Hi there! I am Maris Olsen, from Sew Maris, and I am thrilled Chelsea asked me to be a part of her summer blogging series about organizing. Who doesn't need a little more organization in their lives, right? Since I am almost exclusively a garment sewist, pattern organization is something I have struggled with over the years. Some of us garment gals buy a new pattern occasionally, but primarily come back to our "TNT" (tried and true) favorites over and over again. And then there are those of us who feel it is our God-given duty to support very pattern company, independents and large commercial companies alike! I am firmly in the latter camp. If a pattern tickles my fancy, I usually buy it. I order Style Arc patterns and pay the shipping costs from Australia. I buy PDF downloads from independent designers across the Web. I buy loads of McCall's patterns for working with my young sewing students. You name the company, and chances are good I have purchased at least one of their patterns. Or at least browsed their Web site! Frequently a new Vogue pattern release wants to join my collection. You can imagine this habit of mine has created a storage problem. And more importantly, it has created a management problem. What is the best way to keep accurate track of every skirt, dress, shirt, pants, pattern that I already own so that I do not end up with duplicates as well as loads of similarly styled design lines? Giving the appropriate credit to a good ASG friend of mine who sparked the idea for this system, I experimented with several options and finally settled on a binder + manila envelope system. If you have a big pattern stash, it will take you a little while to get through it all, but you can definitely just do a few at a time until you are finished. I promise you will love having a "quick glance" way of checking through your pattern stash. Here are the supplies you will need to get started:
- 3 ring binders
- clear sheet (sleeve) protectors
- binder dividers with insertable tabs
- bankers storage cardboard boxes
- large manila envelopes ( either 9x12 or 10x13 are preferable)
- permanent markers
To organize your patterns, there are two primary components: the pattern storage boxes and 3-ring binders. Let's get this party started!
Organizing the Pattern Storage Boxes 1. Remove the "guts" from the pattern envelope and place in manila envelope. 2. With a Sharpie, write the pattern number (and optionally pattern company) on the outside of the manila envelope. 3. File patterns in numerical order in cardboard bankers boxes.
4. Add a tag indicating the numerical range to the outside of each bankers box.
Organizing the 3-Ring Binders
1. Place the pattern envelope in a sleeve protector. (Notice how easy it is to see the yardage + notion requirements on the back of the envelope. Tricky, eh?;-) ) 2. Separate your patterns into groupings that make sense to you and your collection. For example, I have sections titled Women's Dresses, Women's Blouses, Kids Tops + Bottoms, Family Sleepwear, and more. You will decide on the groupings that make sense for your pattern collection. 3. Print or write each grouping name onto a tab label and place in a binder divider tab.
4. Fill the binders with your patterns, grouped into each category you have chosen.
Now how easy is that? Depending on your stash, of course, this process can take a little bit of time. Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on some great music, and have at it. The result is totally worth the effort. I love, love, love the ability to flip through all my "woven dress" patterns and think about what I might want to sew. As a bonus, I also find that it also encourages me to use my stash a bit more. Now I frequently pull a fabric I am excited about from my stash, and then flip through my binders to find just the right pattern for it. Win-win! One thing you *may* want to do is arrange your patterns within the binder groupings numerically. I don't bother with this step, but feel free to customize this system to best suit your own needs.
And I would love it if you swung over to Sew Maris for a visit, and we can chat more about garment sewing. Hope to see you soon!