Saturday, 3 April 2010

how to store an out of control pattern collection

After not buying any sewing patterns for a long time, a few (ok maybe a lot) sewing patterns have followed me home lately from various sources - the free ones I scored from the lovely Kaye, a whole bunch I bought for 50c from the Salvos on Dale St in Brookvale (northern beaches ladies get yourself there pronto, they had heaps of patterns the other day) and I bought this Vogue one from brand new from Spotlight today:

Isn't it gorgeous? I only bought it because they were having a $15 Vogue pattern sale - patterns are certainly much much dearer here in Australia than they are in the US. If we had 99c pattern sales here I think I would firstly faint from over excitement, and then have a bigger problem storing my patterns than I already do!

Anyway, since patterns are so expensive, although most of mine are vintage patterns collected from various sources, I hold on to them and never get rid of any, even really ridiculously ugly ones. I like to think of them as a fashion history sourcebook. At last count I have about 700 (gulp!) ranging from the 1940s onwards, although I seem to have the most from the 60s and 70s. Which of course poses a big problem of where to put them and how to find them.

A long time ago I did a post on using the Ikea Aneboda chest of drawers to store sewing patterns in. In fact it may be how some of you found my blog in the first place, because after Erin over at A Dress A Day linked to my post my traffic went way up. This is what the drawers look like:

The Aneboda fits sewing patterns in perfectly, although if you shove too many into like I did, the weight gets too much the flimsy masonite board bottom of the drawers, and they'll bow outwards like this:


I got my handy husband to screw in some timber supports across the bottom like this, using some L-shaped brackets so that the screws aren't visible from the front:

And now the draws are back to normal and are strong enough to hold the patterns in. But I had run out of room for any more patterns so I trotted off to Ikea to buy a second set of drawers, and now I have a draw for each pattern company. I whacked a few labels on the draw fronts and now I know where every one is. The drawers are the perfect depth for the big Vogue pattern envelopes to stand up:
and are the right width for smaller pattern envelopes like my Simplicity patterns to fit five rows across.
Perfect! The only annoying thing is that the light beech colour drawers I bought in the first place aren't available anymore, only white, which offends my matchy matchy tendencies....

Each pattern is stored in numerical order, according to the pattern company. I also have scanned the envelope front of each one and have it saved to a USB key, so I can quite easily browse through the patterns without having to physically flick through each one. Plus I can look at them anywhere since it's on a USB key, and I quite often spend a lunch hour at work daydreaming of which patterns I'd like to make.

For BWOF patterns I scan the magazine pages that have all the styles on the one page (both line drawings and photos), and for the patterns that I have traced, I print out a picture of the technical drawing downloaded from the Burda site, glue it onto an envelope front and they also go into a pattern drawer too. Too easy!

So my pattern drawers, combined with my giant wall of fabric really makes me feel like I have my own little fabric shop happening!

Anyway I hope this gives you some hints for getting your stash under control - now that I have them packed in so neatly they take up hardly any room at all. And there's room for more......

31 comments:

  1. I like this post SO much. I'm in huge dilemmas at the moment. I use old suitcases, and they're cripping my darling little ones from all the opening and closing.

    I really love older furniture though, and just haven't found anything exactly right for them yet.

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  2. Ok WOW WOW, the first wow is to all the patterns you have ... and the second is your great sorting and organising. And well done to hubby and his handyman skills.

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  3. Thank you so much for posting about how you mended your drawers. Mine are falling apart and are such a pain to try and open at the moment, but I'm going to send my Dad the picture and give him the measurements in the hopes that he will be able to fix them for me. To begin with I used packing tape to hold them back together but even that isn't working now and I have quite a few less patterns in mine than you do in yours!

    Thanks also for the great idea of using these drawers for pattern storage, it was your post that sent me to Ikea to buy the chest of drawers in the first place and I love the way it looks and fits into my tiny sewing room. Hopefully soon I will be able to open and close the drawers freely again!

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  4. Hi there,
    I came across your blog when I was searching for maternity patterns and clothes to make and I have been looking in ever since (I am 33 weeks pregnant with baby girl #2). Anyway I have a question for you and I hope you can answer me as I have asked qns on other peoples blogs and recieved no answer. I was wondering how you transfer you patterns, I'm guessing you don't cut your original pattern pieces and I'm not sure how to transfer the pattern onto another source (paper?calico?tracing paper?) Well I hope you can help me as you seem like such a pro.
    Grace

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  5. I didn't notice this pattern on the Vogue website, but I love it! The jacket is so cute. Thanks for the Ikea tip. I have one set of drawers that is full and many, many plastic containers stacked on top of each other. Your BWOF method is excellent, too. I really want to make a searchable database, but I'm not very clear on how to use Microsoft Access.

