The Darwin Exception

because it's not always survival of the fittest – sometimes the idiots get through

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Rainy Fourth, Snap Tape and Excel

Posted by thedarwinexception on July 4, 2007

So, I sewed all day – and knitted. I knitted enough to actually finish the right front on the never ending bunting! I can’t believe it. Now, all I have to do is knit the two sleeves (which have the mittens knitted right into them), and sew the hood – wash it, block it, and I’ll be done. I’m thinking I can have it done by the end of the weekend if I really work at it.

And yes, I sewed. I almost finished the little Winnie the Pooh shirt – I just have to hem the sleeves and sew the snaps on, and I started the little overalls. I’m stuck on those, though, because I need some snap tape. I’ve given up using that stupid snap tool thing. It never works. Trust me, if you use snaps a lot, just buy snap tape and forget investing in that snap tool. It’s a waste of time and money. But the overalls are done up to sewing the crotch and sewing the shoulder straps on.

Of course, I had help with the sewing – or at least “inspiration”. There was a Project Runway marathon on Bravo – and there’s nothing that will get me sewing faster than Project Runway. So I sewed and knitted all day. Paul did nothing. It rained all day, so there wasn’t much to do. He had high hopes of going for a ride on the Harley with some buddies, but, not with the rain. So he sat around moping all day because it was raining.

And now I have a question if there are any Excel gurus out there.

I couldn’t find a sewing pattern database program that would allow me to put all of my patterns into. Since I am storing them in Rubbermaid containers, I thought it would be nice to have a database program that would catalog them all. That way, when I am looking for a pattern for a children’s sweatsuit pattern, I would just have to go into the database program, type in a search on “children’s” and “sweatsuits”, and voila! There would be a list of my patterns that fir those keywords. No such animal, apparently. I was hoping this nonexistent program would have a field for a picture of the pattern, a place for notes, some keywords, a field for “size” and a category such as “men’s”, “women’s”, children’s”, “crafts”. And a place for the manufacturer and the pattern number, of course. Then, see, I would keep them in the Rubbermaid containers, in order of Manufacturer and pattern number. When I went into my database and found that the children’s sweatsuit pattern was McCall’s 9546, I would just go to the Rubbermaid containers, to the McCall’s drawer, and pick out 8546, since I would store them in numerical order.

Well, no such program exists. (And if you want to make me one, go ahead! I’ll buy it! And there are a ton of people on my sewing list who would buy it, too.) So, I made a very rough catalog in Excel. I put a field for a picture of the cover, I entered some keywords and notes, and am putting them in manufacturer order.


My question is this – is there a way to “sort” these in an excel spreadsheet on two different rows? I’d like to sort them by manufacturer, and by another “field” – and then print out the pages and keep them in a sort of “book”. But I’d like to have a “manufacturer” book sorted by different things like “children’s”. But I’m finding it hard to sort on two rows. Is that possible? Whenever I sort, it sorts just the one row I am sorting on, and leaves all the other information behind.

I hate Excel. If I can’t find a good database program by this winter, I’m thinking it would be a good winter project for me. I mean, I used to do this shit for a living, you’d think I would just make my own Access database, right? And besides, I could give it to a bunch of my mailing list friends. They’d love that. Because there really isn’t anything out there.


8 Responses to “Rainy Fourth, Snap Tape and Excel”

  1. Hatpin said

    Excel’s awful at this sort of stuff: database querying and so on. I don’t have it installed anymore (I now use OpenOffice), so I can’t answer your question – sorry.

    If I were you, I’d knock up a VB program to deal with it. Keep your data in XML or something simple like that, and query programmatically rather than through a structured database. But maybe that’s just my strange English ways …

  2. Veronique said

    I am not a guru but I love Excel, and yes, it is possible to sort on two rows, if you are sorting first by RowA, then by RowB?

    You need to select all the rows you want to sort, then up to Data: Sort, then specify the columns you want the sort order to be and whether you have a header row.


  3. Amy said

    That outfit is going to be beautiful!!!

  4. That outfit is going to be beautiful!!!

    Here’s hoping!


  5. groo said

    Besides sorting, you might want to learn to use Excel Pivot tables. They aren’t that hard to do, and they will make it easy to see only what you want to see.

  6. Greg Goss said

    I’ll repeat what V said, but in a bit more detail. It sounds like you’re using the toolbar icon to sort.

    First you select your entire table, including or not including the bottom heading line (your choice). Then use the menu item DATA then SORT. This gives you a panel where you can specify the sort in more detail. You can have three subsorts, and specify whether or not a heading line is included in the selected area.

  7. Henry Knoll said

    Doing a simple database like this can become really hard when done in Excel. You quickly have to start crawling around strange menus to do simple things like sorting and finding.

    There’s a website called that is trying to solve this problem. It lets you upload your excel file and it will create a searchable, sortable, sharable database. There is a fee if you want to set it up so only you can read the data. Otherwise they have a free “Commons” account, which means others can read your database (but only those that you allow can add to it or alter it).

  8. Wow! That was really helpful Henry, thanks a ton! I will check that site out toot sweet!


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