Tag Archives: organization

Baby Steps

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Of the organizational variety, that is.

In the wake of the Wedding Sewing Marathon, I’ve been attempting to regroup with a bit of tidying. I’ll warn you, this does not come naturally to me, and what with the inundation of my sewing space (the waters have receded but the entire area remains damp and untrustworthy) and the other upheavals of the last year, well, I can’t find ANYTHING. Or rather, I find it one day, nod sagely to myself and go “okay, there it is!” and then promptly loose it again. I even lost a sewing machine last week—you know things are pretty bad when. (Don’t worry, I found it.)

So, I took the plunge. Okay, maybe dabbled my little toes in. I bought a couple of sturdy, transparent Rubbermaid tubs. I wish I had the funds to buy a jillion more, but I’m hoping if I can buy one each time I’m at the grocery store, I’ll have enough to keep everything in by, oh, Christmas. /sigh.

One tub is already full of the fabric that had migrated up to the sewing room* during the wedding sewing. I want enough of those to sort my fabrics by type again—I haven’t had that since before we left Calgary.

The second tub, pictured above, is holding patterns. It’s not quite deep enough—a half inch more would be perfect—but I think it will do, at least for the regular-sized envelopes. The contents are sorted, roughly, by company. I’m pretty sure I can fill at least two or three more of these tubs just with patterns. My name is Tanit-Isis and I am a pattern-aholic.

While sorting patterns, I’ve also been working on transferring my pattern info, which I’ve been tracking in a phone app called Sewing Kit (as reviewed here), into a different app, MyStuff2 (as recommended by several commenters in my review of Sewing Kit). Although Sewing Kit worked fairly well for me for a long time, once I got to about 500 patterns I found it crashed more and more and more. It still has one or two features that MyStuff2 can’t replicate, and MyStuff2 takes some setting up to get the categories and attributes all the way you’d like, but if I can’t use Sewing Kit because it always crashes, it doesn’t do me much good. I don’t have MyStuff2 up to 500 patterns yet, but by all reports it’s a much more reliable program all around (people use it to categorize all kinds of things—it’s actually really awesome for books and movies because you can scan the barcode), so I’m hopeful that all will be well.

I’m going to need another shelving unit for sure, but I’m optimistic if I can get the fabric and patterns tubbed up, I can re-organize notions and thread and things into the other plastic-drawer-storage unit I already have and then maybe, just maybe, be able to actually find things. Of course, what I really should be doing is tracking the fabric stash, so I can paw through that digitally… but somehow it’s not as satisfying as tracking the patterns.

Of course, assuming I get everything organized, then there’s the task of KEEPING it organized. Which always seems to be the one that defeats me. Aiee.

*Formerly the computer room. My husband is not happy about this.

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Sewing Kit—an iPhone App review

The Pattern Problem

So, from time to time over the last few months as I’ve gone from pattern thrifter to pattern hoarder, people have asked how I organize or keep track of all the patterns (and how many, ulp, there are.) The answer to the first question, frankly, is “Not well,” especially when it comes to organizing the physical patterns (which currently involves a plastic multi-drawer thingy and a lot of shoeboxes). On the electronic side, I’ve tried a couple of different methods, but the main one is an iPhone app called Sewing Kit. I don’t have every single pattern I own in there (especially the electronic ones) but I do have a fair number (erm, 211 last count), and since I got it last summer I’ve been pretty good with putting in my new purchases. I like that it’s on my phone (so handy when I’m out and about) and that I can take the photos and add them straight in, rather than having to transfer them to the computer and set things up. I’m trying to keep a simple folder of all the envelope photos on my laptop, too, but the info on the iPhone is a bit more comprehensive.

I don’t know that this app is available for anything other than iPhone, so this post may have a bit of a limited target audience… sorry. But anyway, folks, meet Sewing Kit

This is, far and away, the most expensive app I’ve ever bought for my iPhone. It costs $9.99 or so last summer (Although it appears the price has gone down. Which sucks for me, but it’s much easier to recommend it for five bucks than for ten) And it gets so close to being awesome that it’s quite painful, really.

I picked Sewing Kit, as opposed to some of the other stash-tracking apps, because it was the only one that seemed geared towards garment sewing as opposed to quilting. In particular, you can track patterns, stash, people (‘s measurements), and projects all in one app.

Patterns:

Patterns

This is the part of the app I use most, as I just can’t get too excited about tracking my fabric stash, even if I ought to. For recent Big 4 patterns, there’s a scan-barcode feature that lets you just point the camera of your phone at the bar-code on the pattern envelope—it will download the name, number, even photos from the company website. I don’t buy a lot of brand-new patterns, so I don’t get too much use out of this feature, but it’s pretty handy when it works. If it doesn’t work for a particular pattern, you can enter company (from a customizable list), number, size, category, yardage, difficulty, etc. manually, as well as add photos. The adding photo function is glitchy—often it will crash the program and fail to save the photo. The workaround is to take the photos first, and then after touching “Add photo” choose “select existing”, which works fine and means you have a real copy of the photo to upload to your computer or whatever if you (like me) try to keep track of patterns there as well. It’s a little clunkier of a process, though.

