How do I store/keep my patterns?

001One of my friends, new to sewing, asked, “so, what do you do with your patterns once they’re cut… do you get rid of them?”

Perish the thought!  Especially patterns that I like and worked well for me – the very last thing I’m going to do is get rid of something that worked.  I keep them!

How do I keep them, and how do I treat my patterns?  It depends.

1) Where did I get the pattern, how rare is it, and how much did I pay for it?  (note:  All patterns can and do go out of print eventually).

If I bought a pattern on sale for $1.50… I have no problem carving that pattern up like the Christmas Goose.  It’s my pattern, if I mess it up I can get another one.   Likewise, if I used the pattern and it was cheap and it sucked, I don’t feel much compunction about saying goodbye.  004

If I bought a pattern from an indie company and paid $15-20 (or more) for it, I will trace the pattern off on tracing paper (I keep a couple of rolls of Swedish Tracing Paper for this purpose, as well as my alterations).

2) How big is it?  (Sometimes this may be because the pattern is full of pieces, more likely because I’ve altered it substantially).003

If it’s not too big/bulky/haven’t made a ton of alterations that make it hard to fold, I neatly fold it back up (preferably with the pattern piece number on the outside of the fold) and put it back in the envelope.

If it’s bigger, I get a ziploc bag and put all the bits in that.002

Note:  Some patterns are PHYSICALLY bigger than others, some come in ziplocs already…  the Big Four patterns are mostly (exceptions apply) in 5x8ish paper envelopes.  Folkwear are the size of typing paper, and then inside ziplocs.  Collette sends her patterns off in dear little paper folders… varies, varies, varies.  And then I have a roll of PDF pattern pieces from when I made that suit jacket of Gertie’s.. it’s just sort of stuck in the back of my pattern area.

3)  What do you do with those envelopes?

I put them in boxes.  They’re sort of sorted, but they unsort themselves.  I only have three boxes (not that many, for seamstresses – we have  pattern hoarding issues) and I enjoy pawing through them and reminding myself that “Oh, I should make another one of *those*” or “I never did make that up, sure is cute…”

4)  Am I planning to use this pattern for someone other than me? (Rare)

If I’m planning to share a pattern, I naturally won’t cut it up, I’ll trace it off or cut it up so that it can be reassembled easily into original lines.  When I started sewing, I did this most of the time, but now mostly I just alter things to suit me (or for my daughter, or mom or whoever).


So… do you get rid of your patterns?  Perish the thought!  In fact, I reuse the best, over and over and over again.  That’s something of an ideal for me, finding the patterns that really suit my figure and making a wardrobe out of them.  (Hint:  You might get sick of making/wearing the same lines, but the viewing public can’t tell 95% of the time).


2 thoughts on “How do I store/keep my patterns?

  1. fiberaddict

    I don’t use Swedish paper – it’s too expensive for my budget. I have used freezer paper, parchment paper, taped-together copy paper…..I’ve switched to medical exam table paper. 225 yards, 18″ wide….you can get a case (12 rolls) for around $30 (plus shipping, of course). eBay is cheaper (but you knew I’d say that!), you just have to shop around.



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