under control haha); getting all the pre-washing out of the way, measuring every piece & clipping little swatches. Then I stuck them all over my bulletin board with a note indicating how much fabric there was for each piece. Swatches are waaay easier to organize than giant folds of fabric (and personally, once I pull a chunk of fabric off the shelf, it never goes back on the shelf quite as neatly!), I have mine organized according to what I want to sew now for winter, and what I’d like to make a summer wardrobe with.

    Then I got really excited about the whole business and went through my patterns, drew up little croquises of each one I’d like to make, and pinned that to the board with the swatch next to it.

    Here’s how my board looks now:

    It is wonderful to have everything in one (small) place, where I can move the swatches/drawings around as I need to. It is also inspiring, to look at it and think, “Oh! That dress WOULD look good on me… need to get crackin’ on that pattern!” :) Ha!

  27. Meagan February 13, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    This was so interesting to read! Since I’ve only really been sewing again since last April, I haven’t formalized how I do this. It seems like a lot of what I do is for my son, and I usually get a burst of energy and then be able to finish something in an afternoon – but no pre-planning for me! I would like to start sewing more beautiful things for myself, so I think I’m going to actually have to plan that out. I’m thinking of writing some items down in a calendar so I can kind of stay on track.

  28. Jill February 13, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    My “to-sew” list is out of control. I try to only work on one project at a time — otherwise I’d be so overwhelmed flitting from one garment to the next that i would never finish any of them!

  29. Sassy T February 13, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    I don’t keep a list. I just go to my fabric stash and take out the fabric that takes my fancy and sew what I intended to with it. However I am a beginner and don’t have a large fabric stash, so it’s easy for me.

  30. Leah February 13, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    I only sew one thing at a time, because I just can’t leave projects unfinished, that’s my brand of crazy. Sometimes i go on cutting binges and have a few things cut out, but I only sew one thing at a time until it’s done. Otherwise I think I would be totally overwhelmed and never finish anything. Finishing a project is really satisfying for me, so I really get a thrill out of that and can’t leave projects in the air, it kills me.

    Sarai, in her Colette Patterns sewing book, recommended a project journal, and that’s been really helpful for me. I’m not a spontaneous sewer, I really like planning things, so I sketch, badly, the garment in my journal, and I write in the pattern name etc, and put in swatches of stuff to pair pattern with fabric. I have little collections, like, “For this Winter” or “For the Spring” and I organize myself that way. It’s been really positive, actually, in visualizing what I want to make and in what order I should make it!

  31. Becky February 13, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    My list is in the form of binders into which I put all of the instructions/patterns I would like to someday make. Thanks to the internet, inter-library loan and pattern tracing paper, I have gotten tons free patterns! I know, this probably makes me a bad person – but isn’t that what libraries are for? Since I don’t feel like I’ve committed to a project until the fabric is purchased, I don’t buy it until I’m ready to sit down at the machine. Using the local fabric store really keeps me from stashing (too expensive). Ditto for knitting, crocheting, quilting and embroidery (I’m kind of fabric arts ADD).

  32. Latrice February 13, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    My projects are spiraling out of control, of course. :-) I think it is mostly easy to figure out what I projects I have going because they are either for class and that they are out and spread out all over my apartment. It really needs to be handled, since it is eating up my little apartment.

  33. Nique February 13, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Pinterst helps me, ALOT. It helps me organize and often inspires me
    For me, it helps to have a deadline of some sort; when sewing for others (like birthdays and such) it helps me to start a bit early and then find a project that is realistic considering everything I’ve got going. I’d rather make something really great with nice details. Then while I’m sewing these projects I tend to research for my next personal project so if I want to try a new technique I’m really well read on it so it’s less intimidating. And vice versa. For all my projects, I tend to go through my stash and see what I have to work with. Sometimes it inspires me to do something else( which means I will pull the fabric out of the stash to remind myself) , but it helps me to not make any unnecessary shopping trips. Also, pulling the fabric out helps me to realize just how many projects I have going on and gives me a visual clue of when to slow down and put some on hold for a while.

  34. Susan - Knitters Delight February 13, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    How do I manage my list from piling out of control? I don’t…..I clearly have way too many projects to ever accomplish them all. I also tend to lose some of the zing for at least 1/3 of the projects that I previously HAD-TO-HAVE.

