Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pattern Organization Tutorial

I own LOTS of patterns. I don’t cut out and sew from many patterns, but I use them. I use them to get ideas, to look at how they suggest to do things, to snag slopes for shoulders, tucks for bodices, even fun ideas for embellishment from. You can easily use patterns as part of upcycling, however. And I have recently come into quite a stash of vintage patterns (thanks to my wonderful Grandmommy and Mother In Law, as well as some thrifting). And the vintage patterns are just so wonderfully detailed, with step by step tailors instructions that modern patterns rarely have. There’s just so much to learn there!

But back to the tutorial. I need to store all these crazy quantities of patterns somehow, and in my sewing studio just wasn’t going to work. But I have a fabulous double depth four drawer hanging file cabinet in my basement. Perfect. And it is conveniently right at the bottom of the stairs from my sewing studio. But if I put all the patterns down there, then I’ll never know what I have or where to find what I want. So here’s my system for keeping my patterns in my studio, but SMALL!

Begin by taking all the information OUT of the envelope and putting it in a manila folder.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         <-Empty This  Into This –>  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then label the manila folder’s tab with the pattern number (in this case S8364) and a short description of the pattern (in this case, table cloth, napkins, placemats, coasters). This can then go in a hanging file with JUST the pattern number on it (or you can skip this step entirely, that’s a personal choice).

Then take your envelope and put it in a clear sheet protector like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA           These are vintage patterns, so I leave the envelope whole, as it’s really tough for me to cut up anything older than myself. For modern patterns, I do this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         You’ll see that this pattern has been slit open and put OPEN into the sheet protector. Then, when I actually sew up the pattern, I do this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         See on the left side? I add a sheet of paper that says when, why, and for whom I made the pattern. And then my thoughts on the pattern and any changes I made or think SHOULD be made. I also tend to note if I cut any of the pieces to a specific size (so I know if I need to get a NEW pattern to use the same design again) or if I used specific pieces for one of my franken-patterns and so it isn’t in the file any more.

Then these clear sheet protectors go in here:


I’ve currently got two binders, a 1 inch and a 4 inch, for my patterns, though I’m getting ready to split the 4 as it is stuffed and a monster to use. Anyway, my current divisions are:

  Home Decor  (curtains, table clothes, quilts, etc.)
  Crafts (stuffed animals, boxes, etc.)
  Fashion Accessories (hats, gloves, sashes, bags, etc.)
  Children (anything baby, items specifically sized for anyone under 12)
  Fashion Patterns (anything that goes on the body of an adult, including costumes

This really manages to cover the majority of the patterns out there, in these 5 categories. But as you can see, Fashion Patterns requires further division. So I have it organized by pattern company alphabetically, then by pattern number. This works really well.

Now my filing cabinet has all of the patterns organized alphabetically by pattern company and then by pattern number. I can put my hands on pretty much any pattern in about 2 minutes total, between the binder and the cabinet. I love it. And I can carry the binder all over the house or even to meetings with clients so they can get ideas too! I highly suggest this method.

Please let me know if any of this isn’t clear enough. I’ll gladly add more pictures or description!

By the way, I’ve decided I LIKE doing pattern reviews. So I’m going to start trying to actually sew up more patterns. I’m going to start with Simplicity 8364. So stay tuned for pattern reviews!

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