{My Pattern Organization System}

Today is my birthday! And I had a whole blog post planned about the little cocktail party I had with a few close friends this past weekend… and then in the midst of enjoying the moment of the party I took exactly zero photos. I haven’t quite gotten into the whole “I need to make sure I get this for the blog” thing yet. And so the plan changed just a bit.

Actually I lied… I do have two photos from the birthday evening, taken quickly with my phone. One is of my favorite cake from Butter and Scotch (with a Clueless-inspired inscription), and then one of me and my friends but those two photos hardly warrant an entire post. But here they are just the same to commemorate the evening.

And now on to the matter at hand. I wanted to talk a little about my pattern organization system. I hear about a lot of different ways that people are organizing their patterns, especially in this age of PDF patterns, in which you tape together the sheets to create the patten yourself. I’ve heard a lot of good ideas, but ultimately my system is one that, while I’m sure is not unique, I came up with on my own.

First off, I have come to prefer PDF patterns. It’s the part of my personality that needs instant gratification. Paper patterns are all well and good, but you have to WAIT for them to come in the mail. I am not a patient waiter, particularly if I order something from London or another international country in which the shipping takes longer than normal (I can’t possibly be the only person whose shipping expectations have been totally destroyed by having Amazon Prime, right?).

In any case, there’s something oddly therapeutic for me about printing out and taping together my patterns. It’s a step I’ve come to embrace as part of the process of creating my clothes, and I enjoy it most of the time. Occasionally I’ll spend an entire day just piecing together patterns and cutting them to my size.

However, PDF patterns take up a lot of space, probably because they are printed on computer paper rather than the tissue-like paper from a printed pattern. And so the organization of PDF’s became a challenge after a while, especially once I started getting patterns I knew I would want to make over and over again, and therefore save.

Ziploc bags always save the day.

My current organization system relies on these plastic bags. I buy them in bulk and always make sure I have them unhand. Once I have cut the pattern to my size, I fold it up and put it in the bag. Then, I take the picture of the garment and create the front of the bag, and then take the measurements and yardage requirements and put those on the back. This is just taped on, since I also tend to have tape by bucketful from all this pattern taping I do! In the end, it makes it easy to see the patten options and I’m able to quickly pull it out and reference the yardage when deciding what to make or buying new fabric.

This simple, easy solution keeps everything compact and in one place.

Of course, once the patterns are in the bags, the bags need a place to go. This has taken a lot of trial and error on my part. A large, plastic Tupperware bin is the easiest way to go, but I don’t have the closet space for it and it’s not the most attractive item to just have sitting out. My current studio is part of a large living/dining/office space, and not contained in it’s own room where I could just close the door and hide the mess, so I have to try and keep things as neat as possible.

Enter these canvas bins. I can’t remember where I found them (probably Amazon, cause really where else do I find random things?). They go with my decor, and are much easier on the eyes than a plastic bin. They also have two compartments in each one, so that I can also keep some fabric in the other side of them. I currently have the patterns in no order whatsoever really, but I want to sit down and try to sort them by either company or by garment in the near future. For now though, they are just fine as is. They are contained in the box, not overflowing (yet!) and I can find the one I’m looking for easily from the pictures on the bags.

And that’s my basic system! I’m sure over time it will continue to develop and change based on my space constraints (or, hopefully one day, lack thereof!), but for now it works really well for me. It seems silly, but I take great joy in printing out the pattern pictures and taping them on; it makes my little folded pattern pieces feel more complete somehow, even though I already know what the finished garments look like!

This is a simple system, but I hope helpful for anyone trying to find a away to dig out from their pile of PDF’s or just try a new organization solution!

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