Vintage Patterns: Sewing Room Organizer

I think this may have been the longest I’ve ever gone without blogging, a whole week! Gosh, playing after-holiday-catch-up with my “day job” has been a bit of challenge. I’ve also been working on surface and pattern designs I hope to license soon, all while gearing up for a road trip to LA next week to the Craft & Hobby Assoc. Winter Conference and Trade Show. Should be awesome! Back to crafting today and in need of a bit more organization in the little sewing nook in our bedroom, (sewing machine cover HERE) I made a fun organizer from vintage sewing pattern envelopes and clear adhesive shelving liner (which I’ll be referring to as CASL). There are several brands of this product that can be purchased at most stores, but I used a roll purchased from the thrift store. Vintage patterns can also be found at thrift stores or garage sales, eBay, Etsy and many other places, for very little money. The basic layout of this project is similar to that of a hanging shoe organizer, like the one in our hall closet that holds all the goods.Choose your pattern envelopes and decide how many will fit along the end of your table or along your wall space. Before you get too ambitious and attempt to make a full wall pocket organizer, consider that the small space in the opening of your sewing machine may do some damage to the laminated paper that you will be cramming in there should you make it too large. At 5 patterns wide, this was just the right size for my table and my machine.Trim the bottom of the patterns off.Trim off the top flaps. Hang on to those, there’s still fun to be had with them. Make sure all your pattern pockets are trimmed to the same height. Width doesn’t need to be identical.On the back of the pattern envelopes, draw a line down the middle.Cut open the envelopes along the lines.Laminate the cut envelopes flat with the CASL, on both the front and the back. Trim off excess adhesive paper.You may find it easiest to lay out the CASL, adhesive side up, taped down to the table at the ends and laying the paper onto the adhesive rather than trying to lay the sticky film onto the paper. Luckily the CASL I was using was very forgiving when I needed to pull it back off the paper and reposition or get wrinkles out.Re-fold the envelopes and fold the cut sections back on themselves. Burnish all of the folds well.For a backing section, I used a couple of the folded instruction sheets that came with the patterns and covered them with the CASL on both sides.Position the folded envelopes onto the backing. In lieu of using straight pins, clear tape is perfect for holding the laminated pieces in place for sewing. For the easiest tape removal, fold each piece over just a bit before using to create a pull tab.Stitch along the edges of the folded back sections, placing each new envelopes section right up against the next. Hold back fold over areas just enough to get your sewing machine needle through the tunnel between the envelopes while stitching.Once all envelope sides have been stitched, sew along the bottoms off all of them.I added vintage labels to the cut-away envelope flaps, laminated them also, positioned them above the pockets, and stitched them onto the backing piece.
Once all pockets and label sections are on, trim away excess backing.Stitch around the entire piece to finish it off.I have a laminate table surface, so I simply used clear packaging tape to attach the finished piece to my table. To avoid damaging your table, create another backing piece to sew to the top of the organizer to lay along the top of the table held down by your sewing machine or other heavy object(s) allowing the organizer to flow off the edge.You can now label your pocket organizer with a sharpie, or like I did, a dry-erase marker, because I change my mind about what should go where all the time.

For more ideas on using clear adhesive shelving liner, check out my latest post over at SC Johnson’s Family Economics HERE!

Disclosure: I am a paid blogger for SC Johnson

This entry was posted in Family Economics, general craft, SC Johnson, Sewing, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.
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57 Responses to Vintage Patterns: Sewing Room Organizer

  1. #1 - Jenny @ Kerrfect! says:

    I’ve used my vintage pattern covers for different crafty things, but I have my father (who has a full color photocopier) make copies of them so that I’m not cutting up my actual envelopes. 🙂 They come out looking just like the real envelopes!

    • #2 - Cathe Holden says:

      Hi Jenny, you bring up a great point that I forgot to include…

      The reason I don’t copy mine is that I don’t want to promote doing that as often times JSIM readers may make projects inspired from one of my posts to use for sale or giving away. It is important to protect copyrighted items, such as these, as they are not public domain images. However crafting with actual pattern envelopes, Dick and Jane book pages, etc. is perfectly legal to sell, as long as they are not copies. I will only copy images to craft with on my blog if I know or believe for sure that they are public domain.

