Using Evernote to catalogue patterns & fabric stash

vintage sewing patterns

In my head, I’m a very organised and methodical person. In reality I’m not!

Actually, that’s not entirely fair. I do put things in piles labelled ‘to action’, ‘to file’, ‘to put away’ and I have even been known to put things in boxes but there remains an ongoing issue with finding things!

My precious sewing patterns, new and old, are safely filed put away in boxes. I love to get them out and look through them every now and then, just for that warm fuzzy feeling. And sometimes I even put them to work. But with the ever growing tower of pattern boxes it is true to say that I often forget what I’ve got.

But last week I discovered Evernote! I cannot claim to be the authority on this app because, by all accounts, it does so much. However, I can tell you how it has revolutionised the organisation of my sewing pattern collection.

How Evernote works for me

  • Firstly, it’s on my phone which means when I find myself in a fabric shop, I can instantly find out how much fabric/what notions I need, or if a particular fabric is suitable for the job just by scrolling through my instantly available files.
Evernote screenshot
How my sewing pattern list appears on my phone screen
  • Equally if I’m in a charity shop and there’s an amazing remnant of fabric shouting out I can see if it matches up to the requirements.
  • I can instantly check to see if I already own the pattern or not – Despite my tower of patterns equalling my own height, I still get a little buzz from an Ebay bargain!
  • You can share your ‘notes’ on social networks or via message or Email which will be a handy way of me creating a new pinboard on Pinterest or consulting fellow sewists via Twitter or Facebook.
  • You can also print straight from your device. Assuming you’d need a wireless system for that though.
  • You can tag the patterns making for a brilliant search system. I generally tag mine with: size, bust-size, era, garment style, pattern name/number and exact date of publication if I can find it.
  • You can also stack notebooks. So for instance:
    1 ‘note’ effectively consists of front and back of pattern envelope plus any notes I’ve made from previous experience.
    ‘Notes’ are grouped together to form a ‘notebook’, for instance one ‘notebook’ could be titled Vintage another could be Modern.
    ‘Notebooks’ can then be stacked under a title of Sewing patterns.
    I am currently just putting all ‘notes’ (individual patterns) in one ‘notebook’ called Sewing patterns and tagging them for easy searching. I like being able to scroll down a long list.
  • You can view each pattern as a thumbnail with it’s title alongside. It’s a little bit diddy, even on a larger than average phone screen but it syncs perfectly online and I find this is an easier way of viewing and editing from the comfort of a desk and the luxury of a larger screen.

Evernote online

And the best thing about Evernote?

  • It’s absolutely FREE! I haven’t felt the need to upgrade to a premium version yet. The benefits of which include: more space allocation, an offline editing option, multiple author permission, and pdf search facility. But even if and when I feel I’m ready to upgrade, its only about £35 per year!

Evernote is so easy to use

To upload a pattern I simply take a photo of the cover using the inbuilt camera and then take a ‘document’ shot of the back cover text. This text can be enlarged for perfect readability even on a tiny screen. I then give it a title: The pattern company and number reference. And then I tag it so It can be searched for. I currently only have the one notebook titled, Sewing Patterns and I make sure they live in there but if you had other notebooks you’d just have to check it’s in the right place.

Evernote phone screenshot
This is what the pattern cover image looks like within a ‘note’


Evernote screen shot scroll down
This is what the screen looks like when I scroll down for further info
Evernote zoomed in
This is what the back cover info looks like, zoomed-in on my phone

Teething problems with Evernote

I have only come up against a couple of teething problems. No biggies but worth bearing in mind to save you from pulling out your hair!

I did get excited when I saw the ‘Location’ entry box. But longitude and latitude won’t help me to find where the actual pattern is so I guess I will have to add the location to the file name (ie box 1 etc)

For a short while I didn’t understand how Evernote randomly selected an image to use as the cover thumbnail. It doesn’t select them according to first in the list, moreover the largest image.
So just make sure that the cover image is larger than the back cover document image. I do this by taking a close up of the pictorial cover and holding the camera a bit further away when I shoot the back cover. When using the document shooting facility it will naturally crop into the document text area and automatically exclude external background content, which keeps it smaller.

