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I Am Organized

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I really like to organize things. I was that kid that had the 100 piece marker set who spent more time pouring the markers on the ground and re-arranging them in the case than I did actually coloring with them. That’s still pretty close to an accurate description of me – I spend a lot of time organizing and arranging things because I enjoy doing so.

When my sew-jo is lagging, I’ll pull something off the shelf – like my sewing books – and arrange them in a different order – thematically, alphabetically, by color, by height. The end result isn’t really what matters, its the process. I calm and organize my mind by physically organizing the things around me. And quite often the process of re-organizing makes me look at old objects in a new light. I’ll realize I never read that book on 1940’s fashion or I’ll have a great new idea for using those gold glitter buttons or I’ll realize that I have very few shades of neutral threads so I should increase my neutrals stash.

My drive to organize isn’t always a good thing. I get anxious if my house is messy. I have to pick things up every night because I know I will have a bad day if I wake up to clutter. I can get grumpier at my husband than he deserves for his part of the clutter. Sometimes needing to be organized gets in my way of productivity, and that can be pretty frustrating because it goes from being me controlling my environment through organizing to my need to organize controlling me.

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My most recent sewing organization process was to take all of my sewing patterns, put them in protective comic book sleeves and backings (shout out to Lauren for the idea!), categorize them and label them with sticky dots so I can see what kinds of patterns are in each envelope at a glance. It felt so good! And I unearthed several patterns that speak to me at the moment that I’ve bumped to the top of my queue so it was quite inspirational as well.

Do you consider yourself organized? Do you like to organize things? Do you find organizing your sewing paraphernalia to be inspiring or stifling?

Each week this year I’m going to reflect on an aspect of myself and how it affects me as a sewist, crafter, or blogger. It may get deep, it may get emotional, it may get totally silly. It may be something I’m proud of, it may be something I cringe at, it may be something I aspire to. I may say a lot, I may say a little, I may ask questions, I may not answer them. I don’t quite know where the project will take me, but I’m excited about the journey. I’d be honored to have you join me on this journey. Chime in any time this year in my blog comments, on Twitter, Instagram, or your own blog. Join me in my theme for the week or make up your own.

Comments 27

  1. I thought I was reading about myself there for a minute! Can’t wait to show this post to Mr woolbothy, in the morning, just to prove that other compulsive organisers/tidyers/controllers do exist. I even make the bed with hubby still in it, just because it looks neater.

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  2. I am not organized. :) I can be, if I take the time and energy, and if I have a clear need for it (I’m very organized at work), and sometimes I even enjoy it… but left to my own devices, no, I’m not organized. Clutter and mess don’t bother me (although I wish I could keep track of my seam-ripper for more than five minutes at a stretch.) This isn’t really a good thing, though, and it certainly drives my husband nuts. I’m trying hard to work on recognizing the peace that order and a tidy house can bring, because mostly it just feels like a stressful burden of someone else’s expectations I’m struggling (and failing) to live up to.

    On the other hand, I’ve been obsessively databasing my patterns since I had about 50 (I have, um, a lot more now), so I do have my moments. ;) And sometimes when I can’t decide what I Need To Sew Right Now it’s very pleasant to just spend some time tidying the sewing stuff…

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      I will completely admit that even being a total organizer I’m still missing my seam ripper half the time! It’s interesting that there are some parts that you’re totally like me (pattern organization FTW!) and some parts you’re the opposite – I hadn’t thought about that being a possibility. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I crave organisation and order and get frustrated when things aren’t systematically stored, but my children seem to prefer chaos

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  4. I’m a complete organiser-control-freak. I completely get the whole having a bad day if you don’t tidy up the night before. There is nothing worse than waking up to disorganisation, to clutter, to a mess – whether it’s the dishes, lounge or my sewing room! I feel like I spend the whole day trying to catch up and I get nothing else done… but it drives my husband mad. He thinks I’m crazy missing out on half an hours sleep just to clean up…

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  5. I have moments when I wish I was more organized at home, but they are fleeting! I am very organized at work, not as much at home. I feel like if I spend time organizing patterns/fabric, it will take valuable time away from sewing and that is more valuable to me than being organized. That being said, my patterns are in a box and the ones I’ve sewn are in a filing cabinet each inside Ziploc bags.
    I know where everything is, sometimes it just takes me a little while to find it!

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      I’ve definitely heard people agree with you, that it feels like it takes away from productive time. I’m perhaps a bit pathological in that I don’t feel like I can be productive unless I organize first, but I often wish that wasn’t the case!

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      I used Separates, Dresses, Jumpsuits, Accessories, Lingerie/Pajamas, Mens/Unisex, Outerwear, Craft, Baies, Kids, Maternity. I also have a box for oversize patterns that don’t fit into the normal sleeves (like Vogue designer patterns and several independent pattern companies).

  6. I always like to think that at least my brain is organised… For the rest, let’s just say that my co-workers really notice when I clean up my desk (Seriously, I could never ever work in a place that has an empty desk policy). I would really like to have my sewing supplies organized though, just because it would make the creative process quicker if I don’t have to spend so much time searching for things because they don’t have a fixed place.

