I am a teacher at heart. Someday, I would love to be able to share with you how-tos and tutorials, but at this point, you probably know more than I do.
However, I think I can share with you an excellent organizational tool that you might not be aware of. It is called Evernote. (Did anyone else just hear revelatory music?!)
Evernote is a free program you can install on a Mac or a PC and on your smart phone. It is a organizational program for documents, pictures, audio files, web pages–anything you can think of! You can also access your Evernote account online, so you can view and edit your files from any computer. You also have the option to share files with anyone else on Evernote. Seriously–it’s a pretty fabulous app (and they’re not even paying me to say that!).
So, what does this have to do with sewing?
I am sort of an organizational fiend, so when I started stocking up on patterns, a major concern was how to organize them. Should I do it by name? By genre? By season? By year?
Yeah–I know I’m a geek. It’s okay.
But, each one of those organizational methods left something to be desired. If I organized by name, I’d have to shuffle through each one until I found the pattern I wanted. Or, let’s say I wanted to make a dress for spring, I’d have to sort them all out and look each one over, then put them all back–kind of a hassle.
Now, at this point in my sewing “career,” these are not big issues. I only have about 65 patterns, so sorting through them is not the huge ordeal that I make it sound like. But, someday, I may have hundreds of patterns–at the rate I’m going, that day may be sooner rather than later. And searching through hundreds of patterns–especially since I don’t have a lot of room to store them with easy access–yeah, I could see how that would be a problem in the future.
Somewhere in the middle of all this mulling it over, I remembered Evernote.
Here’s how it works: You have notes–think of them almost like documents. These notes are sorted into notebooks, and the notebooks are sorted into notebook stacks. So, I made a notebook stack for “Sewing” and added a notebook for “Patterns.” Then I went in and entered a note for each pattern, titling each with the pattern number. The notebook sorts all the patterns however you choose–by name, by date, etc.–so they’re easy to organize.
And, it gets better. You can attach photos to your notes. Naturally, I attached a photo of each pattern. The notes are stored on the Evernote server, so once I attach the picture, I can delete it and free up space on my hard drive. (Side note: if you get the free version, your space is limited. However, you still have plenty to work with. I haven’t used anything near my limit, and I have tons of notes and pictures.)
Now, this, to me is the best part: you can tag each note with as many tags as you need to help you find it later. So, I used multiple tags for each note: first, the season (you know, whether the pattern is for summer shorts or a winter coat); and the garment type (skirt, blouse, dress, etc.). I also added tags like “vintage” with the corresponding decade, or “costume” with eras like “Revolutionary” or “Regency.” I don’t have the need now, but eventually I may add tags like “male,” “female,” “baby,” or “child” when I start sewing more for people who are not me.
One of the advantages of using Evernote (or an organization app like it–I haven’t run across one, but it may be out there. . . ) is that you can search through specific tags. So, let’s say I want to make a vintage dress for the fall. I just type “vintage,” “fall,” and “dress” into the search field, and it pulls up any patterns that match those exact tags. Or if you just want to see how many patterns you have for skirts, just type it in and those patterns will pop up. I’ve found it helpful in identifying types of patterns I need to buy more of. For instance, I don’t have nearly as many winter patterns as spring and summer, and I have tons of skirt patterns but only two for shorts.
You can also add notes about each pattern–maybe things you learned, modifications that you need to make next time, what fabric you want to use. And, if you find a great tutorial for a pattern that you want to make in the future, you can add that link to the note. So, whenever you’re ready to sew, you have all your information in one place.
I’ve put the app on my iPhone and used it to show the patterns I already have to friends who want me to make something for them (which I’m actually really excited to do!). I scroll through it when I’m stuck at work (or somewhere equally unpleasant) to dream up future projects. To make the mobile version even more useful, I’m thinking I want to take a picture of the backs of each envelope so I can see what notions and yardage I’ll need. Maybe then I’ll stop forgetting what I need at Jo-Ann’s.
On the real world side of things, I try to keep my patterns all organized by name so that they’re easier to find once I’ve chosen the one I want. This hasn’t happened yet, my space being rather limited. Since I have just a few patterns (you know–relatively), it’s not a big deal yet.
Obviously, it does take time to get set up, and I admit that Evernote is kind of overwhelming with all the potential–I had trouble getting started because I just didn’t know where to begin. But, if you find that you forget about patterns you have, or you can’t find patterns that you think you have, I encourage you to give Evernote a try.
I hope this helped someone out there–even if it gave you an idea for a completely different organizational method, or planted a tiny thought-seed about needing to get your space cleaned up. Evernote is useful for so many different things–if you’re interested, definitely read up on what other people are using it for. It may give you some great ideas!
In the mean time, I hope you all enjoy your weekend. Being sick has mostly kept me away from my sewing machine–and shears. . . pointy objects in general (I get a little crazy when I’m medicated)–but I’m hoping to maybe get a dress hemmed or fix the pleats on my Easter Dress.
I think I may be getting better, though–I haven’t coughed up any organs in over twenty minutes!!! Small Victories–hurrah!