Using Evernote to catalogue fabric mountain

Once I’ve finished cataloguing my sewing patterns, I’m thinking of filing my fabric stash too. By taking a photo of the fabric and adding some notes and searchable tags relating to size, fabric content and potential usage. But one thing at a time, hey?!

Has anybody else tried Evernote? Are there any features I’ve missed? Or do you use another filing system?

For anyone interested in getting this app, you can either download it from the App Store or let me know, and I’ll Email you a link. Another great feature is that if you recommend a friend you earn points to upgrade for free! So once you are signed up for the free app don’t forget to recommend Evernote to your friends too.

Footnote: This is not a sponsored post, despite my enthusiasm. It is an honest review of a product that works very well for me and my purposes.

47 Replies to “Using Evernote to catalogue patterns & fabric stash”

  1. I use Evernote for pattern construction notes, draft blog posts etc. I’ve not yet used it as a way to organise patterns etc. although this looks like a great way to keep track of your patterns though and I’m tempted to give it a go. I have a different app for tracking my stash. Thanks for posting the review.

    1. Thanks Claire. Yes it will be brilliant to add construction notes too. I draft my blog posts in WordPress but I can see how Evernote would be great to use for that too. Do you mind me asking what app you use for tracking your stash? 🙂

  2. This is a very timely post for me as I’m trying to create a bit of order in my sewing room and it would be helpful if I could put my patterns away somewhere out of sight but I’m worried, if I do that, I won’t ever get them out again or remember where they are. Ditto for my fabric and yarn stashes. This sounds like an ideal solution. I’d be grateful for the link and if it helps give you points towards an upgrade, all the better.

    1. Thank you lovely. I think it will be perfect for you too. Have Emailed you an invite to join. Don’t forget to recommend to your friends too. If you don’t use it upgrade you can buy extra storage with points earned too. Happy filing 🙂

  3. I have been debating adding something like this to my pattern organization. I do the binder with the pattern jackets in it, and then manila folders with the actual patterns. However, recently I’ve realized I need something more, as embarrassingly I’ve bought the same pattern more than once. Also I don’t always remember to print out a cover sheet for a digital pattern to add to my notebooks. Do you know if you can also import files- So then I don’t have to take a picture of the computer screen for the digital patterns?

  4. I use Evernote for both patterns and fabric. I have pretty much the same setup as you, only I also tag everything with required fabric (for patterns) or amount of fabric I have. This way I can search for 2 meters and see which patterns I can make or what fabric I can use.
    If I’m at the fabric market I can Quickly see what my options are if I buy a certain amount of fabric.

  5. Thanks so much for posting this, I’ve been after a way to log my patterns as I always end up googling them in the fabric shop trying to figure out how much fabric to buy. I’ve actually just organised my stash, I’ve stapled a swatch of fabric to a luggage tag with the yardage written on, and threaded them onto a ribbon. Saves rummaging through the stash with a tape measure trying to find fabric to fit!

  6. I love Evernote! I think my favorite feature is the “web clipper” – the ability to clip webpages as I look at them, so I can find things later.

    A couple months ago I started cataloging my fabric stash on Evernote. It’s so nice to have a picture alongside the fabric information – makes it much easier to “shop my stash.” I’d say I’m about two thirds of the way through – and I ran out of upload space!! I hadn’t realized that you only get so many uploads a month with the free version 🙁 So I ended up springing for “premium” and I think it will be well worth it.

    1. Thank you Gail. If you invite people to join you can earn extra upload space but I totally agree that it’s well worth paying for 🙂

  7. Very interesting post. I don’t do anything similar and have come to a point that I don’t remember all the patterns I have. I already have Evernote but don’t use it, now I will start playing with it and see if it will be helpful archiving my patterns.

  8. This sounds like exactly what my pattern collection (ahem) needs! If you earn points from us downloading via your link I would love to return the favour. Rachel 🙂

  9. i started using Evernote in this same way, but fell off the organizational bandwagon at some point. The one problem I ran into was the size limit on uploads. There is a setting somewhere where you can set the resolution for pictures. Once I lowered the default resolution, I had plenty of space with the free version.

    I DO still use Evernote to catalog info from the many blogs I ready: sewing technique, patterns I want to buy, makes I admire, etc.

    I think I stopped using it to catalogue my patterns because I never referred to it in the “heat of the moment” when shopping!

