Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Sewing Room Hacks…

DIY TRACING TABLE/LIGHT BOX:

One of the sewing groups I’m in had several members asking how to see the pattern lines under thicker tracing paper we sometimes use, like medical exam paper (a popular choice) and butcher paper.  Vintage patterns are especially prone to having faint lines that can be difficult for even the most eagle-eyed of us to trace accurately.  My friend Adrianna has the best, easiest, solution for this!!

She took 2 saw horses, stuck a glass table top from IKEA across the top of it, took two clamp-on work lights and clamped them to opposite legs – pointing up at the underside of the glass.  When they are turned on, they make even the smaller notches and marks crystal clear!  Plus, the set-up can be used as a regular table, is easy to disassemble and put away, and you even easily put a little bit of storage room underneath the table!!

Bonus: Don’t forget, light boxes can be used for all kinds of crafting projects where tracing would come in handy!

 

PATTERN STORAGE AND ORGANIZATION:

I’ve also seen lots of questions about how to store and organize your patterns, so thought I’d share my method.  I use filing cabinets – I have one vertical and 1 lateral.  I divide my patterns into two main groups: New patterns, and patterns I’ve already made.  Patterns I’ve already made are put in their own drawer.  On the front of the envelope I put a post-it note that says which view I made, which garment it is, and any critical notes (doesn’t fit right, take in bust 2″, lengthen 3″, etc.). This is only a short note – I keep full notes separately (see below).

IMAG5854

New patterns are sorted by type of garment – jackets, skirts, dresses, pants.  On a pattern with several garment types – like the photo above, I file it under the garment type I am most interested in. I also keep a list of the patterns in an Excel spreadsheet that lists the brand, pattern number, and location (ie, filed with jackets), and any other details I care about (size, fabric type, yardage, whatever is most important to you).

In the lateral filing cabinet, I needed a way to keep the columns of patterns neat and separate so they didn’t squish into each and get untidy.  I found my local grocery store yielded two IDEAL box sizes – 1 for normal-width envelopes, 1 for wide:

The boxes are almost exactly the same length as the drawer, and they allow me to fit the pattern columns very close together!  To save on both space and the number of boxes needed, I alternate 1 column of loose (boxless) with 1 column in a box.  Here you can see all the patterns tightly wedged in together very neatly:

 

And finally, my tip on how I keep my pattern notes.  There are many different ways to do this, this is NOT the most efficient, but I like it… I buy an 8″ x 6″ spiral-bound artists pad.  I only use 1 sheet per pattern, and always leave the back of the sheet blank – so if I ever rip them out and put them in a notebook, I don’t have to choose or worry about splitting the page 😉

On the top of each page, I put a descriptive name for the garment: “Sakura”, “Gray Roses”, “Silver Rain”, “Opera Cloak”, etc. I put the date I completed the garment.  Then I list any patterns I used, their view and size.  I list the fabrics used and the price I paid for them (best guess), ditto with any trims or closures. I tape in a tiny swatch of the fabric(s), add notes about needed alterations, the amount of time it took to make, and anything else I might want to know later.

 

What kinds of tips and tricks do you use to keep your stash organized?

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2 thoughts on “Sewing Room Hacks…

  1. Karen Poole on said:

    At one time I had over a thousand patterns and knew I had to organize them somehow. I used the cardboard file boxes with lids, first the patterns were separated by brand name, then by women or men or children’s, or unisex or costumes/crafts and so on,. Then they were filed by pattern number. The outside of the box was marked with its contents: women’s/Mcalls number xxx-xxx (xxx being the pattern numbers). Each pattern was envelope was photocopied and placed in a page protector in a notebook in the same system as in the boxes. Then I made an excel spread sheet with all pattern names and numbers and brief description. The notebooks were really great because if someone wanted a particular type item made they could go through the pictures and pick out what they wanted and I could easily find the patterns. If a pattern was removed from storage a note was placed in the page protector for that pattern on the location of the pattern (being made for so and so; loaned to SO and so, etc.). This worked really well for years until I could no longer spend as much time sewing and I sold a very large amount of my pattern stash!!

  2. Your idea is brilliant – though too much work for me – I’m SUPREMELY lazy!! I can’t even manage to keep my excel spreadsheet of patterns updated! But it’s a really great idea! Thank you for sharing it!! (Yes, I love exclamation marks, can you tell?)

    Darcy

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