Organizing a work in progress is always tricky. Hopefully, those works in progress don't become UFOs...but, if you have more than one going on a time, it can be tricky to maintain order. I don't claim to be an expert, but this is what I've found works for me.
My first rule of thumb in staying organized is to finish projects before I start new ones. I allow myself to have one long-term project (like a bed quilt or intricate pattern, or a more artistic quilt that takes thought) and one quick or urgent project, as well as a scrappy, in-between project (something like a leaders and enders project, one that's more indefinite). That's my first line of defense. And it usually works out really well. It also helps me maintain momentum; I have found that if I let myself start projects every time I get excited about something, I don't finish any because I don't maintain focus. Having the motivation to finish because I'm excited to start something new is helpful.
But recently, even though I kept my rule, I still found that I was really, really grateful that I had taken one other precaution. See, I started a quilt for my daughter's bed, knowing I wouldn't finish it right away. I had some sewing time free, but also knew that I'd be starting the amazing PVC playhouse within a few days. So, I started and got some good progress made, but had to shelve it for about two months (yikes!). By the way, the pattern is Spin Cycle by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew.
When I came back to it this week, I had to refresh myself on where I had left off, but because I had left it in such good shape, I was able to start sewing again almost immediately. Here's what I did, and since it worked so well, I'm going to try and keep all my works in progress in this state (as long as it makes sense for the project).
First, I cut out all the pieces I would need, with the exception of the borders. Now, I have one stray piece that I can't figure out where it goes. Maybe it was an extra (I hope!) but I'm thinking it will turn up as I keep sewing. For now, everything else is accounted for.
Second, I finished an entire step. This enabled me to keep everything organized and ready to pick up again.
Third, I kept everything neatly stacked next to my desk, but away enough to not be in the way.
I also packed away all my excess fabric (I mean it--all, even the background fabric) in a bag that I kept with the stacks, just in case. This means that if I made a mistake and need some extra, I don't have to go digging around my stash, or worse, hope I can find it again at a quilt shop.
So, go forth and keep your projects organized! And hopefully they'll turn into finishes and not UFOs! :)
I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced. Make sure you check out her blog!