  2. #5 - donna!ee says:

    this is fantabulous…and the way you have explained & photgraphed the step by step is the best. gotta make one of these, make that two!

  3. #6 - Rebekah says:

    Oh, my sweet Moses, that’s cute! LOVE it.

  4. I thought I had seen everything crafty until I saw this. This project is so creative, not to mention extremely clever. I will definitely be doing this with my old pattern packages.

  5. #8 - judi says:

    hi cathe, this is such a great idea as i’ve been “sort of” collecting vintage patterns. love the incorporation of the pattern instruction sheet. i too have a vintage featherweight sewing machine. it is THE best. i use it more than my newer singer.

  6. #9 - Christie Cottage says:

    What a great use of old patterns!

    Thanks for sharing!


  7. #10 - Saucy Chick Sherry says:

    This is such a clever way to honor those fabulous pattern envelopes and to get organized. Thank you for sharing your how to. Good luck with your licensing…I have no doubts you will succeed. Safe travels to CHA. Warm Hugs and Sunny Smiles…

  8. #11 - Keri says:

    Wow, this is gorgeous and so clever…love this inspirational idea, thanks Cathe!!!

  9. This is awesome!! I love vintage sewing patterns!!

  10. #13 - Sophie says:

    How do you think of all these amazing ideas?! 🙂

  11. #14 - Melisa says:

    Cathe… This is so darn CLEVER!! Your creativity is so inspiring!!


  12. #15 - cynthia says:

    How cute is this!!!!!
    Can’t wait to try it. I already have CASL from a garage sale, too!
    Thanks, so much!

  13. #16 - Gillian says:

    Cathe this is such a brilliant project!
    Thank you so much for sharing it 🙂

  14. #17 - Jennifer says:

    That is so fun and clever- thanks for sharing!

  15. #18 - Marjorie Dawson says:

    That is such fun. Something like that would help me keep SO much more organised. You don’t want to see the studio today – I mean really……

  16. #19 - Sally says:

    Love love love it! What a pretty workspace!

  17. #20 - Sarah says:

    I LOVE this! What a great idea! I’m adding it to my to do list and cursing the fact that I have to work full-time instead of staying home and making stuff!

  18. #21 - Jacque Chinnery says:

    Great idea! I love using the vintage patterns in this way. I have a sewing table in my studio and I think this would be so much fun. Thank you!

  19. #22 - Heidi says:

    GaH! That is so awesome! Great idea!

  20. #23 - Tina W. (TeaDub) says:

    I LOVE this Cathe!!! It’s so practical and so vintage at the same time!

  21. #24 - Laura says:

    This is cute, but to bad you use real envelopes instead of copies so you could keep the originals for our future generation to have as antiques. If we keep using things like these there won’t be any for tomorrow. Please save for tomorrow.

  22. #26 - sue says:

    Hi Cathe,
    I am so glad that Jenny mentioned making copies…since my slow, old brain at first was horrified that you were cutting up old patterns. Copies, duh! However, back to the issue of cutting up old items. How do I get over my fear and respect of USING my old finds? I love old lace, dollies, advertising, etc. and start to treat everything as sacred. At least, now I can copy some of my items to experiment on, but maybe I will throw that questions out to your readers…are they too respectful of old items to use them? I sometimes feel like a museum curator, lovingly keeping all these old items safe and sound, yet cluttering up my life, big time.
    Oh, by the way, you are the MOST creative person! You are such an inspiration for me and I am trying to organize myself and my space so that I can try to rediscover my creative muse. Thanks for such a lovely, inspirational blog.

  23. #27 - maybaby says:

    Oh I love this project! I have GOBS of vintage patterns, I use the tissue to ship out my etsy orders, so I still have all of the fun envelopes. I adore the pattern art from long ago. Would love to see more projects using old pattern envelopes, I will be whipping this one up soon!

