How to Organize Digital Sewing Patterns

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Happy Thursday! I'm back today with another post for the Sewing Room Organization Series. I wrote three posts for this series last Spring, and wanted to pick it back up again. Find the other posts in the series here:
Tips for Keeping Your Sewing Table Organized and Clutter Free
Tips for Storing Projects in Progress (WIPs)
Tips for Organizing and Storing Fabric Scraps

For today's post I'm sharing how I organize my digital pattern PDF files. When I asked last year what you all struggle with organizing this was a repeated request. To be honest, at the time my files really weren't well organized. They were all in one central folder, and I often had trouble finding what I was looking for.

Preparing for this post was just the push I needed to really get my files organized and now I can share with you how I do it. I got organized last year and have been living with it for probably 7-8 months. The system I use is really simple and didn't take too long to set up. As always, there is no right or wrong way to organize your files. This is just a method that is working for me, but feel free to organize your digital patterns however you like!

The first thing I did when I decided to get organzied was to create a main folder, which I named "Digital Patterns". Within this folder I created folders for different pattern types. I looked through all my digital patterns to decide what types of folders I'd need. This will be different for everyone, depending on what types of patterns you buy, and how you'd like to have them organized. I set up the following pattern type folders:

Bag Patterns
Craft Patterns
Embroidery Patterns
Garment Patterns
Home Decor Patterns
Knitting Patterns
Magazines + Books
Pincushion Patterns
Pouch Patterns
Quilt Patterns
Softie Patterns

Here's a peek inside my "Bag Patterns" folder. The other thing I did with all my digital patterns was to rename all the files in a consistent way to make them easer to search for. Here is the format I used:

Pattern name - pattern designer.pdf

You could include any other identifying information you want. The date you downloaded the pattern, the type of item it is (if it's not in the pattern name), etc. I'd just recommend you decide on a system and then stick with it. In my opinion that will make it easier to look through your patterns and find what you're looking for.

See my organization method in action in this short video. (Direct link to the video here, if it's not showing up.) I also share how I treat a "new" pattern that comes in and get it organized into my system. I use a Mac, but this method works just as well on a PC.

I hope it was helpful to see one method for organizing digital patterns! It took me a few sittings to get my system set up, but it's been really easy to maintain. For me it has been worth that initial time investment to be able to easily look through and find specific patterns when I need them. The next post in this series will be how I organize my printed patterns. This will include both physical patterns I've purchased and digital patterns that I've printed at home.

Happy Organizing!


  1. So when you say knit something you print it off or do you just keep it on computer and look at it that way. I always seem to need to print it off to use it. :0) Great tips Jeni

    1. I print it off too! Especially for knitting patterns I like to make notes or use a highlighter on the paper to mark my place.

  2. What a good idea, Jeni! I have never made an attempt to organize my digital patterns. Thanks for the suggestions!

  3. This is an excellent idea! Thank you!

  4. Jeni, this is an interesting post---just like all your other posts. I wonder if you hav given any thought about creating a video which may or may not be free "class" where you teach your students the process of something--like how you designed fabric and it could be geared towards spoonflower. Just some thoughts because you are a very good teacher. thanks.

    1. Rebeca--Thanks! I don't currently have any plans for classes!

  5. I have a QUILTS folder and keep folders in it by designer name. I've managed to purchase a pdf more than once because I forgot that I already had it. So now, I file them under the designer name folder. :-)

  6. Great system and don't forget to backup your digital patterns periodically to a storage device or the cloud. You paid for many of them and don't want to lose your information nor investment.

  7. I actually organize my patterns very similarly :) The only other thing I add to the name is a $ symbol to denote a purchased pattern as opposed to a free or me-made pattern.

    1. Great idea on the dollar sign !

  8. Jeni, thank you so much for this post! I've needed to organize my digital patterns for years and finally it just got it done. You have such helpful posts.

  9. I've started using Trello to track my patterns. There's a free version and it's really easy to use. There are boards made of lists. And the lists are made of cards. I have lists for things like quilt, clothing, or accessory patterns. The best part is you can attach links, files, and photos, plus all the notes you want in the cards. The cover photos make it easy to scan what I have. I'm also building lists for my quilt back and garment fabrics with yardage in the name. So if I need 5 yards of backing, I can see what I have already that might work. I also use Trello for my gardens with cards for each plant sorted in lists by which garden they're in. It's saved me from buying plants I already have, particularly hostas, because I can check it on my phone. I keep a plant wish list too. The app syncs with a desktop site so I do a lot of input and maintenance on my computer. I think it was designed originally for project tracking with due dates and labels (hi WIPs!) but it's a blank structure so you can fill it up however you want. It's really helped me get organized and I already have and LOVE spreadsheets. :)


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