PDF sewing patterns are great for a number of reasons, but one thing’s for sure: they don’t fold up as neatly as those printed tissue patterns. Today we’re going to be sharing our methods of storing our PDF sewing patterns.
We love PDF patterns for the instant gratification they provide—you can get an idea for a garment you want to make, buy the pattern, print it out and instantly start working on it. PDF patterns also allow you to print again if your size changes and there’s no tracing involved. (New to using PDF patterns? Check out our guide for beginners.)
One thing you’ll notice once you use PDF patterns for some time is that they can take up a lot of space. They take up practically no space at all when they’re on your computer, but as soon as you print them out and assemble them, they can be rather bulky. It’s easy to toss them into a big pile when you’re done with your project and think that you’ll be able to find them again later, but that approach doesn’t always work. If you’re looking for a better way to store your PDF patterns, you’ve come to the right place!
When we as a team started discussing this blog post, we quickly noticed that we have different methods for storing our patterns. So we thought it would be helpful to show you each of our approaches, and then at the end we have some other storage solutions as well. If you have a method that works well for you, we want to hear about it! Feel free to chime in with your method in the comments.
How Jenny Stores Her Patterns
These days, Jenny’s not doing a ton of personal sewing, but when she’s deep in pattern development for Cashmerette, there are a lot of pattern pieces hanging around. The method we use for storing pattern drafts is the one she used back when her sewing space was entirely at home.
Jenny’s method is to punch a hole through all of the pieces of a pattern and then hang it on a clothes rack using a pattern hook. The patterns hang together nicely and it’s easy to flip through them as you would flip through clothes on a rack. You can organize them into categories by garment (dresses, tops, etc.) or by pattern designer—whatever system makes the most sense to you.
We have a big hole puncher in the studio that we use for this—in punches a nice large hole through several sheets of paper, although it doesn’t like tissue paper quite so much.
Pattern hooks are not too pricey and fairly easy to find online. You can pick some up for less than a dollar each by searching “pattern hooks” on Amazon.
And that’s all there is to it! This system doesn’t take much time to set up, but you do need to have a spare clothes rack available.
How Carrie Stores Her Patterns
Carrie, the overachiever that she is, has the most sophisticated method of the three of us. (That level of organization is why she makes such a great team member! Plus she brings us donuts.)
Here’s how her system works:
Carrie uses a set of binders that are categorized by garment and fabric type. Inside each binder, she has a clear sleeve for each pattern. Once she’s printed out her PDF pattern, she folds up the pieces and stores it in the clear sleeve along with the instructions. This allows her to flip through her patterns very easily, while keeping them tidily out of sight when she’s not using them.
How Ayelet Stores Her Patterns
That’s me! Here’s how I store my patterns:
In a corner of my sewing room near my printer and filing cabinet, I have bin for all of the patterns I’ve used. I store each pattern it its own manilla folder, and label it on the outside with the pattern name and the pattern company. Inside each folder, I keep the printed instructions as well as the pattern pieces cut out and folded up (not so neatly, I must admit).
(The filing cabinet does not have sewing patterns in it, just boring adulting things.)
I keep the patterns I use most (my Cashmerette patterns, of course) organized alphabetically near the front, with the rest of the patterns behind. Lingerie, menswear, baby, and other patterns I tuck into the overflow area on the right side of the bin.
I store both PDF and printed patterns in the same way in this bin, with all of my unused printed and PDF patterns stored in a different bin in another corner of my sewing space.
As you can see, this system is already starting to reach its limits in this one bin. I think it’s time to get myself another bin!
Other PDF Pattern Storage Ideas
Those are our three preferred methods, but there are so many more ways you can do it! Here are a few other ways of storing PDF patterns that we like:
- Jennifer at Sewing is Required prefers to roll up her printed patterns and secure with a label bearing the pattern name.
- Our friends at Colette recommend hanging pattern pieces pants hangers or binder clips. The great thing about hanging your patterns is you don’t have to iron them out to flatten them the next time you want to use them.
- Over at Do It Better Yourself Club, they’re also fans of the manilla envelope method, but they take it up a notch by taping the pattern cover to the front and the measurements charts to the back. So smart!
- The Foldline has a free library card-like divider to help you organize all of you patterns.
- Check out Jasika Nicole’s filing cabinet filled with a treasure-trove of patterns.
- Katja at With My Hand Dream likes to use folders with expandable pockets to store her pattern iterations.
- Helen of Helen’s Closet uses a website called Trello to keep track of all of her PDF patterns. This also lets her browse her pattern stash from the fabric shop. Genius!
How do you like to store your PDF patterns? Let us about it in the comments below—we’d love to expand this list with many more methods!