Storing A Sewing Pattern

Storing Pattern

Now that the Pyjama Party tutorials are behind me, I can return to a sorely neglected project. Anyone remember this?

Basted Bodice

Whilst working on my dress, I’ve tried to be really careful about storing my pattern pieces back in their paper envelope the moment I’m done with them. But then I find I need to remind myself of a notch or grain, and pull the pattern piece out again, shove it back in the envelope, tear the envelope a little, crumple the pattern piece… Enough!

I dug out the above Samla box from IKEA. It’s the absolute perfect size for storingย my envelope and pattern pieces. This is where they’ll stay, tidy but easily accessible, until this project is over. Much better than the slow, gradual degradation of my pattern and envelope.

Do you have any other tips for storing pattern pieces for a Work In Progress?

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57 Responses to Storing A Sewing Pattern

  1. I use a large ziplock bag. It’s big enough to fit all the little fabric pieces like facings etc

    • Deb Koobakii says:

      Having toyed with numerous pattern storage ideas, I’ve also found the large ziplock bag to be the most effective solution.

      • LinB says:

        Oh, very yes! I used to cut apart the pattern envelope and glue it to the front and/or back of manila mailers, or shove the pattern into the plastic bags that men’s dress shirts came in, before the advent of ziplock storage bags. Now, the whole mess goes into a gallon-sized ziplock. The pattern envelope holds only the instruction sheets and any notes about construction, while the pattern pieces float happily behind the pattern envelope.

  2. Amy says:

    I use those ring binder pockets/inserts. Theyre clear and a4 so work perfectly! This box looks like a good idea too ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I do this method as well but now I’m finding I’m out-growing my binders and it’s getting out of control! I think ziplock bags would just slip and slide around and boxes would take up even more space…hmm…

      • LinB says:

        Laurabehindthe hedgerow: You can fit 30-50 ziplocked patterns into the cartons that deliver office paper, depending on size of pattern and if you remember to squeeze out all the air before you zip the bag shut. I sort them by garment type, and label the boxes on all sides. They stack beautifully, and are small enough to stash in a closet if you only have 3-4 boxes (I have 40). Sometimes I stack a few boxes in a big cube and throw a tablecloth over them, for an emergency table.

    • Rachel says:

      I use this method too – so far it’s working perfectly!

  3. Sewingjen says:

    During the construction process, I use an A4 clear plastic ring binder pocket, which means that I can stuff the pieces in, by making fewer folds than placing them back into the pattern envelope. I also place all the pieces which I don’t need back in the envelope which can clearly be seen through the plastic pocket. As I may have more than one project on the go at once (quelle suprise! that’s allowed isn’t it!) I can easily grab the pouch I need without rooting through numerous patterns. I also use small vacuum pack bags, (the type which you use to store duvets etc) to store erm – how do you say it – suspended projects- ha ha!!! And why am I replying to this so quickly – well I am lording it in Spain – home tomorrow and back to my sewing machine – withdrawal symptoms!!!

  4. Jenny says:

    Ooh, I really like this idea! I do the same thing as everyone else so far- the clear plastic sleeve- but I prefer your little box as you could keep your thread & other knick knacks in there too!

    • LinB says:

      The clear boxes that hold 1,000 offering envelopes for use in church collection plates are the perfect size to hold pattern-in-ziplock bag, cut-out pieces, and all the notions for each project (unless you’re making a heavy coat, or upholstering a sofa). I do realize that this is a fairly esoteric container, lol.

  5. Kim says:

    Ohh the fabric from Mood right? I’m really curious to see the finished result! I store my patterns in plastic sheet binders like a lot of the others. But right now I’m being terrible and I have a pattern just lying unfolded on top of the washing machine for three weeks already..

  6. Such a lovely dress emerging there! I put the whole caboodle – fabric scraps, cut out fabric, pattern notions etc into a basket. The principle is the same though, we geniuses think alike! ROFL!

  7. melissa says:

    I have a clothes line against one wall in my sewing room – fabric and pattern pieces get pegged up while I’m working on a project. They don’t take up any space, but are within reach!

  8. I keep pattern pieces in a ring binder pocket (seems to be a popular choice!) with everything else in a small box/basket. It helps to be able to locate everything if a project takes a while to complete, or if you work on multiple projects.

  9. Helena says:

    I use ziplock bags for my finished projects and store the traced pattern pieces there. During a project the pieces just lay around on my desk (I always trace so there’s no worry about the actual pattern being damaged), but I could probably use a “current project box”.

  10. Charlotte says:

    The pattern I’m currently working on is residing on my living room floor. Probably not the best place for it but I do like the box storage idea. Stored patterns like most others, are stored in A4 plastic ziplock bags (in a box on my living room floor!)

