Thursday, March 28, 2013

How do you store your patterns?

I moved my computer desk recently, which required me to clean it off! in the process I found no less than a dozen patterns that needed to be put away. I thought this would be a good time to share how I store my patterns.

First off, there is no right way to store patterns, what works for me may not work for you.

I have several different patterns, of several different types and I have different methods for storing them.

First off, the Big Three (Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick)
I store these in what are often sold as File storage, and indeed they are intended to hold hanging files.
I like them because they are clear so I can see which type of patterns are in them. I also often make a label for the bin. (historical costume, costume, craft, mundane, McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick.)

Initially when I start a new bin, they go in this way, as it is easier to flip through them, but as the bin gets more full, I turn them 90 degrees and put in two rows. This works well for Simplicity and Butterick, not so much for the McCalls patterns which are just a bit wider.

Since these bins are designed for files, you can store all most all sizes of patterns in them, you just have to orientate them efficiently!

If you have a few patterns, this will work well, but if you have lots (I have enough to fill a half dozen of these bins) it is not really the best storage option, they are not square on the outside and thus can take up a bit more space than they need.

You may have noticed that some of those patterns are in zip top bags.
This is because I have USED the pattern.  I ALWAYS trace off the pattern, never cutting the originals. I do this for several reasons
  • tissue paper tears
  • I need to make more than one size
  • I need to alter the pattern
  • I want to be able to give or sell the pattern intact someday
This is Simplicity 2745 which I used to make coats for my children for Halloween 2012 you can read my review and the pattern alterations I did to it.
Please note that I wrote the pattern number, size and pattern piece on EACH pattern piece in the bag.

By the way, the bag size I use for Simplicity patterns is 8X10 and 2mil is fine for storage.

Many of my patterns are actually stored in my file cabinets. My computer desk is a table top over two file cabinets, home made from re-purposed wood, it is not the prettiest, but VERY functional, and not hard to move once the file cabinets are emptied and the top is just lifted off. (yes we think about these things in our furniture)
Here I have them organized a bit better, most are in paper envelopes, but some are in plastic bags. This is where I store my larger Historical patterns.

Notice on the front of the envelope I have written down the pattern name and number, the sizes and even the date that I made them. Inside there is a sheet with peoples measurements too.

I also store patterns from books here.
Note that I wrote down the page numbers the pattern came off of as well as the book and pattern name.
For this pattern, I didn't have to do much alterations, so there isn't additional measurement info on the outside. (I am on the smaller side of normal, so the patterns fit rather well out of the book!)

Then of course there are patterns that I make
Note that this copy of the pattern is labeled Uncut, and it is supposed to STAY that way, this is my paper copy in case I lose my digital data. It is also dated should I ever need to update the pattern, I won't accidentally grab the older version.

And of course I have patterns taken off of original garments that I plan on turning into patterns
These envelopes contain more than just the pattern though, they will contain other written information like the research I have done on them, photos, and receipts from purchase.

No, I haven't shared anything about those two patterns yet. ;)

Of course not all my patterns are put away this neatly, here are some examples of the less neat patterns in my file cabinet.
I did paper tape shoe pattern making on my children. Note that the ziplock bag is titled and dated. Each pattern piece is labeled with the child's initials, date, shoe size and left or right.

I reuse envelopes, which means that many of the large envelopes you saw in my file drawer have my address on them! The above pattern is one I JUST made and haven't made up yet. I should date it, it is sitting right here on my desk, there dated!

Anyone recognize this pattern? You should, I have posted the finished product. This one may or may not end up in a paper envelope. I tend to use the plastic 9X12 zip bags for pattern storage as I am working on a project, and paper for when it is finished. But this pattern was not a full success.

Then there is another category of pattern storage, I subscribe to Soft Dolls and Animals, which always has a pattern pull out in the magazine.
I used to store these in magazine holders, which work okay for me, but if you take the pattern insert out it could get separated should the magazine holder ever be knocked over.

Then I went to Binder Storage and used these holders for the magazines and regular sheet protectors for the patterns.
I am currently using Expandable sheet protectors to hold 2 magazines in each one WITH the patterns inside the magazines.

I would love to have a 3 ring sheet protector that had a zip top like these to try out for those loose pattern pieces.

Now there is one last pattern storage category I would like to go over, the In-Progress category.

I have two ways of doing this, when it isa large project, like a garment, I like to put the patterns, and all other papers, like research and inspiration, measurement sheets, receipts, and design sketches into a binder.
This is when the sheet protectors get the most use, after the project is completed (and I am being a good organized girl) i will put the pattern into a proper envelope for long term storage.
In the mean time, it will look like this:
To reduce the need for several books to be open, I photo copy the needed pages and put them in my binder. You can tell that some pattern pieces will need to be folded down a bit before they go in the envelopes.

For little projects, the pattern will live with the materials in a bin.

I label the bins so that I know what is in them. I had to do some photo editing on this picture since some are future gifts. ;)

There is a problem with doing this though, you may never get back to that project! it has happened to me several times, I am hoping them being so blatantly obvious means that it doesn't happen again!

So there are some of the ways that *I* store my patterns, each has it's advantages and disadvantages and may not work for you.

Here are some last tips
  • Label EACH pattern piece! I had some loose craft pattern pieces on my desk that I have no clue what they were.
  • Label the envelope
  • Include dates and sizes
  • Group like patterns together, but maybe not in the same packaging
  • What ever works for you is fair game
How do YOU store your patterns? I would love to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing all of this great information and pictures. I love so many of your ideas and find that I am now interested in reading more about you as a seamstress. Can't wait to check out the rest of your blog.