Friday, January 28, 2011

Organising My Stash

38 weeks pregnant, and summer has finally arrived in Sydney, it would seem. And here I thought we were going to escape the worst of it, due to the devastating floods in Queensland, and the subsequent rain and cooler weather.

This week has seen temperatures far more normal for Sydney in summer, including a predicted (but not reached) 42 degrees Celsius for Australia Day, which was yesterday. We stayed indoors for the most part, with fans on, shutters down, amusing ourselves quietly. Even in the absence of airconditioning, and a pool, we stayed fairly comfortable in the 35 degrees C heat here.

I haven't been doing much sewing, much as I would like to. In this heat, standing for more than 15 minutes has me feeling faint, so tracing out patterns, or cutting them out is a task in and of itself, in order to get to the sitting and sewing stage.

So I decided to do something sewing related while sitting; organising my pattern (and to come, fabric) stash on my Mac.

Connie in Canada posted on PR in response to a question on stash organising software this post in December last year, and it was the first I heard of Bento 3 for Mac by Filemaker. Others on the PRDU regional thread raved about this software for organising their fabric and/ or pattern stash, and I was sold.

My copy arrived from about 3 weeks ago, but I have been busy finishing 3 online courses on Sunnipath/Qibla in their global intensive, and so Bento had to wait.

Now that I have been fiddling with it, I can't say it is the easiest software to work out, but maybe that is just me. I had tremendous difficulty with it initially, and kept giving up and coming back to it, but a couple of days ago, I stumbled across Filemaker's "solutions" page, where they also have a template exchange and came across several free sewing related template, thereby saving me the hassle of making one myself, like Connie did.

I have spent much of today transferring my patterns from iPhoto to the database in Bento, and while I have much work to do on it, I finally figured out how to modify the best of the templates, to suit my needs. It is not the most intuitive program, in my opinion, and I was almost set to throw it all in, when I finally figured it out, so I figured I may as well share, in case anyone is as challenged as I.

I have taken the pictures on my iPhone, so they could be better quality, sorry.

I tried initially to make one from a blank template, as Connie did, but found it too much of a struggle, because it does not come with a manual/ instructions. It was not until I came across Bento Template Exchange and found several free sewing pattern templates using Bento for download, that I began to have some idea of my options.

Of the five or so templates I downloaded, this was probably the best/ most comprehensive:

This is how the form came originally, with 3 "pages", the first for the pattern itself, with options for entering Pattern Company, Pattern Number and an image of the Cover Photo/ Pattern as well as an image of the back/ technical drawing.

Page 2 allows you to enter fabric details, namely yardage and notions.

And Page 3, allows you to make notes on modifications and any points of note when the project is completed. The template maker also has sub-divided the patterns into collections/ categories, such as "Misses' Tops" "Children's Clothes" etc, which I initially found useful for classification purposes.

Like I said, most comprehensive of the templates I downloaded, and I began to fill the template with my Kwik Sew patterns and my Jalie patterns, with what I could. I could not for the life of me determine how to add to the original form however. Yesterday, though, I finally figured it out. You ADD to the fields not by adding to the column on the left bottom, and then once your field is created, you can draaaaaaagg the whole field onto the template itself, and arrange size, placement etc as you like.

So, with the initial (and probably final) changes I made, here is what I have ended up with, as an example:

I wanted to add a box for Pattern Title, for those titles that don't use numbers eg Oliver + S patterns. I also wanted to use a dropbox to categorise my patterns, in addition to the pattern companies, like so:

I think this is a more economical use of space on the same form/ page. I also added a sub-category in case a particular pattern has more than one garment type on it (eg Misses' top and dress, or in the case of Jalie patterns, where the sizes go all the way from children/ toddler to adult plus sizes).

Additionally, I also added a box for Pattern Description, and one for a URL so that I can link my completed project to my blog, or my review on Pattern Review for easy reference.
I finally added a box for keywords for ease of searching for patterns. Their search box is pretty nifty; i.e type in Jalie, for example, and all Jalie records will come up, and you can choose what you are looking for on the basis of your search terms, which I think is also more intuitive than using the original categories that the template maker used.

