If you’re short on time (I know I am), I’ll get right to the point: editing my pattern stash turned out surprisingly well.
The trick in editing my stashes, I’ve found, is designing a process that’s intuitive and easy (are those the same thing?) and that helps me do something better than before.
The process has to be intuitive, so I understand it; easy, so I actually do it; and helps me accomplish something that matters, so that it’s worth the trouble–worth the trouble of executing the process, but also designing it, which has been the real bugbear.
But on to the results.
Using the rating system I devised, I assigned one to five stars to each of 200 patterns.
- 5 stars: I’ve made these and they were successful. Keep.
- 4 stars: I haven’t made these, but they’re flattering and I love them. I can definitely imagine making them. They would work in my wardrobe. Keep.
- 3 stars: I haven’t made these. I’m ambivalent about something here: some features are flattering and some aren’t; the style might work or it might not. These would probably never be tops on the sewing to-do list. Are these worth keeping? Look at these again and decide.
- 2 stars: I haven’t made these. Something is a dealbreaker: the style no longer suits me, or I now know that’s not a flattering silhouette, or this duplicates other patterns. Out they go.
- 1 star: I have made these. Face it: they’re duds. Maybe they’re fixable, but I will never make it top priority to fix them. I’d rather choose a different pattern. Bye-bye.
The 3-star pile was the most interesting and instructive. Seeing all the 3-starred ones together, I could see similarities in design features that just didn’t work for a triangle figure like mine:
- Insufficient shoulder definition: dropped shoulders, kimono sleeves, raglan sleeves
- Little or no waist definition
- Features that drew the eye down or just didn’t draw the eye up
- Too much design ease
I saw styles I wouldn’t wear now; I wasn’t that person anymore, if ever I had been.
Some patterns looked costumey to me now.
Whenever I found myself saying “There are better choices,” I paid attention.
Given how many 4-star patterns I have sitting on the bench begging to be put into the game, when would I ever sew the 3-stars? Like that famous New Yorker cartoon, how about never?
Because I understood why I was keeping what I was keeping and weeding what I was weeding, I had no second thoughts and no regrets.
I hadn’t set out to weed out a certain number. It came to about 60, or about 30 percent, just using this star rating process.
When I looked at the keepers, their winning qualities stood out all the more for not being lumped together with the ones that were only pretty good. For me, that’s the ultimate value of an edit: to clarify what interests and inspires me the most, and identify the resources–the fabrics, buttons, and patterns–that are the best matches.
There was another unexpected result from this edit: I changed how I arrange my pattern catalogue.
Years ago, to sidestep the problem of choosing one category for a multi-garment pattern, I arranged patterns by year. But I realized recently that arranging my patterns by year emphasizes the historical period of the garments, which doesn’t help me plan a wardrobe.
When I want a coat, I should be flipping to the coat section of my catalogue and examining all my coat choices regardless of the era.
In a couple of instances, it turned out, did I want to put a pattern into a couple of garment categories: both “Jackets” and “Tops,” for example. In those cases I can just make an duplicate page.
What I had feared–that my catalogue would be the size of an unabridged Webster’s dictionary–has not materialized.