How do you store sewing pattern pieces?

Storing sewing pattern pieces properly is crucial for keeping them organized, protected, and easy to find later. Sewing patterns have many small pieces that need to be kept together, and nothing is more frustrating than losing a vital pattern piece that you need to complete your project! There are several key factors to consider when deciding how to store your sewing patterns.

Protecting Pattern Pieces

First and foremost, you need to store sewing patterns in a way that protects them from damage. Pattern tissue is delicate and prone to ripping, so you don’t want to simply toss all the pieces in a box or drawer. Folding the tissue neatly and storing the pieces in sealable plastic bags is one of the best ways to keep them intact. This prevents ripping and also keeps them clean. You may also want to consider storing the pattern sheets in acid-free paper for extra protection.

Storing Together By Pattern

Be sure to always store all the pieces for a single pattern together. The last thing you want is to start a project only to discover you’re missing pattern piece #7! Keeping the pattern envelope with the tissue pieces ensures you’ll always have the complete set. You can use plastic bags, file folders, or archival pattern storage boxes to corral all the pieces. Labeling the storage container clearly with the pattern name/number is also recommended.

Lying Flat

For tissue pattern pieces, always store them lying flat rather than folded. This prevents unwanted creases from developing in the tissue, which can later distort the pattern pieces. Refolding tissue frequently can also lead to weak spots and tears. Storing flat in stackable archival boxes or shallow drawers is ideal.

Options for Storing Sewing Patterns

There are many creative storage solutions for keeping sewing patterns handy but protected. Consider which of these options best suit your space and organizing style:

Archival Pattern Boxes

These are designed specifically for pattern storage. They are typically acid-free and shallow for storing pieces flat. The lid helps protect the tissue from dust, moisture, and light damage. Stackable pattern boxes are great for maximizing storage space. Indexing the outside makes it easy to identify patterns. Some have dividers or folders for sorting by category.

File Folders

Simple file folders can also work well for storing pattern pieces. Choose acid-free heavyweight folders for durability. Sort pieces into separate folders by pattern. Label the tabs clearly with the pattern name/number and store together in a file drawer or box. This keeps things neat and compact. File folders are also easy to flip through to find what you need.

Hanging Files

For very large pattern collections, consider hanging file storage. Use reinforced filing folders or bags to hold each pattern. Hole-punch the top and store on rods in a file cabinet, wardrobe, or dedicated pattern cabinet. Hang in categories and label clearly. This takes advantage of vertical space efficiently. A drawer can hold the pattern envelopes/instructions.


Open shelving works well for moderate pattern collections. Neatly labeled clear plastic stackable bins or baskets hold patterns upright. Boxes/baskets can be sorted by pattern type, style, or color. Wider shelves in closets or utility rooms are ideal. Just be sure patterns are protected from moisture, direct sunlight, and critters.

Rolling Cart

A rolling cart with deep drawers and a flat open section on top is handy for large collections. Store bulky rolled patterns, envelopes, and instructions in the deep drawers. Shallow flat drawers or open shelves on top hold pattern tissue flat. Add baskets, dividers and labels to organize. The mobility makes it easy to move your whole collection.

Portable Totes

Collapsible zippered fabric totes are great for carrying sewing patterns to classes or workspaces. Look for quilted styles that help protect delicate tissue pieces. Use individual bags for each pattern or project. Lightweight bags with handles allow easy transport of all your pattern pieces, notions, tools, etc.

Tips for Storing Sewing Patterns

Follow these expert tips for keeping your pattern collection neatly organized and protected:

Label Everything

Always label storage containers, folders, and individual patterns clearly. Use names, pattern numbers, and any other ID needed to easily identify the contents. This avoids mix-ups when filing patterns and saves time hunting.

Store Knits Separately

Knit patterns require different care and are used less often. Keep them separate from your main pattern collection in a clearly labeled box or folder.

Freeze Unused Patterns

Brand new patterns contain chemicals from the printing process that gradually cause deterioration. Freeze unused patterns in a sealed bag to extend their shelf life.

