Thursday, April 20, 2017

In the Bin

Hello from the land of projects! 

Mother Nature has great timing. During the first few months of 2017, she kept me inside my brightly lit and warm home. I decided that I would take the time I needed while inside over the winter to dig deep into the recesses of my closets. It was time. In fact, it was way overdue.

While sitting down to write my TO DO list this morning, I paused and listened to that voice inside of me. You know the voice I'm talking about. It's the one that I, personally, often don't give my full attention to;  and later on I wish I had done so. I tend to pressure myself to get things done, as if I have strict deadlines, and I feel like I need to get on to the next thing as soon as possible. Today I wrote down what that inner voice said, which was,  "Take time to enjoy the tasks that make up your day. They are important, even if they're considered chores. Shed the guilt. Lift the burden. Enjoy everything you do today. This is your life right now and it is important."

It might be a little less than exciting to some people to rifle through boxes of fabric and unfinished projects. In fact, it used to produce so much guilt and anxiety for me, that I would end up just closing the boxes and putting them out of sight. However, I have become aware that, as my mother used to say, "I have a lot more years behind me than ahead of me". I've come to the clear realization that if I don't take care of things, these decisions will fall on someone else's shoulders; and that just isn't fair. I don't want to burden any of my family with the chore of trying to figure out what in the world all of these things meant to me and then assume the task of finding them suitable homes, or just donating them to charity, after I am gone.

So, without going on and on with these thoughts, I will cut to the chase. I decided that I would once and for all catalog my stash and projects. This kind of organization is a challenge to many quilters and crafters. There is so much stuff required to do what we do, from the various colors of thread, pretty papers, ribbons, embellishments . . .  to all the little tools for specific jobs, books, patterns, and machines, to the collections of fabric we amass. When I feel mired in all this stuff, I think to myself . . . "what was I thinking? I will need an army to help me get all of this used in my lifetime!" . . . but, a fellow quilter once pointed out to me that I am too hard on myself and that I should at least enjoy my fabrics and be happy when I see them and touch them, no matter if they ever make their way into a quilt or not. That is a concept that I am trying to embrace. I tend to be very task oriented and think of everything in terms of a project with phases that can be checked off as I proceed. And when I don't achieve that goal, I beat myself up. I'm trying not to do that anymore, and even when I slip back into my former modus operandi, I try to be gentle with myself and not feel defeated. I admit that I am still a work in progress.

Thanks to technology, I think I have found a really good solution that will allow me to know where things are stored and have access to them more readily than before. I used my cell phone to take photos of my fabrics as I folded them and tucked them away in bins. Yes, I know we are cautioned not to store our fabrics in plastic . . . but it is what I am using! I took the time to enjoy the view. I looked at the fabrics and dreamt of what I will make when I use them. It was fun, . . . as long as I didn't let any guilt get a hold of me. When I had a full bin, I labeled it with a letter, such as "Fabric Bin A" and then took a photo of that label. I made a folder in my cell phone labeled "Fabric Bin A" and in that folder I put all the photos of the fabrics that are inside. It may sound a bit cumbersome in my explanation, but it was rather simple. It is working out great and I have access to the system 24 hours a day. The photos will never disappear because they are not only stored on my phone, but are stored in the cloud, too.

Here are a few sample photos to show you what I am talking about.

This is a screenshot of the folder in my smart phone of the contents of Bin B.
Inside the bin are my
Black, White and Red Project
Black and White Fabrics
Graphic 45 Birdsong Collection
Depression-era Reproduction fabrics.

This is a screenshot of the folder in my smart phone of contents of Bin D.
Inside the bin are my
Blue & Orange Log Cabin Project
New York Beauty blocks in progress
Rayon dress fabric . . . I MIGHT make a dress again some day!
Split Rail Fence blocks
2 partially finished,  . . . or is that partially started? . . . Stack 'n' Whack Quilts
Friendship Star Quilt
2 paper-pieced mini quilt projects
Hawaiian applique block
,Amish Ocean Waves stored in an old cigar box!
For me, this is real progress! Now I actually know what fabrics I have and where they are. The same goes for my UFOs (to quilters, this term means Unfinished Projects). When I want to carve time out of a day or a week, I can refer to the folder of photos in my phone and locate something to work on without pawing through bins for fabric in frustration to the point of exhaustion.

There you go. I just breathed a big sigh of relief. It wasn't easy to bare my quilty .... guilty....soul, but this idea might just catch on and help you or others. I imagine that I will find more ways to use my phone for a filing, storage and retrieval system. Perhaps the next task will be to organize my paper crafting supplies in this way. Maybe this system is already used by others and isn't a new discovery. That doesn't matter to me. What does matter is the fact that I think I have finally found a solution to my perennial problem!

Let me know what you think. What methods have you found useful in your quest to organize your stuff?

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my blog post. I do appreciate your feedback and welcome your questions and comments.

I hope you and those you love are well and happy. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.



  1. Great idea. I have projects in see through containers....but don't often look at them or really know where a certain fabric is. Sometimes what would have been perfect for another project shows up in them much later......, if only I had glanced at my phone to see what was in those bins I never open.