  35. Pauline February 13, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    As everybody else, I have more projects than time to sew them. With work and everyday life, if I can get 1 or 2 hours in the evening to sew, that’s a miracle. But I am trying to organize my sewing time and prioritize my projects. I always buy fabric with a pattern in mind and I am trying to finish everything wintery before the cold disappears, then sew springtime and summer dresses.
    I have swatches of my fabrics next to sketches of the pattern, I am very visual and seing them everyday motivates me.
    But I wish I had more time for sewing as it gives me great satisfaction.

  36. Lenora Jane February 13, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    I tend to keep a “possibilities” list and a “to-sew” list; the latter is much, much shorter and really only involves things I have concrete plans to sew at or by a certain date. The former is all the stuff I want to sew, and I keep it loosely organized; it’s the difference between circling everything in the catalog you love, to use a shopping equivalency, and making a list of the things you actually need to buy in the immediate future.

    So for example, right now I have a “possibilities” list that includes about four different fancy dresses, a whole bunch of random vintage patterns, some beautiful floral fabric, the list of garments I decided I needed to work on making this year as a new years’ resolution thingy–and a “to sew” list that is as follows: a) a gift project for a friend I’m visiting this coming weekend, b) a pencil skirt I need to finish by the trip so I can wear it while on the visit, and c) a dress I want to wear to a show in two weeks.

    (The thing that tends to pile up unregulated and without any real control on my part is my mending and reconstruction pile!)

  37. Kristine February 13, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Oh my… it would be so easy if I had only 1 sewing list. But I also knit & crochet a lot (my Ravelry list has 300+ lines), cross stitch and machine knit. So there are many lists and many projects as well as rather huge stash. Combined with full-time job, 3 kids and studies in University over Saturdays it makes a hard time for me to decide which of my hobbies to take on when I sit down in my chair in late evening. But, from another side, I will definitely live long as I have so many dreams and goals. :) And also from positive side, I know I support many local craft shops and do not harm anybody while having myself a lot of fun!

  38. LinB February 13, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    I pile patterns and proposed fabrics together, and play with them for weeks or months until I’m sure what is to be cut from what. Then I have an orgy of cutting out, put all the items for one project into plastic grocery bags, then store them in laundry baskets in my workroom. I try to make time to sew at least a little, every day. I take all the projects that use the same color thread and work on those 2-6 garments at the same time, until I have them to a state of only needing finishing hand sewing: putting on buttons, hemming, sewing figure-8 tacks at stress points, etc. Each garment takes longer to finish than if I went start-to-finish, but I finish a whole series of garments that can be worn together, at the same time. My friends donate ufo projects from their dead relatives, some of which I finish as the original owner anticipated — and others I completely repurpose. So, if you die with unfinished projects, fear not! Some other soul will rejoice that you have left her something useful to occupy her time.

  39. Lucy February 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    My problem isn’t so much having piles of fabric (although the other day I scored enough fabric for about five Renfrews for $24) as having patterns waiting to be started with some barrier to it, whether I can’t find the right fabric or they need to be traced (I’m a tracer, I NEVER cut multi-size patterns, lol). So I have a pile of corduroy for my Minoru but no lining fabric because it’s summer and I can’t get the cosy flannel I want yet, about a third of it is traced, and at the same time I’m tracing off the Renfrew, have now run out of paper, and am currently working on a Pendrell and trying to find ideas for my wedding dress that I want to make, which also entails frantic reading about techniques.

    I don’t normally like things to be this frenzied, but there are just too many projects! And that’s before I’ve started on the knitting ones I want to do.

  40. VJ February 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    2012 is my year of stash reduction . . . I have a list, currently prioritised by season and difficulty (ie a medium to ramp my head / hands up, then a difficult, then an easy or two, then repeat). I’m allowed to change the order on the list, but I have to finish each project before I start sewing the next. I’m also allowing myself to start planning anything ahead – and my version of planning includes washing the fabric, buying notions and adjusting the pattern. No new fabric until I have finished at least six projects

    Wish me luck!

  41. Leith February 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    I have a to-do basket that I put the fabric with pattern and any notions needed in a zip lock bag in. I have about 5 projects in there at any time. I then have more to-do projects in my head!

  42. Trisha February 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    I have a mental sewing list, but for me, part of the fun of sewing is waiting for creativity to strike! It’s fun to have a brilliant idea of what to make next, and then go for it! Sometimes it’s something from my mental list, sometimes it’s not. And that’s ok. It’s what keeps sewing interesting!

