Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring Cleaning-- Magazines and other paper

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Spring Cleaning series!  I'm happy you're here!


Today we are tackling the paper monster--magazines, patterns, and other paper, like paper piecing templates and pattern pieces.  If you're like me, there is a lot of paper in a room that's all about fabric!  For me, this problem is much more about storage and organization than about volume.  It's not really that there's too much, but that we don't know what to do with all that we have.  We'd all rather sew than file paperwork, right?

Right up front I want to show you the number one thing that helped tame the paper monster in my sewing room.  It's this basket:


The basket is about 10 by 14 inches and a couple of inches deep. This gives me a place to pile up magazines, catalogs, and paper until I'm ready to deal with it.  That way it doesn't get strewn all over the room, and when I want to I can take the whole basket and deal with it at once.  Plus, I know where to find catalogs when I want to look at something pretty. I also admit to throwing patterns and templates I've been using in the basket instead of putting them back right away, because creativity doesn't stop to file paper.

With that, let's get started!

**Just a reminder--there are no rules except the ones you create for yourself!  Keep everything if you want to, or throw it all out--it's totally up to you!**  I was reading an organization book in preparation for this series, and the author kept saying, "you must. . ." do this or that.  That rubbed me the wrong way entirely.  The only thing you must do is pay your taxes.  Everything else is up to you.

Where did all of this even come from?

For this step you will definitely need some brown paper bags to recycle any paper you want to dispose of.  You may also want some organizational aids like magazine holders, binders, and plastic page pockets.

Magazines:

Who hasn't heard the siren call of magazines?  They're so pretty and colorful, and some of them have nice ideas.  The problem is that they just keep coming!  The key here is to decide what you want to do.  Do you want to keep whole magazines, or are you willing to tear them up to save individual patterns or ideas?  A mixture of the two is okay, too.  Or maybe you don't want to keep anything.  That's okay too!

If you are keeping whole magazines, it's absolutely worth it to go through them using the same methods described in the Books post.  At the very least, going through them lets you see what you have.  When you have the collection you want to keep, storage becomes the issue.  If you have a lot of magazines, the same storage methods as books apply--shelves, crates, baskets, or storage totes.  Anything where you can keep the magazines together works.  You might want to sort them to keep titles together so that you can find a specific issue quickly. 


With few exceptions, old magazines have little value, but if you want to try to sell them, some used bookstores will take magazines, and I have seen bundles of older magazines for sale on Ebay.  I don't know much about selling on Ebay.  I do know that there are some fees involved, but you may find it worth a try.  Otherwise, please recycle!


If you only have a few whole magazines to keep, or if you want to sort and separate a larger magazine stash, magazine holders will keep them together and allow you to store them on a shelf.  You can buy these, of course, but you can also make them fairly quickly from cereal boxes. (Family size cereal boxes might be needed for some magazines to fit.) There is a tutorial HERE, and a pretty entertaining video that shows how to make a larger one HERE.

Pretty pattern from 2008!  Probably why I still had a 9-year-old magazine!

If you are willing to tear out patterns and ideas and recycle the rest of the magazine, the best thing I've found to do is use three ring binders and plastic page pockets to save the paper you tear out.  Scanning them and storing them digitally is also a good option, but it does take some time. (Maybe you could bribe someone to do this for you.)  I've also found that I never look at scanned in papers, so I seldom do it. You could also use folders to store the pages (either manila folders or pocket folders) or shoe boxes, though I've found that paper doesn't survive well in those.  The binders and pockets are a small investment in a lot more happiness.  You can get these pretty inexpensively at big box stores.

Yes, I made quilted covers for some of the binders.  Don't judge me.

Then it's just a matter of going through the magazines and pulling out what you want to save!  This can take forever, but it can also be a lot of fun.  Stop when you get tired and pick it up later.  Breaks can save your sanity! Save all the pages for one pattern in separate pockets, and be sure to save any templates or extras that go with the pattern.  Then pop the pockets into a binder and you have a personal pattern book!

What I did:

I saved a few whole magazines, including my stash of Mark Lipinski's Quilter's World. (See above.) And I used a cereal box magazine holder, so I feel very virtuous.  I tore patterns out of the rest and recycled the remainder, saving the pages in pockets and binders.  I had separate binders for inspiration and different kinds of patterns, which is why I have several.  (They aren't all full!)

Printed Patterns:

Printed patterns are fun to have, if only for the inspiration.  It pays to dig out all of your patterns and decide what to keep and what not keep, using the same process as the books.  Recycle anything you don't want any more. Sadly, there is really no secondary market for printed patterns.  You could try selling them through your blog or Etsy, but you will be competing with the designers who are selling their own patterns, often the exact same ones.  Really, the only things to do with patterns you no longer want is offer them to friends, give them away on a guild table, or recycle them.


For the patterns you keep, there are many storage options.  You could scan them into the computer and store them digitally, which would get rid of the paper entirely.  If you don't want to do that, clear plastic shoe boxes stored in the closet work well.  Some stores also sell decorative shoebox-sized boxes for storing photos that would look nice on a shelf.  If you have only a few patterns, a smaller magazine holder on a shelf would work well, too. What worked best for me was the binder and pockets, just like the magazine patterns.  Just pop the whole pattern into a pocket and store the pockets in a binder.  It fits nicely on a shelf and keeps everything together.

Paper templates of all types also fit in these page pockets and can be stored in binders, either with the patterns or in a separate binder of their own.  Remember the alphabet letters I made for my grandson's birthday? (HERE)  I stored the paper letter templates in a page pocket to keep them together and protected in case I want to use them again.  Even thin plastic templates can be stored in these pockets and binders.


