Have you ever felt like your vision of what you’d like your style to be doesn’t match what you actually own in your closet? Do you find yourself sewing items you don’t end up wearing—not because it’s badly-crafted, but because something else is off?
Of course you have, because there are a million sewing planner templates and resources out there: How to use Trello for sewing, download this printable, plan your dream wardrobe, etc. While all those are great resources, I’ve found that they weren’t quite hitting what I needed in a sewing planner.
I wanted to turn my Pinterest inspiration into action, find the patterns to achieve this vision, and visually see the fabrics I’m eyeing to figure out if the colors work. I change my mind constantly. I need a planner that can change as quickly as my whims. And I want all of that to live in one place, with minimal effort on my part to update.
Seems like a tall order, right?
After some tinkering, I’ve created this Airtable template you can use to turn ideas into reality. It’s part visual, part organizational goodness. Now, you can jump right in and use the template and ignore all my instruction, but I don’t recommend it if you’ve never used Airtable before. I’ll explain how I set it up, how I use it, and how to automate specific things to make your sewing planning easy.
I like to describe Airtable as spreadsheets on acid. (They describe themselves as part spreadsheet, part database.) Airtable combines the functionality of spreadsheets and databases in one. You don’t need to know complicated formulas to link cells from other sheets to each other.
Airtable is free to use. More advanced features require payment, but all of the features I utilize are free.
I chose to make my planner in Airtable because I wanted to visually see everything on one page: the pattern line art, the fabric swatch, the inspiration for the piece, and what gap I was missing in my wardrobe. And I wanted to do it without much manual work.
Before I jump into explaining the template, let’s get some Airtable terminology out of the way.
- Base: Airtable bases are the equivalent to workbooks in Excel or Google Sheets. It’s your collection of individual sheets that make up a spreadsheet, or in this case, a base.
- Table: Tables in Airtable are the equivalent to sheets in Excel or Google Sheets.
- View: The great thing about Airtable is that you can the information in each table displayed in different ways. For example, you can have your main Grid view, which shows a traditional spreadsheet format. But if you have a lot of photos in a table, you may also want to create a Gallery view, which displays all your information in photo form. Learn more about Airtable views.
- Field: this is the equivalent to columns in Excel and Google Sheets. However, instead of labeling them A, B, C and so on, Airtable allows you have to have different Field Types. Some types are simple, such as selecting from a dropdown, but there are also more advanced ones, such as linking to a record in another table. Learn more about field types.
- Record: Airtable refers to rows as records. I may use records and rows interchangeably here.
The template, explained
The Fabrics table is intended to help you visually see the fabric in your stash, and decide what garments or projects you intend to use them for.
This is perhaps the simplest of the tables in this Sewing Planning base. I’ll start by explaining the standard fields in this table, and then the different views available for the Fabrics table. Remember, views are just different ways to organize the information you’ve captured.
Fabric fields, explained
- Item description: This is just a simple text description of your fabric, e.g. cotton poplin, chiffon, etc.
- Fabric: This is where you can take a photo of something in your existing stash on your phone. I personally like to see photos so I can come up with color combinations. If there’s a particular fabric you’re covering, you can drag the image to this table. It’s pretty easy to add photos if you’re window shopping, without the need to save multiple photos. (See “Tricks to automate your planning” below.)
- Purchase URL: If you’re saving items to your wishlist, you’ll want to refer back to it later. If you don’t have a URL for something that exists in your stash already, it’s not a big deal.
- Purchased?: This is a pretty self-explanatory checkbox. This field is hidden for the Stash and Wishlist views.
- Planned project: I know there are people out there who will buy the fabric before they decide on a project. I am not one of those people. This field links back to the Sewing planner table.
I purposefully used as little fields as possible for the Fabrics table. Some people like to catalog care instructions, where they purchased the pattern, etc. I don’t need to go into that level of detail personally, but if that’s your thing, you can certainly add new fields to this table.
