Sunday, 5 June 2016

My PDF Shame

This week was the week I checked my long neglected PDF pattern folder. Stay with me please, it's not quite that boring! Now I'll almost always opt for a printed pattern over a PDF version (unless there's no choice of course), so I wasn't expecting to find much. Imagine my surprise when I discovered 25 patterns in there, 25! But the worst thing was that around half of them were completely unused - just purchased in a frenzy and forgotten about forever. I felt especially bad as there are some absolute gems amongst them:

Summer Blouse - Maison Fleur



Anderson Blouse - Sew Over It



Edith Blouse and Dress - Maria Denmark


Maritime Shorts - Grainline



I could go on….

With a paper pattern you have a physical reminder of your purchase, but this doesn't happen with PDFs. And because of the additional time needed to print out and tape them together, it's easy to sweep PDFs aside in favour of a quicker fix. Maybe I need to start printing out the instructions and putting them in envelopes so they're more visible? 

This then got me thinking about what other patterns might be lurking in the shadows in different forms. One area I tend to totally overlook is sewing books. Again, it's a mental block with me - if they're not in a pattern envelope I'm blind to them. This is mad because I've had some real successes with sewing book patterns (see below), and really should make an effort to use them more frequently. 

Anita Tie Top from Sew Over It Vintage

Lace Pencil Skirt from Fashion with Fabric

Whilst we're on the subject, I also have an entire cupboard of sewing magazines with free patterns, maybe I should start perusing those too?! 

Does anybody else completely forget about the PDF patterns they own? Or is it just me?! Perhaps it's time for some kind of pattern inventory to keep them front of mind? If there's a particular reference system that's worked for you, I'd love to know. Thank you! x








70 comments:

  1. Yes, yes and yes! I'll be interested in any ideas for a reference system too. My laptop died towards the end of last year, but I was lucky enough that a friend could rescue it. I thought I had saved/backed up everything, before he wiped it, but completely forgot about my pdf patterns.

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    1. Yep, they're certainly easy to forget about! x

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  2. Is it just patterns per se? I realise that I am only going to sew a handful of patterns every year, as I tend to make a few of the same pattern, to produce my sewing productivity, but have still been buying them! I often find I have 2 or more very similar patterns in my stash. I suspect it's part of the hobby! I suppose I would reference them by type of garment. On the plus side I have just made up two PDF patterns which have been in my stash for ages.

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    1. Making a garment from a long stashed pattern is just as satisfying as using a long stashed piece of fabric! x

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  3. I have the same problem so I think printing out the instructions and putting them with paper patterns may be the way forward.

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    1. I think it's a good way to start! x

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  4. I use Evernote to catalog my patterns. I have a notebook called "Patterns" and each pattern has its own note. I include a photo of the pattern envelope, tag it with types of garments included in the pattern (jeans, skirt, coat, etc.), and write any other important information. It's not a perfect system and I could be a lot better about keeping it up to date, but it's great when I find some fabric I love and I can pull out my phone to check what patterns would work with it and how much fabric I need.

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    1. I'm going to investigate this for sure. I used to record my fabric stash on Evernote and it worked well for me, maybe it's time to use it for patterns too?! x

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  5. I do know what you mean, Jane, though with me it's the other way round. My paper patterns are in two big drawers and though they're organized by garment type they're quite hard to look through (or is that just me being pathetic...?), whereas my downloads are all in one place on Google, again all organized by garment type, so at a glance I can see what I've got. I also use Pinterest A LOT (ahem) and I have boards of ideas by garment type. I do mean to get round to making similar boards for patterns I actually own, which would be more useful really! As long as there's a picture of it somewhere on the internet you can pin it to a board, so this would be useful for PDFs, freebie downloads and magazine patterns too.

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    1. Pinterest! Of course! As if I needed any further excuses! x

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    2. I like this idea of possibly setting up a pinterest board for pattern types I own. . .something to think about.

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  6. I have the same problem too! I now tend to print them as soon as I've bought them so then I'll have a physical copy to remind me to put thrm together and make it but it is easier said then done when it's silly of clock in the morning! Hahaha!

