How I Catalog All My Patterns

PatternsInBoxes

Okay so sometimes I get a little carried away with “organizing stuff”.  Participating in a sewing blog has given me incentive to organize my patterns or at least inventory them.  I have often times found myself at a fabric store wishing I knew how much fabric I needed for some fantasy project.  I usually end up buying way too much and now have a rather large collection of “big pieces” in my stash.

I solved part of this problem with an iPhone app that I’ve used for some time now: the Sewing Kit.  It has this nifty ability to keep a list of all the patterns you either own or wish you owned.  For some of the big pattern companies, it will even automatically retrieve the pattern envelope photos (front and back) from the Web and store them in the app.  For pattern companies not on this list, you can use a photo from your Camera Roll or take one on the spot.  This app is great to take with me when I’m shopping at the fabric store and have forgotten which pattern I was looking for.  But the photo resolution (especially on my older iPod Touch) is too low to be able to read the fabric requirements from the back of the pattern envelopes.

I’m also a paper person.  I love a paper calendar and paper lists and books I can hold.  I also love comb binding stuff.  So the next best thing for me is to have a paper record of all my patterns that I can carry around with me at all times.

Right now my patterns are stored in 3 boxes.  They’re roughly sorted like this: patterns I want to try very soon, my tried-and-true patterns, and patterns I’m saving for later or are less likely to use again.  I’m a pretty good culler so I’ve already gotten rid of patterns that I really didn’t see a future with.

Well it’s silly, but I decided to copy all of my patterns front and back and bind them together.  Here is the result:
BookClosed

BookOpen

The patterns are sorted by dresses, tops, pants, skirts, outerwear (cardigans and jackets), activewear (like swimsuits), menswear, crafts (like bags and stuffed animals) / costumes, and old patterns my daughter has outgrown.  I put my favorites in the front on each section.  I didn’t count the total number of patterns I have, but judging from how stuffed the 120-page capacity comb is, it’s likely close to 120.  I’m sure many of you have a lot more patterns that that!  I suppose if I had much more, I would have done something differently.  What other options are there for keeping track of a pattern stash?

For now, I’m really happy with my new book of patterns.  I’ve already taken it with me and used it to verify both fabric length requirements and fabric type requirements for a pants pattern I’m very eager to try.  It is a bit bulky, so I also made a cheat sheet in Excel that lists just my favorite patterns and their fabric requirements.  There are no images on my cheat sheet, so I have to rely on my memory to remember what “Butterick clown dress” means!

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8 comments

  1. That is a sweet idea. I have far too many patterns to do that. However, I think i will try it on all my new patterns that I am not able to see on my wall in my sewing room. So, thanks for the idea.

    I don’t like to fold my patterns back small to fit in the envelops so, I put each pattern in a tabbed file folder, with a copy of the pattern back. The pattern envelop is on the wall. Since there’s no more room on the wall Your booklet idea will be my next project. Thanks

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  2. Um, wow. I have mine thrown in a file cabinet willy-nilly. I can’t remember what I have so I subsequently by duplicates. Your organization is awesome. Did you make that McCalls maxi skirt? Cute! Wait, I think I have that pattern.

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  3. Great idea Lynne! I wish I were half as organized as you…The extent of my pattern organization is that I bought pattern boxes from JoAnn’s and stashed my patterns inside them. (Someday I hope to actually sort them by type too). You give me something to strive for!

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  4. Lynne,
    I agree with Jane and you, I am a paper list person too! This idea is right up my alley and just in time. I need to do something with this mound of patterns I have!!!!

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  5. Lynne this is such a clever idea. I am like you in that I love paper lists, calendars, etc. with one exception – Pinterest – I keep a record of all of the patterns I own on one board & the pattern I want on another. Of course this has only happened recently since the purchase of a smart phone.

    And the way you organize your physical patterns in boxes based on usability instead of function is genius! I would have never thought of doing that. Thank you for the idea.

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