Friday, October 17, 2014

Can we talk about our pattern collections?

I've been sewing since I was 11 years old and seriously collecting patterns since my 20's.  That's 44 years of sewing and over 35 years of collecting.  At one point in my 30's, I took every pattern I had put them in manilla letter sized folders, labelled them and put them into legal sized banker boxes. Then I put the pattern envelopes in plastic sleeves. The sleeves were placed in black binders and for years I used this system.

I had hundreds of patterns stored this way. Whenever a new pattern was purchased, I added it to the collection.  However, this system became cumbersome to move from place to place and I slowly stopped using it.  Then the pattern boxes were stashed in storage places and the backs of closets.  I rarely touched them...finally my daughter in an act of defiance, grace or better acceptance than myself tossed the lot in the garbage.

That did hurt and I was angry for a minute until I came to my senses.  I hadn't touched those patterns in at least a decade.  Acceptance came but I do regret that they hadn't been donated because honestly I was never going to eBay them or open an Etsy store to sell them.  My daughter's rationale, I still owned hundreds of patterns and they all currently reside in the sewing cave.

Honestly I've cut way back on my pattern purchasing because if I sew 50 pieces a year, more than half are from TNT patterns, the next 30-40% is from a variation of one of my TNT patterns so maybe 5-6 new patterns are actually sewn every year. I'm buying way more patterns than I sew now.

Thankfully I've invested in storage space in the sewing cave so most of the patterns are stored and easily accessible. I have only one troublesome area...where new patterns are presently being "dumped" upon their arrival in the cave. But this drop off place is also helping me to realize that I need to sew more from the stashed patterns and be more judicious with my purchasing.



So let's talk about why we buy so many patterns?  For me, it's the inspiration...the creative stimulation...and the hopes and dreams.  At the time I'm purchasing a steeply discounted pattern, I don't think about if I'll ever actually sew the pattern, or where I'm going to store it...I'm only thinking of the dream.  That amazing garment that I'm going to have a thrilling time constructing and the ooohhhs and aaaahhhs that are going to come when I wear it. Seriously, every pattern I've purchased, I've imagined it sewn up. Can't see a possibility for it, I don't plunk down the credit card for it. So what is it for you?

Why do you buy patterns?  Why do you hold onto patterns that you bought years ago and have never used?  Do you have enough storage space for them or are you just jamming them anywhere?

Talk back to me because this is the Question of the Day!

...as always more later!



76 comments:

  1. For me, patterns are like makeup or hairstyles...a way to imagine the possibilities of a new to me style, or a bit of glamour added, or how cute and sporty is this? It's fun and relatively harmless, though I limit my collection to a certain number.

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  2. I buy a pattern because I am seriously GONNA MAKE it immediately....if only I would consistently follow through!!! hehe.

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  3. I have a bit too many patterns. I buy all the ones that I fancy but almost never make any of them to be honest. I also buy Burda magazine religiously but have tried not to get the last few as the plus size patterns have been horrible. I love to dream about how all the designs will look but probably buy things that would look awful on. Vintage patterns are a bit of an addiction but I buy them for the artwork. I have way too many overall. :)

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  4. You are right on! It's totally about the possibilities!

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  5. Hello my name is Graca and I'm a pattern-holic. I have an etsy shop where I try to recoup some of the costs but to be completely honest when I think of the time I put into that I'm taking away from sewing and wonder if it is even worth the time. I also host pattern give-aways where I try to find a good home for patterns. This brings me much more joy when someone is excited about winning a pattern give-away and I get to see what they have created down the road. As far as storage space, I have a filing cabinet that I store them in, it works but every now and then the collection tends to spread out to other parts of my workspace. Thanks for this post, feels good to admit that I have a problem ;)

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  6. I suspect I buy patterns partly for the dream of using them and partly because I'm trying to limit my fabric purchases. If I wasn't buying fabric or patterns, my closet would probably overflow with shoes. #packrat #ihaveaproblem

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  7. What an interesting post and associated comments. I buy patterns for a variety of reasons: not always to actually make it though. I see some of them as art due to the cover design (but then I hide them in boxes, go figure!). Others simply to inspire or show me a new technique. Some crazy ones are just to understand how they made it! I used to feel some guilt about it, but then I decided to view them like magazines (which I don't tend to buy). Glad to report there's no more guilt here. Rachel ☺

