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Saturday, November 19, 2011

How Do You Manage Your Pattern While Stitching?

Many professional designers, especially those designing counted canvas work, offer a project’s instructions as just a set of loose pages. As far as I can tell, this is for a number of reasons:

  • Good counted canvas instructions, particularly for complex designs, take a lot of pages. (Ruskin Garden Square, for example, has 70 pages of instructions, with at least one diagram on each page.)
  • Stitchers will often have to refer to multiple pages simultaneously, and binding the instructions makes this cumbersome.
  • Not everyone would agree on the best binding, anyway.

Since Ruskin Garden Square was originally a class project, Gay Ann separated the instructions into those pages that could be pre-class work from those that would be the focus of the class. When she sold the instructions to me, they came in a plain folder with the pre-class pages on the left, and in-class pages on the right.


I actually found that division of pages helpful to start, to get all of the various borders in, so I left the pages in the folder, and just pulled out one or two at a time as I needed them. But now I'm reaching the end of the borders, and I need to re-integrate those pages back into the main instruction set.

Juggling 15 or so loose pages of instructions (the pre-class work) is much easier than trying to shuffle 70 pages, though, so I’ve switched to my preferred method of managing instructions with loose pages. I prefer to use a three-ring binder with heavy-duty non-glare page protectors. I put two single-sided pages (back to back) into each page protector.


This is actually a fairly inexpensive setup. Over time, I’ve purchased a couple of boxes of 200 page protectors at my local warehouse club store (BJ’s in my case), along with a six-pack of 1/2” three ring binders. I prefer the kind with the clear pocket on the front so I can put the project’s picture there (though that’s not the type I first laid my hands on for these instructions, so the picture’s in the front inside pocket, as seen above). I’ll reuse the binder and page protectors for a future project after this one is finished. Theoretically, that should keep my WIP count fairly low, but I have a tendency to just buy more binders and page protectors. :-)

Here are the benefits I find to this setup:

  • I can pull out a few pages at a time for reference (still in the page protectors).
  • Since the protectors are non-glare, there’s no issue with my bright stitching light interfering with readability.
  • The page protectors keep the instructions in great shape, and prevent me from losing individual pages.
  • If I have to add notes to a page for some reason, I can just pull the paper out, make my notes in pencil, and reinsert it. The protector keeps the pencil from rubbing off, and I can always erase the note later if I want to give away or sell the instructions when I’m done.
  • With the project picture on the front of the binder, it’s harder to grab the wrong instructions when I’m taking the project somewhere.

What about you? How do you organize instructions with large numbers of loose pages? I’m really happy with my setup as it is, but I’d love to hear if somebody has some way that might work better!


Donna said...

I've started doing the exact same thing. The binding on Stars for a new Millenium broke so I put the pages in page protectors and now can remove a page and use a magnet to hold it right on my canvas. Can't do that with a huge book.

Denise said...

Right there with you. I have a pattern with 62 pages. In a binder and then I copy the original to make a working copy. Best way I've heard yet!

Wendy said...

What I generally do is have the loose pages of the pattern on the sofa next to me where they can fall between the cushions and onto the floor, using when I'm at a tricky bit. I can then rest one on my knee so it can fall in a different direction and I can get confused about which page I'm on! Not a method I'd recommend, I have to say!

Sara Leigh said...

Hahahaha, Wendy. Have you been watching me stitch? I seem to use the same strategy.

Jeanne said...

Donna - That's a great point about using magnets to hold pages right to your canvas. I occasionally will just insert the page into the clamp on my lap stand, so it's clamped there along with the canvas.

Denise - It sounds like you might have a slight variation on the idea. Do you use the page protectors, or just punch holes in your working copy?

Wendy & Sara Leigh - LOL! That's what I typically did before starting with this system. I still have some issues if I take some pages out of the binder and just rest them on the arm of the chair. They're especially slippery with the page protectors, and they DO fall off the chair. Frequently!