Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pattern Organization: Step 1

I have been trying for the past year to get a grip on my patterns and come up with a suitable pattern storage solution. Pattern and fabric organization is something that almost every person,who starts sewing,I assume, must encounter. Maybe there is someone out there that buys *one* pattern, then "the right" fabric and then whips out their project. These people must be some greater form of human. I buy fabric when I find something I like and the same is true of patterns. No particular rhyme or reason. This is where stacks of random patterns enter my life and sewing area, so maybe my way is not the best, but I will deal with that flaw later ;)

My first step to deal with the disorder was to start with a database of my patterns. I have heard of some people using flickr or a normal excel spreadsheet, but this was not enough control detail for me. Have you ever heard of Bento? It is a personal database and organizing software. I use it for the cheese store and realized that I could use that for all my organizing desires. Perfect! It has customizable forms, and I even found a template uploaded by a user that was already set up for sewing patterns. Even more perfect!

Above is a screen shot of the main image page, which I can scroll down through if I just want to glance at the pattern covers. Then each pattern has its own set of pages or forms, one for the front and back cover and where I have the line drawing, difficulty level, company name, and pattern number. The next form is for fabric recommendations, yardage, description of pattern and notions. The last one is for any and all notes, for example in Vogue 8278 I will add that I needed to lengthen the lower bodice piece.

All of the forms are customizable too. If down the road I realize I never use the difficulty level info, I can just delete it! Or if I want to add a place for the all finished photos of one particular pattern, I can do that too.

I think this will really be helpful in organizing the patterns. I will be able to see what I have before buying a new pattern. And I can even sort or search through the all patterns as well. How detailed your search can be is dependent on how much info has been added. If I wanted to search for all the skirt patterns I have, I can! And trust me I already have searched my skirts. And dresses. And any vintage patterns. And any patterns that might use wool. I might be a bit obsessed with the search feature!

Bento also has a iphone app, but haven't used it much for this yet. I am still in the data entry phase of this whole thing, which is a bit time consuming. I have also started another library in Bento just for cataloguing my fabric. I am hoping this will help in telling me how long I have had stuff in my stash, and let me jot down possible patterns or ideas as I enter them. I am trying (emphasis on trying!) to focus just on the patterns right now so I can get those in there. Fabric will come after the patterns are completely done.

This is the first step side of my sewing-room-organization-frenzy. Next I have to get to the actual physical inventory, which I love to avoid. The patterns I have stuffed in drawers, in bags or pieces strewn about the sewing area, these need to be corralled and tidied up. Although, I am still uncertain about how to categorize those, assuming I can find a place for them all. Arranging by pattern company is what I am leaning towards...any other suggestions?

Now, data entry continues!


  1. That looks great Maggie. Have just enrolled for 30 day free trial of Bento. I too need to organise my patterns and stash. My problem is that I buy the pattern and have a fabric in mind, then forget all about it!! I need to be organised. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Evelyne, I think you will like the program. It might seem a little confusing at first, but they have tutorials that are really helpful. If that isn't enough, and you still have any questions, just email me :)