I Sing the Song of Evernote

I’ve been using Evernote for a few months now and holy crap it makes staying organized so much easier. I started out using it for my sewing patterns. I realized the need for an indexing system after several incidents of bringing home my new patterns only to discover I already purchased some of them the last time they were on sale (99 cent patterns, yo). I like to refer to these as my “patterns so nice I bought ’em twice”. In some cases thrice. So yeah, that was a problem.

My solution was to make an index on my site so I’d have a list along with a photo of all my patterns. I actually did document a bunch of my patterns which, as of this writing, you can still access under my Other heading. I have them organized by type such as: pants, skirts, swimsuits, etc. So some patterns are listed more than once if they have different articles of clothing in the same pattern. I also made note of which box I had them stored in, the pattern company and whether they were for men, women or children. This was just as tedious as it sounds like it’d be. I had to photograph the front and back of each pattern, take them into photoshop and combine them into one image, upload them all and post them to my index. It got tiresome pretty quickly and I never completed it.

I revisited the problem later and laid out what I wanted in my solution:

  1. Ability to search for keywords and pattern numbers
  2. Accessibility from my phone
  3. Large, clear pictures of pattern envelope so I can get yardages

So with my requirements in mind I started Googling how other people manage their pattern hoards. Enter Evernote. I read several reviews and it sounded like what I was looking for but best of all, it was free. I downloaded it and got busy testing it. I uploaded a few patterns and started working out a system. Each pattern company has its own Notebook and each pattern is a single Note. I use the pattern number(s) for the title being sure to include any alternate pattern numbers they may have. For example, the patterns out on displays will have a different number than the ones in the pattern drawer even though it’s the same pattern. Also, some patterns have been re-released under new numbers so I try to account for all that.

Evernote also lets you tag Notes. I tag my patterns for their intended wearers: men, women, children and pets along with more specific tags like design elements or franchise names (GoT, Star Wars etc.). The documentation can be time-consuming but now when I want to pull a pattern with a bubble skirt or look over all my Lord of The Rings patterns I can do it quickly on my computer. It beats spending 20 minutes pawing through a bunch of boxes looking at each pattern until I find the one I want. I also moved my patterns to clear drawers separated by company to compliment the new indexing system. Now since I know exactly what pattern number I’m looking for and what drawer it’ll be in, all I have to do is thumb through until I find the number. Two minutes, tops.

Of course, I still don’t have them all uploaded. When I buy new patterns I make sure to document them before putting them away. When patterns are current the company usually has lots of large, clear images of the pattern envelope and sample garments so it’s just a matter of pasting them in and tagging them. Older patterns can be a chore. Quality images may not be available online so I have to take them myself. Even that isn’t too bad because I can take them with my phone in the Evernote app directly in their Note.

Now for the irksome bits. As you can see in my screenshot, the snippet view panel on the left shows a thumbnail of an image in each Note. You may have noticed that one of the thumbnails is of the back of the envelope instead of the front like the rest. This is because Evernote won’t let you designate a thumbnail image for each Note. Instead, the program selects the largest image and automatically uses that for the thumbnail. So far I haven’t found any way to override this. To try to circumvent it I look for the largest images I can find of the front of the envelope and I crop the image of the back of the envelope via the annotate feature. That brings me to another gripe. Sometimes when I’m using the annotate feature to crop an image it’ll ignore my selection and crop everything except a tiny square in the upper left corner. It works perfectly on some images then it decides to butcher others. They’re all .jpg files so I’m not sure what causes it but it refuses to properly crop certain images no matter how many times I try. Weird.

Lastly, and this isn’t really a complaint but something you want to be aware of, there is a monthly upload limit. I started out with the free version and because I was uploading a lot of large images I hit the 60MB limit pretty quickly. The Premium version is $7.99/month and you get 10GB of monthly uploads. I’ve never managed to hit the limit since I’ve had the Premium version.

Also costuming-related, I have Notes for costumes I plan to make. Evernote can clip from the internet so if I come across a good tutorial or a piece of information about a particular costume I can just put it in Evernote instead of bookmarking it on my browser and eventually forgetting it ever existed. Then when I get ready to make a costume I can just pull up all the research I’ve done and have it in one place. Convenience ftw!

In conclusion, if you’re like me and you make poor life choices such as having a staggering amount of sewing patterns, Evernote will be your best friend.


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