Oh my…what is the Diva talking about? I would bet you thought I ran out of sewing room organizational tasks. Not so!

Since I started sewing a few years ago, I’ve managed to amass a large collection of literature related to sewing. In my library are design inspirations, reference books and a host of other printed goodies such as project instructions and embroidery designs. And unless you get your sewing literature organized, it becomes just a pile of papers. So let’s get started…



Let’s tackle your sewing patterns first.


Start by going through ALL of your patterns.  Get some empty cardboard or plastic boxes and attach a label to each indicating the different categories of patterns you have.  There are several ways to categorize your patterns such as:

  • Size – infants, toddlers, children, teens, adults
  • Pattern Company – Simplicity, Vogue, etc.
  • Style: dresses, pants, shirts, loungewear
  • Type: crafts, home decor, garments

Some may find a combination of the above categories works best.  Do what works so you can easily find your patterns in the future.  I sew mostly children’s garments and have my patterns categorized as such:

  • Infants Layette (onesies, bibs, buntings, etc.)
  • Toddler Girls Casual (shirts, pants, skirts, loungewear)
  • Toddler Girls Formal (special occasion dresses and gowns)
  • Girls Casual (shirts, pants, skirts, loungewear)
  • Girls Formal (special occasion dresses and gowns)
  • Toddler Boys Casual (shirts, pants, loungewear)
  • Boys Casual (shirts, pants, loungewear)
  • Hats (all sizes)
  • Home Decor (chair covers, placemats, table runners, bedding, curtains)
  • Crafts (bulletin boards, decorative boxes, sachets, Christmas stockings)
  • Dolls (Barbie and American Girl)


Now take one box at a time and go through the sorted patterns.  Discard those patterns which are missing pieces, beyond salvaging and/or no longer of interest (no, you are never going to make that toaster cover–get rid of it).

If you aren’t able to part with your patterns just yet, put them in a box (stored outside your sewing room) and write the date on the box.  If you don’t touch the box within a reasonable amount of time (6 months or a year), then it’s time to get rid of them–no excuses.

Sell (eBay, Etsy, or Craigslist) or donate the patterns you no longer need (community centers, schools, other sewing enthusiasts).



Many sewers use the same patterns over and over again.  For these patterns, you might want to:

  • iron fusible stabilizer directly onto the pattern
  • trace the pattern onto manila paper, Swedish tracing paper, grid paper or clear mylar sheeting
  • stick the pattern to contact paper before cutting
  • Glue the pattern to brown craft paper


Need to replace a vintage pattern piece or envelope?  Visit Pattern Rescue.


There are those who are able to fit the pattern back in its original pattern envelope–good for you.  Once again, I’m not in your club…LOL!  Thankfully there are alternatives.

Ways to store:

Plastic Ziploc Bags

Clear Plastic Sleeves

I purchased two boxes of the 3 hole TOP LOADING (this is important–side loading protectors will be useless sheet protectors.


Staples Medium-Weight Clear Sheet Protectors are sold in boxes of 100 or 200.  Don’t buy the Staples Economy Sheet Protectors–they are semi-clear and flimsy.


1,000 Sheet Protectors on Ebay


Pattern Saver with Extra Pocket

Pattern Saver at Nancy’s Notions


I put my patterns in clear plastic top-load sleeves, by category (infants, toddler girls, home décor, etc.) and store them inside big wide binders.  I then store the binders on a bookshelf in my sewing studio.



Lots of sewers keep just their pattern envelopes in binders and then store the actual pattern and instruction sheets in boxes or filing cabinets.  I prefer to keep the pattern envelopes and its contents all together.

Pattern Boxes

Use pattern boxes available at your local craft stores.  Depending on the size of the box, they hold between 30 to 40 sewing patterns.


Pattern Finder™ System at Clotilde


Pattern Boxes at Nancy’s Notions

You can also buy a combo set


Combo Set for 90 Patterns at Nancy’s Notions

Filing Cabinets

filing cabinet

Filing Cabinets are a great for holding your pattern stash.  You can easily fit 100 patterns per drawer.

Check out this nifty Pattern Organizer with plastic category tabs:


Pattern Organizer for Filing Cabinet

Pattern Organizer at Clotilde


What about a beautiful shabby chic dresser?  You could store patterns on their sides.


Wooden Crates


Wooden Crate Instructions for your Handy Husband

Clear Boxes

Rubbermaid™ makes clear boxes with high tops.  You could store 3 rows of patterns in one box.  If you want to save money, visit your local dollar store for a great selection.


