New Year, New Projects…Get Organized!

Let’s stitch a year filled with Personalized Machine Embroidered Gifts!

The beginning of a new year never fails to excite and inspire me!  I find myself  filled with a satisfied feeling of closure for all that came the year before, and a renewed interest and excitement for the potential of the year ahead. It is a time for me to reflect on what worked in the past year and to organize and plan my Machine Embroidery projects for the coming year.  This year, rather than creating a New Year’s Resolution list, I made a New Year’s Embroidery Project List!

This January, you will find me in my sewing room sorting, labeling, and reorganizing projects and supplies. I am one of those creative folks who always has at least 10 different projects in process at once, so it is easy for my sewing time and my workspace to get a bit out of hand!

The New Year is a wonderful time for me to refocus on those UFO’s (Un Finished Objects!) in my stash and make a plan for the new projects I want to complete in the coming months. I recently purchased a white board for my sewing room and found it to be a great way to keep me organized and on task.  I use it to keep my “Sewing To Do” list visible which helps me plan, organize, and prioritize my projects.

I start by listing all my current “in-process” projects. Beside each, I list the next step needed for each of these projects and my target date to complete that step.  Since I have so many projects going on at once, this keeps me focused and on task with my projects, and prevents me wasting valuable time trying to remember where I left off and what to do next with each.  The target date is a gently nudge to keep each project moving ahead a little at a time and it’s so satisfying to see the dates march forward.

Zip closing bags are not just for snacks to keep you going while you sew, I find them to be an invaluable sewing tool! I keep each set of project materials together in a clear zip closing plastic bag so I don’t have to hunt for pieces or supplies when I have a few minutes to work on one. I love kits for their economy and convenience, so for each project I make up a “kit”. Before starting a project, I gather all the materials and tools needed to complete the project and store them together in clear zip bag.  At the beginning of each machine embroidery project,  I gather the blank item for embroidery, all the thread in the colors needed for the design, the printed color stop sheet and template for the design I plan to use, and a piece of the appropriate stabilizer cut to size for the project.   Then I find that 20 or 30 minutes to sew on my embroidery machine, and the project is lined up and waiting for me to start! It’s a great time saver and eliminates the inevitable frustration of finding out I don’t have a key component to work on a project when I finally find time to sew!

Also on my white board, I list the main events or activities for which I want to create new projects. Upcoming weddings, birthdays, and parties go on this list as well as holidays. I love to use my embroidery machine to create personalized gifts and planning ahead keeps me on track. I hate getting overwhelmed and cramming at the last minute to get them done or worse yet, getting off track completely so I am unable to complete the gift items I intended for each special day.  This year I have lined up a set of personalized guest and kitchen towels for the newlyweds, a personalized golf towel for Uncle Joe’s birthday, and a personalized wine bottle cover for the hostess of the upcoming wine and cheese party. Beside each I have listed the desired target completion date.  I will continue to add more items as I complete those already on my UFO list!

My large family is scattered so when we get together, I try to have something special to commemorate the day. Personalized cocktail napkins or gift bags are a great option.  I find our linen and cotton bags are the perfect packaging presentation for almost any gift since they are available in so many different styles and sizes.  Adding that special personalized machine embroidered touch allows them to double as a beautiful wrapping for a gift and the recipient is thrilled with the bag as much as the gift! My sister says it’s like getting a “gift within a gift”! I love to personalize these bags with names and initials but also find it fun to add a special or funny motif that reflects the personality of the recipient.

I hope you found some of these suggestions useful and are inspired to enjoy a productive new year of machine embroidery!   Have fun stitchin’

22 Responses to “New Year, New Projects…Get Organized!”

  1. dresna says:

    sounds a lot like myself EXCEPT i do not have a white board—- so write a list of family birthdays and what i want to make for each member
    then make another list for friends( known as extended family )
    try to get as much done as possible before the end of October — does not always happen —HaHa


  2. ginger hooper says:

    I found the idea of the white board a great idea. I need to get a larger one I can actually the project names on. I have a small one but it is magnetic and I have thread conversion charts and sizing charts on it. Never thought of giving myself a target date. Like you I usually have more than project going. I have started organizing this year and putting trims, ribbons and rickrack in clear glass storage jars which I put on a shelf. I love vivid colors so they are like decorations on the shelf. I have done the same with the cute buttons I couldn’t resist. I also organized my embroidery ribbon by color. I use hot wheel plastic containers I bought years ago from wal mart as well as one of the sulky boxes. I plan to make a stabilizer holder to hang on the wall so I don’t have to dig through a box trying to find the correct one. It will save time and I can get on with my embroidery.

