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Topic: how do you organize/ keep patterns?  (Read 7669 times)
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« on: January 19, 2012 11:55:37 AM »

(first off, I'm sorry mods if this is in the wrong forum, I looked at all of them and thought that this was the best place to plop it)

So, I need some help!  I was wondering how others, who have/ make etc a lot of patterns, how they store them while not in use?  At first, I was keeping my patterns in a green plastic folio (with dividers), but it only has 6 dividers (and I've looked for ones with a lot more, I've only found a few and they are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e).  My patterns tend to have a lot of different, tiny pieces (as they are not for clothing but for stuffed animals) and I keep losing pieces of them without having an easy organization system.  I was hoping for something a little DIY, and not just directing me to any particular "product" (if that makes sense.. I mean, I'm not interested in buying a fancy system or anything, I just need something that works!).

Please share how you keep your patterns organized!! 


Ill weave your names into my ribcage; lock your hearts inside my chest.
Regain the passion I once carried; do away with all the rest.
I tore the sickness from your bodies; smashed its head against the bricks.
I made a castle from its bones that you may always dwell in it.
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2012 01:26:26 PM »

I put mine in poly pockets and keep then in a lever arch file. It does get bulky, but nothing drops out if I keep the file upright.

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« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2012 01:33:08 PM »

I'm a bad crafter Sad I just fold up my patterns with the smaller bits inside the folds and stack them on top of my computer stereo... I DO label all my pieces, though, so I know what they are, and some of the pieces (sleeves, mainly) are interchangeable. Yeah, I'm no help to you Tongue

You guys did just give me an idea, though! Those plastic sleeves that can go in a binder come in 10-packs at the dollar store. I think if I folded the patterns really nicely, I could make them fit into the sleeves...

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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2012 02:28:54 PM »

I use gallon ziplock bags, and an old file cabinet with hanging folders. I also photocopy the covers, front and back, and keep those in a three-ring binder, so I have a reference to locate them. Yeah, I know. It's a Taurus thing.  Wink

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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2012 03:48:48 PM »

I recently made a bunch of McCall-sized envelopes out of 12"x12" scrapbooking paper for stuff like this. I label them and keep them in the same bin I keep all of my regular patterns in.

« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2012 04:41:03 PM »

I mostly use quart sized ziplock bags lined up in a box. They're about the same size as a pattern envelope, so the patterns I trace/make end up the same size as ones I've bought. I've also used the brown paper envelopes with a small metal clasp. It's easy to write notes on them and they come in lots of sizes.
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2012 10:05:03 PM »

I have a couple of ways to keep them. 

Regular patterns I keep in their envelopes and store them in shoe boxes.  I'd like to have a better system to these but the shoe boxes work for now.

Patterns I've made myself, copied and altered from bought patterns, or printed from online I typically fold and put in those plastic page protectors.  If there are lots of small bits...like for tiny stuffies I put them in envelopes and then into the page protectors.  All the page protectors are in a huge binder. 

Some that I don't use much but still want to keep are in plain manilla mailing envelopes, labeled, and filed away. 

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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2012 06:47:42 PM »

I use ziplock bags, the biggest. I can write on the bag the size the pattern is cut to. Then I can put all the pattern pieces in it, as well as the original pattern 'bag'. Keeps moisture from getting to your patterns as well. I store them in clear plastic totes, by type. Like dresses in one, skirts in another, etc.

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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2012 01:05:46 PM »

I did it! I bought page protectors and a new binder at Dollarama Cheesy

Each pattern gets it's own "title page" with a photo and description of what the pattern is.

Now I just have to *find* the rest of my print-off patterns and put them in there!

« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2012 03:53:27 PM »

I have a variety of ways of storing the patterns that I make or draw myself I keep in a large artists portfolio thing that a friend gave me.  I also have a large tube that I keep a lot of patterns in so that I don't have to fold the paper.  And then the rest of my patterns and pieces i keep either in manilla envelopes or ziplock bags.

« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2012 12:33:21 PM »

Honestly nowadays I buy most of my patterns in PDF format, so I'm not too good at keeping up with the paper copies. Being able to reprint them whenever I want makes me less cautious.

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« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2012 08:38:15 AM »

I have collected patterns for about 40 years.  Nearly 30 years ago I realized I needed a method to keep track of them.  I found an idea in some organization book that I'd love to give credit to but I can't remember which one it was.

