Let’s Talk Organization: Pattern Storage

I don’t know about your habits, fellow sewists, but I’m a slob. I blame it on the need to create which runs in my veins, but I’ve really never been good at putting things away once I’m done with them.

I’ve been this way my whole life; I was able to earn a $2 weekly allowance for keeping my room clean growing up, which I’m fairly certain I collected less times than the number fingers on one hand because I simply didn’t care to put forth the effort. My sister tells me the allowance increased to $5 a week, but I never knew the difference.

It’s definitely not something I’m proud of, but I’ve accepted that it’s a part of me and something I will probably always struggle with. Thank goodness for the tolerance of poor Mr. 5, who has to live amongst my scatterbrained-ness, which sometimes leaks out onto our kitchen table, in our under 1000 square foot house.

This all having been said, I have made steps to make my sewing room as organized as it can be. If it has a place to be, sometimes it will end up making it back to said place. Which brings us around to the subject of this post: pattern storage!

For years, I would cut patterns, sew up the garment, and then shove the whole works back in the envelope never to be used again, which is really a waste of energy. Why go through fitting a pattern to only use it once? Silly.

The first time I decided to save patterns was when I was drafting my own, and this is how I ended up storing those:


It was a big ol’ clusterf*ck, and I would pretty much have to dig through everything to find the one thing I was waiting for. Sure, they had a place, but they weren’t truly organized.

So, when I started tracing patterns (which I began doing with my second Colette pattern: Eclair. My first was Ceylon, which I cut in a size that is too big for me now. *sob!*) I began folding the traced pieces and storing them in the envelope with the printed pattern. Which works for some patterns, but sometimes you can barely get the manufactured pattern back in there!

So, I graduated on to using gallon ziplock baggies, coincidentally when I started blogging last July, which I began storing in a box in my Expedit bookcase.


Which was working…alright. But I still felt like it wasn’t entirely efficient because the bags were so much bigger than what was being stored in them.

Then, I found a tip on Pattern Review suggesting comic book bags for storing patterns. Whoever it was that suggested that, bless their heart. I asked Mr. 5 to pick me up some silver sized comic book bags, at our local comic book store, (current size are too small to be useful, and gold sized are probably as big as my gallon ziplocks, so silver is the goldilocks winner) and he came back with these:


About $18 for the pair, which makes storing each pattern $0.18.  Pretty awesome!

I was a little surprised at first that he picked up the boards as well, but they ended up being a fantastic addition to the storage solution. They help the pattern stand up firmly without wrinkles, and make the whole works look a bit smarter.

I popped the instructions in the pattern envelope, and put that on one side:


And then put all of the pattern pieces, manufactured or traced, into the other side:


And I secured the flap with artist’s tape, which is mercifully repositionable:


And here’s how they all look in the cube now:


Clean and uniform; much more attractive and compact!

Yay organization!


10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Organization: Pattern Storage”

  1. Ooh, great idea! I’ve never seen comic book bags before, but I’m sure a quick Google will turn some up.

    I just use large white envelopes, but the obvious downside there is that you can’t see through them…

    1. Yes, Google is a great thing! I was going to give you a link to my local comic book store’s online presence, but it would probably be more cost efficient to not pay for shipping halfway around the world. ;)

  2. oooh! I like! I’ve been using sheet protectors, but they are a little brittle and don’t have that lovely top closure. You will have me shopping this week! Thanks!

  3. First of all, I had to laugh because the ziplock baggie method is the same I use, and I also have those very same purple boxes from Ikea – so, your photo, for a moment looked like it was taken at my house! :D

    There’s a comic book store just down the street from me (too bad my daughter just quit her job at the comic book store just a few weeks ago). That storage solution looks brilliant and I can’t wait to repackage all my ziplock baggies!

      1. I have to add that I also have an issue with ‘putting things away’ especially things I’m in the middle of. If I’m working on it – it should be left out for me to look at, pick up, fiddle with, at any moment. if I put it all away 1) it’ll take forever to get started again because it’ll be out of site and 2) I might forget about it :D

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