Evernote and Pattern Cataloging

I’ve written before about using Evernote for organising my patterns so that I can access them anywhere. I also briefly reviewed the Android app. Lately I’ve had a few people ask me in real life about organising patterns and so I thought maybe I’d write an update.

Evernote has a great help page to get you started and of course, you can Google anything…so this isn’t really a tutorial per say, more of an, “this is how I use it and I think it’s great”.

So first of all, an Evernote Basic account is free to use on up to two devices with a monthly upload limit of 60Mb – trust me, you’ll be sick of entering pattern information by the time you hit that limit and happy to wait for the month to roll over I’m sure! If you’re not, or you use Evernote for loads more things, like me, then a Premium plan is worth it.

I began by using Evernote just for sewing patterns but now I have a work specific notebook, notebooks for planning holidays etc and one for all my recipes. That means I need access on my phone, my PC, my work Mac and my tablet, so Premium is my jam.

Ok let’s just jump right in then:

Here is my view on my PC. I can’t comment on Mac because I log in through the web browser at work and later I’ll show you some Android app screen shots. Sorry if you are a Mac person, well, not really 😉

On the left are my notebooks (some of them are nested), think of them as the top level folder and inside them are the files (the notes). All my sewing pattern notes live in my Patterns notebook (that makes sense right?). They are in there all together in a jumble – there is no separate notebook for pants and another one for dresses etc because the way you search is by using Tags.

I tag my patterns the way I would search for them – by brand, type of garment and sometimes more specific thing like, “Vintage/Retro” and “Festive” as examples.

I also have a tag called “Queued” so that I can find my shortlisted pattern even more quickly. (In my recipes notebook I use the tags “Planned” and “Favourites”)

Here is a note. Under the note name is the notebook (where the note lives) and it’s tags:

You can keep your tags under control by grouping them. I have two groups for my sewing patterns: Pattern Category (type of garment, e.g. “Pants”) and Pattern Designer (e.g. Butterick”)

In the first image you’ll also see tag groups for my Recipes and Fabric notebooks. I’m still deciding if I want to keep my Fabric notebook, it’s a lot of admin for how little I access it!

I really enjoy “shopping” my stash in real life 😉

I keep it pretty simple but you could tag for seasons or fabric type, pdf versus print or Big 4 and Indie, whatever you want, however you think you’ll search for a pattern.

Notes themselves can go on forever, you can type or insert pretty much anything.

Let’s look at the full note from the above example:

So much information at my finger tips – and how did I get it? I copied it from the Butterick website, easy! You can also put in photos (for vintage or OOP patterns) and the most powerful thing about Evernote is you can search inside your notes. All the text, whether typed, copied, photographed, or even in a PDF, is searchable.

So, to stick with this example: I want to find a dress pattern, so I’ll look in my Sewing Patterns Notebook at all notes tagged with “Dresses”…I might even know I want it to be a Big 4 pattern, so I can also look at all the Butterick, McCall’s etc tags. Or maybe I just know I want a vintage dress, I can look at notes tagged with “Vintage/Retro” AND “Dresses”.

While I’m searching I can order my results by “title” (the way I title my notes means I’ll see them in brand order) or “created” (to see patterns by order they were entered which for me means date purchased)

Let’s look at how it appears in the app, when I’m at the fabric store holding the most beautiful bolt of fabric that’s also on sale and I just need to check how much to buy:

Looking at a specific tag:

These examples are ordered by date, I forgot to change my settings for the screenshots.

Maybe it’s a bolt of denim, hmm, what pants can I make with this?

You’ll notice in the above tags list you can see some of my Recipe tags, that’s one of two annoying things I’ll mention later…and here are two example of full notes:

I copy my favourite pictures from the pattern website and often the text description (good for searching). I also grab the line drawings and fabric chart. If it’s a brand I don’t sew from regularly I also copy and paste the size chart/finishes measurements chart as well. I also have a Size Charts Notebook and I’m experimenting with linking notes to their brands size chart but often it’s easier to look it up or paste it into the note itself. I keep my current body measurements in a note here as well.

For the Acton Dress I also included a screenshot from Instagram of a version I love:

I have a “Wishlist” notebook for patterns I want to buy but I’m waiting for payday…or a sale…or I think I like but I want to see more versions before I commit. It’s easy to move notes between notebooks so once I buy a pattern from my Wishlist I move it to the main Patterns notebook, adding in anymore information and tags.

In the interests of total honesty (and to prove I’m not being paid for this post, I wish!) there are two things I find annoying and that I hope one day will get fixed. The first is only mildly annoying but it’s that tags are not associated with a Notebook. What that means is that as I’m writing a new note and I want to tag it for example “Cardigan”, all the other possible tags pop up as I type.

Mmmm, Chicken patterns…this list whittles down as you type more letters but I wish it would only show the Tags for Patterns.

The second thing is much more annoying. It’s that you can’t choose which image shows as the thumbnail in your notes list. This is strongly and regularly complained about in the Evernote forums. What this means is that I can’t guarantee the hero image, the image I paste in first, the image I want to see, is displayed in the notes list, see example:

No consistency at all. Well there is, through some weird algorithm that picks the image with the smallest biggest measurement or something equally absurd sounding. It’s actually one more reason why I paid for Premium, to lend more weight to the many requests to allow us to control this.

Anyway, I don’t want to end on a bad note. It’s not stopped me from continuing to use Evernote and I’ll stick with it for the foreseeable future. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve pulled out my phone in the fabric shop or at someone’s house or at work, to show someone a pattern. I also look up recipes while out food shopping!

I use my tablet in the kitchen when I’m cooking and for work I have a notebook with all my technical notes and software tutorials. I also planned our recent overseas holiday with Evernote, sharing the notebook with Nerdy Husband. I had notes for each city we visited with lists of attractions and our accommodation details. I also uploaded all our important pdfs and scans of important documents (tickets, booking confirmations, health insurance, passports etc) so that I could access them on the fly or in an emergency.

So, that’s it. Any questions? Suggestions, tips or tricks? Do you catalog your patterns and if so, what do you use?

3 thoughts on “Evernote and Pattern Cataloging

  1. Great post. I use Evernote in almost exactly the same way, except I didn’t know about grouping tags! Will definitely be doing a bit of reorganising with that. And yeah, the not being able to choose the photo used for the note preview? Drives me and apparently a zillion other people crazy as well. I’ve found if you crop the desired pictures squarer compared to all the other pictures in that particular note it kind of helps with their stupid confusing smallest biggest thing but not always. However as you said it’s not really a deal breaker because I continue to use Evernote. It communicates seamlessly between my iPad, iPhone and Mac laptop (sorry!) so is really handy when out and about. Thanks for sharing:)

    • Hi Rebecca, grouping tags is so handy. I wanted to add my recipes to Evernote for a long time but I hated all the tags jumbled up together. Nesting has helped me use Evernote even more! 🙂 Glad to hear you are a fan too.

  2. Thanks for this – you have a cool system down. I used to use Evernote all the time in my last job, but when I started a new job (not so new – 3 years ago now) I used the Microsoft version instead since it was on my PC already. You’ve made me think about trying Evernote again.

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