  43. Jo @ a life in lists February 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    I used to have a slightly out of control sewing list, and was constantly playing catch up with the seasons or my kids’ increasing sizes, but I have tried to take some advice that I think may actually have come from a past blog post of yours Tasia:
    – Try to plan well ahead of each season what clothes might actually be required during that season
    – Accept that as a busy mother of two I am unlikely to complete more than a couple of garments a month, and that’s if I work really really hard. Something like a coat would take me well over a month
    – Plan my sewing accordingly!
    – Oh, and I try to finish each project before starting another, or I just end up with hundreds of WIPs.

    I still don’t always get absolutely everything that I want to make finished (or, indeed, started), but it has helped me feel less irritated with myself for not being able to sew everything that I want to, and more able to prioritise the things that I really want to make.

  44. Sarah February 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    This is my year of trying to reduce the stash, the only new fabric purchases allowed are those for must have garments (such as the new dress I have planned to go to a wedding in) that I haven’t anything suitable for. I’ve made a good start in that I cleared the mending pile by the end of January, and made 2 adult and 2 child blouses/shirts from stash, made my DS a very quick fleece scarf, cut 2 pairs of trousers and part sewn one of them.

    I was a bit naughty – a new piece of fabric joined the stash last month! Ho hum…

  45. glo Haynes February 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    I sew, sew, sew during the summer, but during the school year when I work it is mostly wishful thinking! I have numerous projects in my mind but I take the attitude that if I get to it fine and if I don’t I will do it later, of course that may be the reason I have such a large stash of fabric and uncut patterns! LOL All in due time!


  46. mala_14 February 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    I like to have a list of my sewing projects for a couple months in advance. That way I can plan for whatever I may need to purchase, like notions, ahead of time and have everything ready to go. I find that planning ahead more than a month or two is too difficult though. Life gets in the way or my list gets overly ambitious. I’ve been trying to make sure that the things I’ve picked are things that I already have fabric for so that I use up the stash (because I felt my stash was getting way out of control). I also try to make sure that I have a good mix of things on my list so that I don’t get bored. I might have a modern dress and an Edwardian corset listed for the same month. Occasionally, I give myself a bye on my rules for a special project, but I make sure that only happens once in a while, like for Halloween. And I try not to feel bad if I don’t get everything done that I wanted. If a project isn’t urgent and can be postponed a little, I rearrange a little bit and put it in the next month.

  47. nothy lane February 13, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    I sew to relax. I don’t really care about the outcome. (Although it is nice to have a new dress or skirt at the end of a project). I honestly sew as a way to unwind. I have a long commute to work and I love the anticipation of a quick cup of coffee after dinner and getting down to sewing. Do I have huge bundles of fabric to rival the one in your picture? You bet. And some day, I will get to it.

  48. Tina C. February 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    For me, it’s less of my sewing/crafting list spiraling out of control (though it does happen… and especially around holidays) and more an inability to balance my sewing/crafting with my freelance writing. Add to that mix impossible deadlines set by people who have no idea how long it takes to actually research, write, and revise 20-50 page “booklets.” Add resongind to emails, keeping in touch with family, cooking, cleaning, seeing to the needs of my cats, sleeping, blogging, and reading other peoples blogs to the mix and I most definitely do not have a lot of free time with which to sew! These days, because of aforementioned freelancing, I feel like I’m constantly playing catch up but always sliding further behind.

    • Lucy February 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      Ha, I completely understand that one! I’m a freelance copywriter, and am always fighting the battle of trying to get clients to understand that it does, in fact, take more than a couple of hours to write their brochure and their website. Generally means that the only sewing time I get is at the weekend, but there’s so much else to do then and you only get two days!

      • Tina C. February 15, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

        YES! Furthermore, who are these clients who think that one will just magically forge ahead and produce the aforementioned brilliant work of staggering genius WITHOUT first agreeing to terms and setting them in writing? Seriously? Who are these people?

  49. ZoSews February 14, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    Oh wow, when I read the headline, I felt a resounding ‘yes yes yes’! So many patterns and fabrics sit there staring at me screaming to be made, unfortunately I can’t attend to them all day every day. How I manage it is by having a bit of a mental shortlist, and then when the time comes to move on to the next project, I sit there and bond with the fabric and patterns and see what takes my fancy at that time. Do I feel like something a little more simple, or am I up for a challenge? Usually after a challenge there’s a few ‘simples’. I try to buy matching thread at the time of fabric purchase so there’s no great hurdles to me kicking off when I’m ready too. :o)

