Storing sewing patterns?

rob333December 29, 2011

Anyone have any ideas? I have finally organized all of my sewing supplies (and my great grandmothers, you wouldn't believe the buttons alone.). I have seven pairs of scissors, two tape measures, two tracing wheels, every kind of interfacing you can think of, 60 spools of thread (mostly green. grin!), bobbins, sewing machine supplies, trims, button making supplies, grommet making supplies, pins, needles, and even several patterns already cut, ready to go. It's all in clear moveable drawers. I'm really excited (present to myself since I don't have to spend the bucks on sinus surgery. WOOHOO!), so excited I couldn't sleep last night.

I have a box of patterns left and have run out of room. I am not sure of the best way to store them if I were to buy anything else to put them in. Someday (actually, very soon), I'm going to learn how to alter them, so I don't want to throw them out. They're so freakin' bulky!

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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Congratulations on conquering the sewing necessities collection!

Measure the length and height of the pattern package (the largest if you have several sizes). Visit the container store and -if the size is right- buy the transparent boot storage box. It's actually a contained drawer, stackable in multiples. My pattern packs fit (sideways) and I used book tape to make a tab showing garment-type and size to ID. One box will hold anywhere from a dozen to about forty packs. OTOH, if you have a habit of just jamming the tissue into the pack which leaves odd bits stuck out the top, find a shoe box of a width slightly wider than the pack and store the packs upright in that. The stuck-up tissue is messy in appearance but at least the packs don't go sliding all over the shelf. A friend uses a dresser drawer to corral her patterns; the drawer is deep enough to stand the packs upright and a spring-type curtain rod placed front-to-back controls the width.

Stores which sell sewing machines often have classes at a very small cost. You probably don't need a class, but find out who is teaching - likely that person would do private lessons just on how to alter patterns. Have you checked your library for sewing how-to books? Altering is not complicated, just picky-detail to get the right fit. And once you've adapted the pattern, you're done. BTW, I never liked re-working the tissue: it's easier to copy the pattern onto fabric and use that to make your final pattern.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 1:05PM
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Thanks! I am not sure about a container at all. I did see somoene who used notebooks with top loading protectors and I am already big on using notebooks with my recipes. So I am considering that. Do you mean this boot storage box? I like that a lot. I may have to visit our brand new store this weekend.


I had learned most all of the basics, and was ready to move on to the more difficult parts of sewing, so I will have to find a class in order to learn altering. And it was over 12 years ago, so I may need to practice a bit now that my childcare issues are no longer an issue.

I just saw, online, people that buy clothes at secondhand places in order to use them as patterns. So it is a good idea to make it out of fabric!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 1:13PM
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When I was actively sewing and doing crafts I used to store my patterns in a filing cabinet. At that time I had a tall four drawer. I filed by pattern co and pattern number. I also kept a log of them in my computer for easy retrieval.
I also made a listing "Where it's at" for craft/ sewing items Then I used storage boxes and numbered theme using that number for my listings
This is a photo from 2005 a view from the bathroom. If you look to the back you can see storage boxes on top of cabinets as I said each was numbered and the content filed under that nuumbe I also made an alpha list for easier finding. Hope this helps

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 2:13PM
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That is totally awesome minnie! Inspiring.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 2:30PM
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That was in 2005 I dont dare show you what it looks like today !!!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 4:31PM
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When I was doing a lot of sewing, I saved my patterns in empty shoe boxes. (this was before plastic containers), I covered the boxes with some interesting papers, put a label on the front, and it looked good and worked well.

I think it's a great idea to buy clothes from the thrift stores as patterns. One drawback to using cloth as patterns is that cloth can stretch and move around. When I had a favorite pattern, such as the "A Line" skirt. I copied the pattern onto white butcher paper, and the pattern stayed true for the entire "fad".

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 7:56PM
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I used to keep patterns almost indefinitly, because I sew enough I'm comfortable with switching out things like sleeves or bodices from one pattern to another. I also collect vintage patterns. I regret all the purging I have done over the years and wish I'd kept a lot more. Still, that leaves me with a couple hundred, I imagine.

I found those zippered plastic flexible bags can work really well if you get one the right size. I have no clue what the one I bought is supposed to be used for, but it fits a pattern envelope almost exactly and is maybe three feet long and has handles on it. I sit it on end in the closet of the sewing room, but had used it initially as an under-bed storage bag. It will unsip clear down one (or even three sides) so you can just go through the collection like a file cabinet.

