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Scheduled creativity

19 Apr

I am making a spreadsheet in Excel with all my Dragon*Con costuming plans.

It is four worksheets long. I was originally going to print it and tape it up on the wall by my sewing desk, but I don’t think I have that much paper.

I may have a problem.

How do you keep track of your projects?


Organization, Part Two: A Study in Pictures

10 Sep A brown notebook made of recycled paper with the phrase "OMFG" on the front in large white letters. The "F" is red.
A messy table, covered with boxes, papers, and a Netbook

The table before I started all this. This is the only table we have. An entire meal could fit on it now!

Well, I’ve sort of organized my sewing crap. Doing so was harder than one might think, since we’ve recently downgraded to a much smaller space than we’re used to and have yet to make Goodwill Trip #3. That is to say, the apartment is something of a chaotic mess.  I did my best, though. Here’s the basic run-down of how I’ve organized everything:

A brown notebook made of recycled paper with the phrase "OMFG" on the front in large white letters. The "F" is red.

The notebook in which I attempt to organize my thoughts and plans. Theoretically every costume has its own page.

The plastic craft organizer underneath the notebook is mostly empty until I start a project, at which time I use it to store the particular thread and notions I need for that project. It travels pretty well, and is super for carrying thread and bobbins. It holds my crappy tiny pins all the time, since I lost my pincushion. Stupid tiny pins.

A set of small white plastic drawers full of thread

Thread box! Top shelf: black and white, ivory, and beige. Middle: red and gold. Bottom: everything else (mostly purple)

Brief Glimpse Into My Life: I use an identical one of these in the bathroom for makeup brushes.

A purple paperboard box labelled "trim and ribbons"

Trim and ribbon.

I have a serious lady boner for ribbon; if I didn’t keep it all in that box, there would be ribbon everywhere! Actually, there is ribbon everywhere. Either that box has failed, or I have failed. Fucking box.

A large set of purple plastic drawers stacked under a similar set of white drawers, next to an old, faded stuffed Snuggle Bear

The purple drawers at the bottom there hold about 2/3 of my fabric, plus all my notions, supplies, patterns, and tools.

Snuggle Bear there is almost as old as me. I think I’m aging better than he is.

Six assorted commercial patterns in gallon-sized Ziploc baggies

Patterns. I know some of them are terrible. Don't judge me. The rolled-up paper is the trapezoid sleeve pattern mr. biscuit drafted for me, which I haven't had a chance to use...yet (dun-dun-DUUUN!).

Not pictured are several (probably half a dozen) ziploc bags of varying size that hold my notions (safety pins, hooks and eyes, that sort of thing), all carefully and very specifically organized, because there is nothing I hate more than needing a safety pin and not being able to find one.  Well, I mean, other than genocide and racism and rape and the like, which are all worse than not having a safety pin. Obviously.

Several trunks and plastic tupperware containers in a stack, with a large pile of fabric and hats on top

This is where the other 1/3 of my fabric lives (in the blue bag, as well as sort of piled on top), along with finished costume pieces and props.

Fun Fact: Esperanza, my ren fest character, for whom I get paid, has two–TWO–entire tupperware containers full of fabric and costume pieces (the purple and blue in the middle), plus that brown treasure chest, plus a giant basket full of props that lives in the kitchen, PLUS her hats and shoes, which live in the closet.

As you can see from the pictures, I am nowhere near done organizing. My sewing machine is still out, because I can’t figure out where to put it, and I haven’t unpacked from Dragon*Con yet. Still, it’s a start. At the very least the straight pins are safely put away, and will no longer fall all over the floor and get lost in the rug so that mr. biscuit can find them with his feet in the middle of the night and wake us all up with his swearing.

Now that I’ve shown you a little bit of how I organize, I’m curious to know how you do it–unless that is “I am a lucky bitch with a dedicated sewing room with an enormous work table, a hot tub, and several beautiful young boys to tidy it for me.” If that’s the case, please tell me how you managed this. I need to know. For science.