Pattern Hooks

I store my most utilized patterns on professional pattern hooks which all hang on a garment rack in my sewing studio.


Over the Door Storage


If you have a small pattern collection or want to display your treasured vintage patterns, get the pattern to make these Over the Door Pattern Organizers from By Annie’s.   Don’t forget to use a Teflon Foot on your sewing machine when sewing with vinyl.

Pattern Inventory

So, now you that you have all your patterns under control, it’s time to put together a PATTERN INVENTORY list to keep track of those patterns you already own

Create a document in your word processing or database software entitled PATTERN INVENTORY.  Make the following columns:

Manufacturer Pattern # Description Sizes Binder #
McCalls 9876 Girls Skirt 2T-4T 6
McCalls 9688 Boys Shirt 4-7 8


Use the SORT feature to organize your pattern information by DESCRIPTION, SIZES or PATTERN NUMBER. With this method, you can easily find the patterns you have using the criteria which best suits your needs.

Other ideas to organize your sewing patterns:

Organized Expressions™ for Sewing

Wild Ginger software


Soul Sista’s Access Database Method for Pattern Storage

Patterns Wanted

I keep a list of the patterns I want to acquire using Microsoft Word (any word processing or database software will work).  Visit some of the sewing patterns sites for the latest selection. My favorite web sites are:

Create a document entitled, “PATTERNS WANTED” with the following columns:


Pattern #





Boys Pants




Girls Tops



Do this for EACH pattern manufacturer on a separate page. Then use the software’s SORT function to put each manufacturer’s pattern numbers in ascending order.  After you’ve sorted them, condense your list to one page (if possible).

Take your PATTERN WANTED list to the fabric store with you so you can take advantage of the wonderful 99 cents pattern sales. No need to look through those huge pattern books…just access the patterns in the pattern drawers using your newly created list. Be sure to check off those patterns you purchase to keep your list up-to-date for future shopping trips.


If you are like me, you have dozens…maybe hundreds of embroidery design files on your computer.  I use Husqvarna Viking’s 3D Organizer which allows me to find my designs and pictures easily. It also converts embroideries between formats or to images. You can print your designs or create a personal website gallery.  You can buy it separately or with the latest version of Husqvarna Viking Embroidery Software bundle.


Husqvarna Viking Organizer

Here’s one on Ebay

You can print out indexes and individual design sheets. Organize these design sheets and even your stitched out embroidery design samples in a 3 ring binder. You can sort them by category such as fonts, holidays, girls, boys, etc.

Brother PE Design software has a Design Database included with its software:


Brother PE Design 7.0

Embird has an add-on called Iconizer.  It shows a small icon of the embroidery design instead of just the file name and type. This allows you to browse and sort your designs easily, because you can see the contents of embroidery files within Windows Explorer and other Windows programs.


Embird Iconizer Free 30 Day Trial

Ann the Gran offers Catalog Xpress which works with the Ultimate Box™ and the Amazing Box™.  Use Catalog Xpress categories, or create your own, then drag-and-drop embroidery designs into them as you download, including to and from your Ultimate Box™ or Amazing Box™.


Catalog XPress at Ann the Gran

Download a free 30 Day Trial at Ann the Gran

BuzzXplore provides you with all the essential tools for organizing and finding your design files. You can locate, print, sort, drag-n-drop, cut, copy, paste, rename, convert, even zip and unzip files.


Purchase BuzzXplore at SMR Software

Pfaff Creative Organizer


Pfaff Creative Organizer quickly converts your embroidery designs to and from most embroidery formats, either individually or by the hundreds. Create a personalized catalog for all of your designs, save your own notes for each design, and add designs to categories using a simple drag-and-drop method.


Babylock Studio Plus available at the Sewing Outlet

Babylock Studio Plus FREE TRIAL

Embroidery Magic software has a built in embroidery design database that comes stocked with 325 stock designs by Pantograms.  The Database allows the user to save and retrieve embroidery designs from specific categories.


Embroidery Magic available at Thread Artist

Embroidery Office Book Author is an embroidery design catalog and web page creator that allows you to create design catalogs.


Free Office Book Author Demo Version

OESD Explorations software has a design library built into their software program:


Buy OESD Explorations at All Brands

Here’s some tutorials on organizing your embroidery designs without specialized software:

Secrets of Embroidery Design Organizing Tutorial

Designs by JuJu

George the Digitizer’s Helpful Hints on Organizing Designs

Artistic Threadworks Article on Organizing by Digitizer  


Check out the Embroidery Dedupler software.  It actual cleans up all duplicate embroidery designs on your computer according to your preferred file embroidery file types.  I DEFINITELY am going to purchase this!  Available only online! 