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  8. Yes, I have a LOT of patterns too, and don't make all of them. Like you, it's about the dream. I like to just look at them or to read them, and rarely buy them at full price. I figure that some people buy lots of magazines, others buy lots of take away food - patterns are my hobby. Sometimes it is about the artwork or about the construction or about the details, rather than about actually seeing myself wearing it. Admittedly I have started buying less patterns, having realised that I have a huge number, but it's still all about the promise and the dreams.
    I still have almost every pattern I have ever bought, although did recently give away unused patterns that I suspected I wouldn't ever use.
    Pinterest has actually helped me to buy less patterns - now I tend to pin patterns that I like rather than buying them, and by the time they are available here in Australia I have often changed my mind about purchase!
    Mine are stored either in drawers in my purpose-built sewing room, or archived in cardboard boxes in the spare room. I don't have a fancy storage system - I do tend remember what patterns I own.

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  9. I have 2 granddaughters and the majority of patterns I have bought in the last 4 years have been little girl clothes, but many of them I haven't made because they grow so fast! I keep patterns forever and I still have some from when I made clothes for my daughter, but I couldn't find the pajama pattern that I used for my son. I am making a lab coat for my granddaughter and need a boys shirt pattern. You never know how you will use those patterns later! I have many patterns for work clothes but I quit my job, but I love the look of so many of these patterns and fabrics, too. I have shared some of my "extra" fabric with the fashion design class at the high school, but I hang on to the patterns for some reason even though I only buy them on sale.

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  10. I'm stunned at the guilt in many of these comments. Pattern-holic? RUBBISH. What killjoy came up with that negative, guilt-inducing term, anyway? I don't think we should feel either guilty or greedy for having a lot more patterns than we'll ever use in our lifetimes, nor do I consider it a waste of time or money. Quite the contrary -- it's a part of the sewing hobby that we don't really know how to value but we all do it. And since we're all drawn to doing it, something about doing so must be positive enough to justify such a mass urge.

    Here's the thing -- thumbing through your patterns, reading the backs, and checking out the lines of the garment is a relaxing pastime all by itself. Indulging your imagination and visualizing yourself in this or that pattern, imagining what fabric it would look best made up in and how lovely that would look on you, thinking about how it might fit into your current or future wardrobe, etc. can be both calming and energizing. And if I'm wanting to make a garment, I'll raid the pattern collection by doing a speed run and pulling the patterns that call to me right then and there. After studying them all, I might be attracted to a particular feature and pull more patterns with variations on that feature, either to consider them as alternatives, or to consider their particular features as fodder for Frankenpatterning up the perfect combination of features. It's a mistake to think you have to use every pattern or fabric you buy. They provide joy just by being there to spur creativity or to provide relaxation while perusing them and dreaming. Dreaming is everything in our hobby. And so what if you dream a hundred different garments but actually make only six? Does that make you a failure or selfish for having all those patterns? Absolutely not!!!! Actual sewing does not have to occur in order for you to experience joy and relaxation in this hobby we call sewing. The patterns you don't use aren't a waste of money and time if you were/are glad to have them available as resources when dreaming or planning. Even if you don't use it, just knowing you have a scored and stashed a lovely pattern is relaxing because then you won't panic later on when it's out of print and you suddenly decide you really want to make up that exact style. Patterns over Prozac, I say.

    All this guilt is misplaced. NO GUILT! That's just beating yourself up for enjoying the part of this hobby that originates all those creative sparks. Keep all the patterns you want or think you might be interested to make in the future, even if no sewing occurs. Stashing stuff with potential is how we expand our vision of what we can accomplish in the future, and guarantees the availability of great tools to make that vision a reality. It also eliminates the worry that you won't be able to find that perfect pattern when you finally score a lovely piece of fabric that would look just wonderful made up in such a style. By all means, give yourself pebrmission to be a pattern-holic if you're drawn to so many beautiful patterns. If they make you happy, that's what matters and it is money well spent.

    I repeat - NO GUILT. Wallow in the joy of owning beautiful patterns, period. It isn't a crime to own them without sewing them. They perform a positive function outside of sewing. Own it. And joyfully own them.

    Creative Hormone Rush

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    1. ok, you win! The perfect description of all the reasons of why I have far more patterns than I will ever, ever make and why I will continue to acquire them! Thank you for your incredibly well-written reply. I think you are terrific!