Organizing, Part One

9 Sep

I just finished a big project (hi, Dragon*Con), and now I’m looking at organizing and packing everything back up so we can use the table again.

I have a tendency to spread my sewing things out while I’m working. I try to start with everything neat and organized, but while in the process, I’m too busy being frustrated to do anything but let things fall where they may, so that before I’m finished I’m knee-deep in all the unidentifiable sewing crap that seems to come from nowhere. My two cats have a field day with this, naturally; they especially like the fabric piles, which are good for both sleeping and peeing on. I much prefer the former, as it is cute, but both are a little irritating, especially when the grey cat is sleeping on the black velveteen. That’s just not ok.

I mentioned my tendency to freak out over sewing before, but I don’t know that I clarified how much I freak out. I am a champion freaker outer. Blanche DuBois? John Goodman in The Big Lebowski? Mommy Dearest? Amateurs. It goes without saying that being surrounded by chaos exacerbates this. I’m saying it anyway, though, because it seriously exacerbates this. Like, to the power of five. I’m trying to refer back to the directions because I have no idea what to do with the pattern piece in my hands, but I can’t find the directions + I have no idea which pile I put them in + I only have two days to finish this costume + my back hurts + the cat has peed on the satin AGAIN + I’m over budget + where the fuck did I put the scissors = Temper Tantrum, every time. I remember one particular incident involving Elizabethan paned slops with a seriously too-short crotch seam. This ended with me standing in the living room wearing them like Ye Olde Assless Chappes, sobbing and pulling my hair while Indiana Jones beat up Nazis on TV. It was a dark moment, but not anything like a rare one.

In order to avoid this, I’m trying to organize my sewing stuff.

As you probably know if you’ve ever done any sewing, there is a lot of shit involved. Off the top of my head, a project may involve any or all of the following: fourteen different kinds of fabric, a thousand yards of trim, thread to match every conceivable color, five pattern packages that are empty because the pieces are scattered all over the room, pins, pincushion(s), tape measure(s), ruler(s), straightedge(s), tape, marking pencils, , the fucking iron which I don’t need but will need the second I put it away, the seam ripper, needles, thimbles, the damned sewing machine, extra presser feet, extra bobbins, costume accessories I have nowhere else to put, safety pins, the fabric scissors, the paper scissors, the boning scissors, the boning, a bag of receipts I plan to write off on my taxes but will just lose, bias tape, elastic, clasps, hooks and eyes, whatever the hell is in that container, and dozens upon dozens of to-do lists, with renderings and post-it notes and pictures ripped out of magazines. There’s also dinner, and the remote for the DVD player, and a tissue box, and the Netbook, on which I am supposed to be watching yet another “How To French Seams” tutorial but am instead browsing the forums at

This is ridiculous. None of my other hobbies involve this much shit; not even table-top gaming! I need more shit for sewing than I do for motherfucking Dungeons and Dragons, even if you count all the dice, other players, and pizza slices individually! I hate sewing!

See? I’m getting all frustrated just making this list. Not being able to find things I need is the cause of much frustration, and has directly contributed to more than one breakdown. In the interest of avoiding more breakdowns, and also to keep my home looking a little less like a war zone, I’m going to Organize My Sewing Shit! I’ve experimented with keeping pattern pieces in ziploc bags before, and it worked well. For storage, I’ve got a big set of plastic drawers (they’re purple, hooray!), a  much smaller set of plastic drawers, a handful of boxes and tins, and one of those plastic craft organizer things. Surely I can put all my shit together in some sort of organized manner, right?

Some day I’m going to have an office wherein I do nothing but write and sew. I’m going to spread all my sewing shit out and not have to move it when we want to have people over or eat at the table or whatever. Mr. biscuit will only be allowed in to give me praise and cookies, and the cats won’t be allowed in at all. Until then, though, I’m going to Get My Shit Together, and then I’m going to organize it, label it, and put it away, damn it, so that next time I need it, I’ll know exactly where to look.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

The kitties sleeping on my fabric


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