See the Fabrics table in action
Remember, views in Airtable display the same data in a table in different ways. I decided to create three views for Fabrics.
- Fabric Stash view: this displays fabric that you already own.
- Fabric Wishlist view: The wishlist is for fabric that you want to purchase, but you haven’t yet.
- Gallery: The gallery view includes all of the records in your Stash and Wishlist views, but displays each record in a “gallery format,” putting your fabric photos front-and-center. This will help you see whether the fabrics in your stash and your wishlist work together.
There have been times when I’ve decided on a project that I’m going to work on, but I can never remember how much yardage I need, what fabric type is suitable, or whether I have the notions on hand.
The Patterns table is meant to have that information handy on impromptu trips (or online browsing sessions). Use it to catalog your stash, or make your wishlist of patterns to purchase next. I’ll start by explaining how each field works, and then go into the views.
Pattern fields, explained
This is perhaps the most manual and tedious part of the process. But trust me, if you take the time to fill out the information in this section, it will make your planning in the Sewing Planner table a breeze.
- Pattern Company: Fill in the name of the pattern company.
- Pattern Name: Fill in the name of the pattern.
- Line art: This is a photo field, so you can take a photo of a pattern envelope and upload it from your phone. You can also upload from your desktop, or drag and drop from a website url.
- Fabric type: Select Woven or Knit from the dropdown menu.
- URL: Add the purchasing URL for the pattern, if available.
- Yardage: Write in the recommended yardage for the pattern. You might have to make notes for different-sized bolts. I just copy-and-paste from the pattern maker’s website.
- Recommended fabrics: Write the suggested fabrics to make the pattern. Again, you can copy-and-paste from the website.
- Notions needed: Write in the suggested notions needed to make the pattern, e.g. buttons, zippers, elastic. I never include thread, fabric, or needles because duh. I tend to be detailed in this section, such as noting the length of the zipper or the width of the elastic.
- Own?: This is a checkbox to mark whether you own the pattern or not.
- What are you making?: This field links to the Sewing Planner table. When a field links to another table, that means you can select any row in that table. So you can select a row from the Sewing Planner table or add a new record to associate this pattern with an idea you want to make.
- Main view: This is an unfiltered view of all records in this table, including patterns you’ve purchased and patterns on your wishlist.
- Owned: This will list all of the patterns you own.
- To Buy: This lists all the patterns you want to buy.
This is the most complex of all the tables, but it pulls information from the Fabric and Patterns tables. I’ll start by explaining each view in this table. The Sewing Planner table has five views:
- Main Grid: This is every row, unfiltered. It’s kind of messy, but I keep it around when I need to change or edit the structure of the views. If you want to play around with Airtable and add, delete, or edit fields, feel free to do it here.
- Wardrobe Gaps: If you’re sewing to fill holes in your wardrobe, this will be the place to identify the gaps in your wardrobe, and plan around it.
- Ideas: If you’re the type of sewist who sews from inspiration instead of need, this will be the view for you. It starts from a Pinterest pin, and then you can build from there.
- In Queue: These are projects that are in your queue.
- Wardrobe Inventory: This is where your finished projects live.
Identify wardrobe gaps
Identify a hole first, then gather your ideas.
I tend to prune my wardrobe regularly of clothes I no longer like, whether it’s due to changing style, wrong color, or bad fit. As a result, I have a TON of gaps in my wardrobe. I use the Wardrobe Gaps view to do any planning to fill closet gaps.
The view sorts by Clothing Type first, then Formality. This helps me see what I need most, such as more casual pants, more formal one-pieces, etc. I can then click in any section and add an item that I’m missing from my closet under the Item Needed field.
I can add a photo under Inspiration if I have it. Just click on the plus sign in the cell to add a photo from your computer, or drag and drop from a website. I also like to note the season for the project I’m making.
Click on the plus sign under the Season field to select a season from the drop-down menu.