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  6. I use the same chest of drawers to stow my patterns. I love your support idea. I'll have to install one of those in mine.

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  7. Ahhh to even have the room for a chest of drawers. *sigh* Great idea. I love your blog!

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  8. Fantastic ideas!! Thank you so much for these.

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  9. Love your idea, I created a database and scanned all my patterns and completed garment pics but they are stored in an industrial file cabinet, yours look a lot prettier.

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  10. I've loved your method of pattern organization since I first saw it and had all intents on copying it...however, since someone is still sleeping in my sewing room, I am making do with the present system. But thanks for reminding me of it again!

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  11. Awesome! I nearly bought these immediately after reading under I calculated how many I would need for my 5000 patterns.

    I still regret not going to the local fabric store when it was closing down and buying every pattern cabinet they had, and that was 3 years ago.

    If anyone has any genius ideas on sourcing commercial pattern cabinets, I'd love to hear them!

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  12. Under? I mean until.

    This is why I should preview.

    *not really a dunce*

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  13. Great post. You have reminded me that I really MUST get my patterns sorted out!

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  14. Great storage solution - you are very organised!
    Our tiny house has little storage space, and my patterns are all in an old wardrobe in the corner of the garden shed - I'm always a bit scared what I might find!!!

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  15. That's completely over the top, I love it. Also, because you're desperately in need of more pattern, I extend this offer to you: I am going to Cleg's $5 pattern sale this weekend here in Melbourne town (all patterns $5. ALL) and if you want to place an order, I will oblige. Drop a line on my blog...

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  16. So glad to know I am not the only one who has their patterns sorted by number and company.

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  17. It's always nice to know I am not the only one who hoardes sewing patterns. However, I don't have nearly as much as you have and I am not that organized. Wish I was. Do you make house calls? hee-hee.

    In case you are looking for more patterns, I just saw Sew Weekly selling her stash for 10 for $25.

    http://www.sewweekly.com/2010/04/buy-these-patterns-please.html

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  18. What size envelopes do you use for the BWOF patterns? I've been using envelopes that will hold a full sheet of paper flat. Will those envelopes still fit in those drawers?

    (I could just go to my local Ikea and check...)

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  19. More pattern-enabling, but have you figured out what the shipping is to Australia? I just bought 5 patterns at the Vogue website, USD3.99, and the shipping was $7. Still cheaper than the Canadian price, so might be something to consider the next time Vogue has a sale online?

    Cheers!

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  20. So... your doing well... so organized! I've around the same amount of patterns as you! (I know, cause you inspired me to go count! LoL)... So... I'm wondering approx. how many fit in one of the Ikea cabinets? I have a little over 750 pattern... not counting any that may have been hiding!
    Also, since you like things to look nice and match... couldn't you just paint the first cabinet front white to match the new one?

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  21. Dang, I wish I had seen this when I was organizing my sewing room late last year. Might still have to look into these as the current drawers are already getting a bit too full. Ooops. ;)

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  22. Wow, thanks for this post. I have some very old Ikea draws in my walk in robe (so old they are the fake pine laminate) and the bottoms keep falling out. Now I can follow your lead and fix them.
    Maybe I could also get a set of those draws to put my patterns in too. In fact thanks for all the great tips!!

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  23. You are so brave to have counted your patterns. As I read your post I thought about counting mine. Just a brief thought though. Sometimes there are things you don't want to know. Those cabinets are a lovely storage solution for a modern furnishing scheme.

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  24. You are so brave to have counted your patterns. As I read your post I thought about counting mine. Just a brief thought though. Sometimes there are things you don't want to know. Those cabinets are a lovely storage solution for a modern furnishing scheme.

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  25. That's hilarious! We are pattern storing twins. I'll have to take a pic of my own Ikea chest of drawers to show you :)

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  26. FINALLY! a reasonable idea for traced patterns!!!! I use a lot of Ottobre Design (similar concept to BWOF) and cannot find a way to store them decently. Awesome.

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  27. Thanks for your post. I was planning to use a metal lateral file drawer. Now, I'm on my way to IKEA!!

    Renee

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  28. late to the party but needing some patternstorage tips. so thingis, once you make a pattern and have not only the original pattern pieces that of course wont fold back down into the original shape but also the traced and newly modified peices, all of this crapwont go back into the envelope. how do you deal with that?

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  29. I store my similar to how you do but the copy I make of the pattern envelope goes in page protectors into binders by style and company. That way I can look for what I want just like if I was at the store without having to go thru everyone.

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  30. Thanks for this! I have the same dresser and the same problem with the drawer bottoms. I just braced them the way your pictures show and they seem pretty sturdy now. Thanks again. :)

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