On using commercial sewing patterns and how to organize them

I love sewing. I love making new things and learning along the way. I prefer to make my own patterns for the clothes I make, but I do admit using commercial patterns has some major advantages. Generally using a commercial pattern means less fitting and fussing,ย even though I think you should always modify a commercial pattern to suit your shape and style – in the end you are custom sewing, not just reproducing pieces – and sometimes the end result is just a disaster.

And then you’re learning. You cut and sew a pleat here, a different seam there and then you just understand more and more about pattern making/ customizing/ transformation. That’s great.

What I don’t like is transferring the patterns to paper. Copying, cutting, fitting. That’s fine. But storing?
I always end up mixing them and then I can’t find anything I can use. Every time I make a dress I fold the pattern carefully and then I think: “I’d recognize that shape from a mile, i will know these pieces belong to this dress”. Right. Not true at all.

And then if you’re “cleaning”, or just flipping through your patterns and they’re not carefully separated in a folder per garment system – you can just say goodbye.

I had to throw away lots of already copied patterns because I couldn’t make which piece was which.
To make sure this doesn’t happen again, I now put all the pieces in a paper envelope, and just to make sure, I write on each piece of the pattern the number of the issue, the model and the number of the piece.

Will it work? Time will tell.

How do you organize your patterns?

6 thoughts on “On using commercial sewing patterns and how to organize them”

    1. If you have more than one pattern on the same sheet of paper. Or you want to keep the pattern in all sizes, yes, transferring them on paper helps.

      1. I roll and tie them up with a piece of string. And you can write directly on the pattern the number of the issue and the model. You can easily store them in a bucket, a basket or a box. It’s a trick my mother taught me ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. That’s pretty smart! And I suppose they don’t make nasty creases like that.
    Thanks for the idea:)

    I did start writing the issue and the number of the piece directly on the pattern.

  2. If you don’t mind folding them you can get plastic sheet protectors and a binder. Fold them neatly and put them in the sheet protector. Glue or tape a picture of the pattern (or the name or where to find the original) onto the front of the plastic sheet. Put it in a binder.

    Another idea is to use a filing cabinet. Put each pattern into a file folder and label the front. You could also put a photo and other pattern info on the front of the folder.

    For my actual paper patterns, I have them in a rectangular shaped wicker basket. I don’t have a lot of paper ones but I have a zillion e-patterns.

    For the e-patterns that I’ve printed out, I put them into plastic paper protectors and put them into binders. The binders are labeled with what type of patterns they contain and I use extended (they come out beyond the plastic sheet protectors) tabs to sort various patterns within the binders. For example a binder of women’s clothes and then within, they’re sorted into tops, dresses, skirts, etc.

    If you didn’t want to fold them you could also try clipping them and hanging them in a closet or some kind or one of those rolling racks. Again, I’d print out a little photo of the pattern and other info (like where to find the original) and attach that to the pattern where you hang it.

    My name is Jen and I LOVE to organize things. ๐Ÿ™‚

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