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? Get your sewing life right with this Airtable sewing planner.
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 an 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 instructions, 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 visualize 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 display the information in each table differently. 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 to have different Field Types. You can select from a dropdown list, link records from another table, and much more. Learn more about field types.
- Record: Airtable refers to rows as records. I may use records and rows interchangeably here.
How this Airtable template is organized
There are three tables within this Airtable base: Fabrics, Patterns, and Sewing Planning.
- Fabrics: The Fabrics table helps you visualize fabric in your stash and decide what garments or projects you intend to use them. It’s perhaps the simplest of the tables in this Sewing Planning base.
- Patterns: The Patterns table keeps track of your pattern collection and the information you need for your fabric shopping trips, such as yardage, suitable fabric types, and notions needed.
- Sewing Planning: The Sewing Planning table uses records from the Fabrics and Patterns tables to plan your projects.
I’ll explain how to use each table and different views to organize each part of the sewing process. Remember, views are just different ways to manage the information you’ve captured.
How to use this template to organize your fabric stash
The Fabrics table helps you visualize the fabric in your stash and decide what garments or projects you intend to use. As I said, this is perhaps the simplest of the tables in this Sewing Planning base because you’ll enter a limited amount of information.
What the fields mean:
- 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 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 images. (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. However, it’s not a big deal if you don’t have a URL for something that exists in your stash already.
- Purchased?: This is a pretty self-explanatory checkbox. It’s a hidden field in the Stash and Wishlist views.
- Planned project: I know some people buy fabric before deciding on a project. I am not one of those people. This field links back to the Sewing Planner table. More on that here.
I purposefully used as few fields as possible for the Fabrics table. Some people like to catalog care instructions, composition, where they purchased the pattern, etc. I don’t need to go into that level of detail personally, but I’ve added those fields anyways if you want to use them. The beauty of Airtable is that you can customize this template however you like.
How to use the Fabric views
Remember, views in Airtable display the same data in a table in different ways.
I created three views for Fabrics:
- Fabric Stash view: This displays photos of the fabric that you already own.
- Fabric Wishlist view: The wishlist contains the fabric you haven’t purchased.
- 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 format will help you see whether the fabrics in your stash and your wishlist work together.
How to use this template to organize your pattern collection
Logging your pattern collection 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.
- Garment type: You can organize and group patterns by Tops, Bottoms, or whatever other categories you’d like.
- 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 it from the pattern maker’s website. This field allows rich text so you can get as detailed as you like.
- 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 to make the pattern, e.g., buttons, zippers, elastic. I never include thread, fabric, or needles because, duh. This field allows rich text too.
- 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 choose a row from the Sewing Planner table or add a new record to associate this pattern with an idea you want to make.
How to use the Pattern views
I have no self-control, so I needed more views to organize patterns as my pattern collection grew.
The main three you need to care about:
- 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.
How to use this template to plan your sewing projects
The Sewing Planner is the most complex because it references 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. So if you want to play around with Airtable and add, delete, or edit fields, please 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 closet and plan around them.
- 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.
- Sewing Queue: These are projects that are in your queue. The queue is organized in a Kanban-style view—similar to Trello—to move projects along from In Queue to Done.
- Wardrobe Inventory: This is where your finished projects live.
Identify wardrobe gaps
Identify a hole first, then gather your ideas.
I regularly prune my wardrobe 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.
You can sort this view however you’d like. For example, I group this view by Garment Type. I can then click in any section and add an item I’m missing from my closet under the Item Needed field.
I can add a photo to Inspiration if I have it. Just click on the plus sign in the cell to add a photo from your computer. You can also drag and drop an image 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 image automatically appears in the Inspiration field. (See “Tricks for automating your planning” to learn how it works.)
Item Needed is a default field you cannot delete. However, you can rename and use this field for something else. For example, 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 a record from your Fabric table. (It will include any fabric you added to your Wishlist or Stash.)
Since this field links to your Fabric table, it will auto-populate the Fabric Image field with whatever image associated with that record.
Click on the Patterns field to add a pattern from your Patterns table. It’s another linked field, which will auto-populate the Line Art field with the pattern line art. Once the Patterns field is populated, the entire row will disappear from the Ideas view and show up in your Queue and Wardrobe Gaps views.
Line up your sewing queue
This view displays your projects that are in your sewing queue. Once you assign a pattern to the Pattern field in the Sewing Planner table, it will appear in this view.
The Inspiration field will auto-populate from the Ideas view. In addition, 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 completed the project, drag the card over the Done status, and the row will disappear from all other views.
Take inventory of your wardrobe
The Wardrobe Inventory contains garment sewing projects you’ve checked off in your Sewing Queue.
By default, it sorts by Garment Type and Formality, but you can change this if you’d like. The Item Description, Fabric Photo, Line Art, Pattern, and Season fields will show by default.
Make this Airtable template your own
That’s the Sewing Planning Airtable template in a nutshell!
When you download the template, feel free to modify it to work for you! Need to add or delete options from specific field types? Want to filter out different fields? Go ahead. You won’t hurt my feelings.
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 suggestions to make it better.
This post was originally published on July 19, 2020. It was updated on Nov. 30, 2021.
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