  11. sewbusylizzy says:

    I have heavy plastic office ziplock sleeves. I store my pattern, traced pattern etc in them. It certainly saves the original pattern envelope from a lingering death. I keep all the envelopes in plastic storage tubs,

  12. I trance the patterns first – always – maybe somone else would like to use it later. So after it is traced I put all pieces and the original pattern with envelope to A4 palstic map. And than like most others – they are all stored in a plastc box – well … boxes.

  13. Ginny says:

    Unfortunately my storage solution for this issue consists of a basket at the side of my sewing machine into which the project gets stuffed. It’d be fine if I ever just worked on one thing at a time, but alas, I am a multi-project kind of girl! If they ever get set aside for any length of time (like, more than a couple of months) they tend to get put in the Box Of Incompletion, whence they are unlikely to return from.

  14. Philipppa says:

    I’m with MrsC in that I store my current project in a fabric lined, oval basket with handles at either end. I like the country/rustic look so because it looks quite pretty I feel free to dump it in the corner of whatever room takes my fancy! My patterns are stored in a horrible plastic set of drawers though. I would love to find a pretty solution for storing them.

  15. Tee says:

    I, too, use a zip loc bag. When I am finished, it the envelope& directions go inside a plastic sleeve and pieces go in a manilla envelope. I store the plctic sleeve in. 3-ring binder.

  16. meggameuf says:

    Because I iron the pattern pieces before tracing, I occasionally hang them up flat using skirt hangers on a door hook in my sewing room. I quite often iron a batch of ‘next up’ patterns and this means they stay flat. It works unless I try to hoover the room, then it’s only really a disaster if the pattern piece is big and gets caught in the nozzle. Umm. As I trace all my patterns, I usually store the tracings in an A4 envelope (the kind you’d use to send a letter, not the ziplock or ring-binder kind), with the pattern number, and some details of when I made it written on the outside. Then the original goes back in its original envelope with the instructions for posterity.

  17. lauriesannie says:

    I use something the big box stationers call ticket envelopes. They are a tad larger than 8 1/2 x 11 and clear; plastic so you can see what’s in there easily. All (I think I have four) of my traced Burdas go in there b/c I don’t used tissue for those.

  18. Catherine says:

    Have a set of Ikea Malm draws which my TV sits on and the draw height is perfect for patterns. And the other draws also hide my other sewing bits all in one neat set.

  19. hayley says:

    well, ive only started sewing properly and its been halted through a move but i found that if its a really special thing to work on store each piece in a plastic wallet with ring biders to put in a folder and put a sticker on what piece it is with the original picture or photo kept with it so it stays in relatively good condition, hope this helps x

  20. Lori says:

    I like your idea. I tend to keep my pieces folded on the side of the cutting table but have thought about using a skirt hanger with the clips. Then I could just clip the pattern to the skirt hanger and they would stay neater and easier to find the piece I need. I cannot wait to see your finished dress.

  21. Miss Sunalee says:

    I like the idea of the box to put everything in a same place while your sewing !
    When I’m finished, I store my copied pattern in a plastic sleeve and the in a binder, with a piece of paper where I note my remarks about the pattern.

  22. Hmmm.. no one so far appears to use my tried and tested method of letting the pattern pieces drop to the floor like unwanted rubbish… along with all my excess fabric. So when I come to need them again they are handily on the floor under the fabric where I left them! ha ha

    • Deborah in NZ we had a wonderful Sky Living Channel ad – two young men sharing a flat discussing their “Floor Storage System” where EVERYTHING was On the Floor! It was very funny and actually describes my sewing room perfectly in between those manic tidy ups. One of which I just completed. It Will Not Last!

  23. Hillary says:

    For current projects I use a combo of a large basket and ziplocks for the small bits. Afterwards, I store the pattern envelope with its directions in a binder in a plastic sleeve. this is less bulky. I take the pieces and any construction alterations and store them separately in large (8×11) envelopes. I put the pattern number and company on the front of the envelope and store them alpha/numerically in a file cabinet. I am a very disorganized person, but I read this idea from some unsung blogger and it had immediate appeal because it would work in my tiny space.

  24. carlalissa says:

    I trace my patterns and put them in a separate envelope with my adjustments and notes. Then put everything in a little basket where I put all the notions, fabric, etc I might need for the project. I just throw the pattern piece in the basket and when I am done for the day see which ones deserve storing and which ones should I still keep out (usually none).

  25. rachelinred says:

    aaah the Mood fabric! I was kind of wondering if this project had died lonely and abandoned, but I’m glad it’s still alive! So excited to see the progress you’ve made!
    I also use a plastic A4 map for current projects. During a project I have the map on the side of my table and when it’s finished I put it in a binder, along with my other patterns.

