Jul 2, 2013

Pattern Storage Dilemma?

How do I store my vellum patterns?

I've had this questions asked of me numerous times, and I've seen others discussing this issue in the Stitcher's Guild SFD Forum.  So let's take a look at what your various options are.

Depending on your storage space in your closet or sewing room you may want to implement one of the following.

Folded in Envelopes
You can always fold the vellum patterns.  Only make enough folds to put the pattern into either a manilla envelop or plastic bag.  If it's a manilla envelop, the 9.5" x 12.5"  size works well.  Make sure you label the envelop, tape a swatch of fabric to the outside, and if you have a photo of (yourself) in the finished garment, print one out and tape it on too.  Or, if using a plastic see-though bag, the 1 quart size work really well.  Pin a swatch of fabric to the pattern and of course, label the pattern with a date drawn.  This way, it's quick and easy to identify what you designed, what fabric you used and when you sewed it.  Then just stack the patterns in a box.  To re-use this folded pattern, you can always gently press the vellum with a low heat - DRY iron.  Press just on the crease and only enough to flatten.

Rolled on a cardboard tube
Or...Save the internal tube from your tracing vellum rolls.  I particularly like the 18" wide tube from the 50 yd vellum.  It seems to be just the right length for many pattern shapes.  Of course, the tube from the 24" long vellum is excellent for larger sized pattern pieces like wide sleeve patterns.  Then roll the pattern pieces around the tube, tape or pin a swatch of fabric to the pattern, label what the pattern is and when you drew it...then put a rubber band around it.  Makes good sense...no creases to deal with when you go to re-use the pattern.

Toilet Paper Tube
A customer suggested this alternative.  She used empty toilet paper rolls - rolled the pattern pieces quite tight, stuffed them inside the toilet paper tube, then let the pattern roll expand till it fills the tube.  Clever!  Of course, label the tube and pin or tape a fabric swatch to the roll for easy identifcation.

Just simply rolled & rubber-banded
And last, but certainly not least, as I'm sure you can come up with other options, just simply roll the pattern, label, swatch it, and put a rubber band around it.  There's nothing supporting the roll, but if you gently stack these in one of those clear plastic storage bins, they shouldn't get crushed and will be easy to unroll and use the next time you want that particular pattern.

My favorite is rolled on a hard cardboard tube.  Please share your favorite storage system in the Comments box.  I know others would like to know what you do too..


  1. That toilet paper trick is pretty impressive. I have rolled them on the outside of paper towel tubes. My heart would break if I had to fold them!

  2. I have 2 ways I store my patterns.

    One is to clip all the pieces together with a small Bull Dog clip and hang them on a large S hook or circle hook like the kind that is used for hanging belts. You do need closet space or hooks or nails to hang these on.
    The professionals punch a hole in the top of each piece and hang them on special hooks.

    The 2nd way is to use the expanding file folders and file them in large file boxes with lids that are easy to stack. I hate to fold them but this is a space efficient way to store many patterns. I have one box for tops, one for jackets etc.

    I always tape piece of the fabric on each pattern piece for easy recall and a piece of the fabric on the front of the file folder with date and comments.

  3. Another one of our SFD ladies clips her patterns to a pants-type style of hanger then hangs them in a wardrobe closet - no creases...they hang perfectly straight. Thanks Carole from Oz.

  4. Hi Glenda, I'm with Carole from Oz on this one. I store my patterns on skirt hangers, the ones with spring clips. No creases, no rolls, easy to find what I'm looking for, especially now that I've eliminated a lot of pants patterns that were never going to fit!

  5. Yes, as long as you have the closet storage space, this is likely one of the better options.