Keeping Afloat

I’ve had a few people recently ask how I keep all my craftwork projects organised so I thought I’d do a little post on my system, though system is probably too strong a word – it makes me sound organised!! I wouldn’t even go as far as saying they’re tips, it’s just how I try and keep afloat in my craft room and beyond…

I tend to keep things where they will be sewn, this does mean I have a very tolerant OH who doesn’t mind too much when my craftroom encroaches on the whole house, though he does mutter if he finds pins on the lounge carpet!! Having craft stuff where I’ll sew it means it’s much more likely to be sewn, if I’ve got 10 minutes to spare I don’t want to spend 5 minutes going upstairs to find everything.

Cross-stitch smalls are kept in my handbag, a couple of years ago I made myself a sewing wallet with slots for threads, ribbons for scissors, needle safe and a pocket for linen. I love it! Always having it in my bag means if I’m in a cafe, in the dentists waiting room, stuck on a train, at the hairdressers, anywhere really, I can get it out and do a little stitching.

cross-stitch project bag

Bigger cross-stitch projects are usually kept by my armchair downstairs. Each project has a plastic ziplock bag with all the threads in it. The downside of this is that if I have multiple projects and I’m sorting out threads for something else, I might think I haven’t got a certain DMC thread and buy more, hence I have 2 or 3 of some colours!

My usual cross-stitch time is before and after tea, probably somewhere between 5pm and 7pm with tea in the middle. I’ll often cross-stitch whilst I’m cooking – if I put the potatoes on for 10 minutes, I’ll sit and cross-stitch for 10 minutes – it does mean I have to set the bleeper as otherwise tea gets a bit singed!! When I sit down for a mid morning coffee, I’ll often pick up my cross-stitch, 20 minutes here and there add up.

stitching space

My main cross-stitch at the moment is the Finery of Nature, so that is permanently downstairs. The two SAL’s take it in turns to come down, I usually concentrate on the Zoe SAL first as the pattern is released on a Monday, the Zen SAL doesn’t come out til the Friday. You can see the bags of threads on the windowsill

My big Down the Rabbit Hole quilt lives in a heap on my armchair on the landing, I’ve set up a little corner here with a light, a temporary table with threads and scissors on and my lap hoop. It’s quite cosy when I get down to it…

quilting room

…I did say it was in a heap!

My sewing room is organised in theory – everything has a home, it just doesn’t always get there! I have all my drawers and boxes labelled so in theory I can find things! I bought a load of the pretty sets of boxes over the years from TK Max, they’re not all the same but they all have peacocks on, so I have a theme running through them! Any big or longterm project has a box of it’s own, so at the moment my Coming Home quilt has a box with all my fabrics in, when I was making the Splendid Sampler quilt, it had it’s own box. I also have a box with finished pieces and parts in, so quilt blocks can go in there, embroideries, anything that just needs keeping safe whilst I finish other sections.

sewing room

The photo is of my Coming Home quilt box, I’m not sure how it is still so full when I’ve almost finished the quilt!!

I find the block book I made at the start of the coming home quilt useful, Sarah Fielke recommended it for keeping blocks safe in. Now that the quilt is too big to go in the book I’m using it for other projects too, such as my Harold the Hare embroidery and the Bethelehem embroidery, it keeps them nice and flat and their ziplock bags of threads are in my workbox.

Quilt block book

Dressmaking projects usually get made in a few days, so they don’t need a box usually, however if they have lots of pieces, like shirt dresses or tailored jackets, I’ll put everything in a box as invariably otherwise I spend half my time looking for them.

I’m not that organised in having planners, I’m always very impressed when fabric shopping with someone and they have all their patterns on their phone so they know how much fabric to buy, I just guesstimate. Every so often I’ll make a little list of things on the go and projects with a deadline, that usually helps me to prioritise things. For example, at the moment I have three presents I want to make, not big ones,but they need starting, my son wants some curtains making too, so the Coming Home quilt has taken a bit of a back seat. I don’t beat myself up if I get a bit behind on stitch-a-long, though the three weekly blog SAL’s are a huge incentive!

Every so often I do try and reduce the number of projects I have on the go, get a few finishes under my belt, but invariably I get tempted by something else and off I go again. I always have a mixture of things which take months or years and ones which are easily ticked off a list after an afternoon. My stock answer when someone asks how I manage to do so much, is I don’t watch TV, the only time I do is to do ironing (I hate ironing!!) I also didn’t inherit the housework gene, so I do what I need to do and no more! I also only work 2 days a week – I joke that it keeps me in fabric!