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    2. That was beautiful. You have given me a whole new perspective. Thank you.

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    3. I was the killjoy that used the word "pattern-holic", it was meant in humour, I guess that doesn't come through on the internet. I am finding homes for my pattern collection because I've expanded into a new size and I'm making room for new patterns like Vogue 9051 and 9060 that should be on transit as I type. Not feeling guilty (hence the two patterns on their way) but sticking to my self-named pattern-holic title.

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    4. I agree with every word!!

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    5. I'm printing this comment and storing it with my patterns. Thank you. :)

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  11. Wow! Totally agree with unknown above!!! They do energise me and spur me on :-). I promise NO MORE GUILT!

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  12. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Just this past weekend I attended a pattern giveaway/swap. I brought five I knew I could part with (and that took some time, because even when the envelope art is hideous, I still see style lines I like and remember why I purchased them). Well, I came home with four "new" patterns. Whoops! And yet I am not quite as guilty about swapping as I am purchasing new ones.

    So why do I keep doing it? Because when those new designs flash across my computer screen I get inspired all over again and come up with 10 new dresses I want to create. Finding the time and energy to do that is the problem.

    But I do enjoy looking through my collection, even if it is starting to take over my apartment!

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  13. Wow!!! Cheers to Unknown. I just want to get Naked and roll around in ALL my patterns - in guilt free wild abandon - thank you . I will sleep well tonight!

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    1. Yep. I literally laughed out loud! Yelped actually... :)

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  14. Well, I envy yo'all a lot. Really, I am sure my face is bright artichoke green right now.

    I don't have that many patterns and thinking about your doughter dumping those boxes in the trash bin makes me cry.

    Here is Spain patterns are mostly limited to Burda or Patrones magazines. Now, thanks to PDF patterns, we have access to much more but, at 10€ or so a pop I really cannot aford them. Etsy is also very pretty but out of my price range -at least for now. So that's how I manage not to buy more patterns: my family needs food. Food comes before patterns.

    But hey, I have just started to sew recently, so I can't complain. What I lack in patterns I made for in tons of clothes from my late mom that I am trying to remake for myself.

    "I have a closet full of dreams and nothing to wear" Should become my motto.

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  15. I have about 500 patterns. These include every pattern I've ever bought since I started sewing in 1983. The bottom drawer of my storage chest is my archives of 80s & 90s patterns. Every time I dive in there, I remember what I made & where I wore it. I love that! I also have all my patterns catalogued on my laptop & iPhone (only keep the recents on the phone though). I love that too cos when I'm ready to purchase fabric or work out if I have enough yardage in the stash, I can pull the pattern envelope up on my phone wherever I may be & check it. No guilt here. :)

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  16. For me it's because I can ... and I love new inspirational designs ... and I have plans on one day making them allllllll ... J

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  17. I have a bunch as well. I *try* not to buy unless I can think of either a fabric I will use or how it will fit in with the rest of my wardrobe/patterns. That's not always the case, though. Sometimes I do because I find a vintage pattern and I snatch it up if I remotely like it (at 10 cents or less at a thrift store...why wouldn't I?) I then catalog them in my computer and put the types of fabric, yardage and notions needed, etc. Then, I go "shopping." I also have my fabric cataloged in OneNote - and so I'll search, say for "tweed" and then take a look at the patterns I have for Tweed. It's kind of a pain to do - but I think it will really increase the number I use, because when I do the search it's like shopping for the patterns all over again... I do the same thing when I see a fabric I like go on sale at Mood - but I get most of my fabric second hand...so it's a really handy method...

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  18. I have a lot of patterns, not really taken a count, but they take up 1.5 book shelves. Most were got before I started tinkering with software. From late 2008 -2010 I did not buy patterns in order to force myself to learn the software and how to do pattern manipulation in it's CAD editor.
    In 2011 I got a job and my experimentation died down a LOT. Still had enough basic things to get by on though. Today I buy a pattern now & then if it's something I like, but can't figure out how to draft. Tried an indie or two just to see what the fuss was about. I also tried Ottobre Woman and the Burda plus downloads..again just cause and to see how the European draft is different and how they compare to the software draft. The latest experiments will be a couple of Lekala garments. So wish that had been around when I was young.
    This is not counting all the 'virtual' patterns I have too - images from COPA vintage patterns ( the kind that has the pattern pieces pictured on the back) and Burdastyle patterns when they were new and it was all free. Even picked up Burdastyle stuff after it started charging because the instructions used to be posted freely and they pictured the pattern pieces. If I had to compare virtual patterns I have to hardcopy ones..virtual is winning.