Embroidery Dedupler at Gran’s Workroom

If you want to put your embroidery designs on CD or disk format to use in your embroidery machine or to back-up your embroidery files you have stored on your computer, you’ll need somewhere to store your CDs and/or disks:

Embroidery CD Holder


Embroidery CD Holder at Nancy’s Notions


Embroidery Design Organizers at Nancy’s Notions

Here’s an adjustable CD holder that attaches to your slatwall or pegboard:


CD holder on Ebay

CD and Floppy Disk holders can easily be found at any office supply store. 


These references are a wonderful addition to your Sewing Library. Consider starting a machine specific stitch reference for each sewing machine or serger you own to make your stitch selection a breeze. Create STITCH SHEETS which include information about your sewing machine’s special stitches, sample stitches on fabric, and other pertinent information such as tension settings, stitch length, and stitch width.

My Serger Stitch Workbook has to be one of the most useful tools in my Sewing Library. It includes the techniques and all necessary settings. I even have lots of fabric swatches to show the correct stitch tension. In addition, it includes all proper threading information necessary to easily convert to different stitches. No longer do I have to guess at what different tension settings work with each different fabric.

Store your machine specific workbooks nearby your sewing machines and sergers for easy retrieval.


I sort all of my various sewing magazines and other periodicals in handy magazine holders which fit neatly in my shelving unit (this bookcase is in my Garden Room so I can peruse them while enjoying a nice cup of coffee). Each different publication has its own holder.


Craft Magazine Sleeves

You can store your sewing and craft magazines in these clear sleeves and keep them in binders.


Craft Magazine Holders at Clotilde

Magazine Sewing Binder


I collect several pattern magazines (Ottobre, BizzKids, Topkids, Patrones Ninos and Burda).  Instead of going through each magazine to find a specific pattern, I photocopy or print out (from the web) the index section.  I then put the index in a clear plastic sleeve protector.  I then add it to my “Magazine Patterns” binder and store it on a bookshelf with my other patterns in my sewing studio.

Free Patterns from the Internet

There are lots of great free patterns on the Internet.  Be sure to print them out as they can disappear into cyberspace and be a distant memory.

Again, I put the patterns in clear sheet protectors and then in a binder divided by categories.  Here’s some website which have free sewing patterns:’s Free Sewing Projects

Burda Style Free Patterns

Better Homes & Gardens’ Free Sewing Projects

Free Sewing Patterns at’s Free Patterns

Savvy Seam’s Free Patterns

Bella Online’s Free Sewing Projects

All Free Crafts’ Sewing Projects

My Craft Book’s Free Sewing Patterns

BurdaMode Free Patterns’s Free Sewing Projects

Babylock’s Free Projects

Marcus Brothers Textile Free Sewing Projects

Sew More For U Free Sewing Patterns

Free Baby Patterns at


I purchased the neatest fashion design tool from Hearth Song.  It is a cool set of design elements and textures to create design sketches. I just love it. Check out the Fashion Design Studio Kits…


Hearth Song’s Fashion Design Studio

I keep all my design sketches, pencils and templates in the included handy plastic file case. You can also use a 3 ring binder to organize all your sketches using tabbed file dividers to categorize them.


There are so many way to sort books.  I prefer to sort mine by category:

  • Garment Sewing
  • Home Décor
  • Serger Reference
  • Heirloom Sewing
  • Magazine and other periodicals
  • Design Inspiration Book
  • Design Sketch Book

Another Idea for Organizing Books

Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion Incubator’s wrote a great informational post on How to Organize Books

Various Book Organizing Software


Libellus Book Organizer

Personal Library Manager

Library Software

Complete Home Library

Book Library

My Book Database

My Favorite Books

Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing by Kathleen Fasanella

Sewing for Dummies by Janice Saunders Maresh

New Complete Guide to Sewing by Reader’s Digest Editors

The Ultimate Sewing Book:  Over 200 Sewing Ideas for You and Your Home by Maggi McCormick Gordon

Fine Machine Sewing 2nd Edition:  Easy Ways to Get the Look of Hand Finishing and Embellishing by Carol Laflin Ahles

Kwik Sew’s Sewing for Baby, Sewing for Toddlers and Sewing for Children by Kerstin Martensson

