Friday, June 17, 2022

My Secret to Organizing Sewing Patterns

I've just passed my 10 year anniversary of getting my first sewing machine (eep!) and you can bet that in that amount of time, I've accumulated a LOT of patterns. Unlike fabric, it seems that patterns never move out of the stash haha! I had a few people ask me about my organization system, so I thought a blog post would be in order.

Secret to Organizing Sewing Patterns

My secret: vertical storage!

The envelope system, rolling patterns, refolding tissue...none of that works for me 100% of the time. A few years ago, I went to a vertical hanging method and I haven't look back. As long as you have a wall, you can make this work in a small sewing space too! And don't limit your imagination to your sewing room walls. Most of my patterns are on the walls of an unfinished attic space.

Here is how I categorize my patterns and how each category is organized:

Organizing Sewing Patterns

Patterns I don't like that much

I should've come up with a more clever title here...non-TNTs? Infrequent patterns? Whatever, you get the idea. Maybe you made it once and knew immediately you'd never make it again. Maybe you've got the wrong sized traced and you're not motivated to do it over. The point is, it's a pattern that you're unlikely to use again soon. These patterns end up in what I lovingly call the corner of shame. 

I love my Brunswick but I love my Halifaxes more

Since I may never make them again, I go ahead and roll up these puppies. It saves space and it won't bother me if it's all rolled and floppy, because I may not use it anyway. I put the smallest pieces on the inside, roll them all up together and then tape a scrap piece of paper around the outside of the resulting tube. If I happen to have toilet paper tubes around, those are also amazing for holding rolled patterns. All the rolled patterns go into a collapsible laundry bin (from Amazon). Or if they're really, really old, they are hiding out in a giant bag shoved into a dark corner until they're forgotten.

Organizing Sewing Patterns

TNTs or patterns I'm definitely making again

I might have only made these patterns once, but they were winners and I don't want to roll them up for future use. I'd like them to stay nice and flat for whenever inspiration strikes. These patterns are the ones that are stored vertically.

First, I paper clip all the pieces together. Then I layer many different patterns and clip them all with a big alligator clip. I used to have these all mixed together, but with a lot of patterns it becomes difficult to find something. Now, they are clipped together in categories (outerwear, pants, tops, dresses, etc.). 

Organizing Sewing Patterns

The alligator clips can be hung on the wall in a variety of ways. Currently, they are hanging on genuine pattern hangers. When I first got these hangers, it became clear to me that hole punching and hanging my backlog of patterns was just not going to happen. If you had a few sturdy ones it might be worth it, but I prefer my method. These hooks on the walls were here when we moved in, but you could even use a nail.

Lingerie

Lingerie patterns are small and I can fit most of them in a binder. I have clear envelope pages and tuck in the pieces (folded if necessary) along with a cover sheet or something telling me the name of the pattern. This method also works if you tend to print patterns but not assemble them immediately.

Organizing Sewing Patterns

Big 4 and paper indie patterns

I can't even remember the last time I bought a Big 4, but when I was starting out I was all over those $1 pattern sales. These patterns are stored in two clear boxes, organized of course by brand and number. I want to say I got these pattern storage boxes at Jo-Ann's, but I can't remember. Here they are on Amazon. These are the perfect size for holding a standard paper patter.

I have also purchased a decent amount of indie patterns in paper form. These are stored in the same plastic boxes, often IN ADDITION TO being stored on the walls. I tend to keep the originals in the envelopes, and the traced off sizes either on the wall or in the bin of shame, depending on the experience!

Kids

I sew for myself a lot more than my kids, so I do tend to neglect this part of my storage system. All my kids patterns are stored flat in a giant pile in the attic storage space. I did have them in a plastic drawer set, but as they grew the patterns got too big! So now the drawer is no longer inside the bin, and the patterns are stacked to the moon. 

Surprisingly, this method hasn't been terrible. I just make sure to paperclip each pattern (all sizes) so I don't lose pieces. Clearly label the size, and if possible use different colors to trace those sizes.

Hopefully these tips for sewing pattern storage gave you some ideas! What's your best tip that I haven't shared?



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