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How do you organize your inspiration?

We are in the process of creating a pretty and functional workspace in our new studio. Sarai and I have talked about ways we can incorporate some kind of inspiration wall. Before now, we’ve used a few hanging clipboards to organize sketches and bits of fabric. This is handy because we usually have multiple projects going at once.

There are so many different types of inspiration boards out there! And they’re not just boards; I’ve seen twine strung up with clothespins, Japanese washi tape holding up photos, chickenwire, you name it, it’s out there. So many great ideas are floating around.

I’d love to hear how you organize your inspiration and what you love about it. Do you have any suggestions for us as we decide how to organize our inspiration images, fabric swatches and random bits?

As far as online organization, the internet has definitely made it easy to organize pretty images through sites such as Pinterest, Tumblr, FFFFound, We Heart It. Sarai and I both use Pinterest. I’ve definitely found it really helpful. What do you use to keep online inspiration in order?

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4

Caitlin Clark

Caitlin is the Colette Patterns design assistant. You can follow Caitlin at her blog, the story girl.



January 11, 2012 #

I’ve taken to using Evernote to keep track of all sort of things, including inspiration photos. It’s really great for sorting all my recipes too. I really like that I can sync my online account with the desktop application and an app on my iPhone. It means I pretty much always have a way to keep track of ideas and inspiration.

Tamsin W-P

January 11, 2012 #

I have recently put up a pin board next to my sewing machine but haven’t used it much yet. I am planning to look at Evernote. I have seen several positive comments on the net about it


January 11, 2012 #

that pin board in the first picture is amazing!
totally what I want may house to look like when I have one of my own!



January 11, 2012 #

I have a corkboard and a magnetic board. On the first one I really ‘ compose’ everything – I think about a theme or a colour and them I search for postcards, photos, things I cut out of magazines etc. and I finish the board in one afternoon.
I’m using the magnetic board as an inspiration board – I put a lot of things on it, including museum tickets, fabric pieces and my own sketches.


January 11, 2012 #

I second using Evernote for online organizing. I also like using Skitch with it because I love being able to grab an image and write my thoughts right on/with the image and they are all in the same place. For me, these two take creating an inspiration board to the next level.


January 12, 2012 #

Just wanted to say thanks to Kiva for mentioning Skitch. I’d never heard of it before, but I’m sure glad I’ve found it now. It’s brilliant!


January 11, 2012 #

I only just started a pinterest account two days ago. After ages of looking at everyone else’s. I think it will be a new addiction. I just moved into a new house and subsequently a new studio, and I am trying to figure out the same thing. I guess it depends on what inspires you. I have a lot of framed prints that have quotes and colors that inspire me on my walls. In my last studio I did the string around the room with clothespins for the ability to change easily, but I felt it got so crowded it started to stress me out. I really want to get some of those IKEA shelves that are just a lip to put framed pictures up on. That way I can keep it looking simple and purposeful, while still having the ability to change it out.


January 11, 2012 #

I spend so much time on Pintrest ( and this and other sewing blogs) gathering inspiration and ideas that I never actually get around to spending time in my sewing room.

Rochelle New

January 11, 2012 #

I love the clip boards idea! I definitely collect WAY more online inspiration than printed “material” inspiration though. I use pinterest, or tumblr, or I blog about things I find. I also keep a desktop folder for sewing inspiration.

Rachel W.

January 11, 2012 #

I’ve been using Pinterest since summer– I try to create new boards for each new project that I’m working on. Since I’m still developing a personal style aesthetic, Pinterest can be overwhelming– everything on there is cute, but not everything is me!

Today I’m putting up a cork board in the sewing room. I need somewhere to put the things I need to see every day: bits of fabric that I intend to use very soon, swatches of the colors that look great on me (I’m easily lead astray by ones that make me look undead), a personal croquis (to remind myself what shapes work best on me), and a couple stunning wedding photos of myself (to counteract the stark reality of the croquis and remind myself that I have the ability to look amazing).


January 11, 2012 #

Ces photos m’inspirent beaucoup! Je trouve les lieux bien organisés!
Belle idée!
Have a good evening!


January 11, 2012 #

I tend to save the images I see to my computer and watch them on a slideshow every-now-and-then, when I’m feeling uninspired or bored, or sometimes after a load of wine! I also have three large art books that I stick pictures in when I find them, one for my garden, one for my house and clothes, and one for random ideas. I flick through those when I want to see loads of pretty things that one day I’ll have (sigh).
I have various corkboards, magnetic boards, lengths of twine and clothes pegs, and I also have three huge rolls of carpet that I’ve put upright in the corner which I pin fabric samples and things to. The hessian background (the underside of the carpet) is lovely for most things!
However I’m just looking at the online things you use and it makes so much more sense! Thanks!


January 11, 2012 #

I love Pinterest for anything online, but I also really enjoy having three dimensional things that I can play with. I use large sheets of watercolor paper/board to collect different sets related images, and then I hot-glue a loop of string or ribbon to the back so I can hang them, but also easily pull them down to use. I sort them out for specific projects or types of garments – like blouses, or shirtdresses, or kimono-sleeved 50s styles. Then I use a glue stick (so it’s semi-removable) to do a loose collage of magazine clipped photos, copies of pattern covers, and copies out of books. I also tape on tiny fabric swatches when I have a particular fabric in mind, and write in notes. I have a couple of my favorite boards (for styles I’d like to work on soon) up on my bulletin board, and the others are all hanging from a hook on the back of my door. That way I can grab whichever one I want, and either have it out for reference, or put it up on the wall to admire. I’m pretty happy with this system!


January 11, 2012 #

I try to save pics of pretty dresses or patterns I like on my blog.


January 11, 2012 #

I’ve recently started using pinterest, but what I mostly use is just a three ring binder since having a bulletin board can be visually overwhelming to me since my house generally tends to clutter. For me it feels more organized to have it in the book in dividers, and I made a little croquis that I taped on a small piece of cardboard with packing tape so I can just stick it under the pages and trace the idea onto my form. I’m really happy to have gotten the croquis idea from sarai’s book, it really has helped me sort out what will actually look good, whereas before I would collect images of other people, and then when I made it up it didn’t work for me. I also put some magazine clippings in there, and sewing tricks that I want to remember.

Even though having a book is less visually interesting, it works for me and I can take it on trips in case I get an idea I want to record, and it makes me less worried that my kids will get at it or swallow magnets from a magnet board, chew up a sketch, etc. :) (my son is chewing the hem of my shirt as I type this.)

I love the idea of having swatches of colors that suit you up in your sewing area! I want to do that.


January 12, 2012 #

Digitally — Pinterest. For a proposed SWAP, I will create a board with the pattern images and glue fabric swatches next to the images.

Natalie (QSOgirl)

January 12, 2012 #

Would it be possible for you to provide the original sources of these images? I especially love that second idea wall. Thanks!

Sewing Princess

January 13, 2012 #

I have tried Pinterest, Evernote, folders on my pc…but in the end there is so much inspiration out there that I always feel overwhelmed. I would need more time to turn all I see into a garment. I look forward to seeing how you do it!


January 14, 2012 #

Pinterest! That may be the greatest invention of the digital world so far :) But now I’m curious about Evernote too. I guess I’ll give it a try and see how it works.