Friday, September 19, 2014

Cheap & Easy Vintage Pattern Storage

I have A LOT of vintage sewing patterns. I know I am not the only one! It has been discussed in various interwebby places that these are articles that should be preserved. There is the whole "to trace or not to trace debate" (we aren't going there today), and there are various opinions on pattern storage. People store their patterns many different ways- today, I'm going to tell you how I store mine. It is a cheap and easy method, because I am a cheap and easy kinda girl.

First of all, I have to separate my personal patterns from my shop patterns. I have two separate filing cabinets for this- one two drawer narrow model and one four drawer narrow model. In the two drawer, the top is mine, and I have my patterns divided by garment type. In the bottom drawer, I keep patterns for my daughter on one side organized by age and (a few sad) patterns for my husband on the other side.
Pretty on the Inside
In the large filing cabinet I have all of my shop patterns organized numerically regardless of brand, and oversize Vogues and other types are kept numerically ordered in their own spot in the back of the top drawer. I don't have a huge pattern shop (yet! I need to get some listings up!!!), and I used to just put them in storage as I counted them and root through later to find the one I wanted. This is so much better. My husband went through and organized them all for me. Isn't that sweeeeeet?

One day, I hope to buy a real pattern cabinet, but, being a dunce I have passed over two already that sold for a few ten-spots, and I will probably never see another one for sale again because I don't deserve it.

Moving on- all of the organization stuff is well and good, and we all do that our own way. However, I have a little handy storage tip. After counting each pattern, I place it in an acid free binder sleeve from the Dollar Store, usually sideways, with the excess folded in back. They cost about 5 cents apiece.
Image From Dollar General's Website

All my gals, snug, well ordered, and happy!

This affords a snug fit for the pattern and prevents any further jingle jangly wear and tear. Also, the acid free, moisture resistant storage helps keep them looking their best, and hopefully preserves them for future generations of seamstresses and seamsters. I usually just leave the 3 ring white edge on, but I trim them neatly prior to sending them to their future homes. I store two rows side by side in the cabinet. The McCall's creep into the other row, but I have more Simplicity than anything else, so it isn't a big problem.

So, this is how I do it. What are your tips for pattern storage and preservation?


  1. This makes me feel guilty with my unseemly pattern mess. So it's inspiring as well, so I'm determined to up my pattern organization game.

    1. Well, if it makes you feel better, these are my counted patterns - I still have a few hundred (or more, who is counting?) in boxes awaiting organization. :) A work in progress....right?

  2. I have mine in a file cabinet as well, I think I should use your idea and protect them in plastic as well. Awesome post, thanks for the idea.


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