My 2023 Sewing Pattern Challenge

I’d like to begin this post by saying I love trying new sewing patterns, especially in recent years with the plethora of various Indie patterns being released with each passing month.

As of this writing, beyond the “Big Four” American pattern companies (Butterick/McCalls/Simplicity/Vogue) and long-established International pattern companies such as Burda, Lutterloh, Marfy, New Look and Style to name a few, to my astonishment, I counted a total of almost 1000 Indie pattern companies on this morning! I knew there were a lot of pattern companies in the world at this point, but not this vast amount of choices.

With the ever-increasing wealth of digital content currently available to the public, it’s not surprising to find some of us garment sewing enthusiasts feeling just a tad overwhelmed with different pattern options at the present time. It reminds me of what video streaming content has become within the last decade. So many choices….so little time.

On to the topic of today’s post. Earlier this Fall, I made a quest to organize all my digital patterns by company and category. I had amassed quite a collection of both copy shop pattern rolls and several print at home, cut and tape digital patterns to sort though. Although some people prefer to store their copy shop rolls in tact, due to space limitations, my preferred method is to cut out the pattern pieces (outside the cutting lines), fold and place in well-labeled, gallon size ziplock bags.

Though definitely a time saver when compared with print at home, cut and tape pdf pattern printing methods, I was, nonetheless, struck by the sometimes extreme amount of wasted surplus paper the copy shop pattern printing method yielded. Of course the amount of wasted paper varies with each pattern company’s copy shop option, but for those with the most excess paper waste, I was able to salvage large sections of blank paper to use for duplicating my more permanent, tried-and-true altered pattern pieces. Even with my intentional paper-saving efforts, when all was said and done, I still managed to fill almost our entire recycling bin with the excess paper scraps accumulated during the week of my mass pattern organization efforts.

One of my many PDF patterns.

Back to pattern storage options, I have a couple of plastic file boxes into which my digital patterns fit efficiently. I created pattern company markers out of card stock paper for easier reference. This organization effort admittedly took more time than anticipated but ultimately yielded a lot of clarification in identifying the patterns I own, while also promoting a sense of forward action in my sewing planning, utilizing what I have on hand and finally making some dreamed-about muslins at long last.

One of my PDF pattern storage boxes.

Lastly, for my personal sewing sanity and realistic prospect of productivity in the new year, I’ve decided to exclusively sew my present pattern stash for 2023 with no new pattern investments until January, 2024. I may attempt to do the same with my fabric stash as well, I haven’t decided yet.

In the meantime, I will mostly likely continue to “shop” and “favorite” various patterns online with the assumption of reassessing “must haves” at the end of the year. On to the 2023 challenge….

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