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Tips & Techniques > Portable Pattern Catalog for Palm Pilot (or Desktop!)

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Posted by: J-Girl

About J-Girl star
Member since: 8/17/06
Reviews: 8 (tips: 2)
Skill level:Beginner
Favored by: 3 people
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Posted on: 7/9/07 10:36 PM
Review Rating: Very Helpful by 23 people   
Featured in the PR book!
I have a major pattern addiction, especially when there always seems to be some 99 cent pattern sale going on somewhere This is the system I use to make sure that I don't buy exactly the same pattern, or a nearly identical one from a different manufacturer. I also store the yardages and notions information for each pattern, so if I find just the right fabric for that one pattern, I don't have to guess how much fabric I need. I just look it up.

I'm not likely to carry around an actual binder of my patterns, but I am able to make myself carry around a Palm Pilot, so I decided to create an electronic catalog of my patterns to carry with me. This sounds very labor intensive, but since most current patterns have images readily available on the internet, it's really a simple process. It might take an hour to do initially, if, say, you're adding 50 patterns, but only a few minutes if you're just adding recent purchases.

My electronic pattern catalog uses images downloaded from the manufacturer's web site - I pull the cover image plus the diagrams - which I then organize by garment type in folders within the photo album software that came with my Palm. If I'm in the fabric store, and haven't made a pattern shopping list before hand, and am considering a skirt pattern, I can with a few taps open up the "Skirts" image folder and then scroll through. Voila! I already have something similar.

An added bonus is that the images are all on my desktop, so this functions as my at home pattern catalog, too. You can either open up the folder and set the view option (there's a drop down menu), or use another photo viewing software, like Picasa.

My physical patterns are organized by pattern number, regardless of manufacturer, as someone else described elsewhere. After browsing the electronic catalog, it takes 2 secs to find the physical pattern.

1) If you want to download pattern specs (the yardages part), open up MS Word or some other text editor at this point. Trust me, it'll be quicker, especially if you only have your web browser and this program open.
2) For your first batch job, you'll want to org your patterns by company. Go to the first company's web site, and search by pattern number.
3) Right click pattern image. Choose "Save As". Choose a destination folder. I have one for pattern pictures, one for pattern diagrams, and one for pattern specifications (the yardages and such).
4) Type in the name, eg "M5043" or "V8188". A consistent naming system is key.
5) Download the pattern diagram. Name it "M5043_diagram"
6) Highlight the pattern specs. I only highlight up until it turns metric, since I don't use metric for sewing.
7) Copy. WAY FASTER if you hit CTRL-C (depress CTRL and C simultaneously). Keystrokes, people! Keystrokes!
8) Hit ALT-TAB to switch programs and it should bepop you over into MS Word or other text editor.
9) Paste, or CTRL-V.
10) Choose "Save As" (sadly, no keyboard shortcut) and name it M5043.
11) Select All, or CTRL-A. Then hit DELETE. This clears your file for when you bepop over with your next pattern specs. (This is why you must choose "Save As" and give it the new pattern's name, otherwise you'll be overwriting your last pattern). This is faster for me. Alternately, you could just start a brand new document each time.
12) If desired, crop your pattern photos and pattern diagrams. I find it easiest to crop the diagrams so each view is a separate file, eg M5043_A.gif I use a simple photo editing software, InfranView, which allows me to open up my file, draw my crop box, use a keyboard shortcut for the Crop command, a keyboard shortcut for Save, I type in my file name, type CTRL-Z for undo (to return image to pre-crop dimensions), then draw my next crop box around view B, and continue until all views are saved.
13) Upload your files to your Palm or other handheld, and organize into folders according to garment type - or whatever system works for you.
14) The yardages information is stored as text files in a separate location on the palm - figure out what works for you depending on your software.

This system - though it seems tedious - is actually VERY fast if you use keyboard shortcuts and ALT-Tab to toggle between programs. Keystrokes are always faster than mouseclicks!

Also, this works well for Butterick, McCalls, and Vogue, because of how the data is available on their sites, but it is not so easy for other pattern companies or out of print or vintage patterns. For these, which are a small portion of my stash, I will manage to get a cover image (which may mean scanning), but I tend not to bother with the diagrams or yardages.

Am I insane or inspiring? I dunno!

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Nancywin said... (7/27/07 11:49 PM) Reply
Inspiring. I started doing this a while back, but gave up. I was trying to put all the info in an xl spreadsheet. A lot of my patterns are oop, but I already have everything scanned. I may have to take a stab at it again. Thanks for the very helpful details.
belphebe said... (7/19/07 12:18 PM) Reply
I've just copied this tip to put on my Palm! :) I recently purchased a newer model (Palm T|X) with all the goodies (still love my Palm IIIxe though), so I can do this. Thanks for the great tip! I actually wrote my recent pattern reviews on my Palm while riding the bus to and from work.
Sigrid. said... (7/18/07 11:22 AM) Reply
Great idea. Don't have a pda yet, but considering buying one for other reasons. This might be an extra reason. BTW: in Word the shortcut for "save as" is the F12 key.
dede519 said... (7/15/07 9:30 PM) Reply
This is a great idea. thanks for the tip.
J-Girl said... (7/10/07 10:14 PM) Reply
Christine, I have a Tungsten E2 which I received as a hand me down from a tech obsessed family member. I would think any Palm with a color screen, and sufficient memory (a few MB), would work fine. I imagine photo viewing software is standard issue with any color screen Palm. It also just occurred to me that you could do this with a color screen iPod.
Chanelcat said... (7/10/07 6:59 PM) Reply
Thank you! I have been looking for a better way to use my palm--Your instrutions are great. This is great, I would love any ideas to organize using my palm--anything to care less in my purse.
mis_priss said... (7/10/07 4:57 PM) Reply
Karine said... (7/10/07 2:57 PM) Reply
Definitely inspiring! What a brilliant idea.
pakrk said... (7/10/07 2:02 PM) Reply
Incredible! I can't wait to try this on my Palm!! Thank you!
Susan M said... (7/10/07 12:21 PM) Reply
Yes you are both! I love your details about how to do this. I need to find out how to get this on my PDA.
christine A said... (7/10/07 11:34 AM) Reply
May I ask what version of Palm you have , and if an older Palm would work?
Queendom said... (7/10/07 9:10 AM) Reply
That is Brilliant!! I may go buy a Palm Pilot!
sew obsessed said... (7/10/07 0:20 AM) Reply
You are BOTH!!! Inspiring first, then maybe insane. This is a fabulous idea. I love it!!Just one more reason to love, love, love my palm. Thanks for a very detailed and inpiring review.
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