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Planning Your Makes

I’m usually reasonably organised and can plan my work ahead of time to ensure I’m being as efficient as I can be. But for some reason, when it comes to sewing and crochet, planning ahead is something I tend to struggle with. I can have the fabric washed and ready to cut out, only to realise that I don’t have everything I need to make it – the right zipper or fastening, for example, or (as happens most of the time) I woefully underestimate how much thread I need! If you’re like me, perhaps this will help you plan out your projects a bit better.

Planning projects to make ahead of time
I find it easier to write out a to-do list - it's super satisfying when I cross something off!

Make a list of projects

Perhaps the first (and most obvious) step is to write a list of what projects you want to make – including gifts for other people (this can be a separate one if necessary). I find this is actually quite helpful in reminding me of what I’ve had in mind for some time – plus it’s a good reminder of projects you might have abandoned for a while. You could also add notes to this list or colour code it reminding you what season the pattern might be for – you might not want to make a summer dress in the middle of winter for example, as you won’t be able to wear it.

Keep this list somewhere close to hand; on your desk where you sew, or perhaps on a noticeboard are useful places if you write it out on a notepad – or you could use an app. I keep hearing that Trello is a brilliant app for keeping stashes and project lists organised, as you can add pictures and details to each list entry, colour code projects and reorganise which should be your priorities. You can use Trello on a computer or on your phone, whichever’s easier. There are of course other, similar apps, though Trello is the one which seems to be the most popular for sewing, knitting and crochet.

The list of gifts you want to make for people is a good source of inspiration when you have events coming up, so it takes the guesswork out of what to give your friends and family. It’ll also help you in planning out when to make things for people – I already know what I’ll be making for most of my friends and family for at least the year to come. I’ve even started making gifts for Christmas as I’m working with patterns I’ve never made before and I don’t know how long they’ll take to complete.

Make a list of things you need to make those projects

The next step is to look at what you need in order to make each item or pattern. You may already have the fabric to hand for these projects, but do you have your thread, bias tape, batting, interfacing, fasteners or the correct type of needle? Do you have the right weight of yarn and the correct size knitting needles or crochet hook? A good rule of thumb I’ve found for thread is that 200m is roughly the right amount for sewing garments – I’m always taking a risk if I only buy 100m and that tends to be when I run out! I will buy smaller amounts for items like bags or things for around the house, as I’ve found these don’t tend to use as much thread as I think they might.

Make a list of the different materials you need to make each project and break it down into the different types of materials. That way, the next time you’re shopping for threads, you can buy what you need all in one go – or if you’re shopping for yarn and there’s a great bulk deal or sale on a particular weight you know you need, you can grab the right amount for all of your projects.

Planning the materials needed to make garments and projects
I have a separate list of materials I need to order before I start a project - whether that's yarn, thread, needles, fasteners or anything else. It can be helpful to have this to hand when you're ready to buy items

If you’re using Trello (or something similar), I believe you can add notes to the projects you create and this would be the place to add the details of what materials, tools and accessories you need for that particular project.

People often talk about fabric stashes or yarn stashes, but the tools and materials you need are an aspect which gets overlooked all too easily. There’s no problem having an extra spool and bobbin of thread in a particular colour as it could come in handy for future projects you have in mind, or a full set of knitting needles in different sizes, ready to be used for any pattern. Just as long as this doesn’t become an excuse to keep buying more – that’s when our hobby can truly become expensive!

Work your way through your list before adding more to it

Now this sounds really obvious, but when you come across new patterns, fabrics or yarns, it’s all too easy to think “oooh I could make that (or that would be a great fabric or yarn to make that pattern in), let’s add it to the list”. If you’ve got a lot of projects on your list already, you should try and refrain from adding more – especially if you know it takes you a while to get through them! It does take some serious self control to do this sometimes; I’ve been working my way through my own list of projects and it’s honestly really satisfying to finally cross something off that’s been on your list for months and months!

Have a look at the seasons you’ve marked against your items and try to pick ones which are either appropriate for the current season or for the next month coming up. That way you’ll get the most out of your makes immediately after you make them.

Hopefully, doing the above will help you in planning your projects and getting the most out of them. I can only speak from my experience; planning things out has been helping me to ensure I have all the bits and pieces I need to make a project before I start and I have been finishing projects that have been on my list to make for some time.