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    1. I think I should do that too, it's the pattern equivalent of washing your fabric as soon as you get it home I suppose! x

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  7. I copied the front and back of each of my patterns and put the copies in a sheet protector. Smaller patterns I copy onto the same side of paper, larger Vogue designer patterns go back to back. I store these in 3 large binders and have sub categories set up. My binders become my pattern catalog, similar to what you would have in the store, except I already own the patterns! My patterns are stored in file boxes numerically by company. I print out the feature design, line drawing, and fabric needs of pdf patterns and store them within the same pattern catalog. It was quite the system to organize, but now that it's done, it's easy to maintain and I love to sit with my own catalogs when planning projects.

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    1. Oh wow, that sounds like a fabulous system, I love the idea of leafing through my very own pattern catalogues! As you say though, it's finding time to set it up in the first place. It's got me thinking, thank you! x

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  8. I always forget what I have! In an attempt to help my memory I set up a Pinterest board where I pin all patterns I own whether printed, pdf or book...helps me to visually see exactly what I have at a glance! It has also helped me reduce the number of patterns I buy as every time I get tempted by a sale I check my Pinterest board to see if I already have anything similar and if I do then I make myself walk away...especially as I haven't even made half of what I own!

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    1. I'd totally overlooked Pinterest as a cataloguing tool, duh! May have to remedy pretty sharpish, thanks! x

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  9. I went to buy something the other day only to be told the date I had previously purchased it. Whoops perhaps it's my age K xXx

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    1. Haha! That made me smile, I've got a few paper pattern 'repeats'! x

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  10. Thanks for this post! I just remembered that have five Bootstrap Fashions PDFs waiting patiently in my online folder. I'd forgotten about them entirely. Clearly, I have no tips on how to keep track of them. :)

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    1. That doesn't matter, just glad this post has reminded you! x

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  11. I keep my PDF patterns on Google Drive and colour code the folders so I can tell at a glance which ones I've printed/made/done nothing with. Also find the 'stash' feature on Fold Line/Textilia/Trello/Pinterest etc very handy! I've started getting Burda Style recently and not sure how best to keep track of those!

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    1. Ah colour coded folders, that's a good idea too! x

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  12. I buy cross-stitch patterns in PDF fairly often and I do forget about them. I also have an email folder for Etsy downloads that I have to make myself sort through from time to time. :)

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    1. Hmm, that's just reminded me that I have a few Craftsy courses that I purchased, then never looked at again. Must dig them out…! x

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  13. Regarding the Pattern Inventory point, I'm currently writing an Android app (close to finishing actually) which will allow you to log every pattern you own, along with photos and any other information you want to keep about them. You will be able to search, filter and sort on various pieces of information. It will be like having your entire pattern collection in your pocket, always at hand, so when you find some fabulous fabric at the market, you can find out how much you need to buy, for example! So you could keep your PDF patterns in this system for sure. I'm writing the app because I need it as well! ;-)

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    1. Excellent! That sounds exactly what I'm after, please do let me know when it's finalised. x

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  14. Snap...ditto...likewise :o( Unless I print my pdfs off asap, I do tend to forget I have them, despite the special folder for them! Likewise on sewing books. I've actually just had a clear-out of them and have decided loads of them need a better home...hmphhh!

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    1. It makes me feel better that I'm not the only one Marie! x

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  15. I used to have that problem - until I started tracking them using Evernote (free web program accessible for any computer! tablet or phone). It was a pain to set up initially (due to the quantity) but now every time I by a pattern i just save the line drawing into Evernote and tag it (eg skirt, straight, a-line, woven, etc. - whatever makes sense to you) and whether it is a PDFs or printed pattern. I now have my own pattern catalogue available online anytime. I also included my knitting patterns, yarn stash, details of completed projects and, more recently, my fabric stash - just upload or add photo via the app every time you want to add something. I found this idea on the Internet.

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    1. I've found Evernote helpful for keeping track of my furbish stash in the past. I'm certainly going to look into using it for patterns too! x

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  16. In fact, I have some of those very, unused PDF patterns! Often I print them off, but then they languish in the cupboard. I have more patterns than time. But I'm not sure if that means I should stop buying the PDF patterns. I mean, at worst, I spend money needlessly. They're not taking up much space, unless I print them. And when I do find them eventually, I've got a good pattern ready to go.

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    1. True! I think I should get into the habit of printing them off, them I've at least made bait of an effort! x

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  17. Many many years ago I scanned the fronts of my patterns, put them in page protectors, and placed them in 3 ring notebooks by category. As patterns have changed I still print out a page from the pdf and add it in. I also keep a "to sew" wish list of patterns I want to sew.