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      Desk space at work is a fascinating glimpse into the psyche of your co-workers, imho. I was definitely known for having an immaculate desk and bench (and would get comments from my labmates when I left things on my bench because it was so unusual). But one of the most talented labmates I had ended up taking over 3 separate benches with his piles of disorganized mess because he could never bother to clean (unless it was the day before our yearly lab inspection!) so there doesn’t necessarily need to be a connection between productivity and organization!

  7. Yes, yes, yes. My kids both go ‘away’ to school and when they come home the house is in chaos. I’m mindful not to harp – but again, it drives me crazy! Not as crazy as a lady who rang the local radio station to complain about her hubby though. When he helps her clean the house, he ‘sweeps’ the kitchen with a leaf blower to encourage the dirt outside! My kids thought that was a genius idea.

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  8. I’m afraid organization for the sake of organization feels stifling to me, but I am all for organization that speeds up the process. For example, I love an organized closet because it means getting dressed faster in the mornings. My sewing table tends to be a mess when I’m sewing, but I always set my scissors and pins down in the exact same place so I can grab them quickly. This is a very interesting conversation; thanks for starting it. Who else has ideas for organizing related to sewing?

  9. I just organized all my patterns, also using plastic sleeves. I also made a copy of all the covers in A5-format and put them in in a binders (sorted in brand and pattern number order) so I can flip through the binders instead of the patterns themselves. Works like a charm. Makes me happy inside just thinking about it :)
    My blog is in swedish but there is a translate button to help you understand (a little) better.
    Here’s my post on organizing patterns and it was posted on the same day as yours :) Great minds think alike!
    http://www.annaneah.se/2015/01/att-organisera-sina-monster.html

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  10. Hehe, I LOVE organizing!! My OCD probably helps ;)
    I just feel better moving forward to the next project if everything is in its place. Cooking, sewing, work, etc.
    Besides, isn’t it nicer to start from a clean room? Or be able to grab the pattern you want easily?

  11. Hi Erin,

    Love that you’re also an organising freak. When I was a kid I turned all my books into a mini-library: tags, borrowing cards, the whole shebang.

    And I recently followed Lauren’s inspiration and popped all my patterns into comic book bags, grouped by pattern brand. So I’m dead curious to know what kind of coding system you used? Because I didn’t use little coloured stickers, and it’s such a good idea!

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      I used a different color for each category and put a sticker in the upper right of the sleeve so it would be easy to see as I flipped through. To expand the number of categories I could use despite the limited number of colors available as stickers, for some of the lesser used categories I used 2 small dots instead of a single larger dot. I made a cheat sheet that’s filed at the front of one of the boxes. And then I organized the boxes into thematic cluster – my dress patterns took up one box, separates took up another, and lesser categories like men’s/unisex, childrens, accessories fit into another. The various categories I used are Separates, Dresses, Jumpsuits, Accessories, Lingerie/Pajamas, Mens/Unisex, Outerwear, Craft, Babies, Kids, Maternity.

  12. As I write I am awaiting delivery of comic book boxes/sleeves etc to organise my patterns. I am inordinately excited about this! I currently have them all filed in boxes, the comic book box solution is just going to make it cleaner and easier to store in a cupboard. The patterns are filed by garment, separated by a divider e.g. skirts/dresses (split into day and formal)/blouses/menswear/sleepwear & lingerie and then in number order by pattern company (alphabetical of course). Those patterns that have lots of garments in them, i.e. the dress/skirt/pants/vest/blouse/coat? Well they have a section all to themselves ;)

    All my threads are stored by colour, my stash is by colour within fabric type.

    Oh dear, now that I have verbalised that it looks ever so slightly OCD!

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  13. “I get grumpier at my husband than he deserves…” I used to do this too and it would cause resentment toward him which is a very, very bad thing in a marriage. Resentment is like a weed that if left alone, will take over the yard. It must be pulled and squashed immediately. It gets worse with a baby because now your chores have tripled and he’s still leaving his shoes laying around. I highly encourage you to visit Marla from Flylady.net. She’s a fabulous organizer, her site is free, and she literally saved my marriage. She taught me that being a shrew is the wrong way to go about it. She still does all the same work, but instead considers it “blessing her home” which was a dynamic shift in thinking for me. As hubs watched TV or napped and I was folding clothes, instead of feeling resentful toward him for doing nothing while I was busting my behind, I changed that thought to “I’m blessing my home, it needs to be done, and someone has to do it.” Over several months, that mantra changed me and my marriage to one of harmony vs. bitterness – not that you are bitter; I have no idea. But I highly encourage you to take a look over at her site. Sign up for the emails (daily at first then weekly as you get the hang of the system) and as they begin to roll in, her process of organization will allow you the freedom (give you permission?) to enjoy being organized in an uncluttered home, without a husband who occasionally feels like he’s a character in a Shakespearian novel. :)

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      Thanks for sharing. Thinking of it as “blessing my home” is a great mental shift. I will work on that. I have certainly been bitter at points, but Adam and I have reached a good place (most of the time) where I let things go more than I would in the past and he kicks in more than he would in the past because we know it helps the other person. Thanks for the suggestion of the Flylady. I’ll check it out!

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