I thought I’d share my pattern organizing system, which I think I got out of a Threads magazine quite a few years ago.
Catalogue envelopes that are about 7.5 X 10.5 inches (hard to find in stores nowadays unfortunately – I order them online).
Sheet protectors that go in three-ring binders
Binder dividers that are wider than your sheet protectors
Every time you get a new pattern that you know you’re going to want to keep, take the pattern pieces and instructions out of the original envelope. Put them into a catalogue envelope and write the pattern number on the outside. If your patterns have names, write the name. You can add some details like date acquired, basic pattern description etc on the catalogue envelope as well. These envelopes go into a box or filing cabinet, ordered numerically or alphabetically. You can fit a lot of patterns together in one box if you never have to worry about browsing them. That’s where the next step comes in.
The pattern envelope, with the drawings and fabric requirements, goes into a sheet protector. I actually cut the envelopes open, trim off excess white space, and tape the back beside the front, so all the info is on one page, before inserting it into a sheet protector. Then I can put two patterns into one sheet protector. All the sheet protectors go into a three-ring binder, divided according to pattern type, so you make your own pattern catalogue.
You can do the same thing with PDF patterns by printing out the pieces and a photo to accompany it. Pieces in a catalogue envelope, drawing/photo in your catalogue binder.
Each time I use a pattern, I take the pattern envelope in the sheet protector and the pattern in its catalogue envelope out to work with it. When a project is finished, if I’m going to use the pattern again, I’ll write what I made with it on the outside of the envelope that stores the pieces. I can note any adjustments made, the date I used the patterns, and what my weight was when I made it to fit me. That way if I use a pattern again after many years, I’ll know whether it’s going to “fit right now” or not. I’ll also note on the drawing/original envelope what size was cut, when it was made, and how well it worked. I can put re-drafted pieces and un-used pattern pieces back into the catalogue envelope as well, since it is larger than the original envelope and less prone to ripping or disintegrating.
I have lost count of how many patterns I have, but by looking in my very own pattern catalogue I can compare looks and basically “shop my inventory”. I also keep a record of how patterns were used or changed over time.