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  19. I have no idea how many patterns I have and I don't really worry about it. Patterns take up less space than fabric. ;)

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  20. Love this conversation. Guilt is a funny thing. When we were clearing out my Aunt's house she had sewing table, judy, patterns, boxes of notions, a few boxes of patterns etc. My mother was appalled. She said her sister hadn't sewed in years and she had all this STUFF. These attitudes are passed down. I have way more patterns than my aunt had. I am starting to build a stash too. When is it a hobbie? And when is it an obsession? Is it keeping you from being fully present in the world? Is it harming relationships? work? Probably not.

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  21. Oh my, so many kindred spirits here. I love it. I have collected patterns for over 40 years and never get tired of cruising through pattern books or "sale" bins or even garage sales looking for patterns. The fun is the "imagining". Periodically I purge my collection to keep in around 250-300. That gives me room and freedom of mind to check out the newest styles or maybe the nearby thrift shop to see what I can add. I try and use at least two or three never-before-tried patterns every couple of months. If I don't like it all that much I write comments on the outside of the envie as to what I don't care for. I store all my patterns in two five drawer plastic units. When they become too jammed I know it's time to clean house.

    This is a great topic and am totally enjoying reading all the replies.

    Barbara

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  22. I buy old patterns even if they aren't in a size I can easily use because I just adore the older styles. (50's/60's) I do not sew this...like...ever, really. I love the style to look at, but don't see me in these styles, if that makes sense.

    I buy patterns from the 80's/90's (classic shapes, not the obvious, dated styles) because they are cut better and come in a wider range of sizes that are more generously cut. I can wear a size 20 in these patterns and in new patterns, sometimes, a size 24 is too snug and I need to adjust the pattern.

    I am looking for a chest of drawers to fit a certain spot in which I can store my patterns in a more organized way. Right now, they live in two big boxes that I rummage thru every few months and pull out the ones I think I might like to make up for the coming seasons.

    Then, I just make my same basic patterns anyway.

    The fact that all those old patterns were tossed gave me palpitations. EEKS!!

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  23. You've summed it all up with "Hopes & Dreams". Yup.. that's the main reason

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  24. Had to giggle at "unknown's" comment above. I have fleeting moments of guilt especially when a huge pattern haul arrives however it does not last long. I see my pattern purchases as investment....every.single.one because they are! Whether I use them once or multiple times each, they're an investment...IN ME...to enjoy. Its my hobby. I love to sew.

    I dont have any fancy storage solutions so I definitely dont store them in multiple envelopes or plastic blah blah. I just slip them one behind the other in a big clear plastic container (Im onto my 2nd already..each holds around 100). They are stored per pattern house, by number. Easy & simple.

    Im quite particular about marrying the right pattern with the right fabric so I dont wait. I buy fabric when I see & like, I buy patterns similarly. I marry two together as & when it happens. I used to hold out on buying patterns when I needed but the problem with holding out is OOP!!!! I hate that, so I buy & store until I need it.

    I could talk about patterns ALL DAY :)

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  25. Well, I think a big reason why I have so many patterns in the cheap prices at Joann's--or when they go on sale on line. While I do enjoy thumbing through them, your blog has really made me think seriously about buying more. About 80% of what I make is from the same four patterns.

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  26. Hopes and dreams--that's what its all about. And I'm practical about it, ha ha--I buy a variety, so I'll be ready for any occasion. And yes, they are cheaper than shoes--since I buy them all on sale.
    Right now, I store them in a variety of baskets, sorted by type--dresses, pants, tops, etc. As soon as I finish this post, I'm ordering my first set of file pattern boxes, yay!!

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  27. When is the next sale....I think unknown just convinced me to pull the trigger on a lot of patterns I like. Ha! McCalls.....is that you? Just kidding! :-)

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  28. You know my answer! :-D

    I am still fairly new to sewing -AND- the technical appeals to me but the creative...not so much. I don't look at a pattern and see if much differently than how it's shown in the line drawing. I don't really have the vision to say "I can add this or remove that or change that..." so I buy new ones that appeal to me.

