As a busy mother of four, working mostly from home, I try to keep myself, my home, and my work space as organized as possible. By staying organized, and having a place for everything, I am able to save time finding exactly what I need when I need it, as well as not having to remember where every individual thing is: it is where it should be.
Often, my friends or family ask me for tips on keeping their sewing space, or crafting area, organized and tidy. Today, I would like to share with you a few ways that I organize my Commercial, or store bought, Sewing Patterns. My organization tips in this regard, are sure to make finding the perfect pattern within your collection, or locating a specific design detail, very fast and with ease!
Take a look at this charming Vintage Cardboard Sewing Pattern Holder of mine! It is great for storing my unused Commercial Sewing Patterns.
This is my second Vintage Sewing Pattern Box, made in durable plastic:
When I began learning to sew, I began to accumulate Commercial, or store-bought Sewing Patterns for use in my sewing projects. I bought two Sewing Pattern Boxes over time, that I used to store them in, but I found that once I used a Commercial Pattern, it was hard to fold them back up and stuff them back into the pattern envelope it originally came so neatly folded in.
If you also sew, you most likely know exactly what I mean... The delicate tissue that the patterns are printed on, can be challenging to fold as flat as they once were, especially after being cut and used! I found myself wrinkling or damaging my patterns!
As I began attending Pattern Drafting classes in Fashion Design School, I learned a far more organized approach to storing patterns, and found that this proved useful in archiving my growing collection of Commercial Sewing Patterns. Although I draft, and drape, my own patterns for my original designs, when I am creating specific garments for clients, or for myself, I sometimes am able to use Commercial Patterns, and may modify them occasionally to fit my purpose, or my client's size. As a Fashion Design Professor once told me, "There is no need to reinvent the wheel!", and if I am making a garment that already exists as a pattern, why not save time and use the pattern available?
This is a Pattern Drafting Binder from my Fashion Design School days! I started this binder while taking a Pattern Drafting Course in College. My Professor had us store our drafted patterns in plastic sheet protectors, neatly organized in a binder. Pictured here are Collar Variations I drafted back in college. It is easy to see what patterns I have on hand, and it is easy to access them this way!
After taking this Pattern Drafting class, I found that by continuing to store pattern pieces in sheet protectors held within sturdy binders, I was able to keep my used Commercial Sewing Patterns very organized.
Here are some of my Commercial Sewing Pattern Binders, organized by clothing category:
In addition to my Pattern Binders, I store my hand-drafted patterns on a garment rack, organized by clothing category in my Sewing Workroom.
Now, check out how I organize my Commercial Sewing Patterns once I use them...
First, I open the pattern and cut out all the pattern pieces. Yep, all of them. Although this is a bit time consuming, depending on how many variations there are in the pattern packet, it is well worth spending the time, when going back to use the pattern in the future.
The following photo is of Simplicity Sewing Pattern, #8250, a 1950’s Vintage Reproduction of a Lined Bolero, and a Skirt. As you can see, this single pattern packet contains three separate patterns: Style A, a Pocketed Skirt, Style B, a Skirt without pockets, and Style C, a Lined Bolero.
When I begin to cut out the pattern pieces, I separate the pattern pieces into piles. I make a pile for Style A pattern pieces, a separate pile for Style B pattern pieces, and a separate pile for Style C pattern pieces. In this case, the skirt pattern is the same for both Style A as well as for Style B. The only difference is extra pattern pieces for the pockets. I make a separate pile for pocket pattern pieces.
Once I have all my pattern pieces cut out and organized in separate piles, I place each pattern pile into its own plastic sheet protector. I place the Sewing Pattern Envelope, as well as all Sewing Instructions into its own sheet protector. Most patterns will use 5 sheet protectors or more. I then place the filled sheet protectors, in order, into my pattern binder. I currently, have, and use, several binders. I have a binder for Women’s Dresses, Women’s Separates, Children’s Clothes & Children's Projects, Accessories, and Men’s Clothing.
Check out my Pattern Binder for Women’s Dresses. Here I have turned to the page that features Butterick Pattern #B5813, a “Retro 1956” Dress Reproduction Pattern. The pattern envelope illustrates three separate styles. Behind the pattern envelope I have stored the pattern instructions:
The following page in my Pattern Binder, is a sheet protector carrying all of the pattern pieces for Skirt C:
Next, I have the bodice pattern pieces for Styles A, B, and C. These are the same pattern pieces for each style. Only the skirts are different on these three pattern styles.
The next sheet protector holds the pattern pieces for the collar. Although this is the same collar for all three dresses, I keep this design detail separate, so I can easily pull out the collar pattern for other projects if needed. I often do this with sleeve pattern pieces as well.
Next, I have the Side Front pieces for Style A and Style B...
Lastly, I have the Front Band pattern pieces for Style B, and the Belt pattern pieces for Style C.
I have found that by separating each section of the pattern, it's various styles, and its unique design details this way, I can easily find the pattern pieces that I need for any project idea.
For example, I may want to make only a skirt, but by using a specific dress pattern. If that is the case, I flip to the page of the sewing pattern desired, and then I turn the page to the skirt pattern pieces. I don't have to rummage through a folded wad of tissue paper stuffed into the pattern envelope to find the pattern pieces that I need! If I want to make a "Frankenstein" Creation of a dress, I can easily choose a bodice from one pattern, a skirt from another, a collar from another, and so on. This organization technique makes my imagination run wild with possibilities! I can only hope that eventually all of my hundred-plus Commercial Sewing Patterns will be archived this way! For now, I only add them to the binder as they are used.
Do you find this Sewing Pattern organization method helpful? I hope that you do! Please leave me a comment and do tell how you currently organize your sewing patterns. Do you have a better way? I hope you enjoyed stepping into my Sewing Workroom and seeing how I use my Commercial Sewing Patterns.
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Hello Readers! Welcome to my Blog! I am Roxanne Rodriguez Rangel, a Fashion Designer from Northern California. I love all things Fashion, particularly historical fashion! Join me, as I take you around Northern California, covering fashion events and related topics!