Just to give you an idea, this is my list at the moment…

  • Coming Home quilt – a fair bit of applique to do and then final border
  • Down the Rabbit Hole quilt – I’m getting there!
  • Care Leavers quilt – top done, waiting to be quilted.
  • Finery of Nature – long term
  • Zoe SAL – should be done by Christmas
  • Enlightenment Zen SAL – 3 months to go
  • Cross-stitch small
  • Bethlehem embroidery from workshop to finish
  • Harold the Hare embroidery to finish
  • Stitchbook project – another months box waiting to be made
  • Scrub hats – I’ve about 6 orders!
  • Curtains, two sets for son
  • 3 simple bags for presents.
  • Bee cushion commission to start

Looking down the list, I’ll hopefully have eight finished by Christmas, so watch this space!

About craftycreeky

I live in a busy market town in Yorkshire with my husband, kids, dogs and chickens. I love trying new crafts, rediscovering old ones, gardening, walking...anything creative really I started this blog after my New Year resolution worked so well. My resolution (the first one I've ever kept!) was to post a photograph of my garden on Facebook every day. My hope was that I would then see what was good in the garden and not just weeds and work, which was my tendency. The unexpected side-effect was that I have enjoyed many more hours in the garden. I am hoping that 'The Crafty Creek' will have the same effect. Happy creating!
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23 Responses to Keeping Afloat

  1. Laura says:

    Thank you for sharing how you are organized and get so much done, Margaret! I like your pretty project boxes!
    Lots in your list…something for every mood! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mandycurrie says:

    Hello Margaret, thank you for laying out you keep up with things. It’s very helpful. I think my problem is space it would be wonderful to have an extra room. We live in a two room flat and it is tiny. When we moved here from South Africa we bought over 100 boxes of household stuff with us. Most of it is still stored in a warehouse, very frustrating. But I hope at some stage we will get a bigger place. This was a great post thank you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. magpiesue says:

    Thank you for sharing. This both makes me feel better about myself and gives me ideas for improvements I can make in my own processes. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. katechiconi says:

    Like you, I keep embroidery or hand sewing beside the chair I’ll use to work on it. For all my other projects, I have a series of boxes and baskets. Planning goes in boxes, WIPs in baskets unless they’re actually what I’m working on, in which case they live on the design wall. The baskets live in a bookcase in my sewing room, with large square holes that fit the baskets exactly, and the boxes live in my fabric cupboard. Not quite so organised as you, but it works well for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Thank you so much for this tour and explanation of how you keep so many projects sorted. You’ve given me much to consider which hopefully I will be able to include in my own processes.😘 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  6. nanacathy2 says:

    Fascinating to see how you organise your projects, where you do them all, when and how you fit them all in. This year I have read a lot which has encroached on making time, I have done an awful lot of waiting and found it hard to be creative. Hoping for more creativity time next year. Good luck with the 8 projects to complete this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. tialys says:

    I’m not as organised as you seem to be. I do have a big room all to myself which you would think might enable me to be very tidy but it just means I don’t have to clear anything up at the end of the day if I don’t want to and more and more stuff keeps finding its way over the surfaces when I’ve got more than one project on the go – which is the usual state of affairs of course.
    I absolutely love your block book and it would come in very useful for patchwork blocks waiting to be sent off of put together. Is there somewhere I can find a tute for it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • craftycreeky says:

      I have to confess my sewing room usually looks like a bomb site – I carefully crop the mess out of my photos 🙂 The blockbook pattern was a bonus pattern from Sarah Fielke, but it was basically like a pillowcase with two squares of cardboard slotted in before sewing up, I seem to remember the batting pages were stitched in after the first cardboard was slotted in. I added handles and a ribbon tie so I could take it on the bus to visit my mum.


  8. Great hints and ideas to organizing and getting her done 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. LIsa at Greenbow says:

    Amazing how you keep things organized. I am so glad to find out you only work 2 days per week. I have worried about you doing so much while working. All of this makes sense now. Tv is not what it is cracked up to be. Housekeeping?? What is that??? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Shasta says:

    Thanks for sharing the way you work. Mine is very similar. I try to put things in boxes to keep things organized and leave the current projects out so that I can work on them whenever I can sneak in a few minutes. And I have a long list of projects that are considered WIPs.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. anne54 says:

    You have inspired me to organise my threads and yarns for my next SAL. I have the perfect box for all the bits and bobs!


  12. kathyreeves says:

    I love how you keep it real Margaret! And isn’t it amazing how much gets done without a tv!


  13. You sound very much like me! I can’t seem to focus on one or two projects… I’m happiest when I have many things on the go!


  14. tinaor says:

    Love the honesty of the ‘heap’ aka Rabbit Hole Quilt. So good to see ‘real’ people out there. I too keep projects mostly where I work on them. My ‘pile’ next to the sofa in the lounge tends to be knitting. machine sewing in the dining room, hand patchwork usually stuffed in bags and boxes also in the dining room but as I am switching between three projects at the moment half of the hand patchwork has eeked into the lounge too. This, of course, does not include my spare room/study which has all the other UFOs, patterns, and things I might get round to making one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. teamwilsun says:

    Thanks for sharing how you keep yourself organized — I’m in awe of how many projects you juggle at once!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: SAL ~ starting on the next cliff – Anne Lawson Art

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