Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sewing Pattern Storage

As an avid pattern collector as well as a former art museum employee, I am adamant about protecting my collection.  However, unlike a museum collection I do not have a large temperature controlled storage room with racks, archival quality large flat latching boxes, and unlimited amounts of glassine among other things (hmmm... future gofundme project?)

What I am discussing here is not the perfect way to store your pattern collection, but it is a practical way (I think).

I take each of my sewing patterns and if possible try to remove any old pins that may be attached. I have found the occasional pin which is so rusted that I will leave it rather than risk ripping the pattern, but most remove easily.   I then store each pattern separately in a 4-mil polyethylene ziplock bag.  These are the same type of bags that comic book and magazine collectors generally use for storage.

For standard sized patterns, I use a 6 x 9 inch bag, such as this one here.  The 6 x 9 bag generally fit patterns by Butterick, Simplicity, Hollywood, etc. perfectly.

For larger sized patterns, I use a 9 x 12 inch bag, such as this one here.  McCall's patterns tend to be a bit wider and slide into these bags perfectly sideways, I then fold the excess plastic over.  These bags are also perfect for storing larger Vogue Patterns, as well as vintage pattern magazines and smaller pattern catalogs, and etc.

I always make sure to get the ziplock kind to keep out moisture and dust.  I then store them in large plastic bins or standard sized filing boxes such as these here.  Cardboard boxes like these are fine if as long as the patterns are in sealed in the plastic bags and therefore won't touch the box.  What I love about using these boxes is that with standards sized patterns you can perfectly fit two rows of patterns in the box, longways, and on the outside you can mark what is inside the box (e.g. Simplicity 1970s Patterns).

Generally, I store my patterns with the tissue inside of the package, unless it is brittle or frail.  I have heard of some people sandwiching the package between the pattern pieces for protection.  However, I think of it much like I would a book.  The cover of the book was put there to protect the pages, much like the pattern envelope is there to protect the pattern pieces.  I'm sentimental, so if someone left a swatch attached to the pattern for the 1950s dress they made, I will typically remove the pin but leave the swatch with the pattern. Whenever I ship a pattern to someone, I send it in one of these bags - archival and extra protection for the pattern during shipping.

If anyone has any thoughts or other ideas, I would love to know what works best for you!

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