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Storing Patterns for Quilting: Organizational Tips & Advice

Most quilters have quite a collection of quilting patterns, books, magazines and even PDF files for projects they have created or hope to someday make. Storing patterns for quilting and sewing means keeping everything organized. This is key to being able to find and use your stored ideas.

Patterns in Various Baskets
Small baskets and bins are perfect for storing small patterns.

Once you develop a system, keeping your patterns organized ensures that you are always able to easily find what you’re looking for.

Patterns in Rows in Black Wire Basket
Larger containers can accommodate two rows of patterns.

Ways to store patterns:

First, you’ll need to decide how you want to store your patterns. There are several ways to store patterns: by size, by designer, or by pattern type (quilts, bags, gift items, table runners, etc.).

Once you decide how you’d like to store the patterns, finding a suitable container for the patterns is the next step. Choose baskets or bins that hold your patterns without too much extra space — it’s good to be able to flip through the patterns yet not have to worry if they will stay “in place.”

Baskets and bins in all sizes from small to large can be used to store patterns. Larger baskets and bins can be used to store larger patterns or can accommodate a couple rows of patterns. You can even have a separate basket or bin for patterns you’d like to make in the future, helping to keep projects on your “to do” list fresh in your mind. Periodically go through the basket, rearranging as your ideas for future projects change.

Storing quilting books:

Keep quilting books on bookshelves arranged alphabetically, either by author or by title. This way, you’ll more easily be able to locate that book you know you have “somewhere.” A stack of your favorite quilting books makes a fun display on a shelf and makes them easy to find and reference.

Blue and Green Binder
Colorful magazine bins are perfect for those quilting magazines you want to keep.

Storing quilting magazines:

If there are only a few projects from a magazine that you want to hold on to, consider pulling the pages from the magazine and storing them in sheet protectors filed in binders by pattern type. If you’d like to keep an entire magazine, decorative magazine holders provide an easy way to corral your collection. You can further organize the magazine holders so that each one holds one particular magazine title.

Electronic pattern storage:

Not only do you need to have a system for storing your paper patterns, magazines and books, but you also should have a plan for keeping track of PDF files for quilting and sewing projects. These electronic patterns should be collected into a single folder (or into folders by type) on your computer to make them easy to find. You might even want to print them out and put them in binders for easy reference.


Another important element of pattern storage is to periodically take inventory and purge those patterns you know you won’t make. If you have patterns you no longer think you’ll make, consider gifting them to someone who will use them or make a donation to a quilt guild or quilting group.

Quilting Patterns

What are your tips for keeping track of and storing your collection of patterns?


Sandy Lamb

I buy the small (5 1/2 X 10 ) cardboard fabric looking containers at the Dollar Tree Store for $1.00. These come in many colors, I just label what patterns are in them and sit them on my shelf.


I buy a lot of pdf patterns for quilts. In addition to saving them on m computer, I print a working copy, slip it in a page protector, and keep them in a 3-ring binder, tabbed by designer. In the front of the binder I keep a notepad with notes about which fabrics I want to use for which quilts . . . . along with a running list of WIPs and Tops to be Quilted, which sometimes (not often enough) encourages me to finish at least one of those projects before I start something new!

Carolyn Loewen

Page protectors are my friend. I have several binders for quilt patterns- kids quilts, other quilts, accessories (bags, placemats, etc). Once or twice a year I go through my magazines and tear out the patterns I might make. I even tear out pictures of quilts that I like (that are in adverts) to give me ideas down the road. Those all go in sleeves and get added to the binders.
Thanks for all your great ideas, everyone.

Billie Hilliard

I store my patterns in a 3″ hole binders . I have 4 going at the moment. Quilts, decorating, Hats and purses, and so forth. I label each binder.

Linda Adams

Ideally, I want to purchase a used file cabinet that I can paint and/or decorate to store my quilting and related patterns in. Until then, I have three plastic boxes with removable lids that look as though they are sized for storing files. Also, I finally spent weeks going through years of my quilting magazines I saved, tore out what I thought I might use (quilt patterns and informative articles), bought a box of 200 sheet protectors and filled 2 huge binders, then donated the remnants to my guild.
I want to be able to store all of the above in a standing, multi-drawer file cabinet, along with patterns I’ve gotten online; all in one location.


nice blog

Jan Taylor

I’m constantly printing out patterns! I use pocket folders. I stock up when school starts and they are on sale.


I store my patterns in clear containers that veggies come in . They are deep and large enough and keep them clean. The also stack well.

Karen S

I store my quilt books by subject as I can never remember the name or the author! I use broad categories like design/color, quilting, applique, borders/settings… I only have 3 shelves of books so it works well.

Patricia Pfeiffer

Patterns go into clear gallon sized zip bags. I split the original envelope down the sides so the front shows on one side and the back shows on the other. The pattern pieces go in between. They go into a file cabinet, in hanging folders, arranged by type. If you only have a few, you can use the milk crates that have grooves to hold hanging file folders.

Betty Grove

Ideally I would like to have a filing cabinet for my patterns. I have many many 3 ring binders with patterns in plastic protectors and the books are labeled as to the content; i.e. applique, paper pieced, etc. My biggest storage problem is all of the quilting magazines that I’ve collected over the years as I cannot bear to part with them. That is silly because there are many patterns that I will never make. My purchased patterns are filed in boxes by designer as I have my favorites just as everyone does. I don’t pet the patterns, like I do my fabric, but just looking through them is a favorite pastime.

Tacy Tucker

I’d like to know the easiest way to organize patterns so I. Can find them asap. Anyway to cross-reference? I have ea pattern in page protector w accompanying template, etc contained therein. I also have 4 pkgs of dividers from Office Max. They have labels that u can put into printer and label. I just don’t know how far to go w it. Do I divide b/w Quilt pattern types and then runners, holiday, etc? Just how far do I go to make it as quickly as possible to find a particular pattern?

Leslie hacker

Sounds a bit like myself. I have considered a spreadsheet with all information coded to the folder or file drawer. It could be sorted by designer, pattern or type of project easily. At that point I feel like I need to purge again!


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