  50. Kirsty February 14, 2012 at 3:11 am #

    Over the past year I have started to buy more fabric – I used to buy for a specific project and that was it. Now, I have a better sense of what I will be able to buy easily, so if I see something not on that mental list, I will get it if I have a plan in mind. Recently a fave fabric store interstate had a great sale so I asked for some samples and spent quite some time trying to decide which ones to get. I decided on ‘none’ – I thought, I’ve got a cupboard of projects already waiting for me to tackle first. My sewing list would probably take a couple of years to work through, and there is currently another 6 or 7 garments worth winging it’s way to me as mail order (erm, from another place, all my husband’s fault really for validating my desire to buy ‘technical’ fabrics for gym tops because he wants some too). I like the idea of ‘closing the gaps’ as a wardrobe planning method, and have also been wondering about an autumn palette wardrobe sewing plan over the next few months. I guess I choose the next one or two projects ahead, not longer than that or I feel too guilty about my (fairly modest) fabric stash. My garden has suffered recently from a sewing sprint. Sew-Garden balance needed?

  51. Amy February 14, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    The only problem for me with having so many projects in the works is the space. And money. I tend to buy fabric for specific projects, which means I don’t have much of a stash. I still feel new to sewing, so this year I’m learning a bit about what I really have time to do. I could feel behind on my gifts to others and my SWAP plans, but instead I’m just enjoying the process. Now, if I had a stack of fabrics like the one you have above…

  52. Alice February 14, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    I have a list of projects I want to make for spring – with all of the fabrics – but I’ve barely scratched the surface. Lucky for us in Vancouver, we can wear lots of spring clothes right into the summer! I’m jobhunting and in school so i haven’t had a lot of spare time to sew. And then, sometimes I can only go an hour or two at a time before getting a little sewing fatigue!

    But I do love having my list of projects.

  53. Robin McGann February 14, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    The list is in my head, but I tend to have at least three projects going at once. Right now, I have a lot more than that. Now I’m making Victorian and Renaissance underwear for myself and Ren for boyfriend, all out of white muslin. For him, I’ve got a white brocade vest on board. That’s too much white, so when I get tired of that, I switch to the Renaissance list or the Edwardian/Titanic dress in progress. I like having several projects going so that if I get stuck somewhere or just need something that only takes a small amount of time, I’ve got projects to choose from.

    Then there’s always the outfit that’s just in your head…

  54. Dei February 14, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Excellent question. I think one’s response is based on the end. Mine is simple relaxation from my favorite hobby. I buy fabric. I buy patterns. The two don’t have to be compatible at the time of purchase, I figure they’ll marry up eventually. I pick a project and sew one and only one item at a time. It allows me to fully enjoy the process and produce something of quality. This way I never stress of the lengthy list of items I would like to sew and just enjoy the present.

  55. elizabeth February 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    I have a very small drawer with my projects in. There are just two in there at the moment. Usually I only stitch clothes that I need and only buy fabric when I go looking, as fabrics shops in my area are an hour and half drive away I don’t go too often. That kind of keeps me on the straight and narrow.

  56. Sewing Princess February 15, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    I try to keep an ispiration board on Pinterest. I didn´t make a list this year. I did last year and I didn´t completely. Like you I am too ambitious with my time. Sometimes I think it´s better to make less. Otherwise it becomes like purchasing garments every week though you don´t really need them.

  57. Rosemary February 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I often think about something for weeks decide to make it, buy fabric/yarn, then get distracted by something else. Eventually going back to the fabric/yarn and thinking why did i buy this?

  58. TillyThreads February 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    I’ve given up planning projects ahead or setting deadlines. I make clothes for myself, so there’s no pressure to meet other’s expectations. So, if I don’t get around to one idea for summer and Fall arrives, so what, that fabric may wind up as a long sleeve top instead. Same way with patterns. Collect what I like that is likely to look decent on me and be comfortable in Florida. As for organizing the stash, I turn to my iPhone. There’s a great app called SewingKit. I’m anxiously awaiting the iPad version, which looks awesome and should be available any day now. It can grab pattern images over the web and I snag photos of fabric and other things directly from websites rather than take photos myself. Fast, easy and a great reminder about what’s lurking at the bottom of one of those many basekts.

  59. Amanda February 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Not only is my sewing list out of control, the difficulty level of some of my to-do items is so much more ambitious than I can reasonably expect of my newbie skill levels LOL… but that is nothing new for me; it’s kind of fun for me to challenge myself :)

    However, I do employ multiple lists to keep it in check. I keep a list of ‘basics’ that I need in my wardrobe, and a list of ‘lofty ideas’ that will get done eventually but there’s no pressure on me to do them because they’re beyond my knowledge base at this point.