Iron Pattern Tissue

Gently iron tissue paper on low heat before storing. This helps flatten folded creases that can distort the tissue over time. Use a press cloth.

Mend Any Rips

Repair rips right away with archival tape to prevent further tearing. This keeps pieces intact and usable for future projects.

Divide Bulky Patterns

Very bulky patterns are easier to file if you divide pieces between two folders/boxes. Just be sure to label accordingly so pieces stay together.

Store On Interior Walls

Temperature and humidity fluctuations are lower on interior walls. Shelves or cabinets there help protect patterns. Avoid attics, basements, or exterior walls.

Digitizing Sewing Patterns

If space is very tight, consider digitizing your pattern collection. There are several options for converting paper patterns to digital format:


Use a scanner to create digital files of the pattern envelope and all tissue pieces. Save each pattern as a high-resolution PDF file on your computer, external drive, or cloud storage. This allows you to print just the size you need.

Digital Patterns

Many pattern companies now sell digital downloads of their patterns as well as printed versions. These eliminate the need for storage space, plus you get unlimited printing. Purchase your favorite patterns in digital format.


Simply photograph each pattern piece with a high-res camera or smartphone. Use adequate lighting and a neutral background. Upload the images to your computer and organize in folders by pattern. Apps like Evernote make this very easy.


Trace each pattern piece onto pattern tracing paper, labeling each piece. Stack tracings neatly to store in folders, binders, or plastic sleeves in a binder. This takes more time but may suit your needs.

Creative Sewing Pattern Storage Ideas

With a little creativity, you can come up with storage that fits your space and personality:

Repurposed Furniture

A vintage library card catalog, secretary desk, or apothecary cabinet makes quirky pattern storage. Use the many small drawers creatively. Paint or decoupage the exterior.

Pegboard Wall

Mount a pegboard tightly on the wall. Use it to hang folders for patterns. This gets them up off the floor and makes use of wall space while keeping them visible.

Hanging Shoe Organizer

These fabric shoe organizers with clear plastic pockets are perfect for patterns. Hang one on a closet rod or inside a cabinet door. Use one pocket per pattern or project.

Vintage Suitcases

Stack vintage hard-sided suitcases on shelves. Store patterns in file folders or boxes inside each one. The nostalgic look is great for a sewing room.

Built-In Drawers/Shelves

Take advantage of that odd narrow space between studs. Have shallow drawers or shelves custom-built to hold patterns. Include lighting, pegboard, and other built-ins for optimal use of space.

Repurposed Toolbox

A vintage metal mechanic’s toolbox with small drawers makes a great pattern organizer. You can customize the interior with dividers, racks, and folders. Add vintage character to your sewing space.

Best Storage Containers for Patterns

Choosing the right storage boxes, bags, and folders helps keep your pattern collection tidy and protected:

Plastic Bags

Resealable plastic bags in various sizes seal out dust, moisture, and critters. Choose heavyweight, archival-safe bags. Slip each pattern into a properly sized bag before storage.

Acid-Free Folders

For file drawer storage, use acid-free, lignin-free file folders. Buff or sturdy manila folders last longer than plain white. Reinforced tabs help them stand up to frequent handling.

Archival Boxes

Made from acid-free, sturdy cardboard or polypropylene, these stackable boxes come in many sizes. Look for lids and dividers to safely organize your patterns. Index the boxes clearly.

Shelf Bins

Plastic bins with attached lids are ideal for shelf storage. They protect patterns from dust and humidity. Pick clear bins so you can easily identify contents. Check that they are acid-free.

Portable Totes

Sturdy zippered fabric totes with handles allow you to transport patterns safely. Look for quilted, moisture-resistant styles. Use for class projects or works-in-progress.

Sewing Pattern Storage By Space

Fit your pattern storage method to the room size and layout you have available:

Small Spaces

Use stackable plastic bins or baskets to store patterns on shelves in tight quarters. Hang shelves or use over-the-door storage to maximize vertical room. Store less-used patterns elsewhere.

