DIY: Project Containers

A way to plan a project and keep all your supplies together

  • Bags/Bins/Boxes
  • Labels or Sticky Notes
  • Marker or Pen
  • Your project supplies

Most of us know the feeling: we find something we love and it conjures an image of the completed project. Maybe a fabric inspires a particular garment, or a quilt pattern reminds you of the fabric you have been saving. Usually when this happens to me, I’m not at the store, and I don’t have all the supplies waiting. So I’ve developed Project bags as a super simple way to keep supplies together until I’m ready to sew.

There’s two main steps, and you can flip-flop them based on what makes sense to you.


On each label or sticky note, write a name for the project that will make sense to you. For example, if I’m sewing a Simplicity pattern, it won’t make sense to write Simplicity 8622. I’m never going to remember which pattern number 8622 is. But if I write Nursury Decor, I’m going to know exactly what it is. If I’m working on a shirt, I might write Butterfly Peplum Top. It doesn’t matter what your title for the project is, as long as you can interpret what it means.

Underneath your title, write all the supplies you need to complete the project. Whether you’re sewing, quilting, or knitting, this information will usually be on your pattern. (If you don’t have a pattern, a quick sketch of the design might be helpful to determine what you will need.) Once your label is complete, affix it to the outside of the container where you can easily read it.


Your containers may be bags, or small bins, or boxes. Anything that will keep items contained. I prefer that they all match, so I know it’s a project bag without having to open it. If you’re less forgetful than me, you can choose whether to match them. Place all the supplies you currently have in the container with the coordinating title and list. This might be your pattern, your fabric, and your thread. Or maybe your pattern, half-finished dress, and a zipper. Or it might be as simple as torn pajama pants and thread. Or a shirt and fabric for applique. It doesn’t matter what your project is, how simple or complicated, it can have a container.

As you place items in, either highlight or cross them off the list of required supplies. This is how you tell what you still need. I also like to keep a list in my phone so that I can have a reference with me wherever I go. If you don’t want to keep a list in your phone, you can simply refer to your labels before you go shopping to know what you need. Once all the items are marked off, you know that you can complete that project.

Please note that you don’t need a complete list to work on your project! If it involves cutting fabric, and you have the size, shape and fabric you need, you can go ahead and do it right then. If you have cut fabric and thread, you can start sewing before you acquire bias tape or buttons. All it means if your list isn’t complete is that you will reach a point where you will need to stop and get your next supply before you can continue.

If you want to reverse steps A and B, you would gather your supplies into containers first. Then you would make your list of what you already have in the container and what you still need. It is still important to: 1) give it a title you understand and 2) mark off what you already have versus what you still need.

I’m in the process of reorganizing my project containers! Previously, I had plastic grocery bags that I stuffed in a storage bin. Not very easy to see! By putting them somewhere I didn’t see them, I often forgot they existed. I didn’t know what I needed without taking time to go through them, and I didn’t have a reminder to work on (and finish) them. When I’m all done organizing, I’ll add pictures to this post.

Do you have your own way of organizing materials or works in progress? Have stitching organization questions you want answered? Tell us in the comments or send us an e-mail!


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