Sewing Blog

Organized Solutions: 4 Ways to Store Printable PDF Sewing Patterns

Printable PDF sewing patterns are becoming increasingly popular among people who sew, and most independent designers now offer patterns in PDF format. PDF patterns are usually more affordable than their factory-packaged counterparts and are easy to reprint if you need a new size or modification.

As we know, though, the pattern stash tends to grow very rapidly and become increasingly difficult to organize. Patterns printed on computer paper are bulkier than commercial tissue patterns, so finding a designated space for the pattern pieces and the instructions can be tricky.

Here are a few space-efficient ways to store and organize your printed PDF sewing patterns!

pdf sewing pattern storage ideas title photo

Solution #1: Binders

My favorite storage solution for printed PDF patterns is a large three-ring binder that fits standard letter-sized documents. Multiple binders can be used for different types of patterns for extra organization (i.e. by garment type, adult’s and children’s, home accessories, etc).

pdf sewing pattern storage binder shelf

To hold each pattern, I fold all the pieces and place them in clear plastic sheet protectors with a side zip closure. All the pattern pieces remain secure even if the binder accidentally falls over. The sheet protectors expand and can hold quite a bit.

PDF Pattern Storage Sheet Protectors with Side Zipper

Though I don’t always print the full instructions with each pattern, I usually try to include at least the first page or some other descriptive sheet in the front. This allow me to quickly identify the contents.

PDF Pattern Storage Binder

You could also place PDF patterns in an accordion-style binder with separate compartments. Insert labels to identify each pattern. This would help you avoid having to continually purchase sheet protectors like you do with a three-ring binder.

Solution #2: Folders or envelopes

You can also contain all pattern pieces in their own folders or envelopes and place them in a basket, file cabinet, storage box or drawer. Manila folders bought in bulk are generally the cheapest option, though you may prefer something that is see-through, has a secure closure or has room to expand.

Try using clear plastic envelopes that tie shut, though these are relatively expensive if you’re planning on storing a lot of patterns this way (a set of five in this brand costs over US$10).

Plastic Envelopes for PDF Pattern Storage

I chose to store them sideways in a basket that is placed on a shelf in my sewing room. This method is particularly useful for storing bulky patterns, such as those with multiple traced versions, long sets of instructions or pages that have yet to be taped together and cut.

PDF Sewing Pattern Plastic Envelopes in Basket

Label each envelope for easy identification. I like using stick-on tabs that can be re-positioned if I ever swap the patterns out.

PDF Sewing Pattern Storage Plastic Envelopes with Labels

If you don’t have too much extra shelf space or tend to print patterns with relatively small pieces, you can purchase 6″ x 9″ mailing envelopes that are approximately the same size as commercial pattern envelopes. This way you can keep all types of patterns together.

pdf sewing pattern storage mailing envelopes

pdf sewing pattern storage mailing envelopes labeled in box

Solution #3: Pattern hooks or hangers

Professional patternmakers and designers often hang their finalized patterns on pattern hooks. This is a handy tip for home sewers who print a lot of sewing patterns and have some closet space or a garment rack to spare. It is also a useful method if you want to avoid creasing your pattern pieces, or if you have traced your PDF sewing patterns onto a sturdy material such as oak tag or poster board.

Pattern hooks are difficult to find in common craft stores but can be purchased online. I hacked my own version by using a tie rack, key rings and safety pins. I punched a hole through all the pattern pieces and hooked them through the safety pins onto the rings for hanging:

pdf sewing pattern storage hanging on hooks

This may not be the best option for patterns traced onto delicate material such as tissue paper, as the pieces may rip off the hook if shoved around too much on the rack.

Solution #4: Rolls

pdf sewing pattern storage rolls

If you don’t want to fold all your pattern pieces or have yet to cut your pieces from the taped pattern layout, another option is to roll everything up and secure it with a tie, band or clip. Wrap the pattern around salvaged paper towel or wrapping paper rolls, so they are less likely to be smashed. Hook a label onto the end so you know which pattern is which, then store the rolls in a decorative basket, a tall shelf or against a wall in the corner of your room.

pdf sewing pattern storage rolls

Now that you know it’s possible to keep a PDF pattern stash organized, check out Craftsy’s extensive pattern library and find some new projects to tackle! If you need help working with PDF patterns, check out this post on printing, assembling and tracing PDF patterns for a step-by-step guide through the whole process.

What method do you use to store your PDF sewing patterns?


Anne Lindholt Ottosen

You can roll them up and keep them that way by using cut up toilet rolls as a “ring”.

Lisa Slavik

I store PDF patterns in artists portfolio cases. You can get them at JoAnn’s for about $20.00. They store flat and take up no room at all. I also use them for storing my fabric/interface patterns. I don’t print out the instructions I keep them on my iPad/computer.


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jenny jensen

i store mine in ziplock bags they fit easily in the gallon size and if small in sandwich bages. you can write on the bag or if the instructions came with a photo it shows through the clear bag. they fit nicely in a decorative box or basket when not in use.

Hester Adamson

I use a 3 ring binder. I always take my patterns that I buy and make copies of them whether I buy them at the store or from a book or online I always make a copy so that if anything happens to the pattern I can make a new one from my original. I put them all in 3 ring binders and I have been doing this for many many years. It makes finding a favorite pattern in a small amount of time. I do a lot of crafting and quilting and so by using this method my room is more organized whether someone sees it or not for me my craft room and I know where everything is even though I now have more stuff than I have room for. I have great fabric stashes also but I know where they are all stored and how.


Thought-provoking ideas – I loved the specifics , Does someone know if my assistant would be able to get a template 2009 DOC PTO/SB/20FI form to complete ?


I’ve just started using binders. Easy to retrieve and I’ll know where all my patterns are.


I’ve been using binders and I use them for purchased patterns as well. I keep any additional notes or other printouts together with the pattern. For example, Annie Unrein patterns have little squares to print and cut out to mark all the pieces while cutting. I’ve also created them myself for other complicated patterns to keep the pieces straight, and they stay with the pattern in the binder pocket. But I’ve been using regular sheet protectors that are open at the top. I never knew they had ones with zip sides!! That’s a great idea. Thanks for the tip.


Thank you for the ideas, I’d like to fold them but I’m afraid they will be damaged due to the quality of the paper in which the pdfs are printed (thinker than the others), do you know if they can be iron? does have been a problem for anyone?


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