Serger Secrets by by Mary Griffin, Susan Huxley, Pam Hastings, Agnes Mercik, Linda Lee Vivian and Barbara Weiland

Grandmother’s Hope Chest:  French Sewing by Machine, Smocking, Shadowwork & Embroidery by Martha Pullen 

Sew Fast, Faster, Fastest:  Timesaving Techniques and Shortcuts for Busy Sewers by Sue Hausmann

The Husqvarna Viking FOOT BOOK by Deb Lathrop VanAken

501 Sewing Hints:  From the Viewers of Sewing With Nancy by Nancy Zieman

Sewing 101:  A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing by Creative Publishing International

Secrets for Successful Sewing:  Techniques for Mastering Your Sewing Machine and Serger by Barbara Weiland

Fashion Sketchbook by Bina Abling

Bend-the-Rules Sewing: The Essential Guide to a Whole New Way to Sew by  Amy Karol

In Stitches: More Than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing Projects by Amy Butler

Dream Sewing Spaces by Lynette Black

Shirtmaking:  Developing Skills for Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin

Sewing Secrets from the Fashion Industry:  Proven Methods to Help You Sew Like the Pros by Susan Huxley

Just Pockets:  Sewing Techniques and Design Ideas by Patricia Moyes

Designer Techniques: Couture Tips for Home Sewing by Kenneth D. King

The Complete Step-By-Step Guide to Home Sewing by Jeanne Argent

If you have any additional tips to organize your sewing library, I’d love to hear about them!  Happy Organizing!




  1. Pam - Babybumblebees says:

    WOW – that is AMAZING!

  2. These are wonderful tips. While going through your post, I had an epiphany: my sewing/craft room is a disorganized mess because I am overwhelmed by the huge amount of work that needs to be done. So I am going to attack one area at a time, using the items listed in your post. Simple – Brilliant. Thanks Diva.

  3. I discovered your blog about a month ago & enjoy reading it every morning! Thanks for all the tips today… they’re just great! There are some things that I’m doing already but there are several other ideas that I’m gonna try. Thanks again! 🙂

  4. I am SO glad I found you again… you are a wonder Lisa, you cover *everything* and then some! I’m a pretty organized person but I’m often so short on time and energy – it paralyzes my brain and I don’t know what to do next. You’ve done all the legwork already. Your ideas are wonderful. Now I just need someone to get these kids out of the house long enough for me to dig in and put your tips to use. LOL! 😀

  5. great!!
    I found your blog via Google while searching for web design and your post looks very

    interesting for me
    thank you..

  6. WOW – that is great !!

  7. Hello it was an absolute pleasure to come across, and read your blog. You really have some interesting information that I will have to share with my wife. If your ever looking for fabrics Lauren & I would be more than willing to help. Just let us know. Have a great evening.

    Josh & Lauren

  8. Lisa, I need to get my studio set by the end of the year, so I’l be referring back to your fabulous pages often! Thanks for gathering all this wonderful information together!!

  9. Well I’m bookmarking YOU! You’ve organized the process of organizing here and it’s inspiring! I feel incredibly motivated! Thanks for the pep-talk 🙂

  10. Awww…thanks girls! I love doing this as nothing inspires creativity better than an organized sewing/crafting space!

    With friendship,

  11. Like your organization. I gave up my sewing room to my son, now I have a 6 ft x 10 ft shed next to our garage for my sewing room.
    I have only so much space so I am forced to be organized. I have
    my fabric collection organized very similar to yours and have all
    boxes labeled with hang tags as to contents. My only regret is that I have no cutting table. I must use the dining room table for my
    bigger projects. Nice to see your system and will use your ideas
    for my space.
    Thank you.

  12. Great post! Thanks for all the ideas.

  13. This is huge! Thanks for all the great tips and advice. Love it.

  14. Hi Connie…I’d love to see pics of your sewing shed! I would love to actually have my sewing room not attached to my home–that way the kiddos wouldn’t be able to find me! LOL

    My pleasure Jen and Betty! thanks for stopping by!

    with friendship,

  15. Wow, I’ve never seen such an organized article on organization. I have one ver low tech idea for keeping pattern pieces or applique pieces together. Put them into a neat pile and put a brad through them. After suing the pattern put the brad through again.

    This has helped me immensly! I’m afraid I then just throw them in a drawer, but at least when I find one piece to a pattern I find them all : )

  16. Joanie…what a great idea!

    Thanks for sharing!