A Closet

Take advantage of vertical space! Install closet shelving optimized to store paper patterns flat. Use hanging files or shoe organizers inside the door. Paint and add lighting to transform an ordinary closet.

Utility Room

This often under-used space is ideal for your pattern stash. Line the walls with shelving, cabinets with flat drawers, and storage furniture to neatly organize thousands of patterns.

Studio Room

Give your patterns prominent display in your sewing room. Use open or glass-front cabinets and shelves to make them easily accessible. A pattern drafting table allows you to trace and cut patterns in the same space.

Mobile Storage

If space is extremely limited, store your collection in a rolling file cart, stackable bins, or hard-shell suitcases. Stash off-season patterns elsewhere and rotate them as needed.

Shared Spaces

Coordinate with housemates to allow some shared closet or cabinet space for your sewing patterns. Or stash them in your bedroom closet, under the bed, etc. Use portable storage you can move as needed.

Dedicated Room

The ultimate luxury! Set up an entire room just for your sewing pattern collection. Maximize every inch with shelving, cabinets, work tables, and custom built-ins tailored to your stash. Add style with lighting, wallpaper, rugs, and more.

Organizing Patterns By Type

Grouping pattern styles together makes them easier to locate later. Consider these ways to categorize:

Garment Type

Sort patterns by the type of garment, like dresses, tops, pants, etc. Then by subcategories like casual, work, special occasion. Store each garment type together.

Pattern Brand

Group together patterns from the same brand or designer, especially if you have full collections. Keep the brand’s catalog handy for reference.

Time Period

Vintage patterns can be sorted together by decade – 1950s, 1960s, etc. Categorize modern patterns by season. This helps surface currently relevant styles.


If you have a large size range, sort patterns by size. File all size 6 patterns together, 10s together, etc. Include the size range on the label.

Fabric Type

Sort patterns by recommended fabric type like knits, wovens, silks, etc. This makes it easier to find the perfect pattern for a given fabric already in your stash.


If your patterns feature colored photos, filing by dominant color creates a rainbow effect. Or group black and white patterns versus color patterns.


If making patterns for specific people, store those patterns together in sections marked with each person’s name for easy access later.


For simplicity, file patterns in alphabetical order by the pattern name or brand name. Add a letter or number system for easier indexing.

Inventory Your Sewing Pattern Collection

Maintaining an inventory of your pattern collection makes it far easier to actually use the patterns you have. Here are some tips for cataloging your collection:

List Basics

Record key info like pattern brand, number, view options, size range, and category/type for each pattern. Note specialty fabrics or tools required.

Include Photos

Add a small photo of the pattern envelope if possible. Also photograph finished garments made with the pattern. Photos help jog your memory.

Note Details

Add any extra info like test fabric used, adjustments made, notes on fit. Record when and what you’ve made from each pattern.

Log Usage

Note how often you use and when you last used each pattern. Flag any favorites, as well as stale patterns to purge.

List by Color/Design

For easy visual reference, group inventory pages or digital folders by color, fabric design, or garment category. Add fabric swatches.

Update Regularly

When adding new patterns, be sure to immediately log them in your inventory system. It’s easy for new acquisitions to get lost!

Try a Sewing Journal

Keep an analog journal of your pattern collection with photos, fabric swatches, and notes. This travels with you anywhere.

Go Digital

Apps like Evernote or Google Sheets are fantastic digital tools for organizing your pattern inventory. Add photos, checkboxes, and drop-down options.

Pattern Information Details
Pattern Name and Number McCall’s M7686 Misses Unlined Jacket
Size Range 6-22
Category Tops
Fabric Type Medium weight wovens
Notes Need to make muslin first. Already cut size 8.


Sewing patterns require some special care in how you store them. But a little bit of effort up front pays off in always being able to find that needed pattern piece. Try different storage methods and containers to determine what best suits your space and collection. Group patterns thoughtfully by type, brand, or color. Maintain an inventory to keep track of your trove. With a well-organized system, you can quickly find inspiration and completion for your next project!

Leave a Comment