    In under 2 years I have amassed at least 400 patterns. I do not feel guilty - yet. Maybe it's because the vast majority of them were under $5. Many, many, MANY were $1. I pay $1.29 for a cup of coffee! :)

    I am getting better though. Before it was like every.new.pattern. Now, I may pick up 1 or 2 from a release. I pick some up because I think they may become popular (even if I don't like it for myself) and I love being able to help someone out by saying, "I have that and you can have it if you want!"

    I am getting long winded and now will probably just post a blog post about it because you've got my mind going :)

    As for storage, I use sterilite containers. I now have them separated by pattern company and in numerical order.

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    1. I store mine the same way!

      And, I have to say, I really like having a pattern stash. My favorite makes are always when I get a crazy idea and just whip it up with stash fabric and stash patterns. I don't know why, but the unexpected makes are always the best ones. I like having options I guess.

      Also, I too have noticed that I tend to buy fewer patterns now than I did when I first started sewing. I have lots of options for basic trousers and skirts, so those are easy for me to pass up. It's the interesting jackets and knit tops that always seem to do me in on pattern sale days.

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    2. Exactly me! I am a sucker for jackets and fun tops!!!

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  29. Someone mentioned obsession ... but I call it "passion". I tend to buy a pattern with the fabric so I do not have too many to count, but still have lots of dreams that have not become reality. Ha!Ha! "I have a closet full of dreams and nothing to wear" I LOVE that statement, Eme Asterisco!!

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  30. Cheers to "Unknown"'s comment! No guilt, indeed! I have quite the pattern stash - I store them the way you used to store yours, Carolyn. I find it's very therapeutic thumbing through my pattern "magazines". And why do I collect or buy patterns? Well, I think it's a wish. I buy the pattern because in my mind I've bought and consequently own the garment. The steps between buying the pattern and putting an actual garment into my closet often get missed, but it sure keeps imaginary sewing busy in my head at 3 am! I have thrifted many patterns in the past, and find that I only buy designer ones (on sale, of course) these days. I may never make them, but I have that wealth of garment construction in each pattern that I would otherwise never have, since I don't work in a designer's atelier.

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  31. Oh, how I wish patterns were as affordable in the Netherlands!
    On the upside: I have a curated collection of patterns that are well loved and put to use.

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  32. Great post and great comments! I too have way more patterns than I can sew up. I do have a pretty good grasp of what styles I can wear, but I also buy patterns for my daughter who can wear different styles. And sometimes I buy a pattern as an experiment, to try a new silhouette, which may or may not work. The 'dreaming of possibilities' is part of the pleasure of sewing! At the moment all my women's patterns are stored on their sides, sorted by type, then company, then pattern number, in two large dresser drawers. I would like a better place, but that's what I've got for now. At least it is pretty easy to rummage through. Any men's and children's patterns are stored in cardboard pattern boxes.

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  33. I buy what I like. I pattern clean about two times a year and get rid of the outdated and the "I won't make this again" or the one's that just "sit" and it's in with the new! It's nice to have options!

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  34. My sewing buddy emailed me to read this post. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I file my patterns in Sterlite boxes, by number, no need to sort by brand. I photocopy the front and back of the pattern envelope and put it in a sheet protector in a binder. I categorize in the binder much like the pattern company catalogs. Instead of hauling the entire pattern to the fabric store I can just grab the page out of the binder. And the best part is that I can look through my binder(s) and do all of the virtual dreaming and designing for potential projects that I care to!

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  35. Yes, I too have a large pattern collection (about 200?). Most of them were purchased when I wasn't sewing. I was still in my 'thinking about it' stage. Sadly though, the excitement faded quickly and into the file abyss they landed. Three things have slowed down my pattern purchasing: 1) Being a size 28/30, most patterns have to be upsized and my alteration skills are not good 2) I purchased pattern software and now have the ability to copy patterns. I only buy patterns that I cannot duplicate on my software and 3) I use slopers to upsize my existing patterns. Looking at/buying patterns is the same as shopping--just much cheaper--we see a style that we must have and within a two second decision "click" it's in our cart. Now (especially since I am an online shopper), I print out a picture of the pattern and keep it in my 'style' notebook. This way, it's in the line up to be copied or purchased (rarely does this happen). Everything starts to look the same after a while and I find myself duplicating what I already have. I am always amazed how you (Carolyn) have used your tnt patterns to reproduce hundreds of fashionable styles. You clearly know your fit preferences and what works for you. Finally, most sewists want to create that runway 'wow factor' garment periodically. I had to tell myself, a pattern represents an idea or inspiration--I don't need to buy every pattern on the market to get or maintain that motivation.

