Keeping it Organized

The last person you should take any organizing advice from would be me!  Yet another disclaimer . .

As I was cleaning and re-organizing this week, the UFOs or PIGS were mostly removed from the grocery sacks and placed in stacking plastic boxes.  They stack nicely and keep the dust off the projects.  Most of us have projects that haven’t been touched in years, right?

Here’s my best tip on keeping these projects “finishable”.  You open a bag and find this:


Hmm . . what was I doing with this?  What pattern was I using?  Where did I leave off?  Ever ask yourself those questions?

But then  you see this:


A copy of the pattern is there with the fabric.

And then you see this:


There’s a card there with a little swatch of fabric that corresponds to the fabric numbers in the pattern.  The pieces that haven’t been used are all in resealable bags, labeled with the numbers to correspond with the cuts as labeled in the pattern.  This quilt will be very easy to finish.

But for now, it goes into a plastic box, with the pattern showing so I can easily see the project without having to open the box and dig.


Make it easy on yourself!  If you put away a project before it’s finished, please do the following:

  1. Put all the pieces together, along with any extra fabrics.  Those fabrics will get used in another project if you leave them on your fabric shelves.  Even though you think you’ve cut out all the pieces, you never know when you’re going to need a little more fabric in order to finish a project.  It’s just awful to get so close to the end of a project and realize you need another fat quarter or another 2″ square of one of the fabrics.
  2. Make a copy of the pattern you’re using or in the least, put a note in with the project as to the book and page number where the pattern can be quickly located.
  3. Make another note as to the step which you last completed.  No need to waste time trying to figure out where you left off.
  4. If there were any special notes, such as quilting ideas or thoughts you had about making the quilt larger or changing a border, write yourself a note and stick it in there with the project.

You’ll thank yourself (and me) later!



  1. 3


    Hey….don’t sell yourself short….those are VERY good tips for organizing!!! I have opened many bags and bins and wondered what the heck was happening and where would I resume on the project…and usually closed them back up as I was too confused to sit and figure it out!!!

  2. 5


    I keep everything together, but the tip about making a note on where you left off is a great one! I’ll start doing that right now!

  3. 6

    Elaine says

    See Judy? You are way more organized than you think you are! Really good idea about keeping the extra fabric with the project. I know all about needing “just a teeny bit more” of something and realizing I used it in something else!

  4. 8

    Darlene S says

    Judy, Love your organizing tips. I’ve used some of them myself. My question is …. what happens when you run out of room to stack those cute little clear plastic boxes that each have a UFO in it? I’m BAD, real BAD. I now have only 47 UFO’s. Don’t laugh. Three years ago I was over 80!

  5. 9


    This is vary good advice!!!! I’d like to add……..don’t forget to cut the binding and add that to the box. Do you know how many quilts I have to make the binding out of a fabric that wasn’t in the quilt….


  6. 10


    I love the plastic bins! My favorites are the Rubbermaid kind that have the lid attached and lock with a little flap. I like to put a label on my bins so I know what’s in there. Your idea of making the swatch card is a really good idea that I’ll be sure to use in the future! A lot of the patterns I use are in magazines and I put my notes and bookmark at the pattern page so I remember what it was I intended to do with that particular project. “Notes to self”, what a good thing 🙂

  7. 11

    Heide says

    In 2003, I had to evacuate due to a fire. There was very little in my sewing room at that time, so I was able to take everything with me. Then evacuation order number two in 2007 (firestorm in San Diego). This time the sewing room was full of UFO’s, not only quilting, but needlepoint projects as well. In case we have to evacuate again, I now have my UFO’s in bags with the patterns, material and thread. I have my vintage patterns and hankies in plastic bins. It is so dry out here, I wonder if we are going to skate through another season. . . .???

  8. 12

    dawn says

    great tips. wish I had some of them before I moved. Now I have half my stash in my room and half in a shed buried under things that we need to go through and decide keep,give away or toss. UGHHHHHHHH……….there goes the list of Christmas sewing projects. by the time I find them it will be next Christmas.
    oh well.
    thanks for the tips though……
    Dawn in MA

  9. 13


    This is great advice. I am getting more organized. My problem is I never know when a project will drift into UFO land. But I think if I am more organized from the beginning of the project, there is a better chance of having everything together if it does become a UFO.

  10. 14

    pdudgeon says

    great advice!

    now when can we make that quilt…maybe in the new year,
    so that could be your first finish???

  11. 15


    Great ideas – I have been working on cleaning up my stash. I was planning on doing it in January, but your challenge bumped the timing up a bit.

    So, I been refolding and taking pictures of what’s in the boxes I can’t get to easily. These pictures make a great slideshow.

    My next tasks are my WIP boxes, so your ideas come at a good time for me.

  12. 16

    KatieQ says

    This is a great tip! It’s so logical that it makes me say, “Now why didn’t I think of that.” I love plastic storage boxes. Unfortunately, when I put things in them, it makes me feel organized even when I’m not.

  13. 17


    One of the best tips ever, Judy! And it’s so easy, why couldn’t any of us think of it before? Thank you for being our brains.