How to Organize Paper Sewing Patterns

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Happy Wednesday! It's time for another post for the Sewing Room Organization Series. In last week's post I wrote about how I organize my digital pattern PDF files. Here are the other posts in the series so far:

How I Organize my Digital Sewing Patterns
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 paper and printed patterns. This includes digital patterns that I've printed out at home as well as paper patterns that I have purchased in person or had shipped to my home. Typically I purchase digital patterns, but I do prefer to buy paper patterns for garments. I use two different types of organization for my paper patterns. For sewing and quilting patterns I use three ring binders. I've seperated mine into three different binders, one for home decor + quilting patterns, one for bags + pouches, and one for my own pattern line.

This is just one way of organizing paper patterns that has worked for me and the patterns that I have in my collection. What works well for me may not be best suited to you. I encourage you to experiement and find something that works for your individual work flow, space and collection of patterns. There is no wrong way to organize your patterns!

First up is the sewing + quilting binder where I keep patterns for home decor, sewing organizers, pincushions, quilts, pillows, etc. A bit of everything! I use 5 tab dividers to keep the different categories seperated. If you're planning to use dividers with sheet protectors, make sure they're big enough. Most dividers are meant to be used with 8.5x11" paper that has been hole punched. Just something to keep in mind if you decide to organize your patterns this way too!

These are the 5 tab dividers* I used for my binders. They're not my favorite to be honest, but they were what I could find locally that were the right size and they get the job done!

I use a sheet protector for each individual pattern, to make it easy to keep all the pieces together (if there are templates), and to keep everything nice and neat. This also means I don't have to punch holes in my patterns in order to store them in a binder. This system works well for me since I am combining patterns I've printed as well as paper patterns I purchase, which come in many different sizes. When I'm ready to sew I can open the binder rings and grab the pattern I want!

For patterns that have a lot of little pieces, I'll often include a small paper envelope in the sheet protector with the pattern instructions. That way nothing can fall out!

The bags + pouches binder is set up the same way as the sewing + quilting one. Another set of 5 tab dividers and sheet protectors. I have the patterns organized by bag size. One advantage to this particular set of dividers is each one has a pocket. I store miscellaneous templates in those pockets.

The last binder contains my self-published patterns. They're organized slightly differently. I still use sheet protectors, but there is only one double-sided page per protector. This allows me to flip through the binder and see all the pages of each pattern. I also have an unfolded cover for each pattern to start. Since I refer to my own patterns a lot, it's helpful to be able to quickly see each page. I would recommend this method for those patterns that you use over and over again!

Instead of dividers, I use these post-it tabs* instead. This reduces bulk and is more cost-efficient since this would have requried a large number of dividers!

Next up is my garment patterns. My system for storing these is not quite as streamlined as it is for my other patterns. But I don't sew garments as often, so it works okay for me! All my patterns fit in a storage cube that sits on top of my shelving unit.

Each pattern has it's own manila envelope, I've used a combination of 9x12" envelopes and 10x13" envelopes. No reason for having two different sizes, other than it was what I had on hand. I like using large envelopes because it means I don't need to refold the tissue paper that comes in many garment patterns down to a small size again. I can easily fit the original tissue, my traced pieces and the instructions in each envelope. When I'm ready to sew I just grab the envelope I need!

I hope seeing my systems might give you some ideas for organizing your own patterns in your space!

Happy Sewing!

*Note: Any links marked with an asterisk in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click through and buy something, I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.


  1. Great binder ideas with the page protectors! A crazy question - what is the name of your binder text font? lol It's fabulous and I'd love to use it for label making.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Jeni! My patterns are organized two ways. Printed patterns go into a binder much like yours, but without the category tabs. Purchased pattern get stored (shoved?) in a bin. Hoping to give them some attention soon!

  3. Thanks for this--I actually have mine in a binder but they aren't setup like yours and I use to put my patterns (clothing) in an envelope like you did--I got this idea from someone who sewed and their sewing items were in a thrift shop. The additional step the person took was photocopying the pattern front and placing outside the envelope. All great ideas. thanks.

  4. I really like the idea of using those large envelopes for clothing patterns. I just have too many of them and they are in paper boxes in the original envelopes, maybe I can get them sorted out someday.

  5. What a great idea to use binders for patterns. I’m currently trying to organize my sewing room


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