If you want to trasfer patterns over to another material so they can be indefinitely re-used, I recommend pellon light weight non-woven interfacing. It's so light it's practically weightless. It's sturdy and translucent and folds well. You can write on it with a marker! It does not stretch, either. It's not expensive and can be had on a roll by the yard at fabric stores. I sure wouldn't do it for all my patterns, but for those very basic shirts/dresses/trousers you'd use again and again, it's a good investment.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 5:05PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

Ack! these is giving me a stomach ache. 18 months ago when I moved mom there was boxes and boxes of sewing stuff. It fills her closets at the new place. There are big plastic tubs sitting in the middle of her very large bedroom. She has used none of it. I really don't think she can sew/craft anymore. But so hard to get admit that you can never do something that was a big part of your life. (Just try to get rid of my gardening tools and seeds etc when I am unable to do it). So there it all is, taking up room.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 4:07PM
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well tibs it is hard to let go right now I'm trying to get rid of a lot of stuff
I think part of the problem we paid so much for some of our supplies and would like to see them go to "good homes" I got rid of most of my craft and sewing things a couple of years ao but whats left drives my DS crazy.
Be gentle with mom don't make her feel like she doesn't count for anything anymore. (we misunderstand)

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 12:43AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Rob~ the one I meant is called a men's shoe drawer (link); I'm not sure, but I suspect it's the same size as I bought (as a boot box) all those years ago. BTW, these drawers are also what I use to closet my sweatshirts etc. ~ they stack on their own or fit nicely onto deep shelves. Notebooks are okay but I found I had trouble keeping them neat as well as the fact that each only held a few patterns.

tibs~ I suspect Minnie has put her finger on a major point; the original cost plus the fact that it's still "good" or "new" plus our reluctance to *not* waste it ends up meaning the stuff just sits there. If your local high school or community college has classes for teaching sewing, see if she would consider donating; also: some shelters for homeless and/or abused women have a sewing room and could make very good use of donations of materials and notions. Knowing your collection of goodies will really do some good makes it easier to let the things go. Try starting with one small box and then bring back the thanks it will get.

Here is a link that might be useful: shoe drawer

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 1:03PM
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I think anything you can put in a clear see thru box helps keeep it in mind either to use or get rid of
Tobs does MOM have an outlet for her sewing/crafts? is she active with any group? It is such a let down when you move to a place where you have no activities. Perhaps she could attend a meeting or activity. Just a thought I'm sure if she is still active tht she has a lot o knowledge and would love to teach someone some things..

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 10:01PM
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That is so perfect. I wanted it to be small enough to hold them singly rather than all smooshed together like I have them in the box.

I am in real trouble though, because I found fabric organizers that put it all into plain view. Bet I can make my own, but those look pretty sturdy. Great idea (fit in a regular bookcase).

Here is a link that might be useful: fabric organizers

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 12:37PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Those organizers are nice! I use cardboard cut in a modified/fat "I" (and a bit of masking tape to hold the start end) and the only 'fancying' is to cover with contact paper. So the plastic organizer is a similar idea but prettier.

Scraps and quilt pieces/sections go into a (contact-covered) box with a bit of the fabric taped to the end. I've been using the boxes that 100-teabags come in, but am in the process of switching to the bigger, sturdier box that comes with 6 cans of pineapple. I don't use as much pineapple as tea, so it's going to take a while to get it all switched over. BTW, magic-tape holds to contact paper just fine, while being easy to remove.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 12:43PM
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I'm pretty much in meldy's corner, when it comes to using what you've got.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 7:29PM
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I agree with reusing, BUT (big but), I have been "making do" with what I have for so long, that I actually want some new things. Some things that might last for quite awhile.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 10:38PM
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rob333, I totally understand about wanting something new .When I set up my craft room I used all "new to me" furniture and shelves, but I bought brand new plastic containers for my yarn and other craft items. Brand new white "dry" board and plenty of colored pens, I dyed a bunch of silk scarves in soft colors and hung them from a very old fashioned looking "peg loom" that hubby made.
But my favorite item in my craft room is a big old table with what seems to have an indestructable surface. That's where all the magic happens.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 7:07PM
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In my (clear plastic) box of fabric I own a length of black wool jersey. My sister gave it to me about 20 years ago, and I've never found anything to do with it. Apparently SHE was given it by her mother in law, about 10 years before that, because the MIL had never found anything to do with it (and neither did my sister). We think it probably dates back to the late 1940s, being passed from relative to relative, with no-one ever finding anything appropriate for it. There's not enough for a dress and it seems a waste to make something like a t-shirt. Maybe one day . . . .

