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Admission of Guilt

2012 March 5
by elizabeth_admin

I’m going to do it again.  Tattle on myself.  I just can’t help myself.  It’s pathological really. 

I was going to take a picture of my sewing area as proof, but couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Then I thought I would grab a hoarders picture off the internet, but the pictures were so horrifying and intimate at the same time, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. 

I can’t believe I’m going to admit this.  Ok, here goes…

image from


I hate putting my pattern tissues/instructions away.  

After several projects in a row, there are piles of them everywhere around my sewing room, waiting to be folded and put back in their envelopes and then tidily filed away in the storage cases I bought for them hoping to inspire order and serenity.  What is it about those damn pattern tissues?  Why is it so hard to figure out the original factory folds?  Is it some kind of secret origami torture?  Why are they always at least triple their size in width and all fluffy-like when you try stuff them back into the envelopes?  Why do those stupid envelopes always tear?

These pattern tissues will be the death of this OCD/perfectionist I tell you!  So when I can’t get them perfectly factory folded in their envelopes, they just sit there in piles around the room, staring at me reproachfully.  Some of them, I kid you not, glare at me. 

Does anyone else out there suffer from this cruel malady?  Is there any hope for me?  Is there away to achieve factory fold perfection?  Or am I doomed to become a de facto hoarder?

28 Responses leave one →
  1. March 5, 2012

    I feel your pain! It used to bug me too (or rather I used to bug myself about my own pattern-pieces-going-astray bad habits!). So, I bought a huge bunch of comic-book envelopes from eBay and never looked back! I can semi-neatly fold pieces and stuff them into the plastic bag ( I can tuck them behind the visible front of the paper-envelope) and they fit in nice and easy to store afterwards. I buy the “Golden Age” size comic bags (whatever Golden age is LOL!?) the size is 195mm (7 5/8″) x 270mm (10 5/8″) with a 40mm (2 5/8″) plain flap.

    That size fits my modern and vintage pattern stash nicely – including the bigger modern Vogue patterns too.

    When in the middle of a project I temporarily use bigger snap-button/popper clear, plastic document folders/wallets to hold the pattern pieces + any notes I scribble onto office-paper too, so they stay all together.

    • March 5, 2012

      P.S. I buy the biggest size of the popper-wallets I can find usually 4-5 x per packet

      for £1.00 in the local Pound-store/shop. They’re about the size of 2-pieces of

      A4/Letter paper side-by-side. It makes putting away pattern pieces

      mid-project very easy – less folding needed ‘cos of the bigger wallet size 🙂

  2. annie permalink
    March 5, 2012

    Funny enough, those Burda “centerfolds” return to original much better than the big 4 and the paper is thicker. Some scientist can probably answer the puzzle but the cure is a different matter entirely.

  3. March 5, 2012

    I always, always used to try to fold the pieces back up along the original lines, then I had a eureka moment – I don’t have to! Now I pile them up together and fold them up in whichever way makes sense, so they fit back into the envelope. And the world continues to turn lol! Crazy how we make work for ourselves.

  4. March 5, 2012

    Just fold them so they fit, and iron them! Screw the original factory folds, make your own!

  5. March 5, 2012

    I usually use my iron to tame them back into their envelopes. It’s a slow and tedious process, but it works, and they fit in nice and flat. This probably doesn’t work if you actually cut the pattern pieces out though….I trace all of mine, since with my luck I’d need the next size bigger if I cut the pieces out.

  6. Ernestine Ranson permalink
    March 5, 2012

    I use zip-loc bags and sort of fold the pieces. Put the envelope so that you can clearly see the picture and everything stays fairly neat. (I am NOT a perfectionist!)

    • March 5, 2012

      Yes, yes, BIG zip-loc bags. Do NOT ever try to find the original folds — it’s masochism!

  7. March 5, 2012

    I iron them usually before using them, and then ignore the factory folds when putting them back in the envelopes. I tried factory folds at first but then decided it was just not going to work. I might be in your position now, if I didn’t have my feet to the fire, so to speak. I sew in the dining room which we use for family meals on weekends, so I have to get everything back together before the family stampedes in, or else!

  8. March 5, 2012

    I tend to put used patterns into a big manilla envelope, since I usually have tracings that make it pretty much impossible to get everything back in the original envelope. When I’m really on the ball, I print out a picture of the pattern cover and glue it to the envelope. Those clear comic-book sleeves would work great, too.

    Factory folds are evil. Arbitrary and designed for the machines’ ease, not ours. Ditch them! 🙂

    … also, I would rather die than post a photo of my sewing room to the internet right now. And it’s not because of stray pattern pieces (although there are a few of those…)

  9. March 5, 2012

    I used to use the comic sleeves (my son owns a comic book shop!) but now I use 9″x12″ manila envelopes. They are more firm and have more room in them. However because you can’t see through them, I print out an image of the pattern envelope or garment and glue it on the front so I know what’s in there. These envelopes then go in storage boxes.

    I never try to refold the pattern tissues in factory folds! If I’ve already ironed them flat then I want them to be as little folded as possible when I put them away. I also never use the original but always trace my patterns because I need to make so many changes to them that I would have confetti left instead. The larger envelope fits all my new pieces plus notes etc.

