Sewing Pattern Organization + Sencha

A good while ago, I claimed that I was going to start sewing for myself again after a hiatus prompted by multiple failed attempts. I haven’t made good on that claim, but look! My patterns are super organized. That binder houses all the non-kids patterns I’ve accumulated over the years. Rather, it houses the photocopies of the pattern envelopes and is my reference binder.

There are Burda, Butterick, McCalls, New Look, Simplicity, Vogue and Colette patterns, and aside from the Colette patterns, I got them all at those JoAnn’s mega-sales. I spent some crazy hours photocopying all ย the patterns and putting them in alpha-numerical order — I’m so happy with the end result! I can’t take full credit for this organizational system though. I found a similar method on the internet last year and adapted it.

And I have two of these massive IKEA baskets filled with the actual pattern envelopes. The zip lock baggies are the ones I’ve actually cut out. And of course I want to try Kristin’s scoop topย and other downloadable and indie patterns.

My kids’ patterns are a mess, however – I’m going to start working on organizing those next. How do you keep your patterns from getting out of control? Do you use a similar system?

And this reminded me that I had made the Colette Sencha blouse a few years ago, which I never posted.

The fit isn’t great — it’s a little too short for my taste and it makes me look like I have at least three boobs, but it was one of my better selfish sewing experiences due to Colette patterns’ excellent instructions. The fabric is a mystery blend; it’s sheer and seems like it’s mostly cotton but might have a little rayon in it. It has a nice subtle texture.

Clearly I’m inept at using the tripod/remote since these shots are so blurry. I shot these photos yesterday and had literally 5 minutes before I had to go pick up K. At least the bags under my eyes and zits aren’t as noticeable (yes, I still break out all the time)! Ugh, I’m having all sorts of body image issues, and had initially written a painfully long-winded, weepy, over-the-top post about societal pressures of physical perfection, but I wisely decided to spare you.

So I’m not sure how this will shake out, but I’m going to try to sew at least one thing for myself per week. A companion to the Monday Outfits, grown-up edition! I better figure out how to use that tripod and remote…or maybe K can be the photographer (M is usually not available ย – he works so hard for us, good man).

43 thoughts on “Sewing Pattern Organization + Sencha

    1. Monica!! Those are the best things I’ve watched all week! The first one made me teary-eyed and the second one had me in fits of hysterical laughter – a bit awkward since I was at a coffee shop by myself. LOVE them, thank you!!

  1. Hi Sanae. Fantastic way to organize the patterns. I don’t have lots of grown-ups patterns, but have lots for little ones that I put in clear envelops in a binder with labels (size, name of pattern). You know..I think I don’t sew for me because I have body image issues too and feel I look horrible and biggggg. Love the idea/chalenge of make an outfit for you every week. Looking forward to see your new creations and the tripode-remote use!

    1. Hi Maria! Man, body image issues can really stifle the creativity when it comes to selfish sewing…but I’ve also read on many sewing blogs how it helps with understanding and accepting the body, so I’m hopeful!!

  2. That is an epic and wonderful way to organize patterns! I just shove mine in a filing cabinet in the garage! I think that top looks great on you, but I never like shirts that I feel are too short on myself so I get it. As for the blurry pics, you are stunningly beautiful! I have have so many zits too, adult acne is so very rude.

    1. You should see my kids’ patterns! I am swimming in a sea of Swedish pattern paper! Thanks so much for your kind comment – I had pretty severe adult acne in my late twenties and it’s calmed down a lot, but I still get pesky flare-ups. I wish I wouldn’t pick at them!

  3. Oh Sanae, you’re lovely! And that top looks cute- I definitely don’t see 3 boobs. ;p I hear you on the body image though. For example, instead of the usual fabric or yarn gift for Mothers Day, this year I’m getting a Clarisonic facial and body scrubber thingy. Ah, aging. Isn’t it fun? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    ps. I’ve been neglectful, sorry! I totally owe you an email.

    1. Robin!! So good to hear from you! I have the Clarisonic facial scrubber and it’s life-altering. I didn’t know it could be used for the body – or maybe there’s a different model?

  4. Adult acne needs to pack its bags and buzz off, frankly. It’s a pest. I love your pattern organisation, and I love that Sencha. I do think we tend to be very over critical of our sewing for ourselves, but this does look lovely. So do you.