I'm amused to admit that when we shipped my things over from the UK, included was a box of fabric. I left behind half of my clothes, gave away all the Christmas decorations and who know what else, but the books and the fabric weren't being left behind . . .

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 1:16PM
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Cudos to you rob333, "I have finally organized all of my sewing supplies".Go for it, build your own craft room.

sara_the_brit, I also have some material that has traveled the world. I have two pieces of handmade cloth made in
Guatemala. A friend gave them to me some 60 years ago, and they have traveled with me from DC, VA, PA and CA.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 8:20PM
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Sara! Good to see you. What about a bolero? Detailing could make it really something special. Jersey just means it packs well.


Here is a link that might be useful: fully wool bolero-but a pattern that might work

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 8:35AM
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I am still trying to organize my sewing room, I am a guy so I am pretty lazy about completing projects. I have one of the largest pattern collections On the East Coast...I got a little carried away buying from lot sales thrift stores and ebay must have 1000 patterns. I am into sewing dresses and gowns, skirts, want to start learning how to make panties and lingerie(i cannot believe women are paying $15/25/35/40 for a pair of panties?thongs. bikinis. boyshorts) I can make them for about $1.00 and will sew my Foxyfashions designer label in them and only charge $5.00 a pair....LOL. I just had a disaster happen spent weeks inventorying and sorting patterns, and wouldn't you know before I could export the Inventory.xls to my other computers on home network, the hard drive crashed..! I am hoping to be able to install second hard drive and get my inventory off, the original drive it still can be recognized keep fingers crossed!
I am organizing my sewing room, and need to get off my lazy butt and start sewing it has been too long! I wish I had started this back in high school I probably would have become a fashion designer. I so love the feel of fabric and the way it drapes and molds to a female form! Unfortunately, I have no one to wear the clothes that I make so I guess I will just send them to the thrift stores with design label and sizing info!

I never ever cut my patterns, I bought a pretty large square glass topped coffee table and two small closet flourescent lights at HD and open patterns carefully spread them and place paper over them I have rolls of plotter paper, but other types work pattern paper, packing paper(newspaper kind) the lights shine through pattern and paper and I trace sewing lines, seam matching clips or triangles, write all the details from real pattern, on each piece and then cut those tracings out. Then refold the pattern and slid it back in envelope! I was lucky enough to find on Craigslist an ad guy that was looking to sell a light table, he then said if I took it off his hands he would give it to me for free! It has frosted plexi glass and 2 flourescent lights in it and it is counter high so I now use that to trace patterns works wonders! Plus I made a light box on my own design! I may patent it and market it!

For one thing the cut outs are sturdier and don't tear as easy. You can buy pattern hangers that designers use to clip their design patterns on and hang them, or fold them and place them in manila envelopes and label them or scan and print picture from pattern. I was lucky to be able to buy from a designer that was moving and reducing, a pattern cabinet, it holds a number of my patterns but not nearly all, I have the 3 drawer plastic cabinets that hold the bulk of patterns, but I have too many to store them all! I am ready to go to Habitat for Humanity Restore store and buy a couple of the Lateral file cabinets they have that at about 36 in wide 60 inches hi and about 18 deep to consolidate and control my stock!
BTW I have hundreds or large sized clothing patterns and patterns of styles I will never make, so looking for someone to make offer on the lot! I will count them and catalog the styles abrand and number so you can do research and see if you like them!
I love sewing and have made some nice things, and each project gets better , my next goal is making quilt tops! I have been to the International Quilt Show a couple times in Houston and fell in love with the art work and the beautiful colors and shapes in and on the quits! They are so Breathtakingly beautiful I am in awe! I am a geometric shape guy, I love the compass point stars quilts and the art quilts that look like an oil painting or photgraph are so beautiful!

Ok I have blabbed on too long but I just found this site and signed up! My guy friends rake me over the coals for liking to sew dresses and quilts, it is not macho enough, but the big Football player Rosey Greer used to do needle point....he is a huge man and I bet no one made fumn of him! I like my feminine side it is nice to feel good about fabric and style and fashion.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 8:21PM
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