  3. Cheryl Gilmore says:

    Love the idea of ” the Kit ” bags for projects, I always find myself looking for straps or pockets or closures I have sewn for my bags this will help me keep them all together Thanks for this great tip.
    Happy Sewing
    Cheryl Gilmore
    Gilmore Gifts

  4. grandmat says:

    The ziplock bags are a great idea.I also have used a plastic stackable boxes I get at a dollar tree to put the projects in.I also like the idea of the white board.I have a corkboard that I am planning to use when I get my room finished.

  5. linda doughty says:

    Thank you for your tips!
    I think this is full of great sujestions. One question though, If you have your thread in a zip lock for the first project waiting for you, its not available to use for any of your other projects without digging through all the ufo’s waiting for you to accomplish them, or am I missing something?
    I do make up the ziplocks for when I go camping (a trailer) and have to take them along.

  6. susan says:

    I enjoy your site, and love many of your items, but I must admit I don’t know what anyone does with “cocktail napkins”. I guess people must live a very different lifestyle than I do. Imagine washing and ironing endless little napkins! Is there some use for them that I’m missing? I can only envision some sort of fancy dinner party, that I would never ever throw! :)

  7. Linda Unger says:

    I love the suggestions for getting organized. I am OCD when it comes to preparing for my next project. I make sure that I have everything together before I begin but I never thought to put everything into a large zip-loc bag. This will definitely make thing much easier for me. I am trying to clean up my mess from all the Christmas sewing and embroidery projects… now when I put things away, I will use the zip-loc idea. I also like to white board suggestion… I love to work from a to-do-list and this will save on paper lists that get lost in the mess.

    Thanks so much for the suggestion…

  8. Marsha says:

    I love the idea about having your projects in the zip closing baggies. I am going home tonight and do just that with several projects that I have pending.

    Thank you!

  9. Jo Conlee says:

    As someone with dozens of unfinished projects, I found this very helpful and inspiring. I saved myself a copy, and plan to get busy using your tips.

    Thank you,

    Jo Conlee

  10. Barb says:

    My problem is trying to keep track of all of my USB sticks which I have my designs on. I try to label each one, print out the designs and place them into folders that coordinate with the USB, put then I get busy and don’t always put it back where it goes!! I have roughly 1200-1300 designs, space is a problem.

  11. Mary Kay says:

    I love the idea of putting everything in a ziplock so it is ready when I have a few minutes to work. I will definitely use this hint

  12. Ann Nuss says:

    Lovely post, easily read and informative. Hope to continue to follow

    Ann Nuss

  13. Paula says:

    Love the organization tips. I also have several projects at once. Thanks!
    How do you store stabilizers? I have different packaging for each kind and they end up laying all over.

  14. Patricia says:

    Wonderful ideas!! While I don’t have room for a white board in my craft/office/guest room, I do have a project binder for ideas and patterns I want to do. I am going to add a UFO page to get my hundreds of projects done!! Thanks so much for the great ideas!!

  15. Peggy White says:

    I enjoy reading what other “sewers’ are up to. I often find ideas that help me to save time. I like to be orginized and get more done that way. I hung a plastic shoe pocket behind my sewing room door and put my stablelizer rolls in it. They are to long for one pocket so I cut open the bottom of the top ones. You can do it to as many rolls as you need .You can see the lables on the roll through the plastic too. Neat huh? Another handy thing I found were the very small zip-loc bags for meds.found at a local store. They are good for odd buttons, sequins or whatever. They even have a lable to write on. I hope I helped someone like you help me. Peggy

  16. Sue says:

    LOVE the White Board idea – just need to find a wall to attach it to! I also put “kits” together for pending projects – minus the thread, and am still looking for the “perfect” solution to storing stabalizers. I’ve only been at this for a year, but am having a blast. So many Projects, so little time!

  17. Cynthia Swol says:

    My husband made me a rack that is 5 ft tall and has double rods at each end. He then welded lighter wire to the rods. They both spin. It looks like a display for zippers. I am able to put my regular thread on it and sort it by color. I then made a cover for it so the light doesn’t get to it. So I have over 125 spools in one 5 foot by 12 inch area!

  18. Ellen says:

    I have found that using very small ziplock bags to put spool and matching bobbin in, when I am interupted in a project and need to change for something else is very helpful. Now I will add it to the larger kit ziplock, and everything will be together when I go back to finish!

  19. Margie says:

    Thanks for the great tips… I’m all about keeping it organized! Someone asked about stabilizer storage… (if the behind-the-door shoe rack is not an option) I read that its a good idea to jot down the specs of each type you have and, again, use the large ziplocks, label the outside well. The airtight bag will also safeguard your water-soluable stabilizer from damage as an added bonus!

  20. Wow, thanks for many good ideas. I used to list my projects with the next step- but did not really use the list- a white board is a good idea to be able to see it everyday.

  21. char says:

    I label my SD memory cards with the paper ” hole reinforcements” made for pre-punched filler paper. The space to write is small so a numerical reference and separate ledger is further beneficial.

  22. maxine says:

    Thanks so much, wonderful, so clearly explained.

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