    1. Adult acne is the worst, though I’m sure teenagers wouldn’t agree with me :-). Thank you for your sweet comment and yes, so hard not to be critical of ourselves. The video Monica included in the comment above is the BEST. Such a good message.

  5. Sanae, you are so lovely. Truly. But as that Dove video shows us (which coincidentally I just watched via a different blog), we see ourselves so much differently than others do. Is that because we look in the mirror and become hyper-critical towards any perceived flaw? Funny reading what you and Robin wrote about, as I just had an “older” birthday this week and found myself at Target two days later looking at the anti-aging serums (and gasping at the prices!). Probably time to up the ante, so to speak:)
    Love your organization! Love the idea of having all pattern options at the ready, rather than in the IKEA baskets I currently have. Your blouse is lovely – that color looks great on you!

    1. Happy Birthday, Lucinda! I hope you got to celebrate in style! Ah, the anti-aging cream conundrum…I know it well! Thanks for the wonderful comment!

  6. Usually after I traced and cut the patterns out, I keep them in presentation folder. I separate mine and kids’ patterns. There’s a colored paper note for each page, named of the patterns and little description of finished garment for easy reference (actually I should print photo of the dress instead of writing short description but I just want to save printer ink…hehe…). And for the original patterns, just keep them in one clear box. I don’t have many patterns right now, so still easy to maintain :). Btw, have you seen Jess’ (CINO) craft room? so inspirational. I like your sencha top, clean design and fit you well.

    1. Thanks Yeka! I just got a bunch a colorful presentation folders for my Japanese patterns! Great minds think alike ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t seen Jess’ craft room – must go check it out now!

  7. Sanae, you’re so beautiful, far more than you think and it’s natural beauty, but I completely understand how you see/feel differently. I love the top, but it I agree on the length. I too need tops to be longer… it’s a security thing. YES! You MUST sew for yourself and share with us! I’ve done some sewing for myself as well, it’s just taking pics is the problem (sounds familiar?). I can’t wait to see what you ‘re making next!

    1. Aw, thanks Venus! You have to post more of the clothes you’ve sewn – I LOVED the dress you made recently!

  8. Wow! That is an impressive binder! Since most of my kids’ patterns are traced from Japanese pattern books or Ottobre Magazines, I keep the pattern pieces in small manila envelopes. I write the pattern name, source, size, and any modifications on the outside of the pattern and keep them on a shelf in my sewing cabinet.

  9. I read something that must have disappeared. I’d like to tell you that making clothes for yourself is a very good idea, because it can help you find what you love in your body (and there is something, even if it is your earlobe, I like mine !). Don’t see yourself in a mirror, prefer to see yourself in the eyes of people who love you. It’s the best way to love yourself !

    1. And by the way, on this post, I see a lovely young woman (maybe a little tired ?), and as a neutral observer, I can tell there’s nothing you have to be ashamed of.

      1. Great advice, Jub, thank you! What you saw was a post that I originally nixed, then thought I might post later, then accidentally published. Then I panicked and unpublished. Oops – and very embarrassing. But I received several amazingly lovely emails about it since it seems to have shown up in Readers, so I may still post it later.

        And so funny, I ALWAYS look tired and get that comment a lot!

        1. Don’t be embarrassed, I think we’re all adults here, and can all understand what you explained in this message. We all know how something can be “printed” on a child, for life or so, even if it’s wrong. But I think sewing for yourself is a very good way to crack the coating and shaking to get rid of that.

          I wish I could speak english more fluently, it’s hard to send messages for such serious things in another language (I’m French).

          1. Jub, your English is about a million times better than my French, which pretty much starts and ends with ‘merci’. I think cracking the coating is an excellent way to put it – I am really looking forward to creating some me-made clothes and making mistakes and learning from them ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I have a similar method-I store my patterns in sheet protectors in binders but I like the idea of having photocopies of them for refrence! This is also the second post I’ve read today about a sewing mamma sewing for herself- I look forward to seeing what else you make yourself and don’t be down on yourself because you are beautiful!

    1. Thank you for the kind comment – sometimes I worry that people will think I’m trying to fish for compliments but I just want to be honest, you know? I’m going to be sewing up a storm for myself, can’t wait!

