Sorting…

Sorting. Do you sort before you start puzzling? Scrabble through the box to find your pieces? Lay them all out on your board or boards? We’re all different in how we approach it, and the truth is whatever works best for you is what’s best.

I’ve found through many years and many puzzles the way that works for me. I loathe the sorting, but I also know that it’s the way that helps me keep my brain and my puzzles pieces in order so that the joy of assembly isn’t lost in frustratingly trying to find something in the chaos of pieces strewn everywhere.

While I’m sorting I’m counting the seconds until I can begin the assembly – obviously actually putting the puzzle together is the best part. But I’ve learned that for me slogging through the sorting process is how I get to where I can puzzle best. When I was first starting out I read plenty of articles, blog posts, etc. about the “best way” to puzzle. But in all actuality what I needed to do what just keeping puzzling and figure it out for myself.

I still like to read articles and blog posts about jigsaw puzzles and “how to” do certain aspects of puzzling, but only because I love everything puzzle. Sometimes I pick up a great idea that I try out to see if it works for me; and many times I know it won’t work for me, but I enjoy reading about the different ways people do things anyway.

So from time to time I write up a post about how I do things. Not to instruct anyone thinking my way is best, but just to let you know my process. It may help you, give you an idea, or just entertain you for a few minutes.

I’m sorting my next puzzle, and although it isn’t my favorite part, it’s completely necessary for me. Looking at each piece, deciding where it goes and whether or not it’ll be laid out on a tray or set aside – it helps me become familiar with the pieces and the overall image. Every time I touch the pieces or move them around I’m getting used to the colors and patterns and the more I see them the more it helps me with the assembly.

With every puzzle I try to pull out several sections to begin assembling once the border is complete. I love being able to start doing something immediately. Sometimes it’s a pattern or color, or perhaps a section with words – whatever it is, being able to get to the assembly right away makes me happy.

In the picture at the top of the page you can see a few of the sections that I’m pulling out, and once the edge is done I’ll choose one of them and get going. All the pieces that aren’t separated at the initial sort get laid out on trays (second picture) so that if I need to find a particular piece it’s easier to look through them. My mind needs some sort of order, so even though I’ve tried laying out all the pieces on the board I find it too chaotic – which is why I’ve developed my particular method.

It may seem tedious to you, and as though it isn’t worth the trouble – but it’s what works for me.


You can read about how you “should” approach a puzzle, whether or not to sort, which way is best for 1000 piece puzzles, etc. – go ahead, learn all you can. But in the end whichever one works for you is the way to go. Trying to change how you do things because some random person on the internet says it’s the “best” or the “right” way is ridiculous. You do you, there’s no better way!

Our brains are all different, we are all different, and the way we approach our jigsaw puzzles should be different as well.

There is no best puzzle brand, because what I look for in a puzzle may frustrate the crap out of some of you; and things that don’t bother you at all might set my teeth on edge. Likewise, the way I sort may seem like time-consuming idiocy to you, and the fact that you don’t sort at all would send my OCD into overdrive.

But that’s ok, I’m me, and the way Stacey does things doesn’t have to work for you. All you need to really know is how things go best at your puzzle table, not mine.

So sort, rifle through the box, lay them all out, or whatever other way works for you. What truly matters is that you enjoy putting together your puzzle. End of story.

7 thoughts on “Sorting…

  1. Deb

    If I have a gradient type of puzzle I’ll sort by color. Otherwise, I’ll pull out the border pieces and then lay out the rest on my felt-covered, lazy Susan table top board. I love it because the pieces come to me – easy on the back.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post Stacey. I have for the most part stopped sorting 1000 pieces or smaller other than to pull out the edges and maybe one particular element that really stands out as I am pulling border pieces. Everything else has been laid out in no particuar way…just face up. Prior to that I did more of your style and I will likely go back as I do find its quicker when I have sorted the vast majority of the puzzle into some smaller, subsets based on color or texture or building vs sky type thing. I think I was getting lazy about it for a while and just pulling out the border and one standout element. But I think I would assemblw faster with more specified sorting. Thanks for the reminder of other good techniques.

    Liked by 1 person

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