Keeping Track of Your Patterns
Every vintage pattern collector has their own way of storing their patterns. The hardcore and diligent seamstress will usually copy off the pattern and then store the originals in a safe spot. The lazy and careless (I’m sadly in this camp) use the originals and often misplace pattern pieces throughout the home. I’m trying to be better and have been meaning to buy tracing paper to get started on preserving the originals.
Whatever way you store, you’re likely to need a system for accessing the patterns. This post is intended for those just starting their collection — the old pros can just ignore this as a bit of a duh fact.
- Put those patterns in numerical order! The numbers are there for a reason. If you have patterns spanning decades, they’ll sometimes repeat. That’s no big deal.
- Categorize by maker. I don’t bother categorizing by decade since the numbers often correspond to time period and they’ll automatically group in some chronological order.
- Take photos of each and every pattern. This is most important. Instead of doing any real categorization in the filing of the patterns, I do it all digitally. In iPhoto I have my patterns grouped by time period and type of garment. There’s often overlap in the filing (a 1960s dress that has more 1950s traits). When I’m looking at contenders for a project, I’ll flag them and then compare next to each other. The super-organized will take photos of the back of the envelope. When you’ve found the pattern you want to tackle, it’s just a matter of noting the number and pulling it out of storage.
- Have an online version of your pattern album. I keep a copy of my patterns on Flickr (they’re available just to me so I won’t bore my friends). That way if I’m at a fabric store and want to browse the images for inspiration, they’re available to me on my iPhone. I choose not to sync them to my phone because I don’t want to use that much space.
- Keep a database of your patterns. I’m in the process of using Bento to create a database of my patterns so I can easily access the yardage required, notions, sizes, etc… it’s a lot of work and is something that I’m not really rushing to get to.
Anyone have any other good tips for pattern organizing?