  26. Bia says:

    To start with, when I cut out a pattern from fabric, the whole project goes into a ‘project box’ – which is a Contact (stick shelf liner) covered box. My mom covered lots of boxes years ago with Contact – these are the cut box bottoms that sometimes sit in grocery stores with cans of vegetables in them (about 3 inches high by ~12″ by ~18″. After taking the pins out of a pattern piece to begin sewing, I fold the pattern piece so I can see the piece number and put a clothes pin (peg) on it. I either clip this clothes pin to the project box edge or onto a waiting project box. All pattern pieces go onto this clothes pin until the garment/project is done. The pattern pieces are easily accessible, but kept securely together for marking button holes, clips, or darts as needed (because I always forget to mark things while I am cutting out!).

  27. Marie says:

    What a ruddy good idea!Then you just use the box for the next project…genius!

  28. Stephanie says:

    Ooh thanks for doing this kind of post! Having recently returned to sewing after a twenty year hiatus, I love reading about other people’s sewing habits (for new ideas!). I’ve always been what my best friend refers to as “creative” (read: a bit messy, in spite of good intentions), but in my 40s I have learned the power of organization and almost follow through. I think I fall into the ziplock bag category for patterns (although at the moment they are distributed between different drawers in two different dressers). I did finally get my knitting organized into nice, stackable plastic boxes, so there is hope. I cut out two muslins for two different vintage dress patterns last night though and they are both folded (neatly!) and piled on paper under my sewing table Sigh! I think I might try the clothesline idea someone mentioned above or run to the hardware store tonight to get a small plastic box. ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. I usually change a pattern so I store the revised pattern in an envelope (size used for large greeting cards) with a cut out of the pattern view pasted on the front. On the envelope I write the pattern description (“Vogue boat-neck top”) and drop in a sliver of the fabric used. The patterns go into large Ikea boxes labeled TNT, tops, skirts & dresses, etc. This sounds very neat but does not take into account all the unused patterns in stacks all around.

  30. says:

    I just use zip lock bags. Patterns I reuse a lot remain in their bag while stored. I also refold each pattern piece with its identifying name (skirt, front, etc) on top for easy identification.

  31. Hi Karen! I wrote a blog post recently about how I store and organize my patterns. I always transfer patterns to a larger envelope. That makes getting pieces and stuffing them back much easier. I also keep all of my notes with the pieces and instructions.

    I’ve been on the hunt for a good system to store WIPs for a while now. I’m usually working on multiple projects at the same time, and I found a good system to neatly store that half-finished dress while I go work on something else. Would love some recommendations!

  32. Mrs. Smith says:

    I use zip lock bags and all my in progress stuff in a storage bin. I might get a few clear boxes so I don’t have 10 things going at once. Ok, not really 10 but…now that I’ve got a comfort level with sewing, I’d prefer to keep it to maybe 3-4 projects max at one time. I can have the boxes out on a shelf…I like that idea ๐Ÿ™‚

    Otherwise, I can generally get my patterns folded flat enough to go back in. If I can’t, then I’ll put them in a 9×13 zip lock, get all the air out, and store them with the rest of the patterns.

  33. Jen (NY) says:

    Unfortunately, Ikea seems to have discontinued a box that was the perfect size for standard patterns. So, most of my patterns are now in an large Kassett (?) box. Most are standard size vintage, so they have plastic sleeves too. Others, mostly Burdastyle Magazine patterns, are currently unorganized & stuffed in a magazine box, inside envelopes that I made for them (need to get to Ikea again).
    While in process, the pattern pieces are kept in a large plastic “in progress” box, along with the notions, interfacing, etc. that is needed for the project. In reality, most of the time I leave the pattern pieces just lying across the ironing board unfolded until the project is done. The extra-large zip-locks seem like a good idea.

  34. Theresa in Tucson says:

    So many good ideas to filch from you all. I punch a hole in the corner of a gallon Ziploc and put the envelope, instructions and smaller pieces inside, along with zips, buttons, thread and other notions. The larger pieces get draped over a wire clothes hanger and clipped with a clothespin. Then I slip the Ziploc (through the pre-punched hole) over the wire hanger and hang it on my roll around clothes rail. An in-progress project goes into a dish basin until it is far enough along to rejoin the pattern pieces on the hanger. Once completed, the pattern gets pressed, folded and returned to the envelope. Trace offs go into the same envelope if space permits, otherwise they get their own envelope and are stored behind the original in the pattern box.

  35. Kathleen says:

    Since I have not mastered the folding ability to get the patterns back into the envelope which has clearly SHRUNK since I pulled them out. I use a bigger envelope like you would use to mail paper if you didn’t want to fold it. It was what I had in my office supplies which wasn’t being used. I tried zip-lock bags but they got stolen whenever we decided we needed a zip-lock somewhere else.