    1. Sounds like you make really good use of it. I’m in the early stages so my enthusiasm is bountiful! Maybe ask how I’m getting on in a couple of months time!! 😉

    2. How do you lower the default resolution? What is a good level to have it at? I use a 7″ tablet mainly.

      I opened the app for the first time today. It seems intriguing! And genius if it works as well as I hope!

  10. I recently started using Evernote myself. So far, I have only managed to log maybe 25 – 30% of my patterns life has gotten in the way. I hope to get the rest in over time. I used to have Bento and loved that but since Filemaker no longer updates offer that program, I decided to switch over to Evernote.

    1. I’m sure that will happen to me once other distractions set in but we’ll still be in a better place for organising some of them! 🙂

  11. I tried using Evernote months ago and was totally stumped and frustrated by how it chose the image thumbnail and discarded it solely because of that BUT NOW ohmygosh I am so excited that you figured out that its by dimension that it chooses the thumbnail! Eureka!

    1. Hahaha! I know exactly how you feel. I was quite literally punching the air! I don’t understand why they can’t configure the app to recognise the first image as the thumbnail but I’m not prepared to argue a freebie!

  12. I love Evernote! I’ve been using it to catalogue my pattern stash for a while now – and also use it for my pattern wish list. I use an app called Fabric Locker for my fabric but it’s pretty basic, you’d probably be better off using Evernote.

  13. Wow! I just discovered this over my winter break. I went berserkers and organized all my patterns (by garment type (notebooks), titled with pattern company and number, tagged with designer, digital or printed, knit or woven, TNT, stars for really want to make this!, etc! Now I will never re-buy a pattern and whether I’m online or at the fabric store, I can quickly see how much fabric I need. I did all of it on the computer, so I was able to just copy the front and back of each pattern from websites, or Pinterest. Then it syncs to your phone!

    I have too much fabric to catalog all of it, but I did rediscover, lots of yardage, which I photographed and entered yardage. I am now really set in a more thoughtful way for sewing in 2015!

    Yay! Evernote!

    1. Great tip for doing it online, thank you. I know there is a barcode scanner way of doing things but that doesn’t help with vintage patterns!!

  14. You mean there’s something out there which will (possibly) stop me from buying the same thing twice? And remind where I put the bloomin’ thing in the first place?? AMAZING! Please would you email me the link. Thank you! Alyson

    1. Just realised, by inviting you to Evernote, not only do I score points but you get a free month of Premium use too! 🙂

  15. This is great! Definitely going to use this to organise the chaos that is my sewing stash. I love that you can access it on the go too. Hopefully this means I will stop unnecessarily buying wildly inaccurate lengths of fabric. Please can you send me an invite?

    1. That’s a very good point. I’ve done that too, not wanting to pass up some lovely fabric and buying way too much because I didn’t have reference to the pattern. Invite duly sent 🙂

  16. On a different subject; I was wondering how the fabric on your vintage dream coat behaved. I am sure the fabric I used to make a coat is the same and it is now in the garbage bin. The fabric balled and was a total mess after only a few earrings. Hope you didn’t have the same problem.

    1. Funny you should mention that. I’m not happy at all. The cords of the fabric are starting to come away from the backing and I’m having to sew them back on as they break away. Keep meaning to drop the manufacturer a line. It wasn’t cheap!!

      1. I made my coat the season before you and I really did think “oh no” when I read how pleased you were with your choice. I just hoped that it wasn’t exactly the same. No it wasn’t cheap but it was “rubbish” My fabric did exactly the same I gave up the will to try keeping it looking good and chucked it. I had been thinking of all your hard work too.

  17. Thank you so much for this great tip!! The way I was doing it until now was just make a picture with my phone of the fronts and backs of all my pattern envelopes, then browse trough them when I was a the fabric store. But that wasn’t working very well since you have to browse trough so many pictures! This is going to make my sewing (and knitting!) life so much easier!

  18. Oh, you’re a genius! I have Evernote, but haven’t used it much – and it certainly didn’t occur to me to use it to catalogue patterns! I’m still trying to figure out how it works, so your tips are invaluable. Thanks so much! Lx

    1. My pleasure. I’ve just started storing measurements on there too. Saves hunting for all those scraps of paper!

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