Here are the tools you need:
One or more binders.
Tab dividers for the binders.
Either 8 1/2 x 11 binder or (printer paper and a hole punch).
One or more packages of lunch size paper bags.
Marker or pen of your preference.
Glue (I find the colored Glue Stick that dries clear to be helpful).
Tape (Optional).

Step 1: Most of the popular brand patterns will fit in a lunch size paper bag (sometimes with a little extra folding).
Pull your pattern and instructions out of the original envelope.  Keep your paper bag flat, you might want to tape the bottom down so it stays flat like an envelope.  Slide your pattern and instructions into your paper bag envelope.  Fold the top over.  I consider the side with the fold flap on it the back side.

Step 2: How you mark on the paper bag envelope is up to you.  What I do is put the brand name (ex: Butterick) in the top left hand corner.  Under that I put the size or size range of the pattern (ex: xs, s, m, lg)  under the brand name.  One the top right hand side I put the pattern number (ex: 6922)

When I purchase a bunch of patterns I will put a stack of them in the paper bag envelopes before creating my own personal pattern catalog.  

Step 3: I put my lunch bag envelopes in medium size packing boxes, three in a row standing upright so I can read the brand name and pattern number.  I also have some lunch bag envelopes on a book shelf filed sideways so I can still easily see the brand name and pattern number with a slight move of my hand.  I have them filed first by alphabet, so Butterick is before Burda and McCall's is next, etc.  Then within the Butterick grouping they are in numerical order.

Step 4:  Creating a personal pattern catalog:  I put my paper in a binder.  I choose to use the full 8 1/2 x 11 size because it fits the standard brand pattern envelopes the best.  

Step 5:  Take one of the store pattern envelopes and cut it open on both sides, then cut the front from the back.  Take the binder and open it with the paper sideways.  Trim the front of the pattern envelope to fit on the paper with the brand name, pattern number and size still showing.  I glue this on the left side of the paper.  Next trim the back of the pattern envelope to fit on the right side of the paper.  Glue it down also.  If you are new to sewing and your pattern has the sizing information on the tab, you might want to find a place to glue it to the left side.  Remember if a pattern is too big, like Vogue, you can fold it and glue only half down so it will open up for you to view all the information.

Step 6: When you are finished with gluing your store patterns envelopes to your binder paper, sort them into categories of your liking; such as: tops, pants, vests, skirts, dresses, accessories, costumes, babies and crafts.  I do not sort my tops according to brand name but according to sizes, starting with the smallest to the largest size.  

Step 6 a:  I don't want to confuse anyone but when I started sewing for three adult women instead of one, I decided to put my ladies patterns according to the groupings of sizes with dividers between the size groups (ex: Size 6-8-10-12-14 and 14-16-18-20-22).  This is your personal pattern catalog, sort it according to what will be the most usable to you.

Step 7:  If you have more than one binder of your personal pattern catalog, you may want to number them or label them according to the categories they hold. I have one binder that is only for baby items.

This is my very first post here so I'm not yet allowed to post photos to it... it's the spam bot protection rule. We have to wait until I've made ten posts before I can add photos, sorry.  Feel free to ask questions about anything that might not be clear.


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« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2012 07:13:52 AM »

I use large manilla envelopes and plastic file boxes.  I glue the pattern envelope or a picture of the completed pattern to the front of the envelope.  I have one box for stuffies, one for quilt patterns, one for home furnishing stuff, and three or four for clothing.  I pop all the pieces, templates, and instructions into the envelopes and file them.

« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2012 08:36:22 PM »

I put mine in poly pockets and keep then in a lever arch file. It does get bulky, but nothing drops out if I keep the file upright.

For patterns I make myself, I use Antidigger's approach. For patterns I have bought, shoeboxes.
For Burda magazines, I photocopied all the index pages and filed them (pre-children!). huge bit of work, but easier than browsing through all the magazines.
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« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2012 07:20:39 AM »

Thanks for all the replies!! I think I am going to make some sort of hybrid binder/ folio method.. now I need a trip to the dollar store.  ^_^

Ill weave your names into my ribcage; lock your hearts inside my chest.
Regain the passion I once carried; do away with all the rest.
I tore the sickness from your bodies; smashed its head against the bricks.
I made a castle from its bones that you may always dwell in it.
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2012 06:31:08 PM »

I put what I can back into the envelope they come in, and then put the entire pattern into a plastic ziplock freezer bag so that I can see the original envelope so i know which ones which. As far as where I keep them I just have them on a shelf kind of like books haha. I have been thinking about getting a big box with dividers for them because mine keep falling over and knocking down some glass bottles I have. (Thank god they haven't broken)

Anyway yeah plastic freezer bags work for me. That way everything stays together

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« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2012 06:17:41 PM »

I used manilla envelopes when I used to make dolls.  The advantage over plastic is that you can make notes on the envelope--a sketch of the items enclosed, when you used it, any ideas you have for future changes.