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    1. That's an excellent idea, thank you! x

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  18. We moved recently and I didn't want to move all my magazines with patterns. It took some time but I went through every one cutting out what I wanted to keep and popped them into punched pockets and into a lever arch file. The left over magazines still had tons of interesting stuff but not interesting to me. I gave them to my Mum for her craft group.
    As for pdf's ... When I buy them I print them off and keep in A4 envelopes. I stick them together if I ever get around to making them ;-)

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    1. Good idea re the magazines, I need to do something similar as they're taking over! And actually printing off PDF patterns has to be my first step in that area I think! x

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  19. I try to avoid buying PDF patterns, but I do buy mags... Then lose them usually. I also need a better system.

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    1. My sewing mags just pile up, as do the free patterns that usually come with them! x

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  20. I absolutely hate pdf patterns. Maybe that's just because taping them together is a pain and then if you put a pin through a taped section it comes out all sticky and you have to throw it away. And I have sit on the floor to stick everything together because there is no table in my house big enough for that! So annoying so I don't buy a pdf pattern unless I'm gonna use it immedietly! And I mean right now print and stick it together!!!

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    1. Tiling them and using them immediately is usually that's my system too, as like you, I detest sticking them together. I just didn't realise how many had slipped through the net! x

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  21. An App that helped you organise patterns owned and desired would be very useful. But categorising patterns can be difficult because many , of the Big 4 at least, have multiple garments, e.g. a top and a dress, a skirt, trousers and a coat all made with the same basic shapes. Very useful to the dressmaker and great value but very difficult to categorise.

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    1. Yes, good point. In fact at this very moment I'm making a skirt that's part of a pattern I'd only ever associated with the top! x

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  22. I use Evernote to store all of my patterns, which are all tagged and searchable so I suppose I see a PDF pattern as often as a printed pattern as each one has an entry. I know Camille from Attack of the Seam Ripper had a post about using Trello to index her patterns. You make a good point about patterns in sewing books and magazines! I too forget all about them and I really shouldn't.

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    1. Lots of recommendations for Evernote here, I need to get onto it! I think this might be a good project for the school holidays when sewing grinds to a halt! x

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  23. I don't have many PDF patterns so I don't tend to have too much trouble keeping control of them, but I do print them out as soon as I get them, even just the front page with the picture, so that I can file them with my envelope patterns. As for my sewing books, I quite frequently spend time looking through them for tips about construction techniques, so I always flick through the patterns because it's nice to do, so I tend to remember them that way :-)

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    1. Yes, not printing them out immediately seems to have been my downfall! Must correct that in the future! x

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  24. I thought I would share with you my pattern inventory system. I have taken a photograph of the front and back of all my pattern covers. I have them on my IPad so I can browse them anytime I like a and even take to the store with me when shopping for fabric. As I buy more patterns I just add to the photo album. The photographs are in no special order but I have my patterns filed in a drawer in pattern number order. This was raeally easy to do and coulld easily be extended to include PDFs files or even photos of pages out of books. I love browsing my patterns looking for inspiration. I also have photos of patterns that are long gone but the pictures bring back memories of when I was younger and slimmer!

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    1. Thanks for sharing Deedee! I like the idea of being able to browse through a photo album of pattern covers! x

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  25. This is such a great post. I have exactly the same issue and have even bought a paper pattern which I already own as a pdf. What was I thinking? The shared ideas are helpful. I do tend to print out the picture and fabric buying pages of each pdf but they are stored a bit randomly. I like the pattern book idea although I can see that an electronic note would be useful to have when out fabric shopping.

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    1. The shared ideas are helpful aren't they? Very pleased I wrote this post now! Ideally I'd like to make up a pattern book AND have some kind of electronic system for when I'm out shopping. Time will tell if this will actually ever happen! x

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  26. This is such an interesting discussion!! For me it's ALL my patterns, PDFs and tissue patterns...I have soooo many. I looked into android apps and came across Memento which has a template for sewing patterns which was great....but I found that using phone to take pics ( of yardages and the cover, so two per pattern) soon made the file huge due to resolution of my phone's photos ( and it seemed like really hard work to go through an additional process working out how to make my photos smaller). And it was also not as straightforward as I would have liked to sync across from phone/ iPad/ computer. So I hope @amarantha new app deals with all of this - I want to sew my patterns, not spend days cataloging them so anything that makes it easy would be a godsend!! Sorry! That was a long one about what I don't use!! Great suggestions in what works though!!

