My Method of Keeping Quilts, and Life, Organized

 I recently posted a pic that generated a few inquiries.
It was actually taken a few years ago at a coffee shop
but it shows the view I usually have when I am writing
 my blog so it's kind of my stand-by image for
"here's where I'm coming at you from today".

The questions about my organizer got me thinking
about my system, and how, at least for me,
 it's so refreshingly simple and effective.
So today I want to share my current method of keeping
my quilts, along with the rest of my life, in order.
(Wait...there's more to life than quilts??  JK!)
Maybe you'll find something in my system that you'll
 want to try implementing in yours, or maybe see
a way to simplify what you already have going on. 

If you are someone that can make one of the quilter's
yearly organizers work for you--super.  I kind of wish
I could because...well, frankly, they're cute and quilty!
If you have one, I'd really like to hear your thoughts on it.
Heck, I might even be talked into finally trying one.
Years ago I put a lot of thought into what I need,
 and want in an organizer and so far, those haven't
looked like they'd fit the bill--for me anyway.

I don't want to over-complicate this (or this post!)
because it's just simple so here's the gist:

I wanted--no--needed to start with a blank slate!
 And then let it evolve.  Thus, I needed a binder.  
But what type?
A5, A6, B4, Letter?  And how many rings?
And what fillers are available for that specific type?

I went back and forth between all of those and decided that
an A5, 6-ring binder size (5.7" x 8.26" paper) was the one.
The Cagie blue one in the above pic is unfortunately
no longer available on Amazon but it served me very
well for years--it just felt good in my hands, too.
(A little like feeling fabric?)
[Later I'll share my current binder and why I switched.]

Next I found calendar filler pages that worked for me.

I want the entire week open to me, and with space
to write out up to an entire day's schedule if need be.
Note that some will start the week on Sunday while
others will start theirs on Monday.  It's not always clear!

 A thrifty tip:  One year Target had some $5 planners in
the dollar bin.  The binder wasn't very sturdy (I passed it on)
but the the calendar fillers were perfect!  I haven't seen
them since but I got off pretty cheaply that year!
I keep my eye on the dollar bins every December,
just in case.

The calendar fillers often come with extra blank pages, 
maybe some bulleted ones for lists and/or maybe even
some graph paper so I don't really need to buy
any other fillers but there are lots of options out there.
For me, these are enough to serve for any extra notes,
lists, etc that I might need.

Perhaps next to the binder, the best investment was a
hole punch that worked with it.  This one has gone up
a bit (now $18) since I bought it but it's still worth it.
This allows me to take any of the free printouts online
(Tons on pinterest--quilter-specific ones, even)
and make them work for me.

And that's it!
Like I said, I don't want to make this complicated so you
can stop there if you like and, like Fleetwood Mac sings,
go your own way!
But in case you are curious or want a little more help,
I'll break mine down into a little more detail:

My Tabs (to date) in order:

1) Project Worksheets
(Current WIP sheets and a few spare blank ones)

2) Calendar (tabs for months)

3) Etsy Notes

4) Blog Notes  (Ideas for posts)

I think lots of people feel that the more they keep track
of in their life, the more they'll feel organized but I think
there's a point where you cross the line and begin
wasting the time that you're trying to save, you know?
I'm very careful not to clutter the system.

One example:
I do not keep pages of swatches to track every fabric.
It might feel like it's being organized but I've never
needed the info so, for me, it's a complete waste of time.
As you'll see below, I will write down the precut and line
only because it's simple and if another quilter asks, 
and they have, then I can obtain the info easily.

My Project Worksheets
In all the auditioning of printouts that I've done, I've only
come up with only one real winner that has stuck
My Project Worksheets are a must for keeping track of
of my quilts as I work on them, and later when I need
to refer back to the project.

 I resized the original (from Sugaridoofor my binder,
fitting two on an 8x11 paper economically.
I am hoping to my own more customized version
but stuff like that isn't really my thing so maybe I'll
have one of my more-knowledgeable kids do it?

On these, I keep track of:
      • Name (and name ideas until I come up with the final)
      • Purpose (Gift, to sell, etc)
      • Pattern and from what book, website, etc it was obtained
      • Any changes I make
      • My finished quilt size
      • Fabric:  how much used, the specific line if I used precuts*
      • A checklist of where I'm at with quilt's progress, including dates so I'll have an idea of how long it took me.
      • Quilting ideas as they come to me
      • Any other notes including extra trips to LQS

It is because of these worksheets that I ended up getting a new
binder recently.  I realized I wanted a separate binder to file
these worksheets by year once I was done working on them.

Once the quilt is completed, and I've posted any pertinent info
 on my blog or Etsy or given the quilt away, I really don't need
the worksheet but it does hold info I just might need to refer
back to.  SO the faithful blue one has become my "file" and
I went in search of a new one for my planner-organizer.

I was sad to see my old one was no longer available on
 Amazon and, after again spending too much time looking,
I ended up at Hobby Lobby (40% off) where I found this one
by The Paper Studio in a nice Autumnofcourse-Orange.
(Didn't know I named a whole color, did you!?)  

They have lots of various fillers and accessories
if you are into them.   I am not but I do like to have
the current week easy to get to so I got the clips.

I don't receive any compensation for any of my referrals btw.
I'm just sharing what works for me.  Sometimes I get pretty
share-y and then I wish I did but for now, nope.  Nada. 

Inside the front (and back) cover of my binder is a vertical
pocket that I don't really need but have found uses for but
for jotting down notes--a must--I have a small notepad.
It came in a pack of 12 so I'm set for life but they're
super inexpensive ($12-ish) and the cardboard back
on each slips right into the business card slots.

In the back are some stickers that, honestly, I rarely use
but they came into my possession so there they are.
Here's a laugh for you:  the one time I will use a sticker
without fail is when it snows.  I love snow and it makes
me happy to put a silver snowflake sticker on the day.
(It's the little things!!)

In summary, I feel it's all about starting with that blank
binder and slowly adding what works for you.  I would
really caution against going out and buying all the
inserts, tabs and fillers available. You might just find
most of them empty and unused a mere few months
into the year that you declared was going to be
"The Year I Get Organized"!

Initially, the costs might have equaled or slightly exceeded
the cost of a quilter's organizer but after that, all I need to
buy are filler pages and anything else I need to customize
my binder to fit me.  I'm always open to trying out what
might be a better way (ie, auditioning printouts) but right
now, I'm really happy with the evolution of my system.
It just really works!
I'd love to know what works for you.  And maybe
you've found a printout I haven't tried!?

Happy quilting!


thanks for sharing - I was one of them that asked what you use - I will look around now this fall so I can start a new project keeper for the new year perhaps
Needled Mom said…
It all sounds very organized and well thought out. I’ve never been one for lists or organizers ,but I do have lots of sticky notes!
piecefulwendy said…
I used to get the Quilter's Planner, but never used it to its fullest extent. I still refer back to the reference pages, however. They have been very helpful. Now I don't use anything, since I don't sell quilts, and my life is pretty low key, I just use a list on a notepad.