Sewing pattern organization

Sewing Patterns - Bay Area Sewists meetup

Bay Area Sewists had a pattern swap meetup in February. Members brought many patterns – vintage, indie, Big 4, and more. This photo is just a few of the many dress patterns people brought. After the swap part was over, we had a brief discussion of sewing pattern organization.

I’m the organizer for the group so when people RSVP’d for the meetup, I asked them how they organized their sewing patterns. Then I compiled and consolidated their answers and put them into a handout that I passed out to everyone. Here’s the list of answers, in no particular order:

  • Digitally using Evernote
  • Once a pattern is cut it goes in a manila envelope since its impossible to get back in the pattern envelope after changes are made to the pattern!
  • In comic book bags, in pattern boxes, some self-made.
  • Use gallon ziplock log bags
  • In an art bin I got from the container store.
  • Binder with clear sleeves for the envelopes so can “look through the book” for ideas. The “guts” then go into plain envelopes marked with the pattern number in a drawer, filed by type of pattern (tops, knit; tops woven; dresses;
    coordinates; etc.).
  • In drawers and baskets. I display the patterns want to sew next so I can see them in my sewing area.
  • File folders with the cut-open pattern envelope taped to the outside
    PDF files, use pattern hooks to keep mine hanging on the clothes rack. Alternatively, I also fold them and place them in manila envelopes.
  • No real organization for printed patterns, but digital ones are in folders on google docs.
  • Plastic bins for the physical patterns, one for dresses, one for tops, one for skirts and pants, one for other. Pattern Review “My Stash” for reference.
  • I keep them in cardboard boxes I bought from IKEA 10 years ago.
  • In a large box.
  • Binders and filing cabinet digital ones are in folders on google docs.
  • By pattern maker in Dritz boxes, and one small crate with patterns I plan to make “soon.” All indie, craft, and children’s patterns in separate spots.
  • By type of pattern and sometimes by size physically organized by pattern company.

Bay Area Sewists member Ali explained how she used Evernote and then wrote a brief description on the meetup page for the pattern swap. (Note: There’s a free and paid version of Evernote.) Here are Ali’s Evernote tips:

  1. I use three apps on my (Android) phone to do this, the Evernote app, my phone’s photo app, and a photo resizer app called “Photo & Picture Resizer”
  2. Take two pictures, the front of the pattern and the back of the pattern BUT the trick is to take a full frame photo of the front and back up the camera a bit for the pattern back. This is important bc you’ll want to crop the pattern back photo so its smaller in dimension vs the front. THIS will ensure the thumbnail in Evernote will be the pattern front!
  3. Use photo resizer app to reduce the file size for each photo, and in addition, crop the pattern back photos.
  4. Upload the photos to Evernote. Each note is a pattern. Use tags on each note ex: “Burda”, “knit”, “dress” for easy searching later!

If you want a more detailed description of using Evernote, check out this post Create a Sewing Pattern Catalog – Evernote for Crafters by Beth of Sew DIY.

How do you organize your sewing patterns? I put patterns I’ve traced from books in large manila envelopes labeled with the title of the book, followed by the name of the pattern. For other patterns I’ve traced, such as the Anna Dress below, I put the traced pieces in the plastic bag behind the paper pattern.

Sewing pattern organization - evnelopes and clear plastic bags

For Big Four or other paper patterns, I obsessively refold the patterns along the factory folds and put them back in the envelope – unless it’s a vintage pattern that was mistreated by the previous owner, such as the Vogue pattern above. In that case, I try to neatly fold the pattern pieces and then I put them in a clear plastic bags along with the envelope and instructions.

I get the plastic bags from Daiso, a Japanese variety store that sells a pack for $1.50. I forget how many are in a pack (25?). There’s a Daiso in downtown San Francisco on Market Street and one in Berkeley on Telegraph Ave.

How do you organize your sewing patterns? A few members mentioned Pattern Review‘s Pattern Stash feature. I’m thinking of using Evernote but I know it will take a while to take photos of every pattern.

Happy sewing!

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2 Responses to “Sewing pattern organization”

  1. March 27, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    I use excel to digitally catalog them. But I physically store them in a dresser from ikea. I had to reinforce the drawers with gorilla glue and a 2 x 4 in the center to keep them from collapsing as they did before.

    • April 12, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

      What do you put on your spreadsheet? Pattern company, pattern number, type of pattern, yardage? I’ve got patterns in some plastic tubs and cardboard bins.

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