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  36. Unknown, Wow and Thank you! I can say I've not felt guilt over my stash but I do relish going through it. There's always a surprise finding some I've forgotten. I buy a lot of vintage patterns now. All I can say is...I Love my stash (even the unintentional repeat buys) lol.

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  37. I always have good intentions of making up every pattern I buy, but then....

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    1. Same here!
      I just went through it yesterday and did a big tidy up. Strangely, I managed to condense with without throwing anything away. I think that was just the having-it-sorted effect.
      But I still intend to make up a lot of them...

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  38. I just really, really, really love patterns! I love the line drawings and the cover art and just thinking about beautiful things I could make with them... I love them! I'm trying to calm down with pattern purchases, though, as my space is maxed out and I've only been sewing for three years! It's kind of scary how many patterns I've acquired in a short time!

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  39. Yeah, I'm a pattern addict, but anyone who reads my blog knows that. I'm not nearly as bad with fabric. (I used to be, but I've gotten WAY WAY better.) As someone else pointed out, patterns take up less space than fabric.

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  40. I buy patterns as reading material. I might just make them, but mostly, I'm interested in how the designs are put together and the shape of the pattern pieces.

    Right now, I have enough TNTs, and, when I buy new patterns, I donate old ones to make space. I probably own ~600 and that is more than enough for sewing for myself and my daughter.

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  41. I am ALL ABOUT the patterns. For me they serve as a source of inspiration and are an integral step in making something. I have spent so many evenings organizing, reading and comparing the patterns in my collection. "Ohh, I could take that bust piece, pair it with that waist band and use that skirt." Or "I have 2.33 yards of this awesome fabric, which pattern can squeeze a dress out of this?" Having them around makes the planning so much easier, both practically and inspirationally, and they one of the most accessible things in my stash. I also cull my pattern collection about once per year. I live with roommates so my storage space is limited, so I give away or try to sell patterns that no longer inspire. I try to keep the number around 100, which is three bankers boxes full in my closet. Sorted by type (dresses, separates, crafts including costumes), brand and number. Apparently I like Simplicity and New Look dresses the most. ;)

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  42. This is such a timely conversation! I too purchase patterns with the hopes and dreams of sewing. I just donated a good number of patterns to my local Goodwill earlier this week (as in multiple garbage bags and boxes full). There was no way I was ever going to sew some of those patterns, and they were cluttering up my sewing area, so much so that I was avoiding sewing. Certainly not what you'd want out of hopes and dreams! I'm also enrolled in pattern drafting courses, and have realized that drafting my own patterns for my body measurements is easier and faster than using a commercial pattern. I'll "borrow" ideas or use inspiration from commercial patterns, such as a collar or pocket piece, but for the most part, I will be using my own. I'm trying to find a way of storing and labeling my own designs, and so far have been using large Ziploc storage bags and a Sharpie to label the outside, but I'm not convinced this is the way to go yet.

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  43. Oh yeah, I forgot to add, I haven't yet had the heart to go through my years and years of Burda magazines yet. I'm saving those for the time being!

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  44. I initially purchased a lot of sewing patterns with the "good intentions" of sewing them, but over time, I have changed my tune. There are still a pile of patterns I have yet to get to, but for the past six months, I have only purchased patterns I actively plan to sew. It's very practical, but I just don't have the closet space for loads of patterns anymore. I still dream, imagine, and create, though...and love looking at new pattern releases!

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  45. I think I have a similar mentality to you, everything I buy has the possibility of being made, but only a faction actually become reality. That's ok by me. But I have gotten more picky about my patterns, when the new ones come out I add the ones I like to my wish list but I don't buy them right away. I let the ideas simmer and I often change my mind. I'll buy designer patterns for the fantasy though, one Anna Sui pattern in particular is basically just sewing cave artwork at this point ;)

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  46. Patterns, and why I have them and can't part with them. It is all about the dreams and hopes but it is also about the memories. I have returned to sewing clothes for myself after about a 25 year absence. I look at my old patterns with longing and fond memories ... oh to have the figure of my 20's and 30's. I began to sew clothes for myself when I was about 18, growing up in Southern Africa. Compared to where I am now it seemed like constant summer. It was the late 60's and mini skirts had arrived, shifts, tent dresses and lovely cottons. I was at college and most of us sewed. I loved it. A simple summer dress in a day.

