Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Let’s Talk Project Organization – for One or Many Projects!


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I think it’s the time of year. I think, ingrained in us, we have this “beginning of the year” impulse to get organized, and it manifests itself every year in lots of questions about needlework project organization.

This year is no different! Questions have been rolling in over the past month about organization in general, but the Number One Popular Question has to do with keeping a number of projects going at one time – not just juggling many projects, but staying sane in the process and making progress all around.

Organizing Embroidery Projects

I’m not exactly the Queen of Organization in every area of life – and lately, it feels as if certain areas are crumbling around me – but when it comes to Needle ‘n Thread, I try to keep things moderately organized so that I can work efficiently.

And that’s the whole thing about organizing needlework projects, whether you’re working one project or you have a number of projects going at the same time.

Organizing is simply a matter of situating things so that we can use our time (which is a most precious gift) efficiently. If we aren’t wasting time sorting and ferreting and foraging, we can enjoy our needlework oh-so-much more, and for longer periods of time.

Tips for Organizing Your Needlework

You’ll find quite a few articles on Needle ‘n Thread touching on the subject of organization, but the most popular article on the topic is this one about organizing multiple embroidery projects that are in progress at the same time.

This article about clearing the table and using carts to organize needlework tools and frequently used supplies might give you some ideas about organizing space. There’s a lot to be said for the clean-table approach!

This article is about the essentials in my workroom. I’ve changed locations since then, but the gist of the article is still the same. There are some organizational tips in there – especially on the point of keeping things under cover, if you can!

This article on six bad stitching habits hit home for a lot of people – and I’m guilty of all of them. Of course, organization shows up in more than one point!

Confessions of a Disorganized Stitcher will give you some pointers on thread organization, which applies to any project. And yes, I’m the one confessing. I tend to get disorganized pretty quickly when I’m engrossed in a serious stitching session. I try to combat the tendency, but some days, I fail. I don’t even bother. Usually, those are the Very Engrossing Stitching Sessions, where I’m not only concentrating and making good progress, but I’m enjoying the Happy Heck Out of It!

I hope you enjoy reading those articles and that you find them helpful, if you’re seeking project organization tips!

If you have any favorite tips you’d like to share with the wider Needle ‘n Thread community, please chime in below with your own experiences and suggestions! You never know how many people’s lives you will touch with your own suggestions.

A Thousand Flower Kits & Holly & Evergreen Towel Sets

The long-awaited threads for the kits for A Thousand Flowers are making their way to the US as we speak, so I’ll be preparing the remaining kits from the first round and making them available soon! If there is additional interest, I’ll order the materials for another batch of kits.

If you’ve been waiting for this news and you want advanced notice of kit availability, drop me a line and I’ll put you on the email list for advanced notice. Otherwise, the kits will be available on a first-come basis once they are added to the shop.

I’ve added some Holly & Evergreen pre-transferred flour sack towel sets to the shop. I’m taking a hiatus from prepping these for a while while I concentrate on other projects, so if you’ve been waiting for those, now’s the time to get them! Any that sell today and this weekend will ship on Monday via priority mail.


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(13) Comments

  1. I wanted to order a set of the Holly and Evergreen towels but they are already sold out. I wanted to add my voice to others that are interested in getting a set of these.

    1. Hi, Cyndi – Thanks for your note! Can you please drop me a line at mary(at)needlenthread(dot)com about the advanced notice list for the towels. It will be a little while before I can get back to them again, but I will let you know as soon as I do! Thanks!

  2. Oh my goodness, is that the tree again? I love the red leaves! They are just gorgeous, and they balance the whole thing out so nicely!

  3. I may have shared this before but to keep from being totally disorganized and keeping track of Works In Progress I stumbled on this method curtesy of one of the on-line groups I belong to. Invest in boxes from the scrapbooking section and assign them a day of the week or by a collection of favorite designer’s smalls. Put all the necessities for the project including scissors, needles, threads etc. in the box and as the day comes around the time you set aside for stitching everything you need is in one place and ready to go. These can be stored in cubby, book case, or any kind of shelf. As a project is completed a different one can be stored in the box.
    Dealing with threads can be handled in any number of ways. Scrapbooking storage can be employed here as well in a number of different ways and can avoid the pesky creases from the card board bobbins. DMC stitch bows and the pages that can be kept in loose leaf note books works pretty well. One important thing about thread storage is to keep an inventory of what you have. I must confess mine is higgilty piggilty which makes it difficult when trying to assemble a thread kit for a project.
    A ‘ hurry up and go’ bag is useful as well. It can contain a small project that you only work on while waiting for appointments (yours, your husband’s or child’s)

  4. Well over a decade ago I made a holder to hold up to 3 projects in progress and which would fit easily in a suitcase when traveling.

