Thursday, September 12, 2013

Organizing My Pattern Collection with Fabric-Covered Binders

Thank you, kind readers, for your comments about the T-shirt makeover.  It was a very busy, crowded school board meeting this week so I didn't get to talk with many of our neighbors but I did feel fashionable.... or as Barb said...a well accessorised community activist hooligan.
Keeping on the school theme, did you have to make bookcovers for your school books when you were young?  I still remember coming home the first day of school and cutting up paper grocery bags to make book covers for the new textbooks I had just received.  I even recall being envious of a very few girls who came to school the next day with wrapping paper covering their books.  That was an unnecessary extravagence in our family. But I did enjoy the doodling and decorating that I got to do on those plain covers which today is expressed in designing the clothes I want versus being limited by what's in stores and in fashion.    
I'm more than grateful to my parents for those early lessons in thrift and prioritizing expenditures.  So my latest recycling effort shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows me.  
This summer I have slooooowly been combining my sewing room contents from our former Florida home with those here in Baltimore.  The most recent part of that project has been culling and combining my pattern collection.  It's a gaggle, a covey, a flock an exaltation of patterns, that's for sure.  I have three cartons of leftover patterns to donate to my sewing groups but still have dozens, (that's what I tell Mr. Lucky) or hundreds, (that's the truth that I tell my readers) of patterns to enjoy.
Pattern Organization
I use recycled three ring binders to hold the pattern envelopes.  These are binders from former work projects, classes I've taken or feeble attempts at scrapbooking in my past.  Since they are different colors and sizes, I wanted to make their appearance a little less jarring on my shelves.  I pulled out my leftover home dec fabric (last seen as a pillow for staging the former FL sewing room) and made simple binder covers, using the same system as those grocery bag book covers of yore.  Here's the quick visual tutorial that might bring back school memories:
Cut/rip fabric crosswise and inch or two wider than your binder.  Serge around the edges.
Lay the binder open on the fabric, outside of binder to right side of fabric.  Fold over the inside flap of fabric as far as you would like.  Pin those right sides together....mine have about a 3/4 seam allowance.

Do the same thing on the back cover of the binder, trimming the excess fabric as necessary (and then serging that edge.)  At the sewing machine stitch those four edges for the length of the two fabrics, right sides together and back stitching at the end of the seam which will get some strain when you insert the binder cover.
Turn the cover right sides out and use a point turner to get those corners sharp.  Take it to the ironing board and press it flat, turning down the seam allowance on the unstitched section in the middle.

Insert the front binder cover into the fabric sleeve.
Insert the back cover, bending the binder backwards slightly if necessary.

This must be my selection of patterns for jackets since that's a Claire Schaefer pattern from Vogue right  up front.
Here's how the random binders now look on my shelf....more uniform and less distracting visually.

I will use the simple embroidery alphabet on my Viking 770 machine to create fabric labels for the outside...."Pants and Skirt"  "Blouses and Tops"  "Lingerie"  etc.  That will mean a bit of a learning curve for me so don't look for those pics real soon.
Here's the way I store the rest of the pattern envelope "guts."  The tissue patterns themselves are crammed stuffed tucked into quart plastic bags and filed by pattern company in these drawers with an overflow in another room.  I tried to cut down enough to still keep them all in one place but that's not going to happen.  Guess I'll wait until the next big move for that purge.  In the meantime, I am keeping my vow of one in, one out.  I still buy patterns but when I do, an equal number have to leave and find new homes.  
Next up will be some posts on my latest dress project.  Hope September is making you feel organized and ready to sew new things.


  1. Not to enable or anything :), but have you tried Style Arc patterns? There's a thread about them on Stitcher's Guild. I've quit using anything else, so that cuts down on the pattern purchases.

  2. What a great idea to cover the binders with fabric! Very neat and organized.


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