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    1. Ah that's a really good point about file size. Actually that's why I don't have the Pinterest app on my phone or iPad because it just takes up too much space. I'm also looking forward to the @amarantha app with bated breath! x

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    2. Thank you both for your thoughts and encouragement!

      @Scruffybadger, the points you bring up are ones that are very valid. There's not much point me putting in a lot of time and effort to create an app that people won't use! So yesterday, I finally tackled the photo file size issue. My app now reduces the size of the photo automatically to around 20% of the original file size. I've tried it out on my phone and the quality of the photo is still good, although I will probably allow the user to select how much they want to size it down by if 20% isn't working well on their phone or tablet.

      I want to get my app out there as soon as possible, so people can start using it, so the ability to sync between phone, tablet and computer is something I will be addressing in the first upgrade, which has always been my plan.

      And don't worry, I will definitely let you all know when my app is ready, I will be shouting it from the rooftops in fact! Well, by rooftops I mean the internet! ;-)

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  27. I use Evernote like a lot of others. If I buy a pdf, I open it in the app which saves it into a new note. If it's a paper pattern I take photos and add them into a new note. I take a shot of the cover art, line drawing and the requirements table. I then tag with whether it's paper or pdf, woven or stretch, type of garment and how much fabric. I'm in the process of logging my fabric stash in much the same way and then I can match the two across. No answer for the magazines though, I put them neatly in magazine holders and promptly forget what's in them!

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    1. Yep, that's what I do with magazines, except some of them don't even make it into magazine holders! x

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  28. I have a PDF Sewing patterns Pinterest board where I pin an image of the pattern as soon as I buy it. Never forget ahat I have that way.

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    1. A Pinterest pattern board is now top of my list, thanks! x

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  29. I don't like PDF patterns for the same reasons (and after printing out my first one and taping it all together, only to find my printer was on the wrong scale, I'm even less of a fan!)
    My idea would be to buy yourself a packet of A5 envelopes (pattern sized) and just print off the pattern picture, or even draw it, and stick it on the front. Then file the envelopes just as you would a printed pattern. When you're looking for inspiration, they'll be right there waiting for you, and you can just print the actual pattern out if you decide to make it up.
    Hope that helps!

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    1. That's more or less what I was thinking of doing. I actually like the process of leafing through patterns so this makes sense! x

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  30. I've never heard of Maison Fleur but I LOVE that top! Made the Edith up as a blouse and it's really sweet - I think you commented on it during MMM - it would really suit you. Doesn't matter whether PDF or printed I am always forgetting what I've got!

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    1. It's a beaut isn't it?! I think the Edith blouse has my name all over it, in fact I would definitely have made it this summer if only I'd remembered! x

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  31. I tend to forget about what pdf (or even printed!) patterns I have. It's a case of out of sight, out of mind. I keep meaning to go through my pattern and fabric stash, match them up and then document it in some useful way. Oh for the time. That Maria Denmark dress has your name all over it's "SO Jane"! x

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    1. I think it is too, and I'm kicking myself for forgetting about it as it would have been perfect for a summer make. I've sort of made my plans for summer sewing now, although they can always be changed! x

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  32. I don't buy PDF patterns so that sorts that out for me! I keep my patterns in art folders, categorised by : children's, modern, traced. (Either from book or magazine) and vintage. Think I'm going to need to buy more folders soon though!

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    1. Yes, that's the other problem: running out of space! x

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  33. I prefer paper patterns also, but if forced to buy a pdf, I'd like to know how people store them after printed and taped together. Right now I have a shoebox with all sizes of patterns folded or rolled into tubes. It's not a tidy solution.

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  34. Oh god. I can't bear to think of how many sewing magazines filled with patterns I have stashed away. I'll admit I have a terrible pattern shopping habit, so I'm trying to be strict and buy no more than one a month at the moment. I do like organising potential makes on Pinterest – I start a board for each pattern and gather ideas, examples and fabrics on there. I should peruse these comments at length for ideas on organising my patterns!

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  35. Oh no... I don't even want to think about my PDF library! It's really gotten out of control. I need to find a better cataloguing system, but to be honest, I'm not much good with apps (I just don't check them). I'll be interested to hear what system you settle on!

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  36. Thanks you just reminded me of all my PDF patterns. I will look over them. I've been looking through my sewing magazines as well. I'm actually going to make a pattern from one.

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