Organize Your Patterns

Anyone who has been sewing for a while has a collection of patterns. They are in boxes and bags all over the sewing room. Future projects, and past projects all jumbled together. By spending time now organizing patterns, time will be saved later when looking for that special one.

Collect all of the patterns from the various places they are hiding. Start by weeding out the patterns that no longer fit. Then look at your life style. Are those business suit patterns needed since you have retired? Sewing time and space is limited. Styles and needs are constantly changing. Things to keep are ones you have made, that fit and you liked. Keep ones you haven’t made yet but are something that you really want to do. Keep the interesting neck lines and the one of a kind sleeves. You may be able to match those sleeves to a different bodice for a unique look. 

Organize your patterns - How they squish patterns into those little envelopes is beyond me. Instead of trying to get the pattern back in, make a pattern file. Get a two drawer filling cabinet and a box of manilla folders. Staple along the outside edges of the folders, about three staples should do. This makes manila pockets. Cut the pattern envelope apart and glue it to the front of the pocket. Rubber cement works well. On the tab write the category, such as blouse or skirt. The pocket will easily hold all the pattern pieces without as much folding. This will reduce the wear and tear on the thin pattern paper. All the blouses can be filled together and the skirts together to make finding them easier.

Reenforce your patterns - When there is a pattern you absolutely love and want to last, iron it to Pellon Quilter’s Grid. Yes, regular fusible interfacing can be used, but Quilter’s Grid cost less and is 45 inches wide. The pattern will be thicker so it will not fit back into the original envelope. By alining the straight of grain of the pattern with the lines on the Quilter’s Grid positioning on the fabric will be easier. This will also keep the pattern from sliding on the fabric so fewer pins will be needed.

When starting a project using an old pattern fist check to be sure all of the pieces are there. If pieces are missing toss the pattern. If it has more than one garment note on the front that the skirt is missing but the vest is OK. Check the yardage needed. If alterations have been made to the pattern it will effect the yardage. Make a test layout to see exactly how much is needed. Many of the older patterns do not have yardage calculations for 60 inch wide fabric. It was not available. Use some fabric that you have on hand to make the test layout. You don’t have to pin the pattern in place, just arrange it so that the yardage can be measured. By doing a this you will be able to get the right amount and not have to make another trip to the fabric store to purchase more or be left with an expensive scrap that is too small to make anything. Write the new yardage on the manilla pocket.

After you have cut out the project, put it and everything that goes with it in a clear plastic bag. The zippered bags that sheet sets come in are perfect for this purpose. Keep the pattern envelope/pocket, thread, bobbin, zippers, buttons, and interfacings together. The thread purchased to match this fabric won’t get used up on a mending task and the buttons will be on hand when needed. Everything will be available and ready to go the minute you sit down at the machine.

Leave the pattern pieces pinned to the cut out fabric until ready for that step of the construction. This keeps the fabric from stretching where it is cut on the bias. Check each pattern piece for construction markings and transfer them to the fabric. As each section is unpinned, mark the right side of the fabric with a small piece of blue painters tape. By doing this you will not make two left sleeves. (Voice of experience) Painters tape will not leave sticky residue on the fabric. Write, on the pattern and the instruction sheet, any changes made in the construction that work better for you.

Organizing and reducing your pattern collection will save time and energy for sewing. You will discover patterns that have been forgotten and will know exactly what is in the file. Reducing the muddle in the sewing room will provide space to be more creative and relaxed.