Oh my…what is the Diva talking about? I would bet you thought I ran out of sewing room organizational tasks. Not so!
Since I started sewing a few years ago, I’ve managed to amass a large collection of literature related to sewing. In my library are design inspirations, reference books and a host of other printed goodies such as project instructions and embroidery designs. And unless you get your sewing literature organized, it becomes just a pile of papers. So let’s get started…
Let’s tackle your sewing patterns first.
Start by going through ALL of your patterns. Get some empty cardboard or plastic boxes and attach a label to each indicating the different categories of patterns you have. There are several ways to categorize your patterns such as:
- Size – infants, toddlers, children, teens, adults
- Pattern Company – Simplicity, Vogue, etc.
- Style: dresses, pants, shirts, loungewear
- Type: crafts, home decor, garments
Some may find a combination of the above categories works best. Do what works so you can easily find your patterns in the future. I sew mostly children’s garments and have my patterns categorized as such:
- Infants Layette (onesies, bibs, buntings, etc.)
- Toddler Girls Casual (shirts, pants, skirts, loungewear)
- Toddler Girls Formal (special occasion dresses and gowns)
- Girls Casual (shirts, pants, skirts, loungewear)
- Girls Formal (special occasion dresses and gowns)
- Toddler Boys Casual (shirts, pants, loungewear)
- Boys Casual (shirts, pants, loungewear)
- Hats (all sizes)
- Home Decor (chair covers, placemats, table runners, bedding, curtains)
- Crafts (bulletin boards, decorative boxes, sachets, Christmas stockings)
- Dolls (Barbie and American Girl)
Now take one box at a time and go through the sorted patterns. Discard those patterns which are missing pieces, beyond salvaging and/or no longer of interest (no, you are never going to make that toaster cover–get rid of it).
If you aren’t able to part with your patterns just yet, put them in a box (stored outside your sewing room) and write the date on the box. If you don’t touch the box within a reasonable amount of time (6 months or a year), then it’s time to get rid of them–no excuses.
Sell (eBay, Etsy, or Craigslist) or donate the patterns you no longer need (community centers, schools, other sewing enthusiasts).
Many sewers use the same patterns over and over again. For these patterns, you might want to:
- iron fusible stabilizer directly onto the pattern
- trace the pattern onto manila paper, Swedish tracing paper, grid paper or clear mylar sheeting
- stick the pattern to contact paper before cutting
- Glue the pattern to brown craft paper
Need to replace a vintage pattern piece or envelope? Visit Pattern Rescue.
There are those who are able to fit the pattern back in its original pattern envelope–good for you. Once again, I’m not in your club…LOL! Thankfully there are alternatives.
Ways to store:
Plastic Ziploc Bags
Clear Plastic Sleeves
I purchased two boxes of the 3 hole TOP LOADING (this is important–side loading protectors will be useless sheet protectors.
Staples Medium-Weight Clear Sheet Protectors are sold in boxes of 100 or 200. Don’t buy the Staples Economy Sheet Protectors–they are semi-clear and flimsy.
I put my patterns in clear plastic top-load sleeves, by category (infants, toddler girls, home décor, etc.) and store them inside big wide binders. I then store the binders on a bookshelf in my sewing studio.
Lots of sewers keep just their pattern envelopes in binders and then store the actual pattern and instruction sheets in boxes or filing cabinets. I prefer to keep the pattern envelopes and its contents all together.
Use pattern boxes available at your local craft stores. Depending on the size of the box, they hold between 30 to 40 sewing patterns.
You can also buy a combo set
Filing Cabinets are a great for holding your pattern stash. You can easily fit 100 patterns per drawer.
Check out this nifty Pattern Organizer with plastic category tabs:
What about a beautiful shabby chic dresser? You could store patterns on their sides.
Rubbermaid™ makes clear boxes with high tops. You could store 3 rows of patterns in one box. If you want to save money, visit your local dollar store for a great selection.
I store my most utilized patterns on professional pattern hooks which all hang on a garment rack in my sewing studio.
Over the Door Storage
If you have a small pattern collection or want to display your treasured vintage patterns, get the pattern to make these Over the Door Pattern Organizers from By Annie’s. Don’t forget to use a Teflon Foot on your sewing machine when sewing with vinyl.
So, now you that you have all your patterns under control, it’s time to put together a PATTERN INVENTORY list to keep track of those patterns you already own
Create a document in your word processing or database software entitled PATTERN INVENTORY. Make the following columns:
|Manufacturer||Pattern #||Description||Sizes||Binder #|
Use the SORT feature to organize your pattern information by DESCRIPTION, SIZES or PATTERN NUMBER. With this method, you can easily find the patterns you have using the criteria which best suits your needs.
Other ideas to organize your sewing patterns:
Organized Expressions™ for Sewing
Wild Ginger software
Soul Sista’s Access Database Method for Pattern Storage
I keep a list of the patterns I want to acquire using Microsoft Word (any word processing or database software will work). Visit some of the sewing patterns sites for the latest selection. My favorite web sites are:
Create a document entitled, “PATTERNS WANTED” with the following columns:
Do this for EACH pattern manufacturer on a separate page. Then use the software’s SORT function to put each manufacturer’s pattern numbers in ascending order. After you’ve sorted them, condense your list to one page (if possible).
