I think I have finally figured it out. I have been struggling with storage for my sewing patterns since I started sewing, but I think I have finally found a simple and effective solution that I will be able to keep up with in the future.
The gist of it is this:
- Only keep patterns that “spark joy.”
- Put each pattern into a 10 by 13 manilla envelope and label the outside with a photo.
- Store all the patterns together vertically in a single box.
Not too complicated, eh? Now before you yell at me because you think your collection is too large for this method to work allow me to explain my reasoning.
1. Only keep the patterns that “spark joy”.
Yes, I have drank the “KonMari” koolaid and read Marie Kondo’s “The Magical Art of Tidying Up.” It is a kooky little book which has some problematic areas for Christians, but over all her methods are sound, and yes, transformative too. At the root of her system, she has you pull together every item among a type (say “clothes” or “books” or in this case “sewing patterns”) and ask if that item “sparks joy”. Not “do I use it?” or “will I use it someday?” or “have I used it”? but “Does it spark joy?”
I am grateful for the patterns that I have been able to acquire. I have done some amazing projects with them, but sometimes the most delight a pattern has given me was the thrill of buying it and thinking “I could make this for myself”. And do you know what? That is okay. Those patterns, if they no longer give me joy to keep have already done their part in my sewing instruction and I can let them go. I don’t need to hang on to them as mementos of the past, I likely have the object itself to remind me of the project, and I don’t need to hold on to them for the future, because I could easily find another pattern to work with in the future.
Seriously, it is a transformative way of thinking, and once you go through and honestly access every one of your sewing patterns you will find yourself with a wonderful happy collection.
2. Put each pattern into a 10 by 13 manilla envelope and label the outside with a photo.
Once I had my collection narrowed down, I wanted to store it in a way that was simple and uniform. With the large variety of sizes that they come in, I was having trouble storing my patterns in their original envelopes. In the end, I found that a 10 by 13 inch manilla envelope can hold even a large pattern with standard printer paper instruction sheets easily.
Sewing is such a visual process and I wanted to honor that when labeling each envelope. So, I taped a photo of each pattern to the outside of the envelope instead of relying on my rather uninspiring chicken-scratch handwriting. For my commercial patterns, I cut apart the original pattern envelope to label it, and for my PDF patterns, I printed off the cover sheet.
3. Store all the patterns together vertically in a single box.
The trouble with this size of envelopes is that they are larger than standard filing boxes, but I did eventually track down several beautiful storage options at Target. Their “large milk crate” sized storage bins fit these envelopes perfectly.
Keeping all of the patterns together like this, without some complicated filing process, forces me to continually look through my entire collection when hunting for a particular resource. My collection is very concise now, and it isn’t burdensome to look through them all. In fact, every time I flip through these lovely patterns, they are are a source of inspiration. Just as importantly, because I will be continually reviewing my entire collection in this manner in the future, I will also automatically be re-accessing it, and that is truly “magical.”
This method isn’t complicated or particular clever, but I think it will work out well for me.
More resources for those that are curious about the KonMari method.
- The Magical Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (This is an affiliate link. I may receive a kickback if you purchase something after clicking through this link.)
- Book Review (and method overview) at The Modern Mrs. Darcy
- “The KonMari Method: Why It’s Awesome and Why It Could Be Even Better” (A book review from a Catholic mom’s perspective)
- “How To Hack The KonMari Method With A Hosueful of Kids” at Mama Needs Coffee
- “Why I Got Rid of My Wardrobe” at Dallas Moms