Pattern Inventory and studio organization project.

I have come to realize that no matter my attempt to organize my patterns, whether self-drafted, or purchased, it will require some sort of system that I myself am willing to follow and stick to in the future.

Now Flylady has long been the way I attempt to maintain a decent home and a welcoming place for guest anytime.  I must have some kind of routine in order to stay balanced.  But crafting and sewing can take anybody over the top.  In order to be creative, my surroundings have to be organized or at least de-cluttered, or my mind and my thoughts will emulate my surroundings.  As you may recall in my Sewn
Confessions, I exposed myself, my sewing room, at least it is dear to me, so sharing that space with the world is like making friends.  It's personal...  Either way, every since I talked about my disorganized workroom studio, I have been on a quest to put it into a more productive state of organization.  One that beckons the creative mind to actually create.  Thus, I went about making notes of my issues as I approached each one, evaluating each situation for a solution. 

I emptied everything to start....and begin an inventory  of all my contents.  I discovered that the two main problems I have are my fabric stash and my pattern inventory.

I purused blogshere to find any suggestions of order that might be applied to my situation.  I found that Pattern has a pattern inventory system, which I tried to utilized, but to no avail.  Then I contemplated the envelope system used by Victoria over at  Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing yet still, to no avail.  Some systems just don't work for me.  Then there is the system of filing the patterns in binders, or placing them in magazine file boxes.  Non of these would work with my mental processes.  Now I say my mental processes, because, these are all fantastice systems.  And they do work....yet, not for me.  I am a visual person, and I almost have to have everything catalogued and out front, or clearly labeled so I won't forget about it.  One of the biggest problems I have with my fabric stash.  But, that will be dealt with later.  For now, the pattern inventory must be tackled.  As my favorite quote from FlyLady:  "You are not behind! I don't want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?" 

So, I dive in...and start taking pictures.  Every single pattern is gonna now be inventoried and catalogued via the almighty digital god.  I invite you to follow along as I get this all done.  And trust me it is so super easy.  I have finished the digital catalog already.  Here are the steps I have comprised:
  1. Gather all commercially produced patterns to one central location.  Even qued items until completion of the organization process.
  2. Have available a container bin, drawer, box, or file drawer for each pattern company to be sorted into.
  3.  Take a digital image of the front of every single pattern envelope making sure to get the pattern number in the pic. 
    • As you take the pics, use a stamp to place on the front of the envelope on or near the number.  I used a smiley face stamp. 
    • Be sure not to stamp over any design details.  You will want to be able to see those when you do your cataloguing on the computer.
    • You may have duplicates, make sure to take pictures of thems too, this is your record that you have multiples.  Don't try to notate the sizes, you should be able to see that on the picture also.
  4. Sort the patterns into the proper bins as pictures are taken. Do not try to do this first, or you will get bogged down.  (Just take the pictures!)
  5. After the bins are filled with the same patterns, its time to group them within the bins.  (You may want to put them into numerical order also.)  That is a little anal, but I plan to do that myself, just not now. Just having them in one place is already a great help.
  6. Now to the you will do the cataloguing of all the information necessary to find what you need.  I will be using this digital catalogue to plan projects, create wardobes, and maintain a list of where my patterns are stored.  I will do this via tagging and captions.  This is now my searchable database of patterns.  Picture database...cause I hate list.  I have to see pictures.  I will also printout contact sheets of the catalogue and place them in a binder for quick reference.  I have already added the digital datalogue to my iPhone as a separate album for quick reference when at the store.  Here are the steps...
    1. Using your photo organizer, I used Windows Live Photo Gallery, set the tags and captions for each set of patterns.  This can be done by multi-selecting patterns and tagging them as you desire. Currently, I am using the company name, type of garment (limit the types). I multi-select when adding tags.  Tagging goes alot faster.  You might want to tag "where" in the house your patterns are...especially if you are like me and don't have room in your studio for storing all patterns. I have also tagged that the garment has been "sewn".  I don't put the date, that too much info. I have a completed project sheet on each garment already.
    2. Add Captions to each individual pattern "picture" if you like.  For this to work, it is best that you do add the numbers.  I add the pattern number as it is on the envelope, which I can see right on the picture. i.e. B5324, V1063.  This seems like it will take a long time...but, this is what you can use as "waiting" room work on a laptop or touchpad device.  Don't take up precious "at-home" studio sewing time to do this.
    3. Use the rating stars to determine your favorites.
    4. Print contact sheets of your patterns, either 4-up or 9-up and hole punch and place in a binder for quick reference.  This is the point you might want to write the date you made the garment and for whom.  However, it is a good idea to keep these sheets clean.  I only had about 146sheets 4-up and 65 with the 9-up, so to get the best printout I may send it to Office Depot or Kinkos for printing the first time around since there are so many. Afterwhich, I will print off new ones at home as I add new patterns to my collection. And we all know, everyone, adds new patterns to their collection.
I now have found that after pulling 25-30 years of patterns together, I have over 582 patterns.  Not too bad for a professional.  I know many of you have plently more.  Therefore, I feel real good.  If you want the pattern number/caption to show up when you print, then you will need to use a different program or order prints online.  But don't make this hard. 

I will bring you updates as I get mine completed. 

Have fun.


  1. Interesting idea!I have only gone far enough to put them in numerical order.

  2. This is a great idea~ someone else on SMT filed their patterns digitally, I can't remember who.

  3. Thanks for the advice and insight. I was just facing the same problem. When I saw the pics of your sewing room, I thought - "how did see get into my house to take those pics" lol

    Yes organization is everything and I been working on it for a looonnngg time .

  4. Great idea, I'm having the same struggle - just afraid to count them all, lol.

  5. Great idea, I am going to attempt to do this also. I have far too many patterns, I think I'm going to give away a few first, lol. Great blog!!

  6. I am just finishing up organizing my sewing patterns and came across your blog post (while reading one of your reviews on I am doing many of the same things that you are, but with variation. I hope to finish organizing the patterns today.
    My quick count indicates that I have about 130 patterns (not including the multiples of the same pattern number). Before organizing, I was convince I had a million patterns and did not know where to find them. I also didn't realize that I actually owned many of them. After organizing, I am sure I will be able to find any pattern at any time.


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