Pattern details

I have a couple of issues: one, it would be nice to be able to include a pattern in more than one category (eg. a wardrobe pattern that has shirt, pants, and jacket). The second is that there’s not a whole lot of browsing functionality—it’s easy to look up a particular pattern, but the thumbnails are kinda small (as necessary on a little phone) and it would be nice to have a full-screen photo-view without going all the way into the edit-photo feature. It’s also not really easy to call up the individual categories for viewing (say, to see all your jacket patterns)—you can do a search for that category, but it’s not like you can just pick it from a list, and again, a photo-browsing function would be nice.

Pattern images (these ones were downloaded automatically because it is a new pattern.)

Every once in a while I’ve run into a glitch where it simply stops displaying the patterns in the pattern list. It still says there’s however many patterns there, but they don’t show up, which is pretty heart-stopping. Doing a search of any kind seems to clear up this glitch, but still, weird.

Stash:

Stash

As expected, you can upload photos (same issue with crashing), length, width, fibre and care information about your various fabrics. I should probably use this feature a lot more than I do, especially to keep track of yardage.

People:

People

Although it doesn’t get the most use, this is a really handy feature of the app, and was probably the one that tipped me over into buying it. It lets you record a person’s name, photo, and measurements (selecting from a list of basic measurements, with the ability to add custom measurements as well) for future reference. I find this really handy as I’m always losing the little bits of paper I write measurements down on. It even has non-sewing use, as I used it the other day when picking up undies for the kids to choose the right size.

Projects

Projects

Projects pull together all the other categories—you can pick which pattern you’re using, which fabric, and who it’s for, as well as add information about notions and anything else you might need. I hardly ever use this category, at least partly because I’d rather blog this sort of stuff, but it would be perfect for pulling together your shopping list (notions, lining, etc.) and planning things, if you were that sort of organized person (which, as we’ve long ago established, I am not.) There are a couple of things that really niggle me about how this is set up, though—the lists it calls up of your patterns and fabric don’t show the images, so you’d better remember the pattern number or the name you gave the fabric. Also, there’s no way, once you’ve selected a pattern, to jump from viewing the project directly to viewing the pattern—you’d have to switch over to the pattern category and look the pattern up (say, to check on the yardage it requires). Again, not a big deal, but not slick.

Overall? I’d give it about a 7 out of 10. If there were anything out there with similar functionality (and please let me know if there is, there wasn’t when I looked last but times do change rapidly in the world of apps) I’d probably score it lower, but it does do what it does in a way that’s handy, portable, and I’m likely to have with me if I decide to pop into the fabric store on a whim. You can export/back up the information, although I haven’t actually tested transferring it to another device (like my iPad). There is an HD version for the iPad but I haven’t bothered to spring for it, either—the reviewers were a bit crabby about the lack of ability to sync between the apps on different devices.

It’s just not a very slick app. To enter information, you often have to go in through several  screens to get to actually enter the number. Even though it’s something you’re always going to entering a number for (like a measurement), the default keyboard is the alphabet, not the numeric keyboard. There’s no “overview” function for viewing details, just the edit view—basically, the functionality for retrieving and overviewing information isn’t as great as the functionality for entering information (and even the entering function isn’t the greatest). There’ve been a few improvements in the year or so that I’ve had the app, but not a whole lot.

Is slick too much to ask? I dunno. I don’t regret my purchase, and I do use it plenty, but it could be so much more…

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Round and round and round she goes…

Brace yourself for a whiny post. I’m resisting, but I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going to come out.

I spent a good three or four hours in the sewing room over the weekend, not sewing a single stitch (actually that’s a lie, but anyway).

I was trying to organize my patterns.

Emphasis on trying.

In the last few months my pattern collection has gotten a bit, um, bloated. Bernie’s gift really put it over the top, but seriously, I was in trouble well before that. In particular, I’ve reached the point where I can no longer keep a reasonable mental catalogue of the patterns I have.

Now, in theory I’m prepared for that. I even have a pricey (if somewhat defective) little app on my iPhone for tracking patterns, stash, projects, etc, and I’ve made a half-ass attempt to enter at least the most important patterns into it. I have photos of most of my patterns, somewhere on the computer and somewhere on the blog, so I could potentially make a spreadsheet or database or *something*

The problem is, handy as all that electronic organization might be (and I do much better with electronic organization than with real-life organization), when I’m considering a project, what I really want to do is sit there and dive—through the fabric, of course, but through the patterns, too. Little pictures on a screen (especially a phone-size screen) just aren’t tactile enough. And since I can no longer think “hmm, I’d like to make a dress,” and bring to mind a reasonable list of the dress patterns I have, that means I need to actually sort my physical patterns.