    That is what I am remembering when I look at my first patterns, none of which I ever parted with. Now I am sewing again and loving it but pattern fit is a challenge, not quite my youthful figure anymore. One thing I love is the world of sewing bloggers. It is so often about real people sharing. Thank you. Real dresses on real people. Pattern images most of the time are of thin people. Blog images are of real people and I love to compare the pattern image with the real person image.

    I look through my patterns often, buy them on sale, get inspired, dream of future clothes, for the real me! I can't part with patterns yet, just as I can't part with books.

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  47. Yep - it's the dream alright. Most of us couldn't possibly sew all of the patterns we have. It is the what if.... It is like looking at a wonderful magazine or a fabulous cookbook. I want to have it. I want to be it. I want to live it. I want to eat it.

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  48. I used to purchase lots of patterns for years and ended up with hundreds. Then I lost over 100 lbs and decided to get rid of most so I had a more manageable collection. I created a database and started collecting again. I organize the physical patterns by company, home dec and crafts. I had an app for my collection, but that failed and I'm in the process of creating a new electronic inventory. That's when I asked myself...Why do I purchase so many patterns? I have pattern drafting software and have used it fir the basics, pants dresses, jackets. I say it's for the instructions for the details, but I rarely look at those. I always look to my Vogue Sewing book or some other specialty book for help. Recently I have been on a quest to understand how to draft a set of pattern blocks, so that I can create clothes that fit faster. My goal is to just keep pictures of inspirations and fused a TNT pattern base.

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  49. I was lucky enough to see John Westmark's art exhibit called "Narratives" a few months ago in Charleston, SC. His work is a wonderful example of using patterns to create art.

    http://www.johnwestmark.com/narrativesbyjohn.html

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  50. I have gone through my pattern stash a couple of times now and donated ones I know I won't sew. i think it's good to go through and cull every so often. But I still buy them like crazy (on sale, of course). I enjoy sifting through and imagining what I can make. I am struggling with storage for my pdf patterns right now. I'm thinking about investing in some plastic sleeves and binders. Or maybe even pocket folders. Those two kids patterns I just made came in pocket folders and I really liked the way they were packaged. Too many patterns, not enough time to sew them all!

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  51. Thanks for opening up the discussion. I love my pattern collection. I buy with the hopes of making something awesome.

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  52. I have my patterns in plastic storage bins. A few are uncut or very neatly folded back, and they fit in the original envelopes. The rest are large pattern envelopes (Folkwear or Vogue designer, some indie, some TNT mockups of my own) or ziplock bags.

    I try to mostly keep patterns that I like and will use, but honestly I have some that haven't seen the light of day because they looked like a good idea at the time, or because they're for a project I've not felt up to tackling. (See: A drover's coat for my DH).

    I make such heavy modifications to patterns that the ziplock bags with traced off and hacked up patterns take up a great deal of space! :p

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  53. I culled my pattern stash because I had lost weight and was on the cusp of fitting into the next size banding..... And then put it back on again... :(. I seem to have far more patterns than I will ever make because I think I'm giving myself choices. Looking through my pattern drawers is like looking through a clothes shop.

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  54. I don't buy many patterns. They are all very similar. It is the art work or the fabrication that draws us in.

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  55. Primarily buy patterns with the intent to sew them. Some I buy for others and some just because, how can one pass up the pattern sales. As for the older patterns, that I no longer favor, are held for others if and when I sew for them and cull from that selection. I will admit I enjoy playing 3 card monty with them...lol. As for storage, I moved all my fabric and patterns to a spare room in the basement and the patterns are stored in recycled audio cabinets. In my sewing room I keep a large boot box for patterns on the sew now list.

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  56. I often ask myself the same question and I worry , is it greed? or I'm afraid I'll miss something? or what if is discontinues and \\\I'm sorry I didn't get it. But I've recently come to the conclusion that I buy them for the same reason I buy more fabric than I can ever use in this lifetime....because I love all things sewing and I am addicted to it all ! Plain and simple.

