I feel like a post on how I organize PDF patterns is a bit like a blog tour of my bedroom.  For some reason, it’s very personal, and everyone always wants to see in case there’s a good idea they haven’t thought of yet!  I’ve had a few systems in the past, but I’ve been using my current one for a few months now, and I totally love it.  So without further ado: how I organize my PDF patterns!

How I Organize PDF Patterns

Digital Versions

If I buy an indie pattern, I’m buying the PDF version.  Instant gratification, y’all!  That means I have… oooooh, about a million patterns on my computer.  I keep all of the digital copies in a folder in my documents called “patterns.”  Each pattern designer has a subfolder in that folder, and then each pattern has a folder in its designer.

I used to organize them by type of garment, but I felt like it was unwieldy for me.  I have a pretty good mental inventory of the patterns I own, usually.  I didn’t feel like having a “blouses” folder was leading me to rediscover patterns I had forgotten about.  It got to a point where the garment folders had too many patterns to easily glance through, so I switched to the designer method.

Physical Versions: Old Method

At first, my PDF patterns just kind of lived in a pile on the floor.  After I bought four or five patterns, though, it became clear that that was not going to work!

Initially, I used binders to store my patterns.  Each pattern got a plastic sleeve, and I used tabs to know which one was where.  I tried to keep the binders organized by garment.  Yes, I know this contradicts my computer system!  But if I organized by pattern designer, then that would involve a lot of shifting whenever I bought a new pattern.  I’m the kind of person who needs the tabs to go in the right order, so I’d have to be moving the tabs around every time I added a pattern.

I’m team “cut that shit out” 95% of the time.  When I traced a pattern, I would keep the printed copy in a sleeve behind the traced version.  Then it was easy to reference if I had a question, or to retrace in a new size.

Because I am team “cut that shit out,” though, this system got to be unmanageable after a while.  The folded paper patterns are bulky!  Even though I had 3″ binders, I was only getting a few patterns to each one.  Rather than buy a million binders, I decided to try something new.

 Physical Versions: New Method

I’ve used this method to organize PDF patterns for a few months, and I am totally feeling it.  It keeps things neat, and has built-in note taking abilities!

Now, each pattern gets stored in a giant manila envelope.  In the top left corner, I write down the pattern and the view, if applicable, the size, and if it’s the cut-out pattern, the traced pattern, or the actual trimmed pages.  Just like with the plastic sleeves, I keep the traced version and the trimmed pattern together, as well as multiple sizes.

Then I have the whoooole rest of the envelope to keep notes on!  In the past, I’ve struggled to remember exact modifications I’ve made, or when I made a certain version.  Now I write down the date I make something, the fabric I used, and any modifications.  That way, I can easily refer back to my notes when I go to write the post or make a new version.

I’m going to get a giant basket to keep all of my envelopes in.  Currently they may or may not be living on one of the shelves of my tv stand.  I’m not sure if I’ll organize them by garment or pattern designer or at all — I’ll update this post if I ever decide!

There’s a million ways to organize PDF patterns, and none of them are right or wrong.  But when you find a good way for you, why not share it in case someone else loves it too?!  This is definitely the easiest way I’ve found to organize PDF patterns.  The ability to write down notes on the envelope is key for me!  How do you organize your own PDF patterns?