Friday, January 24, 2014

I am Virgo, watch me organize using OneNote - Part 1

I have a lot of sewing patterns. Oh, you too? Then I probably don't have to tell you how or why I've accumulated so many. They reproduce in the drawers and boxes in the sewing room, right?

Most of my patterns are 6000 miles away from me at the moment, but I have a small stash here - as well as over a year of Burda magazines and a smattering of Ottobre, Knipmode, Diana Moden, La Mia Boutique...etc. I've been increasingly aware that I am actually unaware of the patterns I own. I do have the majority of envelope patterns entered in my pattern catalog on Patternreview, and while it's helped prevent me from buying duplicates,  I haven't found it all that helpful for browsing. Not all of the patterns in there have pictures - especially older patterns, I can't see the yardage requirements or other envelope information, and none of my pattern magazines are entered. For my Burda magazines, I have a notebook with copies of all the line drawings. This is helpful but I still have to look through the many, many pages,  there are no pictures, and I haven't included line drawings from my many other magazines.

Some people have been using a product called Evernote to catalog their patterns. I decided I'd rather use a program I already have on my computer - OneNote. Because OneNote connects in the cloud with OneDrive (free storage!), and I can view it on my Windows Phone, I also use it for grocery lists, info I need to jot down when I'm out and about, and basically any information I want to keep track of. If it seems that I'm very Windows-centric, you are correct. My husband works for Microsoft so I am encouraged to use their products, but honestly I would use them anyway because they are solid, dependable and play very well together.

It did take me quite a bit of time to enter all my pattern information, but only because I have a lot of patterns! And magazines. And I'm a crazy Virgo perfectionist. I created OneNote pages for each pattern, including ones I don't have with me, but I only put in magazines that I have on hand because I scanned some of the pages. For the patterns, I was able to get maybe 99.5% of the pictures and envelope info off the internet - I have a couple patterns that are so old that I will have to scan them when I can.

Here's what OneNote looks like using the OneNote App on my Surface Pro.

There's one library with sections for each pattern company (listed on the far left), although if I only had one or two patterns I put them in the section "Other." I can reorganize this list to be alphabetical or whatever I want. Each section is made up of pages, which are listed in the second column from the left. One pattern page is displayed in the large area with the white background.  I used the screen clipping tool to grab images from the website, and I added a link to reviews on Patternreview. I'll explain how to do all this in a later blog post.
Here's a screen shot of a Burda magazine page entry: 
I scanned the pages that showed small pictures of the garments and the pages that show the line drawings. You can see that not all of the page is visible, but I can just move it around to see everything by using a mouse on the desktop or my finger on a Surface. The page can be quite large and hold lots of information. I can add notes - handwritten or typed in, more pictures, etc. I can even draw on top of the existing images.
The interface is different on the desktop view and provides access to a lot more tools. I use the desktop for editing and the app for browsing.
Here's a shot of what the pattern page looks like on my phone. I scrolled over to show that you can view the contents. The drawback is that downloading the pictures over the cell network takes forever.


Now that (almost) everything is in OneNote, I can browse my collection quite easily and from my phone, Surface, desktop or any computer with internet access to SkyDrive. One huge benefit is that I can search for and find any words that appear on a page. For example, if I was interested in sewing something with velvet and wanted to find patterns that were suitable, I simply search on "velvet" and the term is found whether it's in a title or in a picture I added (as long as the picture is clear and the text legible). In the below example, the word "velvet" is on the back of the pattern envelope for Simplicity 6807.
It's not perfect, but I can improve the search results by adding text to the page to "tag" it with terms. And for magazines,  unless I scan every instruction page from my Burda magazines (not likely) I can't find Burda magazine patterns that recommend velvet, for example. But this is a great start.
I can tell you that this whole exercise has reminded me of the many great looking patterns I have. I've enjoyed looking at them again. Of course I want to sew all the ones I bought and many of the ones in the magazine, but that's like saying I'll sew up every scrap of fabric I have.


  1. Anonymous5:14 PM

    I like the idea of using OneNote to organize patterns. I don't have very many but I've been adding to my collection at a somewhat alarming rate.

    1. Best to start now then before you have, oh 400 or so. I still can't believe I have that many but apparently I do.

  2. You are WAY more organized than I. That software looks intriguing - I'll look into it/something similar for Android. - Heather

    PS Looking forward to April!

    1. Organized to a fault. I haven't done any sewing but my pattern info is organized!!

  3. *thud*

    That's the sound of my jaw dropping on the desk.

    I am not Virgo. :D

    1. Ha ha! I'll bring my Surface Pro in April so you can see the results.

    2. Yes, please do. I'd like to see it in action. - Heather