  24. Cathe,
    I just love this project and I sure have enough vintage patterns to try it with! ( Today is a “snow day” here in Maine so I think I’ll go right up to my craft room and try it. Thanks for a great idea!

  25. #29 - andrea gutierrez says:

    Hello there. I’ve recently stumbled upon your blog and really enjoy it. I was given a ‘Stylish Blogger Award’ where I had to say seven things about me and share fifteen new blogs I like. Your blog is one that I have linked. You can take a look if you like and participate in the award but of course, you don’t have to. Have a wonderful day and here’s the link:

  26. #30 - Melissah says:

    I just discovered your lovely blog. I’m just new into blogging & have just finished off my own blog on fashion & interior design.
    I had a lot of fun putting it together. I would love your feedback on it if you’ve got a spare minute.

  27. #31 - Dennis says:

    I wish I could be this organized… looks like a great system.

  28. #32 - Stephanie says:

    This is really cute!

  29. #33 - Jan says:

    Such a fun and useful project! Cannot wait to try it. Thank you!
    Thanks also for thinking about and appreciating copyrights.

  30. #35 - Amie says:

    great idea! i love vintage patterns & i love this :]

  31. #36 - movita says:

    I’m sew in love with this…

  32. #37 - Kirsten says:

    Oh I love this project. I have a ton of patterns that were my mothers, i guess there was a good reason she never got rid of anything. lol I will be adding one of these to my studio redo.

  33. #38 - Say says:

    this is a fabulous idea!

    we featured your post on our blog:

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  35. #39 - EH says:

    What a great Idea for awesome old patterns that would otherwise rarely be seen. Maybe copies form an old sewing book could be used too!

  36. #40 - laura says:

    This is AWESOME! It’s totally going on my “to-do” list. Thanks for sharing!!

  37. #41 - S. Shane says:

    Can I use some of your ideas to make items to sell? What are the copyright issues?

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  40. #42 - Lagene says:

    This is such a fantastic project!!!

  41. #43 - doverdi says:

    Very creative. I love this idea. Thanks for a great tutorial & for sharing your creativity.

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  43. #44 - Katherine says:

    This is quite adorable, thanks for the details instruction with photos!
    I found a pre-made piece for the shower that has the similar pocket set up, we’ve all seen those and use them a lot for paper punches. I think I’ll adapt your look to my little pockets here at home.

    Keep those great ideas coming!

  44. #45 - Vonda Essenburg says:

    You are sooo creative and prolific! Do you sleep? Oh, in noticing your sewing nook! I hardly believe you get so much done in you nook. I should be ashamed of myself. I have a dedicated 1/2 ROOM. Thanks for the extreme inspiration!!!!

    [I do have to mention: in “lieu” of means in “light” of, i.e. in light of the fact…” It doesn’t mean “instead” of.]

  45. #46 - Kathy Humann says:

    Love this project! I have tons of old patterns too. What a fun way to use them! I was thinking…maybe use little girl or boy patterns, or toy patterns to make a child’s orgainizing pocket…label it “crayons” pencils “scissors” Paints “glitter…they may not have a table to put them on, but maybe it could hang on the wall if the patterns were set more rectangular hmmmmm….

  46. #47 - barbi15 says:

    So lovely! I really do love this idea. :0)

  47. #48 - Katy Reitz says:

    great idea…. i love collecting vintage patterns and wanted to display them, but frames were boring to me. i will be using this idea.

    i found some vintage patterns at an antique shop in northern michigan. i found a vintage pattern for barbie doll clothes at my inlaws. i snatched them up. there was even tiny zippers and buttons involved. may do a shadow box with that.

    oh my mind is really inspired. thank you!

  48. #49 - laura says:

    this is super cute.

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  51. #50 - Cee Jay says:

    Lovely idea but personally I would have photocopied the envelopes. It seems such a crime to have cut these up even though the end result looks great and is fun and useful.

  52. #51 - Mary Beth says:

    As a seller of vintage patterns I hate seeing the beautiful images on the covers of incomplete patterns go into the trash. This is such a creative way to keep them from ending up there!