Thursday, March 04, 2010

My Project Journal

JustGail asked:
"You mentioned project notebooks - what information do you keep in them, that's different from what you keep in the blog? Fabric samples, more details??? Or is it more so that you can look up past projects without having to be at the computer?"

and Unemployed-notretired asked:
"I have a question for you. You recently mentioned your sewing journal. Would you mind explaining what you keep in it and why? I am a born-again sewer and think I should keep a journal with fabric swatches etc. but have not done it. How do you use yours?"

Before the internet and the advent of blogs, I kept project notebooks.  These journals were usually five subject notebooks but I've used everything from one of them to a steno pad.  The best ones had pockets in them so that I could stuff magazine ads, my stick drawings and inspirational pictures.

So what do I keep in my project journal/notebook:

Shopping Lists - I love lists, btw 
*Items that need to be replenished in my sewing notion stock
*Fabrics I'm looking for to make a garment
*Pattern Lists (before the pattern companies went online and I could save them that way!)

What I want to sew for this season
*There is usually a list with patterns and fabric suggestions

Sometimes a fabric swatch is included. Especially in the earlier notebooks when I worked in the garment district and bought notions and thread on an as-needed basis.  But mostly my project notebooks contain construction details of garments that I've made and my doodlings regarding garments that I've dreamed up.  At times the notes are very detailed particularly when I'm working out a sewing sequence.  Other times, it's short bullet points with just enough information to remind me of what I've done.

The project journal works really well for writing blog posts.  As I'm constructing a garment, I write notes then I don't have to remember every step later on.  All  of this is very helpful when I'm blogging.  And sometimes I even write blog posts in the journal...things I'm thinking or wondering about...sometimes a question that comes to me while I'm sewing.

I've finally dated all of the books and I'm going to store them in magazine holders because they are informative resources.  I guess they really are just a low-tech source of information...a throwback if you will.  But since I've been keeping them for about a decade, I don't think I'm gonna change now.

Hopefully this answered your questions...and as always more later!


  1. Theresa in TucsonMarch 04, 2010 11:03 PM

    I just started doing keeping a journal of patterns sewn where I write down what was right or wrong about a pattern, sort of my version of Pattern Review. It's a good way to track lessons learned and fit as they evolve. I love lists too, but I'm not nearly as organized as you are. Give me time.

  2. Yes, what a great idea. I start these things but never follow through..sigh.

  3. I have been keeping a journal since the start of 2009 and I find it helpful for blogging and for writing reviews. However, I love that it gives me solid evidence of what sewing I have achieved.

  4. I think a project journal is a wonderful idea. I keep binder of project worksheets. The worksheets have technical drawing and construction notes. I must admit, I was afraid I was a little too obsessed. It's good to know, I'm not the only one. Thanks for sharing!

  5. What a great post - I think a project journal is a brilliant way of keeping track of things and capturing stray thoughts. As soon as I return from vacation I'm determined to get myself organized with one, I've got to stop working in chaos, it fogs the brain!

  6. OMG, Carolyn, mine looks just like yours!

    I find it very helpful as a memory aid, and writing down fit tweaks helps me process the information and remember it. It also gives me a place to go back to and look it up. I staple fabric samples in it, and interfacing and/or stitching alternatives. I also note the needle size/type and tension & presser foot settings when using a new (to me) fabric.

    In fact, it's almost time for a new one. I have only 20 or 30 pages left and some projects use two pages or more, especially if there's a muslin involved.

  7. I keep a record of what I make and swatches. It's fun to see all you've done over the year.

  8. I've been journalling my sewing for quite a while, and it's been a helpful resource. Yes, we have blogs, but the journals are more tactile. I add pictures, swatches, samples--all kinds of things, which makes it fun. I also keep a spread sheet (excel) that indexes my projects and the other flotsam in the journals. That has come in handy when going back to a pattern I've used before--"oh yeah, I did make adjustments..."

  9. Project journals are a great idea! I do something a little bit like that...when I make a pattern I either trace it off, or can't get the darn tissue folded back into the tiny envelope. So, I put them all into a large manilla envelope, and label the outside. I also stick a piece of the fabric that I used in the envelope, and either write notes right on the back of the envelope or (if there are a lot of notes!) on a separate sheet that goes in there so I know what to do for the next time!

  10. Thanks for the info on your jounals Carolyn. Would I be correct in thinking that you take the journal with you to work also, for those times when an idea or solution to a problem pops into your head? Or do you make a note of them and transfer them to the journals later? Sometimes I'll see or think of something, but by the time I get home, it's gone. I know I had an idea, but ....

    Thanks to the rest of you on your journals also!

  11. I'm so glad someone asked you about this. I didn't think I kept a journal, but I guess I sort of do... just not quite so organized and purposeful. I think it's time to take it to the next level.

  12. Glad someone else asked about this because I am always intrigued by process. I do keep a journal, but not so detailed usually. I like the idea of working out construction process in one place so that I can go back and see what I did.
    thanks for sharing this.

  13. Thank you for the journal/notebook idea AND your link to your "lists" posts. Both very helpful and inspiring. So far, I've stored any notes I make with the pattern, but an "idea journal" would certainly help. I've tried binders before, and they didn't help. Maybe something more "bound" and purposeful (that I could find when I needed it), I'd stand more of a chance of using. Thanks again.

  14. Ive been doing this for years too. I sometimes will add fabric swatches but not always. I also sometimes make line drawings to include changes I want to make. This helps me see if the changes will work.I especially love it when I can check off what has been accomplished for the month or season.

  15. Great way to keep thoughts and projects organized. I keep saying I need to do it but for the most part make notes in my cell phone note feature of patterns I want, sewing notions I need and draft blog posts. On the pattern envelope I makes notes too, but really need to start a journal.

  16. Its really very nice idea. i like this informative post thank for sharing us...

  17. I still keep a paper datebook, so I love the idea of an honest to goodness sewing journal. I think I need to start one of these as I forget what changes I've made to a garment within days of sewing it up. Thanks for giving more details on your sewing journals.


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