    BTW the Golden Age of comic books was from the late 1930’s to the early 1950’s. The size was a little different than the current modern comics so the special bags will fit those oldies. Some of them are worth lots so protection is crucial! But that’s not sewing talk, is it?

    • March 6, 2012

      Quote: “BTW the Golden Age of comic books was from the late 1930′s to the early 1950′s. The size was a little different than the current modern comics so the special bags will fit those oldies. Some of them are worth lots so protection is crucial! But that’s not sewing talk, is it?

      Ah, cheers for the comic-book insight Louisa :)!

  10. March 5, 2012

    Ah, yes, the plight of the factory fold. I actually (usually) manage to sort-of get them back to the original shape, though they are still all big and puffy. Sometimes I use text books or my knee to smush the air out to get them into the envelope. I always re-fold after I trace though, because I do not have enough space to keep them lying about (also I worry about damage to the patterns). I have to admit, Burda sheets re-fold so easily, it is another reason I am starting to prefer the magazines over traditional envelope patterns.

  11. March 5, 2012

    Oh no!!! I think all of my vintage sewing patterns would die even faster if I did that. 🙁

  12. March 5, 2012

    Funny, I thought I was the only one plagued by this. Nowadays, I fold up all pieces – cut or not – to a size that fits the envelope, and the next time I’m sewing something and using my iron, I stack up the pieces and place my iron on top for a few seconds while it is heating up. By the time the iron is hot, the pieces are un-fluffy and slip right back into the envelope. Voila!

  13. March 5, 2012

    I have brought some A4 size envelopes from my stationery supplier. They have a velcro press closure and are pre-punched for use in folders. I put not only my cut patterns in these but they also fit the larger size patterns too.

  14. March 5, 2012

    When I regularly sewed, bought really large ziplock bags and stashed them in one of those, with the pattern envelope facing out. I’ve seen people do this, then clip them to hangers.

  15. March 5, 2012

    I iron them and then fold them however seems best and then just get a bit cross and kind of ram them in. You are not alone… 🙂

  16. Jenn in AZ permalink
    March 5, 2012

    My patterns are organized in 4×6 manilla envelopes (with pattern #s written in top left corner), with the pattern cover stored in clear binder pages in binders.

    So, I just fold mine, the way I want to, to fit in the 4×6 envelopes.

  17. Pam permalink
    March 5, 2012

    I have the answer!! I struggled with this too until I got The Sew/Fit Manual by Ruth Oblander and Joan Anderson. The book says to simply pile them on top of each other so they are in one pile and fold them in half. Then fold them in half again. Keep doing this until it fits in the envelope. It works! So easy and so simple. I don’t know why we make it so hard! Trying to duplicate the factory folds is craziness! Just keep folding in half until it fits!!

  18. March 5, 2012

    I just manila envelopes and tape the original pattern envelope to the front. If I had to re-fold my patterns in the factory folds, let’s just say there’d be a lot more recycling in my house and a lot less repeat garments.

  19. March 6, 2012

    I fold mine anyhow and put them into large envelopes too. The envelopes go into a large box. The only problem is that it’s hard to find the pattern you want later on. I can’t remember pattern numbers so I end up having to write a description of the garment on the envelope or even draw it!

  20. March 6, 2012

    I use my iron too. I fold them so I can see the piece number and then iron it into an envelope size shape.

  21. March 6, 2012

    Gallon sized freezer zip lock bags to the rescue. Leave pieces in big shapes, fold the instructions once or twice and display the front of the envelope on one side. The cool thing is you can punch a hole through the plastic and hang them on string or hooks but the main thing is they are way flatter this way and keep out vermin and dust. Stack them, stand them up, use them as coffee coasters….they are indestructible and if you make extra alterations and have more pattern pieces than you started with, they all fit in there too. If I have fabric scraps leftover I cram it in there too in case I need to match something later and I don’t have to take the whole garment to the store to buy buttons etc.

  22. March 6, 2012

    There’s NO way I would try to get sewing patterns back into the envelope. I usually trace the pattern anyway (yes I know but I hate cutting the original pattern) so I put the envelop and pattern in clear plastic bags then stuff them in 9X12 manilla folders with my traced pattern pieces.

  23. March 6, 2012

    I got a box of 100 white “catalog” (9″x12″) envelopes at OfficeMax. That original pattern envelope is gonna fall apart anyway (if it hasn’t already), so I cut it into front/back and glue to the front of one of my big envelopes. Everything fits inside easily (including tracings, if I’ve bothered), and I scribble any alterations/construction/fit notes on the BACK of the evelope for future reference. Works like a charm… or would, if I figured out how to fit more garment sewing into my life. I think I made one dress from a pattern last year. Another benefit is that any patterns that are still in their original envelopes (of which there are far too many around here!) I know are the ones I have not made yet.

  24. March 7, 2012

    I’m with you – they pile up, and then I end up losing some pieces when I finally put them away (and find them later, only to give up and toss the extras.) I do iron them, when I remember, and that helps them to fit. I recently moved my cutting table to another room, and that helps – now I can’t pile them there, so they get put away!

  25. March 15, 2012

    Factory folds are indeed evil. Or at least impossible. Ditto the zip lock backs thing, as long as we’re talking about A4 size bags. Then again I don’t sew as often or as big projects as you.

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