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Turning your sewing pattern collection into a searchable database


As sewists there are two big things we collect patterns and fabric. I mean, we just can't help it, right? Now, how often do you buy a new pattern or fabric only to put it away when you get home and forget about it? I do that all the time. But I've discovered an easy way to put my sewing patterns and fabric collection in a database so I can easily see what I have and what I need. 

I've found a really great (free) app called Airtable, which allows you to create custom databases that you can scroll through on your phone. Here is how it works...

After you download the app from iTunes, you can start a new base workspace. Here, you can see that I've made one file for Sewing Patterns and one for Fabric.  Basically, the database works like an Excel spreadsheet and if you work from the desktop, as I did, you see it as a spreadsheet. I added the following columns: designer, pattern name, garment, size, yardage & sizing, pattern image, fabric and notes. This is the basic information I thought I would need if I were looking for fabric for a pattern in a shop. However, I can add or subtract another column of information whenever I want. 

Looking on the phone, you see the first to columns and can then swipe through to see the rest. If I wanted to see any of the information larger, say the pattern yardage image, all I have to do is click on it. I can also use the column names to search. So, if I want to make a shirt, I can just search under "Garment" and it will show me all of the shirt patterns I own. Below you can see three different screens from my phone as I swipe through the information. 

 For my fabric file I chose the columns type, category, fiber, color, yardage, image, washing instructions and notes. Again, I can search by any field, so if I'm looking for all my ponte knits, I can search under "category". I think this is incredibly helpful so you don't have to dig through your stash, unfold a fabric and measure it. All the information is there at your fingertips!

Here is the phone view for my fabric file. 

​This would also be great for keeping track of notions, tools, books — the possibilities are endless! Tell me, do you have a system for organizing your patterns and fabric? I would love to hear about it!

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