It's no secret that I have a major-league addiction to sewing patterns, primarily vintage sewing patterns. Last month, I set-up a Pinterest account and started boards to keep track of my personal collection. While my initial momentum on the process has somewhat fizzled (on the list of things to finish) it has already proven to be a really great resource. It's incredibly convenient to have an online database to reference during the planning phases of a project; I can very easily cruise my boards to choose a pattern. Also, when I come across a MUST HAVE pattern, I can quickly cross-reference with Pinterest to make sure I don't have the same or a similar pattern at home. It's a marvelous organizational tool.
Then there's the matter of the actual patterns. Because a lot of the patterns I have are vintage, preservation is important to me. My patterns span from the early 1930's to present date. Many have lead rough lives. Envelop wear is among the most common condition issues I have encountered. It's paper- It tears. It creases. It cracks. It crumbles. It's pretty fragile; increasingly so with age. To minimize the amount of handling and additional wear to my pattern envelops, I took a page from the book of my comic collecting friends and started storing them in protective sleeves.
I began by dividing each pattern into two components: 1. The Envelope & 2. The Pattern Pieces/Instructions. The envelope gets placed into a vinyl sheet protector (use the code 5OFF to save $5) and the pattern pieces/instructions get placed into a 6x9 clasp envelope. Using a sharpie, I marked the upper right hand corner with the maker's name and pattern number. Then, I put the sheet protectors containing the envelopes into mini binders, and I put the envelopes containing the pieces and instructions into my Simplicity pattern cabinet in alphabetical/numerical order.
I've linked to each of the places I purchased my materials above. The standard Avery sheet protectors sold at Staples and Office Max weren't wide enough to house many of the pattern envelops, especially McCall envelops. I won't discourage you if that's what you have available, but I've found the MyBindings sheet protectors are considerably more substantial in weight and thickness, and the variety of sizes they offer is comprehensive. The pattern cabinet isn't as easy to point a person in the direction of. I've read that you can get them directly from stores that are relocating or going out of business; I got mine off Craigslist; I think a standard filing cabinet might work comparably.
Admittedly, the cost associated with this method of organization can add-up pretty quickly (especially when I continue to buy more patterns...like this and this). I consider it a worthwhile expenditure. I think it's really amazing that some of these patterns have survived nearly a hundred years, lived through a World War, seen the first man on the moon, and traveled the expanse of the internet before landing in my hands. I want to see them last another 100+ years.
Also, while I tend to spend toward the low end of the spectrum in terms of the market for vintage patterns, I've seen some of the patterns I have in my possession selling on Ebay, Etsy and other vintage pattern websites for MUCH more than I paid. Definitely a solid reason to keep them in good condition.
I've chosen to put each envelope in its own sleeve, so I can see both sides without fiddling with it.
As I write this, I'm not finished with this aspect of organization. I'm at a standstill for the time-being while I wait for more sheet protectors. Regardless, this element is going to be an ongoing process. Hopefully, once I get caught-up with myself, things will happen much more organically- at least, that's the plan.
I am struggling with one last facet of this organizational project. My Pinterest boards are categorized by manufacturer. My pattern pieces and instructions are, as mentioned, in alphabetical/numerical order. How should I go about ordering the pages in my binders? Some ideas I've tossed around are: Manufacturer, Garment Type and Decade. I'm not decided on any particular method yet and would love to hear you weigh-in. What works for you?
More Craft Room Organization:
Lace Trim Organization
3/14/2013 02:35:10 am
I am in love with this pattern storage solution....it's very elegant. I'd be interested to see how you manage magazine patterns and PDFs.
Oh I love this organization solution! Mostly I love the photo of the perfect little yellow envelopes lined up and organized, it makes me deeply happy to see. I'm also interested in hearing what you do with PDFs because I've been struggling with organizing them in a useful way. I cannot wait for your next installment!
3/14/2013 06:07:05 pm
I love how you used Pinterest! So clever. I am going through my boards and try to make sense of them, sop I can actually use Pinterest. Love how you keeps your vintage patterns. I have a few that I need to really look after!
3/14/2013 10:45:39 pm
Wow! Echoing what everyone else is saying: I absolutely love this way of organizing patterns! It may have even inspired me to start collecting them again!
3/15/2013 01:46:54 am
I am OCD about my knitting, but nothing to this magnitude. LOL! My pattern org is not very good. Just binders full of patterns separated by item, like sweaters, baby, shawls, etc. But within the binders nothing but chaos! I do have a spread sheet for the yarn stash, but no idea what patterns I have on hand. Must consider that aspect.
3/18/2013 07:27:48 am
This looks amazing, especially the drawer with the numbered envelopes!
So organized! I use the same envelops for my home-printed patterns but I hadn't though about using them for vintage patterns. I like the binder idea. Maybe you could organize the binders by Manufacturer then number and keep an index sheet for reference based on garment type?
I set up my patterns in Flickr much like you did by company in Pinterest. When possible, I added the pattern description and date to the caption section. However, my PDF patterns are in a Pinterest grouping like yours.
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