What I did:

I got rid of a lot of paper patterns that I know I'll never make and recycled most of them.  Some went to friends.  The patterns I kept went into pockets in a binder separate from the magazine patterns.  Scanning them in to the computer would have been a good option, but I didn't want to spend all the time to do it only to have to print it out again if I ever make the quilt.

Triangle paper, English paper piecing templates, and other specialty papers:

Many handy things for creative pursuits are made of paper!  The important thing for these papers is keeping like things together.  That is, all the EPP paper templates should be kept together, for example, and all of the various other specialty papers should be kept with others of the same kind.  If like things are kept together they're easier to find.  Baskets, magazine holders, shoe boxes, etc., all make good storage options.  Can I suggest some pretty baskets or decorative boxes?  Just because you have to store them doesn't mean they have to look bad.


Quilting designs and longarm pantographs on rolls should also be kept together.  I gather that the big problem with the pantos is keeping them from getting crushed.  I don't have any of these, but I will suggest saving the cardboard tubes from paper towels or wrapping paper to roll them up on (these can be trimmed to size), then either storing them upright in a basket or on something like a wine rack or shoe rack.  If you have a lot of them you could also stand them up in a decorative crate or box where they'll hold each other upright.


What I did:

I put all of my triangle paper packets in a magazine holder, and put all of the EPP papers I have (that I seldom use, to be honest, but I don't want to get rid of) in this pretty box that I got cheap from a big box store.  I don't have many other specialty papers, but I did also store some scrapbook paper in another magazine holder.

Miscellaneous other paper:

Somehow we accumulate a lot more paper!  There are the free patterns from guild meetings, paper templates, inspirational photos, and various other bits that you just don't want to get rid of, like business cards, layout drawings you've done, or cutting size charts.

The solution here is to separate them into categories.  Inspirational photos, layout drawings, and other things you want to see right away should go on a cork board or other pin board somewhere in the sewing space where you can actually see them.  Free patterns can go in with the other patterns, either in a binder or a box.  Paper templates and the like can go in separate plastic bags (the ones from the paper patterns you recycle are great for this) and then in with the rest of the patterns.  If you have a lot of paper templates, you might consider a separate binder or storage box just for them.


What I did:

I have some things pinned up, and others got sorted and stored in the binders with similar papers.

Whew, that was a lot to sort through!  I hope you made some progress on your paper. Remember--no guilt!  You get to have as many papers, magazines, and patterns around as you want.  Just keep them in a way that makes you happy and lets you sew in peace.

Thanks for stopping by the Spring Cleaning series! Next week's topic is notions, rulers, and thread, which means sorting out lots of little things.  I hope you're up for it!  As always, if you have suggestions for other people, share them in the comments!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

11 comments:

  1. You are so inspirational! I have to do this major purge periodically, and there's no time like the present!

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  2. This is a hard one, one I struggle with...I have way too much paper :) Thanks for the tips, I have gone through these things before but I sure need to do it again!!

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  3. I do your paper basket method also. And then go through about 2-3 times a year and through out outdated ones, sort and put away anything else. I don't have a lot of magazines anymore, but when I did, I tore out what I wanted and put in page protectors also. I agree with you in that we should do what is right for us, not just because someone else says this is the way to do it!

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  4. Excellent ideas. Purging is so hard for so many of us. My husband and I are downsizing into our rv so space is premium. I use a small hand scanner and scan any patterns from magazines, turn them into pdf's and save them on a thumb-drive. I use the VuPoint ST415 Magic Wand Portable Scanner.

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  5. Good ideas and I love those quilted binder covers. I use binders and the clear sleeves quite often. I also have a basket shaped a bit like a shoebox that holds a lot of small patterns standing up. And the basket fits on a shelf in my sewing room bookcase.

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  6. I'm really enjoying this series. It's nice that you're not saying "you must" and you have great storage ideas. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

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  7. It is an inspiration and hopefully motivational to read how you are tackling your spring cleaning. I think my problem, no, one of my problems, is I get distracted and I start, and move on to another part of my clutter. I am "moved clutter" to three rooms. This is crazy. I have been "going through paper and have found I have multiple prints of tutorials, pattern projects. I must have wasted a ream or two of excess printed paper. I wonder how much color toner I have used? From all of these prints, you would think I must have "beautiful quilts and projects" completed. Not. Thanks for sharing this process.

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  8. I do all of the things that you list here and it really helps me stay organized. I will of course have things spread out on the cutting table when working on a project, but the rest of my Studio has to stay in order or I am out of focus. I am blessed because I have 2 large rooms and a room in the house to store my overflow of fabric. But being organized is so important. You are really doing the quilting world a great service by posting on organization. Hats off to you!!

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  9. Three cheers for peaceful sewing! :-) You've mentioned some awesome tips for the paper clutter....looking forward to learning what you've discovered about threads, rulers and such! Have a great weekend!

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  10. So many great ideas here! Since I've organized my sewing closet, I've kept it pretty neat. But I still haven't tamed the paper monster. I try to clean up after I finish a project, but I run out of steam when it comes to the notes and patterns I made while working on it. I really like your basket idea. I will definitely try that, so things at least look pretty until I'm ready to put the papers where they belong.

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  11. I do have magazine racks, and big files with pockets so I am doing something right, but I can't remember the last time I went through them, except in a hurry when looking for something. Time to sort through them then. I did have a big sort out with magazines a few months ago though and gave away or otherwise recycled all except a few. I have now stopped buying magazines, I get more inspiration from all the wonderful blogs I read, including yours. Now I'm saving money and fro the price of three or four magazines I don't buy I can get a book, or, as I am reorganising my thread and changing brand, get an extra bobbin of the one my machine really likes. Great series.

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