Organizing Tips for Patterns and Instructions


Can’t find your pattern, magazine article, or that sheet of instructions you got from sewing club when you want to make a project? I’ll show you how to organize them so you can find what you need when you need it!

Today, we’re going to talk about pattern organization and also how to keep track of all those leaflets and magazine articles you get or something you happen to find on the internet.


Many years ago I started realizing I was getting more and more patterns to the point that I couldn't find what I had purchased. Now I can find what I need, when I need it.


I’ve used this system for many years. It's not glamorous but it works and I’m sure you could pretty it up. I found an old dresser and while my patterns would not fit vertically in the drawers, like they do in the fabric store, they would fit horizontally.

If you don't have a dresser that would work, plastic and cardboard boxes come in all shapes and sizes. You could even cover them with fabric if you want. Whatever kind of box you go with, I highly recommend that you find a box size that works for your patterns and stick with the same size and same color so that you have some continuity in your room and it looks a little bit tidier.

I gathered all of my patterns and put them on my my cutting table, then divided and conquered. I separated the men's patterns into one pile, children's patterns in another pile, and baby or infant patterns into a third. The fourth pile, ladies, was the biggest, I'll admit.

Then I started subdividing into smaller piles following categories you would see in pattern catalogs. Within the ladies pile, I have shirts, jackets, skirts or pants. Standard file folders, that I easily cut down to fit, serve as dividers. Printed labels are color coded by category.


Often, it is impossible to fit pattern pieces back into the envelope, especially if they have been traced. In that case, I use a plastic zip bag. Put the pattern facing front and include folded  pieces behind.

Magazines, Handouts, and Printouts

How do you handle magazines or all of those handouts that you get at clubs and retreats or printouts you find on the internet? They can get out of control really quickly. I got myself several big binders to store mine. I’m probably a little excessive on this but I used to help teach clubs so I was always hunting for project ideas.


I put the projects in plastic sleeves so that I can keep them neat and tidy. I kept binders all the same color and labeled them in categories by sorting them just as I did with the patterns. You can use dividers within the binders to separate categories.

If a magazine article interests me, I'll just rip out those pages, put them in a plastic sleeve, and put them in the proper category of my three-ring binder.


I have a friend who scans magazine pages and instructions and keeps everything on her computer. She has no paper mess anywhere. 

How do you keep track of your patterns and project sheets?

See the full video here. Have a day blessed with perfect stitches and GlitterFlex!!


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  • Bonnie Welsh - August 19, 2020

    George Ann—Most of the time, like you, I’m able to get pattern pieces back into the envelope. However, I also have many patterns that I trace various sizes off of and then those “new” pieces won’t all fit since they weren’t in the envelope to begin with. =)

  • Bonnie Welsh - August 19, 2020

    Marie—You’re most welcome! Sounds like you’re well on your way to having the sewing room of your dreams. You’ll be up and running in no time. The hardest part will be deciding what your first project will be. =)

  • Bonnie Welsh - August 19, 2020

    Shirley—Thank you! =)

  • Bonnie Welsh - August 19, 2020

    Darlene—Annie’s has some great stuff. Thank you for the tip!

  • George Ann Hale - August 17, 2020

    Great ideas! Pretty much same ideas as you have suggested.

    I always return patter pieces back to original pattern envelope by pressing the pieces and folding them to fit.

  • Marie Davis - August 17, 2020

    Thanks Bonnie for your wonderful suggestions. I pretty much do what you do but not broken down as much so I like your idea much better. Thank you. As soon as my new carpet is installed I will be getting everything organized much better than now and the way I hope will work much better for me so I find things much quicker. Losing a year of not being able to do anything sure held me back but ready to do it as quickly as I can now. Painting was done a couple weeks ago so ready to push forward. I am working on organizing my designs by company in plastic shoebox containers instead of having them just tossed into a box so they will be easier to locate when I need them.

  • Shirley - August 17, 2020

    Great blog.

  • Darlene Gorczyca - August 17, 2020

    Great blog post! If I can add…I found pattern pockets at Annie’s. They are plastic bags fit to the same size as the pattern envelopes. There is a clear pocket on the outside for the envelope. All the pattern pieces and instruction sheets go in the zip lock part behind the pocket. While a bit costly, they are more convenient than folded baggies IMO. Just another idea for your readers to be aware of.

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