Pattern Organization

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did some major stashbustin’ when I was scrambling for a replacement for the flop that was Simplicity 4014.  It was about that time that I realized I need to have a better organization method for my patterns.  I know this has been a hot topic on quite a few blogs lately.  And I am aware of the sewing apps Pattern Pal and Fabric Stash for the iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad.  But, as I have none of these devices (or even anything resembling them), I really can’t be relying on them for my organization methods.  However, I do like being able to look through patterns on my computer – I can think about sewing stuff while I am eating dinner and make plans without worrying about food getting near the fabric or I can plan things when I am not near my stash.  Granted my method is not perfect – I can’t look up yardage requirements on my computer, and it doesn’t help when I go to the store.  But so far I am liking the arrangement, and I think it will work quite well for the time being.

So anyway, I decided to create a “Pattern Catalog” folder on my computer.  Inside I made a folder for each category of patterns I have: Coats & Jackets, Costumes, Dresses, Pants, Skating Patterns, Skirts, Sleep & Other, Tops, and Toys & Crafts.

The sewing stuff on my computer… Pattern Catalog is subdivided by pattern type.

Then, when I want to make something (like a coat) I open that folder and switch the view to Cover Flow mode.  You can see on the top left of the pictures how I selected a different view in the Finder.

I do like this recent Burda Style jacket from the May 2011 issue!

I like organizing my pattern by type on my computer, because when I want to make something I can look at all the options regardless of brand.  Each image is a screen shot, a picture saved from the pattern website, or a scan of the patten envelop.  I don’t have the yardage requirements saved to the computer because I feel like they are too small to read and would take too long to organize.  Anyway, I can usually narrow my options down to 2-4 choices, then pull out the actual patterns to look at requirements for fabric and such.

McCall’s shirt I want to make!  You can see a Kwik Sew to the far left and a Simplicity to the far right.

So once I figure out what patterns I want to use, I can go to the stash.  I now have the patterns organized in my pattern bin by brand, then by pattern number (I have only one bin so far but I probably need another).  Storing them this way (like in the fabric stores) makes it easy to find the one I have looked up on my computer since I save the picture file using a code letter and the pattern number.  (My code letters: B=Butterick, BD=Burda, BS=Burda Style Magazine, DL-BS=Downloaded from BurdaStyle website, K=Kwik Sew, M=McCall’s, NL=New Look, S=Simplicity, V=Vogue.  Eventually I would like to get some Jalie patterns as well, but haven’t ordered any yet.  They have lots of skating patterns and some nice tops and those jeans!).  The only exception to my filing system – I store costume, doll, and craft patterns separately.  Since many of these patterns are for full length gowns they take up a lot of storage space.  But even these I organize by company and number, so my system is consistent, except for separating regular patterns and costume patterns.  The other exception is skating patterns.  Since I have so many self drafted skirts and I use them so often, these patterns are stored separately because it would be a hassle to keep pulling them out and putting them away.

In terms of storage, as of yet I don’t do anything special for patterns which have been used, although the Burda Style magazine patterns that get traced do go in a manilla envelope stored next to the magazine.  I may have to change this system in the future (as I use more patterns) but so far this hasn’t been a problem.  On the computer, however, I denote used patterns by right clicking (or ctrl-click for the mouse-less Mac users out there) and choosing a label color.  I use red for TNT (bright, easy to find), orange for not quite TNT (yet) patterns, yellow for perfected fit/alterations but will not be a TNT, green for good but not yet perfected fit, blue to indicate that somewhat extensive pattern adjustments are needed (usually because I made it a while ago before I knew about swayback and FBA alterations), purple to indicate I only made it for someone else so far, and grey is for sad patterns that won’t be used again (like my latest flop – Simplicity 4014).

The Kwik Sew 2601 is red because it is a TNT pattern.
S4014 is grey because it is a sad pattern.  NL6966 is blue because I like it but it will need some more adjustments.

Eventually I would like to get some sort of plastic drawer system that might be easier to look through the pattern numbers (especially some of those Vogue pattens that put the number on the bottom of the envelope….) and maybe move my costumes, dolls, crafts, and self-drafted patterns to the bin.  Although I don’t think my pattern stash will be growing by large amounts in the near future (I seem to have acquired a lot of my wish lists through recent sales) thinking ahead about storage is probably a good idea.

In the mean time, I should probably figure out a better way to store and categorize my fabrics.  Right now I have a bin for new skating fabric (will be used for competition and nice practice dresses in the future), a bin for leftover skating fabric (that could be used as accent fabric, straps, etc.), a bin of knit non-skating fabric (so many shirts I want to make up for summer!), and a bin of wovens, which is actually mostly leftovers from costume projects and recent stash accumulations.  I also have the Big Bag O’Scraps, which I actually will be using for a project (a costume) when the time presents itself.  I most definitely have a plan.  But, I think, I maybe don’t have enough scraps yet.

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