Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Taming the pattern collection

Like many dedicated sewers I have a lot of sewing patterns. And I mean a lot. At present count 587 individual pattern envelopes, plus those in the Burda magazines and the vintage Australian Home Journal magazines (a sort of mid century Australian version of Burda). And I cannot bring myself to destash in any way, even the fugliest patterns I know I'll never use, but who knows if some distant future relative of mine won't think it's a goldmine they way we love vintage patterns now.

I’ve tried a number of systems to keep track of them. Firstly I had them all in square archive boxes, grouped together by type of pattern (dresses, skirts, shirts etc) but this was complicated by those wardrobe patterns with multiple patterns in the one, still having to rummage through the boxes and the six boxes required to house them when stacked on top of each other reached the ceiling. So the next phase was to scan all the patterns one time when I was home sick with the flu for two weeks, which meant I didn’t have to rummage through the boxes to see what patterns I had but still meant they physically took up a lot of space.

Then I stumbled across an unassuming but oh so helpful piece of furniture from
Ikea of all places: the Aneboda chest of drawers. Three drawers, deep enough for patterns to stand on end, even the big Vogue envelopes, and wide enough to fit five rows of standard pattern envelopes across.













I managed to fit all 587 pattern envelopes in the chest of drawers and there’s room for more (oh don’t worry I’ll fill it in time and will have to get a sister for it). It takes up so little room, but fits them in so efficiently and neatly, all the patterns are lined up nicely like little soldiers ready to take on the fabric stash. I have them ordered by pattern company in numerical order (the whole top drawer are Simplicity patterns alone!). So now I can browse through the scanned patterns to see what I have and which I want to use, and easily find what I’m looking for.



Over at
Ikea Hacker someone customized their Aneboda by covering up the semi opaque plastic fronts with coloured paper, but I like being able to see the patterns in there, all those lovely ladies on the covers begging me silently with their eyes to be the next chosen one.

Anyway, Ikea is all over the world and it’s more than likely that there is one near you. Give the Aneboda a go, it may just change your world (or at least clean up your sewing room). And the best thing? My husband congratulated me on coming to my senses and throwing out some patterns. Ha ha ha, little does he know!

17 comments:

  1. oooooh my goodness! That is fabulous!!! I love that you can see the gorgeous illustrations through the front.

    I would love to spend hours looking at them all. *Drooool*

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  2. I use Ikea storage for my patterns, too! Only I chose the Antonius basic unit. I bought the 4 drawer unit with canvas drawers for the patterns and the six drawer units with wire bins for the fabric. I added the wood countertop, and that gave even more space. Love it! Do you think Ikea had us home sewers in mind all along?

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  3. You have NO IDEA how comforting it is to know I am not the only pattern-a-holic out there! I have never counted for fear of the reality and depth of my addiction, but I can't stop picking them up at the dollar sales! I won a bunch of vintage in a size 10 lot, and the seller threw in another 40 or so in sizes 12 and 14.

    Anyway, bravo for finding a great storage solution. Mine are in boxes in the garage and I trek down there to "shop my stash" as the seasons change. When I am brave enough to count, I may also put together a more workable storage situation.

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  4. I just viewed your modernized version of the 70's dress on sew retro and I love it! Next, I checked out your blog and lo and behold the solution to my pattern storage problem! Thanks!

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  5. I love your cabinet. All of my patterns are in plastic bins, and it is such a hassle when I am trying to find a specific pattern.

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  6. What a great idea!! My sewing room's getting a revamp in 6 months or so and I was wondering what I could use to store my patterns and magazines. This is perfect, and it keeps the clutter hidden away, too.

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  7. first off, thanks so much for posting on my blog because it allowed me to discover yours! love it! all of your projects are so inspiring.

    i'm a sewing newbie but have already run into a pattern storage problem, so your fab solution makes me think that i need to plan a trip to ikea pronto.

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  8. What a revelation. I was pondering buying a lateral file cabinet - which are about $500 for quality ones.


    I have over 350 vintage patterns and more all the time, what a great idea! THANK YOU!!!!

    And to Antoinette Perez, I have some size 8-10 Vogues you can have!

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  9. um... you have 587 patterns?

    i'm not judging or anything. i just think that is amazing. they look great in that cabinet.

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  10. I saw this posted on the craftzine blog. What a great discovery! I have my patterns in 5 plastic bins. But, I recently acquired some new ones for which I don't have room. New storage may be required.

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  11. Love your patten storage. One question - can the legs be left off? I'm looking for something that will fit under my cutting table, and that is a couple inches too high...

    Thanks, Lori in MN

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  12. Hi Lori

    the legs of the dresser can be left off - they simply screw in to the bottom, which is a flat solid piece of timber, so there's no reason why it couldn't sit straight on the floor without legs. In fact I'm considering gettiing a second unit and sitting them on top of each other - the leaning tower of pattern cupboards!

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  13. Oh I love that!!! I need one of those in a bad way. I dont have over 500 patterns like you but I know it is up over 200 at my last count. That is a great piece of furniture!!!

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  14. Cool! & how do you store/organize your over-sized pattern envelopes?

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  15. Uh... I never counted my patterns... and methinks I'd better not ;o) I LOVE your storage.

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  16. Wow, it looks great, and thanks so much for the tip! I just noticed Cidell using it on her blog, Miss Celie's Pants, as a background accessory in a photo. Do you know your blogsite is so big I just Googled 'IKEA Aneboda' and got this photo? Congrats!
    My patterns are bursting out of my IKEA 'stash boxes' of laminated green boxboard, and it's no fun to unstack boxes to see what's underneath. I'd be delighted to get an ANEBODA system, install toddler drawer hook locks and enjoy my stash without my DD getting into it. Thanks a mill!

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