    I keep the patterns in a little dresser in my sewing room. Eventually, I’ll need a larger storage area but it works for now. (Actually, now the patterns are on top of the office desk because I decided to refinish the dresser so lalalala……)

    I love the idea of a project box. I tried to do this with a little unused tote I have hanging from the window handle. It holds my current pattern, fabric and notions. It looks cute.

    But I also have the “current current” project sitting on the ironing board and the mending on the cutting table. And some more mending stuffed in the sewing cabinet out-of-sight. I need to teach someone else to sew so they can mend and I can use my talents for greater things…… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love all the ideas!

  36. Gjeometry says:

    I trace all my patterns, and then clip them together, unfolded, with colour coded clips. I.e., green = skirts, yellow = dress, etc. I then store them on a large table. Since I never fold them, I never have to re-fold them.

  37. Ellen says:

    I use hanging file folders in a portable holder. It seems to corral everything nicely. I have a large holder for pattern storage, and a small one for current projects.

  38. susew says:

    I’ve learned over the years that there is no point in putting away the paper pattern pieces until the garment is finished or at the hemming stage – forgot to make a marking or the marking I made has disappeared or don’t remember the hem depth. Why do so many patterns only note the hem depth on the pattern itself and not within the instruction sheet too?. I leave them lying on top of my cedar chest in my sewing room and try to remember to weight them down, if they are tissue paper pattern pieces.

  39. Pat says:

    I use plastic sleeves that comic book stores sell. They come in two different sizes and are acid free so I don’t have to worry about my pattern (or envelope) degrading over time. They are pretty cheap – about 10 cents. The comic store clerk was really disappointed when he found out I was using them for patterns. He thought I was a major comic book collector.

  40. sarah davies says:

    I recognise that pattern. I have found it really hard to fit. Have you had any success with it?

  41. Sew Sleepy says:

    so many great ideas. I have been considering the merits of tracing patterns. Feel I will be getting some ziplocs soon

  42. Pella says:

    I use a clothes peg to hold pattern pieces, envelope and instructions whilst in the middle of a project. No point tidying them away until its all done and dusted. The clothes peg helps avoid losing small facing and pocket pieces before you’re done.

  43. I keep my patterns in large cardboard folders, so I can easily take the pieces out and put them back in. There’s space on the front to write the pattern name or even attach a fabric swatch!

  44. Lydia says:

    I have two printed cardboard storage boxes (ikea vintage). They are the size of shoeboxes and the patterns are aranged in the box on their sides — like a filing cabinet off sorts. I try and keep my patterns purchases to these two boxes. when they become too full, I start to purge or give them away. I slide some patterns into page protectores, and then fold these into the boxes as well. While I work on a project, I used plastic containers to hold all the pieces until the project is sewn together.

  45. Rose says:

    Hi there, I pin my pattern pieces to the curtain until I have finished with them, then iron and fold them. I have no problems getting them back into their original envelope. Any pieces not needed in construction are folded and returned to the envelope immediately. Any changes I note on the pattern and I now no longer trace them. I figure that if I ever need the pattern again in a larger size, I will just have to buy another, or make my own changes. I have given myself permission to cut the pattern!! Storage is in type order, eg blouses, tops dresses, children small etc,

  46. Rachel says:

    I generally trace my patterns on to bristol board, which gets clipped together and hung up in the closet with a skirt hanger. And then the original pattern, instructions, notions, unused pattern piece for the WIP usually go in a plastic box like yours. And when it’s finished, the tissue pattern and instructions go into plastic inserts and get stored in a binder.

    Although truthfully most of the time things just lie about on the sewing table and get in the way. ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. treva e says:

    I, use a pants hanger with the clips to hold the pattern pieces and envelope while I work on something, it makes it easier to go back to if I want to look at the actual pattern piece.
    When finished, I store my pieces and pattern cover and directions in a ziploc from Nancy’s notions, inside a file cabinet. Many years ago when I was in high school the teacher use to recommend cutting out projects ahead of time when you were in the mood or had time, and packaging it with the pattern and necessary notions (zipper, thread, buttons etc) so you could pick it up when you were ready and sew without searching through your stuff. I try to hard to do that, however, often when buying fabric, or notions on sale, I just pick up a bunch, and have clear plastic boxes, of zippers, buttons, and the like to shop through at home. Although I will say if you have a definite idea of what your doing with fabric, I always recommend buying the notions at the same time, so you have definite matches, and don’t end up searching all over the place. Its kind of like the fashion thing, buy accessories to match at the same time, so you get the right colors especially seasonal colors.

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