Take your PATTERN WANTED list to the fabric store with you so you can take advantage of the wonderful 99 cents pattern sales. No need to look through those huge pattern books…just access the patterns in the pattern drawers using your newly created list. Be sure to check off those patterns you purchase to keep your list up-to-date for future shopping trips.
If you are like me, you have dozens…maybe hundreds of embroidery design files on your computer. I use Husqvarna Viking’s 3D Organizer which allows me to find my designs and pictures easily. It also converts embroideries between formats or to images. You can print your designs or create a personal website gallery. You can buy it separately or with the latest version of Husqvarna Viking Embroidery Software bundle.
You can print out indexes and individual design sheets. Organize these design sheets and even your stitched out embroidery design samples in a 3 ring binder. You can sort them by category such as fonts, holidays, girls, boys, etc.
Brother PE Design software has a Design Database included with its software:
Embird has an add-on called Iconizer. It shows a small icon of the embroidery design instead of just the file name and type. This allows you to browse and sort your designs easily, because you can see the contents of embroidery files within Windows Explorer and other Windows programs.
Ann the Gran offers Catalog Xpress which works with the Ultimate Box™ and the Amazing Box™. Use Catalog Xpress categories, or create your own, then drag-and-drop embroidery designs into them as you download, including to and from your Ultimate Box™ or Amazing Box™.
BuzzXplore provides you with all the essential tools for organizing and finding your design files. You can locate, print, sort, drag-n-drop, cut, copy, paste, rename, convert, even zip and unzip files.
Pfaff Creative Organizer
Pfaff Creative Organizer quickly converts your embroidery designs to and from most embroidery formats, either individually or by the hundreds. Create a personalized catalog for all of your designs, save your own notes for each design, and add designs to categories using a simple drag-and-drop method.
Embroidery Magic software has a built in embroidery design database that comes stocked with 325 stock designs by Pantograms. The Database allows the user to save and retrieve embroidery designs from specific categories.
Embroidery Office Book Author is an embroidery design catalog and web page creator that allows you to create design catalogs.
OESD Explorations software has a design library built into their software program:
Here’s some tutorials on organizing your embroidery designs without specialized software:
Check out the Embroidery Dedupler software. It actual cleans up all duplicate embroidery designs on your computer according to your preferred file embroidery file types. I DEFINITELY am going to purchase this! Available only online!
If you want to put your embroidery designs on CD or disk format to use in your embroidery machine or to back-up your embroidery files you have stored on your computer, you’ll need somewhere to store your CDs and/or disks:
Embroidery CD Holder
Here’s an adjustable CD holder that attaches to your slatwall or pegboard:
CD and Floppy Disk holders can easily be found at any office supply store.
These references are a wonderful addition to your Sewing Library. Consider starting a machine specific stitch reference for each sewing machine or serger you own to make your stitch selection a breeze. Create STITCH SHEETS which include information about your sewing machine’s special stitches, sample stitches on fabric, and other pertinent information such as tension settings, stitch length, and stitch width.
My Serger Stitch Workbook has to be one of the most useful tools in my Sewing Library. It includes the techniques and all necessary settings. I even have lots of fabric swatches to show the correct stitch tension. In addition, it includes all proper threading information necessary to easily convert to different stitches. No longer do I have to guess at what different tension settings work with each different fabric.
Store your machine specific workbooks nearby your sewing machines and sergers for easy retrieval.
I sort all of my various sewing magazines and other periodicals in handy magazine holders which fit neatly in my shelving unit (this bookcase is in my Garden Room so I can peruse them while enjoying a nice cup of coffee). Each different publication has its own holder.
Craft Magazine Sleeves
You can store your sewing and craft magazines in these clear sleeves and keep them in binders.
Magazine Sewing Binder
I collect several pattern magazines (Ottobre, BizzKids, Topkids, Patrones Ninos and Burda). Instead of going through each magazine to find a specific pattern, I photocopy or print out (from the web) the index section. I then put the index in a clear plastic sleeve protector. I then add it to my “Magazine Patterns” binder and store it on a bookshelf with my other patterns in my sewing studio.
Free Patterns from the Internet
There are lots of great free patterns on the Internet. Be sure to print them out as they can disappear into cyberspace and be a distant memory.
Again, I put the patterns in clear sheet protectors and then in a binder divided by categories. Here’s some website which have free sewing patterns:
I purchased the neatest fashion design tool from Hearth Song. It is a cool set of design elements and textures to create design sketches. I just love it. Check out the Fashion Design Studio Kits…
I keep all my design sketches, pencils and templates in the included handy plastic file case. You can also use a 3 ring binder to organize all your sketches using tabbed file dividers to categorize them.
There are so many way to sort books. I prefer to sort mine by category:
- Garment Sewing
- Home Décor
- Serger Reference
- Heirloom Sewing
- Magazine and other periodicals
- Design Inspiration Book
- Design Sketch Book
Another Idea for Organizing Books
Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion Incubator’s wrote a great informational post on How to Organize Books
Various Book Organizing Software
My Favorite Books
Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing by Kathleen Fasanella
Dream Sewing Spaces by Lynette Black
If you have any additional tips to organize your sewing library, I’d love to hear about them! Happy Organizing!