If you do very much sewing for your family, you know how quickly the stash of patterns can build up. I have the goal for myself to sew as close to 100% of my family's clothing as possible. Thankfully, the style of clothing we enjoy wearing does not require that I have stacks upon stacks of patterns for giving variety. I do not have a "sewing room" as many women enjoy, so I have to be careful in what I have and how I store them.
I have tried several "systems" for storing my patterns. One being to use the cardboard pattern boxes. I found though that once put into those boxes, I often would forget about the patterns. Luckily, I never purchased a duplicate of a pattern that I already had in my collection. Recently though, I have started going through my patterns with dismay. I have many patterns that I had bought with the intentions to make them for our daughter, but she has out-grown them before the patterns could be used. Many patterns still are in their "new" condition. How wasteful!
I now am organizing my family's patterns in a binder. I have a section for each family member. I am using the top-loading sheet protectors to store the patterns in. This allows me to flip through the binder to find the pattern needed. In the front, I am making an indexing sheet for each person. I have the patterns listed according to category. The categories are:
For my husband & son:
For my daughter & I:
Dresses & Jumpers
Things specific for the little ones:
By having a listing of patterns by category for each person, I am able to keep track of what patterns need to be purchased. Whenever possible, for the little ones, I am buying multiples of their patterns that I know I will be using for most of their clothing needs. For example, if the pattern has 2 or 3 packets, each with a different size range, I will buy one of each packet. This helps to avoid the frustration of the pattern being out of print when she is ready to go into the larger sizes. An advantage to storing the pattern packets in the sheet protectors is that as I trace the size I need, I can store those pieces in a baggie or 6x9 envelope behind the original pattern.
To save on binder space, I will have the patterns for the home & crafts in a separate binder. These will be organized also by type. Quilt patterns, home furnishings, holiday crafts, dolls and toys, other crafts. You can further organize the binders by having for each person a record of their sizes with the date. When sewing gifts for others, you can also include color preferences, occasion, and any other information that would help you when it is time to sew that project.
Now, when I am wanting to plan out my sewing, I can easily find the patterns that I need. No more hunting them down, flipping through boxes of patterns! Everything is easily accessible and at my fingertips.
How much simpler this is making the sewing. Once I realized that I didn't need to have a pattern for every occasion, but started getting patterns that can be made with variations to get many looks from the same pattern, I was able to free up a lot of the clutter and chaos in my sewing pattern collection.