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  57. I have way more patterns than I will ever sew but I'm ok with it. Many of them are aspirational just like buying a fashion magazine! In addition, the guide sheets often offer great techniques that can't be found elsewhere, particularly the independents like Sewing Workshop and Cutting Line. I have storage for all of it right now, but some of the older boxes need replacing.

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  58. I have far, far too many patterns, most bought cheap at JoAnn sales-- and feel an occasional twinge of guilt. However-- why is it considered greed and hoarding to have these patterns but no guilt if you spend the same (or more) money on consumables like restaurant meals and movies...?

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  59. This was a great post. I enjoyed it very much and it gave me a few insights into why I enjoy all the patterns I have collected in fifty-some years of sewing and dreaming. I can't say I feel very much guilt about patterns since they have given (and still do) so much pleasure over the years.

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  60. I blame the 99c sales! Joann...I'm looking at you!

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  61. I really relate to a lot of you here... I have a huge stash of vintage and another major stash of new and newish patterns... I am a hard to fit woman, and I truly love all things 70's. So I'm sunk when something fab appears... garage sales, ebay, etsy, goodwill, and the local thrifts can't hide anything from me... Last month I bought the "sloper" vid's staring Suzy Furrer from Craftsy.com. I thought it would help.... Well at the end of one of them she says... "at my school Apparel Arts in San Francisco"... Need I say More?... I'm enrolled and drafting... I never dreamed that at 55 I would be able to attend apparel design school... Its set up to "industry standard" and is like a trade school... I have drafted my first sloper skirt based on my body!!! there are a few things I have to learn before I get to the moulage, but I can see where this is headed... Im going to be able to make what ever it is i can imagine!!! Yay!!! So Im going to be selling off my stash.... there I said it... OX

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  62. Don't know how many patterns I have... but I love looking at them some nights when I need inspiration. I agree, when I see the patterns, I imagine them made and me waltzing around in my gorgeous outfit! It's part of the fun of sewing - dreaming.

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  63. i buy most of my current ones on sale, and i buy a lot of them with no shame because there is a design detail or a variation about it that i love and know i can use with a TNT. why re-invent the wheel, right? i'd rather spend 99 cents or whatever on the pattern, integrate it with my TNT, and be thrilled with it than start from scratch. with my vintage patterns, i just love them. i buy them for the artwork or the period or the feel of them, and since i do not use as many of them any more, i've cut way down on vintage pattern shopping except when it is something really special.

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  64. Like you, I've been sewing since I as a child. I got my first hand crank sewing machine when I was 8 - and am now possibly 10 years older than you based on some of your posts. When I was young and very foolish I may add - I tossed patterns out after using them just once. Somewhere between 30 and 40 I figured out that I was wasting a lot of money and possibilities, and started keeping my patterns. Fast forward about 10 years and I had to invest in some sort of permanent storage for my growing pattern collection and decided that a plastic dishpan was an ideal storage box for my patterns. Now, 25-30 years after I stopped tossing patterns out, I have 4 plastic dishpans of patterns. Each one is clearly marked as to what type of pattern it contains... dresses... separates... jackets/suits... coats/miscellaneous. At one time, there was also a dishpan marked children's clothes, but my grandchildren are all grown now, and I have yet to decide whether or not I'm going to return to sewing children's clothes for my great-grands. (2 so far)

    The dishpans work quite well for me. I've shared this idea with a few of my sewing buddies and they, too have started storing their patterns the same way. The only thing I may consider changing is the way I label them. For now, I use a broad tip permanent magic marker. Since my 'separates' container is beginning to get a little too tight, I'm considering adding a couple more - pants... tops... skirts. The jury is still out as to what to call the next one.

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  65. I have been sewing seriously since my 20's and really don't know how many patterns I have. I recently went through my patterns and came up with several boxes to donate to Goodwill. I still have about 12 boxes of patterns. When buying patterns, its the dream of what I can do with that pattern(do I actually sew the pattern, sometimes, most times not). Whenever I decide to restrict my pattern buying, I will look at some of the blogs I read or some of the fb groups I am in and see a outfit made from a pattern that I thought about but couldn't see the possibilities. I think its the fabric, the color, that makes me dream about that pattern. And since I buy all my patterns on sale, sometimes I will buy it and think of the possibilities. If my daughter threw out my patterns, I don't think we would be speaking for a while.We all have addictions, and fabric and patterns are mine.

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