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Organizing Quilt Patterns

Organizing the World of Paper and Digital Quilt Patterns

By Jo Simpson of Jo Simpson Designs

Photo of file folder with pattern and a finished mini quilt that says Dream Big. Post on organizing quilt patterns.

Whether you prefer the tactile experience of paper patterns or the convenience of digital files, organizing your quilt patterns is crucial for a seamless quilting journey.

Every quilter and quilt pattern writer knows that time is precious and you don't want to waste time looking for that missing quilt pattern when you could be quilting already.

Let's explore the world of quilt pattern organization, covering both paper and digital patterns, and offer tips to help you streamline your quilt writing and quilt projects.

Organizing Paper Quilt Patterns

Paper patterns have a classic charm and sometimes I just like to jot notes, with my colourful pens, onto the paper. There's a unique satisfaction in holding a physical pattern in your hands, flipping through pages, and feeling the texture of the paper.

Here's how to effectively organize your paper quilt patterns:

  • Utilize a Binder or File Folder Invest in a sturdy binder, file box, or filing cabinet dedicated to storing your paper patterns. This keeps them safe from wear and tear and easily accessible when you need them.

Plastic file box with color coded folders for organizing quilt patterns.
  • Categorize Your Patterns Set your paper patterns by categories such as size, style, date, or complexity. For my own, I sort them by date, oldest at the back and newest in the front. I also have them sorted by color folder file holders.

  • Create A Table of Contents Having this at the beginning of your binder or as the first file in your filing cabinet is an option if you want to be ultra-organized.

  • Use Tabbed Dividers Use these to create sections, or between each one within your binder, making it simple to find the perfect pattern for your project.

  • Protect Your Patterns Consider using sheet protectors or ziplock bags for templates and to safeguard your patterns from spills and stains.

Organizing Digital Quilt Patterns

Digital patterns have gained popularity in recent years due to their speedy delivery and convenience. With digital patterns, you can access your extensive library of designs at your fingertips.

Here's how to keep your digital patterns organized:

  • Create Folders On your computer or cloud storage, organize your digital patterns into folders. Create a hierarchy that makes sense to you. Remember that computers organize files alphabetically so that is a good place to start.

photo of digital desktop and file names for organizing digital quilt patterns.

For a current quilt pattern and fabric collection I'm designing, I use a folder name "A_Name". The "A" in front brings it first because the computer organized the files alphabetically.

  • Folders for Other Quilt Patterns Develop a consistent file naming convention for your patterns. Include the name of the designer, pattern, year, and any relevant keywords. This will make it easy to search for a specific pattern later. Separate your file names by a "_" to make the file searchable across all databases.

  • What To Add To Each Folder - Quilt Pattern - Illustrator graphic file - InDesign file - Promo photos for Pinterest, IG, and guest blogs - Blog post

  • Back Up Your Patterns Always back up your digital patterns to prevent loss I use an external 1 TB hard drive (mine was $60 CAN), Dropbox cloud storage, and sometimes Google Drive, to ensure everything is safe and accessible from multiple devices. The last thing you want is for your computer to crash and everything to be lost!

Photo of small hard drive with a puppy sticker on top used for organizting digital quilt patterns.

Whether you are a devoted fan of paper patterns or like the convenience of digital files, quilt pattern organization is the key to a smooth and enjoyable quilting experience. With the right systems and practices in place, you can access your favorite patterns with ease and stay organized.

How do you organize your patterns? Do you have a special tip or tool that you use? We would love to hear your ideas.

Happy Quilting!

Headshot photo of Jo Simpson of Jo Simpson Designs who wrote the blog post on organizing quilt patterns

Hi! I’m Jo Simpson, a quilt designer and fabric designer.

A large focus in my designs is multiculturalism, inclusion, and diversity for children. Come join me for quilting tips and tricks.Instagram - @josimpsondesign

Jo is one of eleven designers putting on the Sprout Quilt Challenge 2024. You can still participate in this 7-week challenge to build your quilt skills.

We want to thank Jo for her article for Quilt Pattern Writers! It's always good to share other designer's perspectives and support their businesses. If you would like to share a blog post with us, please drop us an email or complete the Blog Post form.

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