    With friendship,

  17. I just stumbled upon your blog and I am dumbfounded. This is simply amazing and I look forward to keeping up with all the incredible advice and knowledge that you have.


  18. God bless you! I’m very creative, but not so much organized. I needed a lot of help. I have a designated sewing/knitting room, but you can’t even see the floor I have so much stuff. This should help.

  19. OMG! All of your ideas are great and very helpful.

    I’m new in sewing (still learning the basics) and so confused in organizing all the patterns, i’m so lucky i found your blog. I bookmarked your blog before i even finish read everything 🙂

    I’m sure going to read your blog often.


  20. I’m an organization nut! I have enjoyed cruising through your website and all of the various links. I promise you I’m on my way out the door to find some of these great items and to make some of the great projects. THANKS! and Happy sewing!

  21. For the first time in 10 years, I tried to use my HV embroidery system. I have the Rose and the VIP Embroidery System with a Reader/Writer Box. I keep getting an error message indicating the Reader/Writer can not be found. Does anyone know what I could be doing wrong or where I can find someone to guide me through this? Thank you.

  22. My sister put me onto this idea on storing patterns. You know those zippered bags that sheets come in? Well, the smaller bags can be used to hold two rows of pattern packets. There is a small pocket on the inside of the front where you can write down on paper on cardboard the patterns held inside the zippered bag.

  23. I think I love you. Wait- I KNOW I love you!! Organizing does not come naturally to me, and after working for months to organize my craft room I was still left with a bunch of “stuff” that I thought didn’t fit into any categories. Well, I was wrong. I realized everything I have left fits into one of the categories in your 6-part series, plus you gave me about a hundred options of ways to organize them! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

  24. Awww Jenn…thank you for your kind words! Actually, I’m not organized by nature…I was afraid of auditioning for Hoarders…LOL! Glad I could share what I discovered!

  25. Hi!

    I’m looking into ways to store patterns. How have the sheet protectors worked out for you? I’m trying to decide between those — in a binder, perhaps, eventually — and gallon-sized ziploc bags.

    TIA, Liz

  26. Very thorough! I have you book marked and will work on this!

  27. Liz…I’ve tried both methods (sheet protectors and gallon-sized ziploc bags) and have found the sheet protectors to work much better. No need to zip them shut. Just make sure you get the top-loading sheet protectors. The patterns are much easier to remove from the sheet protectors and have 3-holes to fit in the binders. HTH

  28. Diane…it can be a taunting task depending on the amount of stuff you have, but once you get it done, it will make your life so much easier. Happy Organizing!

  29. lisa,
    just discovered your blog and absolutely love it. you have so many great ideas and options for sewing organization!
    i was wondering how your patterns keep if you place them on contact paper before cutting. i always cut to the largest size, even if i plan to use a smaller size, so i was curious if the patterns re-fold easily and if you’ve ever had any issues using a tracing wheel.
    thanks for sharing!

  30. I’m doing a big reorganization of my studio right now and of course had to come check out how my favorite Diva organizes her patterns. The pattern box system is not working for me so I think I’m going to switch to your method.

  31. So I need advice. I am constantly reusing patterns. Especially my costume patterns. A lot of which are rare vintage patterns. I like your suggestion to iron them to interfacing but one you do how do you store it? I don’t eve the space for hanging them. I currently have them all carefully put back in original envelopes nd organized in clear storage bin that I can stick in the back of a closet. If I use the stiffener idea and am actually able to fold them back up how do I flatten out crease for next use?

  32. Keriann…if you reuse the patterns often, I’d have them copied at the printer onto architect paper. Then you can roll them up and store them without creases. HTH.

    With friendship,

  33. It can be so hard to keep a creative space tidy and organized! Thank you for this lovely tutorial.

  34. I am an experienced seamstress for many years. This article give me many useful knowledge, it helped me a lot in my work. It would also be a good idea for the novice seamstress

  35. This was a great post with very useful tips!!! Thanks

  36. Thank you for gathering into one place so many get ideas!


  1. […] Categorize your Patterns, Embroidery Designs, Magazines and Books. […]

  2. […] SEWING ROOM ORGANIZATION CHALLENGE – PART V – SEWING … – Oct 12, 2007 · Oh my…what is the Diva talking about? I would bet you thought I ran out of sewing room organizational tasks. Not so! Since I started sewing a few years …… […]

  3. […] and store the patterns themselves seperately in brown enevelopes.There’s some great ideas on The Domestic Diva’s blog, that I’m sure I shall incorporate! Now I have a dedicated sewing space I can get to […]

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