Getting organised

So how is 2016 shaping up for you? Hope it’s going well. We seem to be into a flurry of child birthday parties (there are 45 children in Beth’s foundation classroom and she’s been very lucky in how many invites she gets), crazy season at work and associated health problems (hello there, first migraine of the year!) so there has been very little sewing going on.

I did post on Instagram my intention to start on an Orla top: this however was foiled when I laid my fabric out and realised there had been some shoddy cutting going on and that my 1.5m was more like 1.3m once you squared off the ends, which meant my pattern pieces just would not fit! 😑 Less than happy about that but there you go, the joys of ordering online.

So instead I’ve been searching for inspiration (read: procrastinating!) by doing a little organisation of my pattern library, something I pick up and put down every few months. And I thought I’d note on here how I do things just in case it helps anyone else (or so I can laugh at myself in a year or two if I find a better method!)

Paper patterns: unused

This is the easy bit: anything unused gets stuffed into some very full boxes on my bookcase (or at least, somewhere near that!)

Paper patterns/ printed pdf’s 

Again, pretty straightforward. I have a shelf of magazine holders. I probably need to have 2 shelves but right now just the one overstuffed shelf. Anything I’ve traced/ printed/ cut (extremely rare, I’m not a cutter generally) gets put into an A4 brown envelope, usually together with the original. These are labelled up and popped into the magazine holders. I may need another shelf due to the rapidly expanding collection of sewing magazines though! 

Pdf’s / online reference

I’m addicted to my phone. I doubt this is going to be a revelation, especially to anyone who follows me on Instagram. And I doubt I’m alone in this. The one thing you can pretty much guarantee I’m going to have on me at all times is my iPhone. And that led me to wanting something on my phone that held all my pattern info. You know, for those ad hoc shopping moments when you just know a bolt of fabric is perfect for a specific pattern but haven’t a scooby doo how much you need. Or what length zipper. And does it need special interfacing?

I started off simple, creating a board for my patterns on Pinterest. But this didn’t really give me a very good system for organising and was completely dependant on there being internet signal. Not a given on EE!

So I did some reading around and found Evernote. I downloaded the free version and this, I really like.

It works by creating “notebooks” within which you store “notes”.  I have notebooks for measurements, sewing patterns, sewing books, school and food (different conversation!).

Your note has a title but can then be tagged as you require. You can store text, images, website links…. All within one note. 

There are a few features on this which I really like.

Firstly, as I have the app on both my phone and laptop, it syncs between the two so anything that’s on one is on the other. 

Secondly, if you purchase a pdf pattern, you can store the file in Evernote itself, either by opening the document on your phone and choosing Evernote to open it with or by doing a bit of drag and drop on the laptop. Evernote creates a new note holding the pdf. You will then not misplace the pdf within your laptop storage (me? Messy?) and if you need to send it to yourself to print it out, you can do that from within the app.

For paper patterns, I take photos of the pattern envelope. If you select document instead of photo, it crops and tidies up the image and the text apparently becomes searchable (haven’t tried that feature!)

 You can then order the notes on screen as you wish.  I do generally have a pretty good memory so don’t use the tags much, the name of the pattern generally tends to suffice.

There are monthly upload limits on this (hence I haven’t finished the organisation) and loads of functionality and features I don’t personally use. But it does very nicely the job I wanted: I have an in-pocket reference guide to my pattern library which I can use for memory jogging or just for inspiration. It does what I was after and it hasn’t yet cost me anything: everyone’s a winner! Bonus points for not being particularly memory hungry on my phone either.

I think one of the outstanding jobs is to add a screenshot of the measurements and fabric requirements to the body of the notes about pdf’s: I’m still reliant on Internet connection here to open up the document.  

I also need to come up with some way of logging the projects in my ever expanding collection of magazines: I find there are often things that don’t appeal to me at first but then are exactly what I need at some point in the future. This is especially true of the crafty projects: as the vast majority of my sewing is dressmaking, I don’t always take a lot of notice of these. Do I scan all of them? Sounds like a lot of work…

I’m sure an answer will occur (anyone?) In the meantime, a little parcel of Tilly patterns arrived from White Tree Fabrics yesterday (I’d been resisting the offer on Agnes + Arielle just long enough) so I’m off to log them!

Any ideas to help my organisational skills along?

Becca x

22 thoughts on “Getting organised

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  1. Interesting, my patterns are sorted by type; childrens, vintage, modern, Japanese patterns etc. I keep then in art folders with the little plastic wallets. I did once download evernote but never got any further than that! I like the idea of a database of patterns though.


  2. Well, you’re not going to believe this but this, all of this, is my system too! A great post; you beat me to blogging about it.

    With the measurements and fabric requirements, I either take a snapshot or copy and paste the info from the website (so I do this on the laptop) as Evernote is pretty good at keeping the html so it will display it as a table for example, if that’s how it was displayed on the website. This is because I find text is quicker to load than images. I do use tags; pattern company, type e.g. top, dress, trousers, etc., and whether it’s printed or PDF. My library is rather out of date at the moment so this has reminded me I need to update it. The other note I have (which is also out of date) is a haberdashery. So, which colour threads I have and roughly how much, also zips, buttons, etc. so I stop unnecessarily buying these things.

    You could also have a notebook about fabric I suppose and I saw Camille uses Trello and I think Evernote would work in a similar way


    1. πŸ˜‚ great minds, obviously! Got to love a good data basing system. I like the idea of copying tables in from websites, that’s a much better solution, thanks!
      I keep thinking I should get round to logging my fabric stash too but somehow time never allows. It should really, probably just logging everything I’ve got would get the shame working strongly enough to get me sewing through it all rather than hoarding it!
      Have you managed to add tags from your phone or is that something you do on the computer?


      1. Tags I can add on my phone but I do have the paid premium version (I got one year free with O2 and just never cancelled the renewal) so I’m not sure if the free version allows that? Within a not I press the little ‘i’ in the top right corner and tags are in there, with an option to add more. Hope you can!


  3. Great tips, thank you! I have Evernote but not thought to use it to organise my sewing stuff. I like the document feature that crops the photo and scans the text – very handy!
    At the moment I store all my printed PDF patterns by hanging them from a skirt clothes hanger as they seem too large to fold up into envelopes and the folds would make it hard to re-trace. But the only downside to this is they occasionally fall off the hanger!


    1. I struggle with the printed pdf’s, but I’m short on storage space so into the envelopes they go! I just have to hope they don’t fall apart when they’re in there (I do tend to cut pdf’s out on the basis that I can always reprint but they’re still not my favourite thing: can’t stand sticking them together!)


  4. I’ve got to give this a go! I just forget everything I’ve got and I love having stuff organised on my iPhone. Will download it and hopefully it’ll help keep me awake at work tonight! πŸ˜ƒ


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