Under the Patterns field, click on the cell to select a pattern from your Patterns table. Once you’ve made your selection, the Line Art, Yardage Needed, Notions Needed, and Fabric Requirements fields will auto-populate with the associated information.
Get inspiration first, then figure out the details.
I wanted to turn my Pinterest pins into reality. So when I pin an item to my style board, the pin will automatically go into this table, under the Inspiration field. (See “Tricks for automating your planning” to learn how it works.)
Item Needed is a default field that cannot be deleted. You can rename and use this field for something else. For me, I use it to note items that are missing in my wardrobe that I need.
When you begin to think of patterns and fabric to turn your inspiration into reality, click on Link to Fabric Table to add fabric you added to your Fabric table. (It will include any fabric you added to your Wishlist or Stash.)
Since this field is linked to your Fabric table, it will auto-populate the Fabric Image field with the image you associated with that record.
Click on the Patterns field to add a pattern from your Patterns table. This is a linked field, so it will auto-populate the Line Art field with line art you associated with it back in your Patterns table. Once the Patterns field is populated, the entire row will disappear out of the Ideas view, and will show up in your Queue and Wardrobe Gaps views.
Organize your sewing queue
This view displays your projects that are in your sewing queue. The queue is organized by Season, then by Formality, and then Clothing Item. You’ll see the list of items that you need to make.
The Inspiration field will auto-populate from the Ideas view. Line Art, Patterns, Yardage Needed, Notions Needed, and Fabric Requirements will auto-populate with the pattern details you associated with your Inspiration photo back in the Ideas view.
When you’ve sewn the item, check it off under the Made? checkbox, and the row will disappear.
Take inventory on your wardrobe
The Wardrobe Inventory contains garment sewing projects you’ve checked off in your Queue. By default, it sorts by Clothing Type and Formality, but you can change this if you’d like. The default fields shown will be Item Description, Fabric Photo, Line Art, Pattern, and Season.
Tricks to automate your planning
Drag and drop
This Airtable sewing planner is useful because you can visually see pattern line art, fabric swatches, and Pinterest pins in one spot. However, I don’t like to clutter my computer with random photos.
You can add photos without cluttering your folders.
In your browser, have your Airtable sewing planner open in one tab, and the photo you want in the next tab.
Once you find a photo online you’d like to add to Airtable, right-click on the photo and select “Open Image In New Tab.” The photo, by itself, will open in a new URL. Click and drag the photo to your Airtable tab and the cell you’d like the photo to go.
Get iPhone snapshots into your planner
It’s simple. Download the Airtable app to your smartphone. When you pull up your Sewing Planner base in the Airtable app, tap on a photo record to add photos from your Camera Roll.
Automatically get Pinterest pins into your planner
I use Zapier, a service that automatically connects your favorite apps together to automate work. Zapier integrates with thousands of popular apps, including Google Drive, Trello, Instagram, and more. It’s free to sign up for Zapier, and there are free and paid plans.
I specifically use Zapier’s Pinterest to Airtable integration to get Pinterest pins into Airtable.
Here’s how it works: When you add a new pin to a board in Pinterest, Zapier will take that pin and add it as a new row in Airtable. All you have to do is select the Pinterest board you want to trigger the integration, and then select the Airtable base, table, and field you want Zapier to update. Note that Pinterest is a premium app in Zapier, so you’ll need a paid account to try this.
Full disclosure: I’m a Zapier employee, but this isn’t #sponcon. I used Zapier at a previous job to automate tasks, and I love the product. Earlier this year, I was hired on full-time. I write about the product in my 9-5, and I also use it in my personal life.
Make it your own
That’s the Sewing Planning Airtable template in a nutshell!
When you download the template, feel free to change it up how you like to work for you! Need to add or delete options from specific field types? Want to filter out different fields? Go ahead!
I hope you find this as helpful as it’s been for me! Let me know how you like it, any changes you’ve made, or any suggestions to make it better!
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