Finally, yet to be completed, on the second and third pages, I added some modifications as well, as yet WIPs. To the "Fabric" page, I added image boxes for the picture of actual fabric that I end up using, as well as a photo of the finished garment. And on the final page, for notes, I added boxes for dates of garment construction, for my own reference.

So this is what my final Sewing Patterns Template looks like on my Mac:

 My Page 1, or Form, entitled "Cover", modified from the original above, to these two above, with the changes I mentioned.

My Page 2, or "Fabric" form, with yardage, notions, and image boxes for fabric used and photo of finished garment.
And finally, Page 3, "Notes" form, with final notes on construction, and any other relevant information.

I also purchased the iPhone Bento app (AUD 5.99), since my 2 year old HTC phone died and Bento was the main reason  I decided to go with the iPhone. So now with the Bento app for iPhone, I can sync my database on Bento with my iPhone, and have begun to have access to a database on my mobile of my pattern stash, to avoid duplicates when out shopping. Once I get the yardage photos from the back of the pattern covers loaded onto the templates, it will also mean that it will be an easy reference to look up how much of a fabric I need to buy for a given pattern, if I come across something suitable.

Lastly, Bento is also great for many other applications, including organising family life, student life, tasks, calendar and more, so I think, now that I have finally managed to figure this out, I will get good mileage out of it, when time permits!!

And of course, once my pattern stash is organised, I can always plan to move on to the *ahem* fabric stash :-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 in Review - Sewing Wise

It is only really in 2010, I think, that I really got any sewing done on a somewhat consistent basis. Not much, but looking back, more than I thought I had accomplished.

In total, between January 2010 and December 2010, I sewed 13 different outfits. Not much, for sure, especially compared to some like Katie who managed to make a whopping 162 outfits, which included some knitted items, for her family. Must be the Type A personality :-) but I admit freely to being envious of such productivity!

Having said that, 13 self taught and self sewn items is something of a miracle for me anyway, and I feel more confident and comfortable beginning a new pattern by myself than I did at the beginning of 2010.

Here is the tally:

Recycled Denim Bibs - scraps of woven cotton and recycled denim- 05/2010.
Simplicity 2815 (OOP)- Girls' and Boys' Pants and Tops - 04/2010.

that *darn* kat undies - 01/10

And here, are the pictures of the finished items. I wanted to make a collage, but could not find a way to do it using my Mac. So a slideshow it is...

For 2011, my goals are simple, given that there will be a new baby, hopefully, throwing a spanner in the works in the next month to six weeks, probably for several months!

1. Keep sewing, a little at a time. Over on PR , I hope to join in several sewalongs (1. Sewing for baby, toddler and child; 2. Thirty minutes a day sewalong; 3. One garment a month and  4. Stash sewalong), and at least one contest, the Fabric Stash Contest, which began on the 1st of January. Unlike wardrobe contests, which require co-ordination of fabric and patterns, which is a bit much for me at the moment, a contest like this maximises my ability to keep doing what I have been doing thus far; sewing whatever I please, in whatever quantity I choose, with the only criteria being the age of the fabric in my possession. Perfect.

2. Keep on trying to work out knits. Alison notes that rib knit is among the hardest/ trickiest knit to sew, and has suggested I might want to work with a more stable knit, like cotton-lycra, so I might try that next, for Kwik Sew 3513 and Kwik Sew 3703.

Kwik Sew 3513

Kwik Sew 3703
The dress will be a welcome addition in this summer heat, for the last few weeks of the pregnancy, while the skirt, if it works out well, will go nicely with the Jalie tops I want to make, and convert to allow for nursing.

Apart from that, I have some kiddy sewing planned, and have traced out some Kwik Sew romper patterns, both for my son, now 18 months, and the baby.

Additionally, my eldest, who will be turning 5 just after the baby is born, in February, is tall and thin. She is 107cm tall, and still fits into a RTW size 2, so for proper lengths, I am going to have to bite the bullet, and begin sewing more for her. Size 5 RTW pants keep falling off her, as do size 4, even though they are the right length.

So I think, all things considered, I will have plenty of sewing with knits (and woven) experience under my belt if I get around to completing even half of these projects! Wish me luck!