Working toward a Ph-D: get organized

by Ramona on January 16, 2015

It’s time for week two of working on our Ph-Ds. Don’t you just love the sound of that!

Hopefully after reading the blog last week you’ve felt compelled to rid yourself of the guilt of unfinished projects. Sometimes it is the guilt alone that freezes us from entering the creative mode to actually want to complete projects.

In reading some of the chapter newsletters at the onset of this New Year, many presidents’ messages have included starting anew and completing projects. I enjoyed reading Fresno Sews. Tara, the chapter president, lamented about over-thinking, over-planning and procrastinating. She stated in her first message of the year something I found quite simple yet quite profound: “My motto for this year is Just Sew It! “ Yes! Something I can relate to…don’t feel guilty, don’t ponder why it’s not done, don’t beat myself up because it has taken so long…JUST SEW IT!

I think part of ridding ourselves of the guilt is getting organized. Organizing is a very personal thing. My organization methods, whether the desktop computer screen or the bathroom closet, I know drives my husband nuts.. I like things neat and tidy and everything put behind doors or tucked away in drawers. To him it makes absolutely no sense; he wants things within reach and to me that makes everything seem cluttered and claustrophobic.  His computer desktop icons are organized by their date or size which makes no sense to me; I organize mine in groups by the type of icons in relation to my work whether ASG, quilting, embroidery, office, etc. Our children—especially our son—used to get a big kick out of “re-organizing” my desktop icons. He knew it drove me absolutely CRAZY! However you do it, organization is one key to completing Ph-Ds (Projects Half—DONE!)

My workroom isn’t fancy; it’s a WORK room. I have minimal storage and I know it could be better organized if I invested in some real furniture but for now, that’s not in the budget. I dream of someday having a sewing room as seen on TV. You know, the kind where all the furniture matches, all the notions are tucked away behind cupboard doors with beautifully appointed handles, and the wall color always seems to compliment the fabrics being worked on. To me, all that adds to the “creativity factor” and the joy and anticipation of going to the sewing room and working on projects.

In thinking about this blog, I decided to investigate what others have done in organizing their sewing rooms. Click on the photo to be taken to the page with information. Some are posts by quilters and scrapbook artisans, but the ideas certainly could be adapted for our sewing rooms.

1This first one reminds me of my calendar. I keep a “school” type calendar to remind me what I need to do each day. I plan in advance so I pick up the supplies on sale, and have everything when I’m ready to start on a project. For some, this may be the perfect solution to getting organized.




bagFor years I have used large clear plastic bags for organizing. All the notions, pattern, and fabrics fit nicely. If I’m missing a notion or thread, I keep an index card on my desk and notate the item needed, along with a swatch of fabric, so I have everything at hand for a trip to the fabric store.





I keep all the bagged projects organized in plastic bins. It keeps everything clean and ready for completion. I have several bins; one for quilting, one for projects that are complete with all the notions needed, and one where I still need to purchase notions. I find separating them keeps me from picking up a bag and wanting to do something only to find I don’t have everything on hand. Plus, when I do get the needed supplies I only search that bin and then can add the supplies to the appropriate bag and then file that bag in the bin for completion.





I like this next idea; it makes the plastic storage bag idea colorful and fun. The bags could be made in any size to fit a mired of projects. If I had fabrics already cut for a project, I’d use the scraps to frame the zipper at the top of the bag; this would easily identify what is in the bag awaiting completion. If you have a TAG group, this would make a great project.






I don’t have a closet in my sewing room, but if I did, I’d probably be tempted to organize the bags made above in this manner. Everything is view-able at eye level and all the parts and pieces of the project are together ready to be sewn.










I guess if I hung a rod from the ceiling this idea would work. I like that everything can be seen at a glance. I’m not sure if this would work for me because of all the weight in the large lengths of fabric I use in projects. For quilting, though, or other types of crafting, I think this would be great.








I really like this idea. If I had a lot of file cabinets not in use and fat quarter-sized fabrics  I’d probably do this. Wouldn’t it be great to open up a file cabinet drawer to all this color? Talk about inspiration!








This last one really caught my attention. The furniture is all cast-offs that were re-purposed with black paint to give a cohesive look. The contrasting floors and light walls make the space inviting. This entices me to venture out to yard sales this spring and see what I might possibly find and repurpose for my sewing space to make it more functional and just plain prettier. I think I’d have to take two weeks’ vacation to totally clean out, paint, tile and re-organize everything—but wouldn’t it be worth it!



No matter your space, no matter your budget, search the internet for ideas. Shop your local fabric stores for ideas and storage items to get organized. Perhaps plan some time this next week to begin organizing your space for maximum function and working on Ph-Ds.

Next week we’ll talk about how to decide the order in which to complete projects. I’d like to hear your thoughts—remember to post them on our Facebook page. In the meantime, read the excerpt below. It is taken from the President’s Letter in the Madison Chapter’s newsletter this month. I was going to write on this, but she expressed it better than I could. We should all be doing this. It will remind us that we do accomplish a lot of sewing throughout the year, and perhaps will help us feel less guilty about those projects that get set aside because life gets in the way.

Stitchin’ Times

“On a personal note, I’m not one to make resolutions for the New Year, but I am a firm believer in setting goals. As I spent the New Year’s Day reviewing a number of sewing blogs, I became aware of a deficiency in my sewing; possibly it’s one you share with me. Many of the bloggers (and I used to be one) did an annual review of all of the items they sewed in the past year, and shared photos of each project. That’s where my goal lies. Not only do I not log in every item I sew, I also don’t photograph the items and worst of all I don’t keep many notes on what to do differently the next time. In fact, sometimes my daughter references items I’ve sewn for my GDs and I don’t even recall the items. Now that I think of it, I shouldn’t even be announcing this to my sewing colleagues, but you must admit that it’s great fodder for a 2015 sewing goal. For the coming year I will begin a log and will photograph each item I sew. Maybe a year from now I will feel great about my 2015 accomplishments. How about you? If you have a similar need, can you join me in setting this goal?”


President, Madison, WI Chapter


Sew ‘til next time….enjoy the journey of sewing!


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