    I also keep a separate list of seasonal ‘wardrobe items’ for each season and try to fit in any sewalong items I know I’m committed to into them, so that I don’t become overwhelmed with too many projects at once – and if they don’t get done in time, that’s just life ^__^

  60. Michelle February 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    I have alot of fabric and patterns and I admit that my to-sew list is huge if you look at the whole thing. I tend to break it up into who I’m sewing for and what they really need in the next little while. If my girls have out-grown their bathing suits and we’re staying somewhere with a pool, I’ll sew up a new one before we leave. Sometimes, I’ll go on a cutting out spree and then package it up with the pattern and notions in a freezer bag. That way I don’t have to keep cleaning my cutting table off to cut out and I can spread out the instructions, etc. and leave it. My personal sewing is worked in around sewing costumes for the local dance studio which my girls go to – I just finished 9 lycra halter dresses in less than 4 weeks.

  61. Rachel February 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    I have a book with sketches of all the things I want to make along with a running list of the fabric I have on hand. I do buy fabric if it’s a good price and lately I’ve found lots at g-street. They get shipments from ny once a week and sell it on there sale shelves for $3 a yard. It’s awesome and won’t be there next time you look so you have to grab it. I do knock down my list each week, just not as fast as it grows.

    Ps thanks for blogging. I’ve read you for a while now.

  62. Kathryn March 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    I definitely have quite a sewing queue forming! But I definitely love the feeling that there is always something I can pull out of the cupboard when (and if!) I find some time on my hands to get sewing!

    I’ve actually just blogged about my current sewing list – – and of course, there is always more fabric and unused patterns waiting in the wings. I will hopefully be adding the Minoru jacket and Renfrew top patterns to my collection – I avoid buying/making tops and jackets as I am really unimpressed with the mainstream commercial patterns available – thanks Tasia for some great looking patterns!

    • ERIKA May 18, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      I started getting a pile of fabric, yarn and jewelry stuff(beads,wire,clay,etc), piling all over my sewing room again so I decided I needed to finish most of my projects before starting new ones.
      Most of what I sew,crochet,craft is for sale but once in while I make stuff for family members.
      I have a sewing challenge for the month of May on my blog.
      1) I cannot buy any more fabric, yarn, craft items for the whole month unless I have a special order for a customer.
      2)I cannot start any projects this month.
      3)Must finish a least one project this month(which has bloomed to a list of things I need to get done).
      It always a challenge but it is so much fun getting a project finish.
      I have an idea for something new-I just write/draw it and if it is something I really want to do, I will set aside time for it.

  63. Peggy November 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Well, I am having a similar problem which is why I googled sewing organziation and here I am. I’ve been able to get some great tips, thanks!

    I am just starting out. I’ve made 2 quilts completely finished and have 3-4 currently in the works plus a couple other projects.

    Until recently, I only purchased material if I had it in mind specifically for a project. However, I had some birthday money and found a great sale! :D No idea what I will use it for, but I <3 it! And, I also went to a yard sale where I picked up about 25 yards of a variety of fabrics for $1/yard! That was a steal! So I mainly use that for my girls to play with and think about making things. THAT is why I have a stash, so I don't come across as greedy when my girls want to use something to make for their own! :D

    I washed it, dried it and folded it and wrapped it around cardboard and it is stored in a clear plastic 3 drawer thingy.

    I am reminded of a method I used when working for an organization a few moons ago. They had 6 categories and 40 slots to fill. These would often change. What my boss did was he used a large magnetic dry erase board and used magnetic holders that could be moved all around. It was genius! I was thinking on a smaller scale (for some! ;)) that perhaps the clear business card holders could have a magnetic strip placed on the back then a blank business card (or card stock cut to size) could be slid in and out as the project is dreamed of and finished. You could have the stages of a project: Dreaming, Items purchased, Waiting, To sew, Needs…., and others-just to think of a few. and of course, FINISHED! :) Hope this helps!

  64. Kim Dorsey July 29, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    I go through trends with my sewing. I started with baby quilts for family and friends then for a ouple of years I made children’s clothes with the intent of selling them online. That never happened so now I am making hand bags to sell at a local business. I have a notebook with swatches and pattern on each project. I always have at least 4 projects going.


  1. The Trough - February 16, 2012

    […] to replace.¬† Once that’s done, ta-da! Idea board!¬† Tasia at Sewaholic had just posted about organizing ideas and I’ve been crushing hard on pretty cork-boards with fabric swatches and inspirational […]