  11. You look truly lovely, and honestly I know how one can feel about posting photos of oneself. But the blouse is great and you look really nice in it. Thanks for the lovely post.

    1. Many thanks, Asmita! My goodness, I might just have to post blurry photos of myself every time – it’s obviously making me look a thousand times better. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Hi Sanae! I also saw the (now deleted) post on body image and I just wanted to thank you for putting those thoughts into words. They could completely describe my body image issues…I was taller than most of my classmates (boys and girls) by about the 5th grade and many of the kids were pretty cruel about it. It made me extremely self conscious and gave me a really distorted image of my own body. I was never skinny but I was certainly not fat and every time I look back at pictures of me from high school or even college I feel terrible for the girl I was then, trying to hide her body from everyone and feeling constantly embarrassed by her height. I still struggle with some of those issues, though I am much heavier now than I used to be, and am trying to move past them. I have son and a daughter and I hate the thought that they may see themselves the way I did, so I, like you, am working on acceptance of the body I have while also working to get healthier. Kids are a great motivator for self improvement, no?

    The clothes you make for K are lovely and so original. I cannot wait to see the designs you choose for yourself. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

    1. Sarah, thank YOU for sharing your story – I am often flabbergasted that anyone survives adolescence. And yes. Kids are a phenomenal motivator and I feel like I’m constantly learning more from K compared to what I teach her!

  13. so, i seem to have read the same (now deleted) post that a few other folks saw. i meant to comment but didn’t get around to it right away. i was so proud of you for posting that and putting it all out there (though i also totally understand why you ended up deleting it). i can’t blame you for having the feelings you do, but i so admire and respect your realization that you need to get over these negative feelings, if not for yourself then for your daughter. i’m about to have my first child and i am filled with thoughts about how to live better and be a better person to teach my child how to do the same.

    anyways. i think that sewing clothes for yourself could be a really great and healthy way to work on acceptance and joy in your own body. i hope it works for you and and super looking forward to seeing what you make for yourself. i, for one, can’t wait to start sewing myself some non-maternity clothing (though i have taken on that challenge as well!)

    (p.s. i discovered your blog during this past kids clothes week and am totally hooked on your kids sewing- it’s amazing!!)

    1. Hi Julia – thank you! I’m now starting to feel like my goof was a happy accident because I have been so moved by and so grateful for the supportive comments and emails. I’ll be checking in on your maternity sewing updates and congrats to you! August, was it, for the bean’s arrival?

  14. You are a beautiful woman, with a natural beauty. But I know myself how difficult it can be to believe what others say and to believe that you are beautiful. But you are!!

    1. Thanks Nicole – I never expected to have a post that would contain the word ‘boobs’ so many times! ๐Ÿ™‚ I did make an effort to find a photo that didn’t make me look like a three-boobed creature, FYI ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. 1) this is incredibly organized, wow! feels so good to have a set up like this, once you overcome the motivational block to achieve it. nice work! *so* excited for your selfish sewing as i know what an inspiration it will be. i’ve never made a thing for myself and now i will have such a fabulous resource!
    2) bravo for getting in front of the camera! i love your brave vulnerability, but hate that you, like most women, continue to feel degraded by social emphasis on appearance. i see no acne, blurred or not, nor do i count an abnormal number of boobs, but i know what matters most is what you see…
    3) i would have loved to read your weepy rant, not because it was weepy, but because you wrote it. maybe next time…

    1. Thanks so much, Ashley! I’m just hoping that I’ll manage to make at least a few things that will actually fit me, and I think the weekly challenge will teach me a lot on so many levels ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Oh, I’m so impressed, Sanae! You’ve inspired me to get organized. You should see my pattern ‘arrangement’…actually, no you shouldn’t! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Haha! Thanks Heidi! The only reason these patterns are so organized is because I never use them! My Japanese kids patterns are in a state that could only be described as chaotic. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I wish I could tell you how I kept my patterns from getting out of control, but I don’t. I have some stuffed under my bed, some behind my husbands favorite recliner, a few in a tote bag. They are all over the place. I am searching for one in particular right now that I haven’t used in years. I have no idea where to start!

    1. Patterns are so easy to get out of hand! I’ve been keeping all my pattern sheets separate from my Japanese books, and I just realized that I’m missing a few pattern sheets…I think I spend more time organizing/searching for things than sewing!

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