I like to keep notes with my clothing patterns, too, like "11/2011 black swirly fabric" so I know definitely what I'm going to get from it.  Of course, then I wad the pattern up and stuff it anyhow into a bag or envelope, and shove it in my pattern drawer...  I got no respect.

Just how many patterns do y'all have anyway?  How many do you actually use???

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« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2012 10:09:41 AM »

What a lot of good ideas here. I use the gallon sized ziplock freezer back in the big plastic tote box myself. It works OK.

MOst important thing for me, and I'm always sorry when I don't do these two things

1) Throw in a scrap or two of the fabric I've used to make the pattern. A lot of times I don't recognize the pattern I used 3 years ago (or even 6 months ago) until I see that scrap
2) Toss in the piece of note paper with remarks about what I"m going to change next time, like the alterations.

3) Note - I love tracing patterns on medical supply paper. Am really glad I've switched over to doing that and keeping the original pattern just for re-tracing.

Also, if it fits in, I store all or part of the muslin in the zip lock bag. I often hunt for those muslins later on.


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« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2012 11:21:10 AM »

All good suggestions so far. My method is to steal the big 2"-2.5" wide D-ring binders from work (we have a lot Grin), and I bought some coverstock paper (a pack was about $15, however I've also been using this paper for papercrafting projects so it was worth it for me), and a pack of plastic paper protectors (I think a pack of 100 of them cost me about $8). I put a piece of cardstock in the protector, write whatever notes I need on it, then take commercial patterns out of the envelope, and put the envelope in the front side of the protector, and all the pattern pieces in the back. Sometimes I do need an extra protector for patterns with a lot of pieces, but since the stock of recycled binders is unending at my office, I can always grab more and take them home.

For the smaller actual pattern pieces, I find they last longer if I attach some fusible woven interfacing to the back of them. They won't rip, but they're still flexible and I can stick pins through them. Actually makes it easier to place and trace.
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2012 01:11:21 PM »

I keep a data base on line that I use to look up on my smart phone when I shop. The patterns themselves I don't cut into, I trace off the size I need on very cheap tracing paper. The traced off versions I keep in large clasp envelopes with the name of the pattern on them. The store bought patterns and instructions get ironed and put back in the envelope it came in and stored in file boxes.

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« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2013 07:12:21 PM »

I use ziplock bags as well. And keep them away from direct sunlight or moisture.
« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2013 05:46:39 PM »

I use patternreview.com as my database, it has really helped me in not buying duplicate patterns. I have my physical patterns in shoeboxes by dresses, skirts, pants, etc.  This works great for me. 
« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2013 08:58:37 AM »

I use large ziploc bags and have a crate that they are stored in. Smiley

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« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2013 11:56:07 AM »

I hoard patterns. Probably more than I hoard fabric. So, I have milk crates with hanging file folders to hold my patterns. Each pattern has its own folder. Each folder hangs in one of 6 (embarrassing) milk crates, separated by pattern type. (All dress and adult woman patterns in one, all baby patterns in one, all apron and costume patterns in one, all bag and misc. patterns in one, all little kid patterns in one, and all my patterns out of books in one.) I put them in alphabetical order according to the pattern maker and then within the pattern maker name, I put them in numerical order.

When I trace a pattern and cut it out in butcher paper, I will then fold the butcher paper up and put it in the folder with the pattern.

If I have the same pattern in multiple sizes, they go in the folder together.
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2013 07:51:59 PM »

I use the tall sterlite boxes that can be found at Target or Walmart. They hold store bought patterns perfectly and will even hold pattern books. They stack nicely also. Since I tend to hoard patterns I organize them by type and designer. Patterns that I draft myself or with too many small pieces get put in small manila envelopes.

« Reply #25 on: November 17, 2013 02:33:00 PM »

I usually buy bulk amounts of inexpensive lightweight fusible interfacing anytime it's on sale or I have a coupon (I can usually get it for $1 or less a yard!) I iron my pattern pieces onto the interfacing and then cut them out- they are SO much sturdier, easier to work with, last so much longer, and aren't such a hassle to put away because I no longer fear I will destroy them accidentally. It's a little extra work and a tiny bit more money but it's SO WORTH IT!
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