I wanted to keep things simple, organized and intuitive. I also wanted to be able to see my patterns at a glance, and as such using manila envelopes (which I have tried before) was not an option. Finding a method to separate the patterns into categories was also on my list. I wanted to use something that will work well with daily handling and can be easily relabelled when needed.
I found these black plastic binders (Oxford - Black #57722) at the dollar store. They have just the right amount of structure, flexibility, are easy to clean, and the price was .50 cents per binder. I got four divider tabs from each binder. I made the labels with my labeller and placed them over a strip of lime green polka dot washi tape for a burst of colour. I will be relabeling them in the future for a more uniformed look, but for now they work.
I have a few clear resealable plastic bags that I am testing out to store the individual patterns. The idea is to place a pattern in one of these bags to protect the envelope and to easily see the pattern. The bags are the just a little bigger than the patterns, so they fit perfectly. They have been working quite well; even after the pattern has been cut everything fits nicely. I have also started a binder where I store a copy of the pattern in plastic sheet protectors so that I can catalogue what I have in my collection.
All of the commercial sewing patterns I currently have fit into two draws. There are approximately 200 patterns, some of which are for the sewing classes I teach. There are still lots of room for more patterns if needed. I have chosen to store these patterns separate from the ones I design and I am still thinking of a better way to organize those patterns (future post!).
I hope that sharing this has been helpful and will spark some ideas on how you can approach your pattern organization. I am guessing that I will make some changes in the future, but for now I am happy with the results. I think that is important to be flexible and to think of how you will incorporate new patterns as your collection grows. There are also lots of ideas available and with a little planning; the right organizing solution is always within reach.