    It is about 1 foot by 1 foot square. There are 3 sections the entire size of the piece. I can put a different WIP in each or split 1 or 2 projects into the 3 sectins as needed. The sections can each hold fabric, threads (on Loran cards), hoops, instructions, etc. (Having had a problem once where in the heat the printing on the kit instructions transferred to the fabric, I keep instructions in plastic bags). There is a small vertical pocket on the front of the piece which is perfect for embroidery scissors and will hold more than one pair. There is also a horizontal small pocket on the front which holds packets of needles, needle threaders and similar. There is a full size flap which comes from the top and covers the sections and the front of the piece. It fits into a small drawer in a set of 3 plastic drawers we have in our studio – we each have a drawer for what we are working on and the third drawer holds, unrelated, our glues. We now travel in a very small RV – when we are going away I toss this holder in the largest storage section in the RV and it fits fine – and since it is soft helps keep things from bouncing around.

    I have a tote bag that I carry to EGA chapter meetings. I have a small box in it with scissors – embroidery & craft, sewing thread, needles, etc. to use at meetings. I keep the supplies, etc for projects we are working on at meetings in large plastic zip bags.

    For the pieces I work on at reenactments I have a round “period looking” wooden box which I set up before events with what I will be working on for the section I plan to stitch – it holds the fabric piece (rudely and unfortunately, folded to a small size), the threads I anticipate using that day wound on reproduction bobbins (I attach a tiny piece of paper with the color reference from the instructions with a period looking pin to the thread), a small fabric “wallet” with needles, wax heart and some other small items. My embroidery scissors are in this box on a ribbon so that I can hang them from my apron string to have at hand to use. (The same is true of a “pin ball” on a separate ribbon and of a thimble holder with thimble also on a separate ribbon. It is not actually a thimble I would use – I don’t really use one at all for embroidery) but is for show. I photocopy the section I plan to work on that day enlarged and cut it out around the section so I can sneak it out in my hand to see what do next, along with a stitch reference list for the project matching the instructions. In a plastic zip in a bench box we bring to sit on and store items in are all the other items related to the piece so I can access or refer to them if needed, including the rest of the threads and the full instructions.

  5. Good Morning: I, like most, have been frustrated by organization of my projects. It doesn’t help that I have multiple projects on the go. A friend from Needlework showed her project bag she had made, and I loved it. I have used the Project Bag By Annie and made many of them. They come in 3 sizes …so the largest is for my individual projects, which includes the project itself, frame, fibres, instructions and notes, etc. One bag for each project…so it is simply grab and go, or grab and stitch. Everything is contained in the bag. I then made the smallest bag…and in it I keep all my supplies I need for all projects: needle case, scissors, thimbles, ort container, etc. Again this is a grab and go bag…which accompanies which ever project bag I choose to use. I am thinking of making the medium bag as the smallest is too small if I want to include a small light and/or magnifiers…hope this offers some additional perspective on organization…JoMarie

  6. I have used the plastic mesh bags for years. I got them at the sadly now defunct “Sunflower Seed” shop. I think Mary and I shared a LNS at one point. I only have three of the large project sized one (and a small one that I use for knitting notions). But that’s usually how many projects I have in progress at any one time.

    I use floss bags for my threads. I do put my DMC threads on bobbins, then slip the bobbin into the floss bag, which also holds lengths of thread where I’ve stripped out one or more strands. I don’t re-wind those partial strands onto the bobbin.

    My pattern goes into a sheet protector and for multi-page patterns, I do make a working copy and put each page into their own sheet protector and everything into a three ring binder. This is especially good for those huge patterns like Teresa Wentzler and HEAD.

    I use a rotation with three or four ‘slots’ (and one slot for doing finishing and framing). Each project gets worked on for a minimum of ten hours before I move on to the next project. I keep track with an excel spreadsheet and the timer on my phone. I usually have at least 15 minutes a day to spend on my needlework, so I get through one slot in about a month. I’m not the fastest stitcher and I also quilt and knit.

  7. The bitty frame with the teeny little “A Thousand Flowers” embroidery in it could be the MOST ADORABLE THING I HAVE EVER SEEN!!! How small is the frame? I have never seen one so tiny!

  8. I think my needlework wish would be a table or frame I could sit and work at and I would love to hear about stitches and accessories! Oh how I love your website! Great writing and great needlework!

  9. Out of curiosity – which project is the one with what looks to be a reindeer on gauze? How are you planning on finishing it?

    1. Hi, Sarah – That’s this project: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/2018/11/a-thousand-flowers-four-tapestry-smalls-available-now.html It’s four tapestry smalls. The deer is not part of the collection at this time. There’s a cat, dog, squirrels, and a bunny. I’ll be making the deer available soon. I’m finishing it a special way and will be sharing that finish here on the website soon! I’ll also have more kits in stock very soon, too. They’re fun little pieces!

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