Sewing in Harmony Part Three: Pattern Organization!!

Monday, August 25, 2014


Let's talk pattern organization!! Huh, what's that you say? It's easy for your pattern stash to get out of control, especially during one of Joann Fabric's .99 cent sales. Today's series is all about organizing your stash. Once those patterns are organized how do you keep track of what you want to sew? Keep reading to find out!

Stash Purging
Anyone up for a stash purge?  Sounds gross right?  I don't like for my stash to get out of control. Once a year usually nearing the Fall I go into purge mode...with everything...clothes, kitchen, medicine cabinet, sewing room.  For me there is such a thing as too many patterns..I know that's crazy talk.  I become overwhelmed with what to sew and besides I don't have the space.  I allow myself 2 plastic bins for current paper patterns and 1 for vintage.  I like to keep my vintage separate because I don't sew with them much and I don't want to damage the envelopes any more than they already are.  My main love of vintage patterns are the colorful illustrations. Just look at them! ^ ^.  

1. Storage
  Start by deciding how you want to store your patterns.  Here are some ideas...
    1.  Comic book boxes - You can buy these in bulk at Amazon, Ebay or from a comic book store
    2.  Plastic or fabric storage bins - Patterns are easily accessible.  Decorate your bins to add to
         your room decor.  Find bins at a dollar store for just a buck!
    3.  Filing cabinets - Use a file folder system like Love It So Much, Check Craigslist for sales
    4.  Pattern boxes - found at Nancy's Notions  
    5.  Vintage pattern cabinet - Seen one of these at a flea market last year and fell in love.
          Unfortunately I just didn't have the room for it.  Check out one here at Sew Retro.
    6.  Hang em' up -  Use hooks to hang pdf's or your traced patterns industry style.
    7.  Binders - Clear plastic protectors and binders are great for pdf storage.  I found my binders
         at Goodwill for a $1 each.

My PDF storage...
PicMonkey Collage2

My pattern envelope storage...


My stash is not too large so the above works well for me.  

2. Sort & Purge
Now that you've decided how you want to store your patterns it's time to sort and purge. (purging is optional) ;)  I start with my envelope patterns first by sorting them into categories.  Like you can see above mine are sorted by garment style or type, then by company.  You may find it works better for you to sort by company then by garment type. Whatever your fancy sort them into piles.  I sort and purge the same time. For each pattern I think about the following..Why did I buy this? Will I ever make this? If I can't answer myself in a reasonable amount of time it goes to the giveaway pile.  Any pattern I look at that produces an instant WTH? or are head scratchers...giveaway pile.
I haven't decided to purge my pdf's yet because I've got room to grow there.  My limit is 3 binders!  Vintage patterns is a no purge ever. I'm very selfish when it comes to my vintage patterns..not sorry. :)


Sewing Queue
Now that you've gotten all your patterns neatly stored and organized how do you go about organizing that "to sew" list in your head?  With new patterns coming out all the time it's very easy to get distracted and gravitate to the new and shiny.  The next thing you know your purging out all those old forgotten patterns that never got any love.  

1. Make a list
I know, the obvious solution.  I've made many a list on paper on what I want to sew only to get lost or easily forgotten.  I had to come up with a way to make my list fun and one of the first things I seen when I walked into my room.

Using a can of chalkboard paint I spray painted the front of my desk cabinet doors.  Now I have a list that I'm reminded of every time I sit down to sew.  Paint a section of your wall, a filing cabinet or make your own chalkboard using a picture frame.


Mail organizers are good for keeping lists and holding the actual patterns that are in queue.  I bought mine on Etsy.   I also like to paper clip a swatch of the fabric I'm going to use to the pattern.

Photo credit: Just Between Friends
Make an inspiration wall by creating a clothesline to hang your sewing patterns.  A great storage solution if you don't have the floor space.


You know those plastic bags that curtains or bed sheets come in? Don't throw them out, use them for sewing queue organization.  The pattern, fabric and notions will all be in one place when your ready to tackle it. Helpful also if your tight on space or sew on your kitchen table.  Keep it tidy by storing your project in these at days end.


Sewing Inventory
Your smartphone is ideal for keeping inventory of all your sewing patterns.  If you have the time and patience (I currently don't) there are many mobile apps to help you log all your sewing patterns.  You will have with you at all times your current pattern inventory along with the type/yardage of fabric needed and notions needed for each pattern.  All at your fingertips when your out shopping.  
*Sarai of Colette Patterns wrote up a post on how to create a database on your iphone for just
*Create a free account with Sewing Pattern Review and utilize the "My Pattern Stash" feature to 
   access your stash from your smartphone anytime.
*Sewing Kit is an app available for iphone. Tanit-Isis has a review of it on her blog.
*A Sewist's Notebook by Beth of 110 Creations is perfect for recording all the deets on your current
  projects as well as keeping stock of all your patterns.  I own this book and use it constantly! Hurry,
  check it out here and save 10% off until today the 25th!!
*Don't forget about Pinterest either! Margo just reminded me in the comments that it's a great
  way to keep track of all your patterns.  Thanks! I never thought to use it like that, only to
  pin and drool over the things others make that I want to make.


That wraps it up for this post! Follow my Pinterest board for these ideas and many more and share in the Flickr group.
If you missed Part 2 on sewing room setup check it out here.
Enter the giveaway here!  
Next week I'll be talking fabric organization.

Do you have what it takes now to organize your pattern stash?  I've purged quite a few patterns. Would anyone be interested in starting another pattern pyramid?  For those that don't know I would host a giveaway of a bundle of patterns.  The winner of that bundle would pick one to keep, donate one of their own patterns to the bundle and host a giveaway on their blog.  Then it would just continue on and on.  A couple other options would be to start a pattern swap group on Facebook or Flickr.  Let me know your thoughts!

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  1. Don't forget A Sewist's Notebook to help you track projects ;) I still LOVE your mail organizer, I have it pinned on Pinterest and sometimes gaze longingly at it (is that weird? haha).

  2. Ack I totally meant to put that on the list too! I use mine all the time! Updating my post now! :)

  3. I never thought to use Pinterest this way! Thanks I'm adding this to the list!!

  4. I like the way you have stacked them in baskets :) With labels to differentiate. Must be tad easier to sift through now

  5. Shanni you are so inspiring! Must go organize the patterns!! I would totally be in on a pattern pyramid if you do it!

  6. Oooh the binders are a really good idea!

    Luke and I got a new bed and bedding last weekend and I totally saved the packaging for sewing project storage haha

  7. Oh my - I thought i was quite organised, but there are SO many good ideas here. That's my tomorrow sorted...ha - sorted - just like my patterns will be :-)

  8. Sounds like fun to me!! I just love organizing my stash! ha!

  9. SeamsOddLouise.Blogspot.comAugust 30, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    I love organissing my patterns and going through them. Its as much fun as sewing. Until my husband comes in and asks why everything is all over the floor and over our bed!

  10. I have been using the app Colleterie suggested and I am loving it - I use it for all my stashes: sewing patterns, fabrics, yarns, and customize it as I feel like it. I did a post on it, check it: