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4 tips to automate sewing planning in Airtable

It can be a pain to digitally organize your fabric and pattern stashes. Here are some tips to simplify the process—and make sewing planning a breeze.

Digitally organizing your fabric and pattern stashes is not a new concept. You can find all sorts of templates and tutorials out there for using various apps. However, the method that will work best for you is the one that’s the easiest to maintain. 

I created my Airtable template to make it easier to plan sewing projects because I struggled to make my inspiration actionable. 

But I also acknowledge that even though I think my template is pretty dope, there are still everyday annoyances that will make it feel like a chore to use: 

  1. Manually logging information.
  2. Adding photos from different sources, such as your smartphone, computer, and other apps.
  3. Toggling between tabs and windows to fill out your planner. 

Since I have a life—and you do too—here are some tips you can use to make sewing planning a breeze.

Add photos from anywhere

I’m a visual person, so that’s why photos are a focus in my Airtable template. However, photo management is a pain in the ass. My desktop and folders are a mess. I have 4,000 photos on my Camera Roll, and I’m sure I only care about 25 percent of them. 

There are a few ways you can manage how you add photos to the sewing planner:

Get smartphone snapshots into your planner

It’s simple. Download the Airtable app to your smartphone. Then, tap on an individual record when you pull up your Sewing Planner base in the Airtable app. You have a few options to choose from:

  1. Add photos from your Camera Roll.
  2. Take a photo and automatically upload it. 
  3. Upload your photos from any cloud storage app. 
An individual record in Airtable via the mobile app. Under the Fabric field, there are icons to indicate different ways to upload images. From left to right: A camera to take a smartphone photo, a landscape icon to select images from your Camera Roll, and three dots to select another cloud storage app.

Automatically get Pinterest pins into your planner

I hate the “right-click, save photo, upload” song and dance with Pinterest. (That’s why my files are such a mess.)

Instead, I use Zapier, which automatically connects your favorite apps 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: 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.

I am employed at Zapier in a full-time capacity. It’s my day job. I do not get paid extra or receive discount codes of any kind for talking about how I use Zapier for my hobby. See all Disclaimers.

Drag and drop photos from links

This Airtable sewing planner is helpful 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. 

Have your Airtable sewing planner open in one tab and the photo you want in the next tab in your browser. 

An arrow points to the "Open Link in New Tab" option when you right-click on an image in a web browser.

How to drag images from URLs into your Airtable:

  1. Once you find a photo online that you’d like to add to Airtable, right-click on the photo and select Open Image In New Tab. 
  2. The photo, by itself, will open in a new URL. Click and drag the image to your Airtable tab and the record you want to upload it to.
Two browser windows side by side. The Airtable base is open to the left and an image of fabric is open to the right. An arrow points to the Airtable field where you can drag and drop photos.

Add to your planner without toggling between windows

Constantly toggling between windows and copying and pasting information is the fastest way to carpal tunnel. (I had to buy a trackball mouse, it was a problem.)

If you’ve used an app like Evernote or Notion, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a Web Clipper. It allows you to save links from your web browser to your app without the need to toggle windows. 

Airtable has a customizable web clipper, but it seems like it’s only available for paid plans. 

However, you can create your own web clipper with Zapier’s Chrome Extension. (And if you have a free Zapier account, you get 100 tasks a month.) 

You don’t have to start from scratch, though. I created two Shared Zaps that you can use that will allow you to “web clip” photos, links, and other information to your Airtable planner. 

Try my Shared Zap: Add fabric to Thread & Therapy’s Airtable template

Try my Shared Zap: Add patterns to Thread & Therapy’s Airtable template

Here’s what it looks like in action:

Pretty cool, right? You can set it up yourself:

  1. Sign up for a Zapier account if you don’t have one yet. It’s free to start. 
  2. Download and pin the Zapier Chrome Extension to your Chrome toolbar. Then, click on the puzzle piece icon, look for the Zapier Extension, and click on the pin icon. 
  3. Click on the Shared Zaps above. Then, click on Try this Zap to begin setup. 
  4. Follow the prompts in Zapier to test the Chrome Extension. It’ll give you sample information to use, but don’t worry. Once you activate the Zap, it’ll use real information.
  5.  When you’re setting up your Airtable step, double-check to ensure that all the information is going to the correct fields in Airtable. 
  6. After you’ve tested the Airtable action, turn on your Zap. Repeat Steps 3-5 for the other Shared Zap. 

Conclusion

If you’re struggling to utilize the Airtable sewing planner, these tips will make it easier to log your pattern and fabric stashes. If you try these tips, let me know how it works out for you and if you have any suggestions!

— Krystina

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