I had started this back in the summer. I got a tall plastic set of drawers for the sewing room, which holds notions in the three top drawers and patterns in the three big bottom drawers. I sorted out the stash of kids’ patterns, too, into a large shoe-box (boot-box, really) and that worked fairly well since when the kids wanted to plan the next project I should make them (eyeroll). But I never made any pretext of sorting the patterns in those three drawers—two held patterns I’d made up, which I generally give a big manilla envelope and, if I’m really organized, print out a photo of the finished project to stick to. This works well because it gives me somewhere to store printed-out patterns, patterns that don’t come with an envelope (like Jalie’s), and holds whatever excess tracings I have, which don’t always fit in the original envelope. But it does take up a lot of space.

So on Saturday, I went through patterns, photographing and adding a whole bunch to my phone app, and beginning the rudiments of sorting. I’m most concerned to sort by type. But I don’t want to lose all my special independent patterns in with the regular ones (currently this is Colette, Sewaholic, and Folkwear. Not sure why I don’t include Jalie in this group…). And then there’s the really old vintage ones (fifties mostly) that I don’t want to get wrecked with too much pawing through. So they need their own place. And I’d really like to keep the jackets and sweaters separate from the other tops. And…

Well, you can see what’s happening. No way are all those categories happening in three drawers (even with dividers), nevermind that the patterns were already overflowing the drawers.

So I co-opted all the shoeboxes I could find, but now I have five shoeboxes kicking around the sewing room floor, which is considerably less than ideal. I can label them, which will help, but they’re still… floating. And in danger of getting stepped on, or buried by fabric.

Which brings me to another issue. The stash is out of control. Or at least, overflowing. I want to sew it down. But the projects in my head keep failing to line up with the fabrics on hand. What is necessary is letting the fabric lead. But how do I pick which fabric? There’s so many luscious and awesome ones to go with. Not to mention all the little bits that I’d like to use up—kids clothes, *something*. I made some of the last remnant of  the Where’s Waldo fabric into another bralette, which was going to be for Tyo but the elastic straps weren’t long enough, so it’s gone to Syo (who’s super happy about it even though I can’t figure out why she would even *want* a bralette), but Tyo still wants one of her own.

And at the crux of it, everything is too messy.

I’m not one of nature’s tidy people. I can generally work just fine surrounded by a complete disaster (and tend to generate such a disaster if one wasn’t present to start with). It’s a constant trial to my husband, whose neat-freak tendencies border on the obsessive. But right now, there isn’t even room to work. Or at least, to work on anything big—hence the bralettes and other mini-projects I’ve been coming out with lately. Add to that the general lack of mental energy to contribute and, well, the situation isn’t quite paralysis, but it’s not far off, either. Can’t clean, too much stuff, it just doesn’t fit in the space. Need to sew it up. Can’t decide what to sew—too much to choose from. Can’t sew anything large—not enough room. Need more room—got to clean up. And round and round I go…

One partial solution would be to buy more organizational stuff—another set of shelves for fabric or drawers for patterns. But with a move on the horizon, I really, really don’t want to add to the furniture in the house, either.

And, just to illustrate the extent of my problem, here’s last week’s thrift store aquisitions (the fabrics and patterns at the local Value Village have recently been reinvigorated after several stagnant months, and I’m relieved to report that the attempt to sell the patterns bagged seems to have lapsed—this last batch were even quite cheap!)

Sweater fabric.

Fabric. I’ve been trying to be good about the thrift store fabrics, only biting when it’s a fabric/colour/quality on “the list”. Both these pieces were. On the left is a very thick sweater-knit with an almost Persian-lamb type texture, in a rich red colour that would be AWESOME… whenever I figure out what kind of a style would work for it.  There’s 2m, so plenty to play with. On the right is a dull purple/grey fleece, also extra-thick. I suspect it will become a housecoat for Syo, although it’s so thick I’m tempted to just get some binding for the edges and call it a blanket.

Patterns

The patterns are rather more whimsical. I couldn’t resist the Kwik Sew men’s dance wear on the left, even though my husband would probably disown me if I actually made him one (I don’t have a plain men’s tee pattern, though, and this one looks fine if you just lengthen it). I also don’t have any little boys to sew suits for, but cmon—a Vogue little boy’s suit, with single and double breasted options? For less than fifty cents—how could I resist?

The 70s tracksuit in the middle falls into that awkward sizing in between Syo and myself. I currently have sweaters, bunnyhugs, and hoodies on the brain, which may explain why I couldn’t just leave it. The late-70s vibe reminds me so much of things I wore as a small child (I was born in 1980, but grew up in hand-me-downs)… which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but, I dunno. I’m feeling nostalgic, I suppose.

Two-toned printing

It’s also uncut and comes in two sizes, each printed in a different colour. Nifty!

Yup, that was whiny. Sorry. Have a great week!

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