PDF Pattern Series: Storing Your Patterns

Thanks to the digital age and PDF patterns, needing a lot of physical space for storing your patterns is no longer as big of an issue as it once was! This week, I'll give you some ideas and guidelines for storing your digital patterns as well as an idea or two for keeping physical copies of your favorites if that's something you want to do.

PDF Pattern Series: Storing Your Patterns

Everyone tends to have their own way of doing things. Their own 'system', if you will. With PDF patterns and storing them digitally, you just need to find what works for you and then follow through. I'll share some ideas and how I do things and you can adapt that to fit your own personal needs. Ready? Good!


The first thing to consider is where you want to store them. There are MANY options out there and available. The size of your collection might be a determining factor, though. The more patterns, the more digital space they take up, right?

Hard drive

If you have a small to a moderate collection, you could get away with just storing them on your computer's hard drive. That gets harder as your collection grows, however, because computers have a limited amount of space.

Thumb Drive/Flash Drive

Another smaller option is a thumb drive. Benefits of this include having your collection portable and always available. The downside to this is if you somehow manage to lose that drive, you've also lost your collection. Which is why I don't use this method, as I am forever losing things.

The Cloud

Internet storage has been my go-to. You have a lot of options there, too. You can use Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Drive... among many others. Most of them do have a fee to get a significant amount of storage, but I haven't found one yet that was unreasonable. With online storage, you have the benefit of having access to your library wherever you have access to the internet. But unlike the thumb drive, you don't have to worry about losing it. The internet is always there. (For the record, I started on Dropbox, outgrew it, and now utilize Amazon Drive)

Organizing Your Pattern Library

Organizing is definitely something some people are better at than others. And I say that with complete kindness, as I am in that latter category. But I did find a method that works for me and I will share that with you. I start with one folder labeled "Sheila's Patterns". Within that folder, I have other folders. As I sew mostly children's clothing, I have folders labeled "Dresses", "PantsShortsSkirts", "Tops and Jackets". I know all of those are kids' things. I also have a folder labeled "Adult Patterns" and one labeled "Bags", so I know where to go when I need something that isn't a child's garment.

Within those folders, I have it broken down even further. For example, my dress folder contains a folder for "Knit" and "Woven" patterns. Now, here is where I deviate from some.

Within this folder, I have all of my patterns that are knit dresses laid out. I have them renamed by designer and then the pattern name. It makes it easy for me to scroll the alphabet to find the designer, then the pattern. Some people prefer to make a separate folder for each designer and place their patterns inside. This is where you need to decide that will work best for YOU and follow that plan. But regardless of which way you go, in the end, you should have an organized system which will allow you to find what you need quickly and easily.

Storing Printed Patterns

What you do with your patterns once their printed varies wildly from person to person. For example, some people just toss/recycle the paper when they're done. It's so easy to reprint them, you don't necessarily NEED to hang on to them if you don't want to. I do this most of the time, but...

Sometimes I know I'll be making the same item (in the same size) multiple times and don't want to keep reprinting if I don't have to. So, here's how I handle that. I have a box of manila envelopes. When I'm done using my pieces, I'll fold them neatly and slide them inside that envelope. Depending on my mood that day, I'll either print and tape the front page of that pattern onto the front of the envelope, or I will write the designer's name, pattern name, and size (or size range) on the front of the envelope. They then get stored in alphabetical order by designer's name, much like they do in my digital system. Mind you, that's just one of MANY ways you can do this, so if this isn't for you, I'm sure you can find a solution that is!

Do you have any of your own tips for storing digital or printed copies of PDF patterns? Please share your solutions with us in the comments! Join our Facebook group if you feel so inclined for help, sharing, and fun! And join us next week for the low-down on layers!
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