How to organize your patterns using Trello

How to organize your patterns using Trello

trello pattern stash

This week on Love to Sew, Caroline and I dive deep into patterns with tips for organizing, storing, and collecting sewing patterns. If you haven’t listened yet, you can head to the Love to Sew Podcast website or listen wherever you download podcasts!

love to sew

I recently put all my patterns in Trello so I can view them anytime time on my computer or phone. Having a digital catalog of your patterns can be so helpful for planning projects or keeping track of what you already have so you don’t buy twice! I love that I can browse my patterns now and see all my options, it really does get the sew-jo going!

Trello is a project management app, but it is structured in such a way that I find it makes an excellent organizational tool.

Here are some of the benefits of using Trello:

  • It comes with a desktop version (easier for adding all of your patterns when you start using it and nice to have the large view)
  • It comes with an app for iTunes and Android
  • The base software is FREE
  • Items can be easily added and moved around or archived
  • Items can be tagged and then filtered to view only those tags
  • Items can be linked (fabric to pattern or pattern to pattern expansion, for example)
  • Add as many attachments and photos as you want (including the actual pattern!)
  • Highly customizable! No set fields, you decide what information you want to include
  • Excellent search function

I am going to walk you through my system on Trello so you can see for yourself how handy it can be! If you have any questions, you can email me at hello@helenscloset.ca!

*Note: I am using the desktop version of this app for this tutorial, but it is also available on mobile (and they sync up). 

In Trello, you can create ‘boards’, ‘lists’ and ‘cards‘. My pattern stash is my board (I also have a board for my fabric stash), and I categorize my patterns in lists like ‘dresses, tops, pants, etc’. Within each list, there are cards for each pattern. I like to use the pattern name and the designer for the title of the card.

trello pattern stash

Each card can have a description (good place for your notes), multiple attachments (product photos, envelope backs, and the pattern itself), and links (direct link to the pattern online). You can also label your items with any labeling system you like.

You get to make the labels and choose the colors you use. You can add multiple labels to each card and create as many as you like. One of the labels I really like is ‘want to make‘. This allows me to filter out all the patterns I am not interested in making so I can really get excited about sewing!

When you want to filter your cards, you can use the filter system to check off which labels you want to see. For instance, I can get it to show me only things I want to make that I have never made before.

Another thing you can do with the cards is link them together. For example, you can link pattern expansion packs to the main pattern or even link items from other boards. I like to link my fabric to my patterns if I have something in mind for a specific project.

To do this, add an attachment and choose the ‘Trello’ option.

trello pattern stash

Start typing the name of the card you want to link. For example, I know I want a rayon from my stash that has at least 3 meters, so I type ‘rayon 3’. I see the one I want to be listed and I add it to my pattern card.

Once the card is attached, you can click ‘connect cards’ to also link the pattern on the fabric card.

Now when I look at my fabric stash, the pattern I want to make is linked on this fabric card. So cool! You can simply click on the card attachment to go directly to the corresponding card.

I am using Trello as a visual catalog only, and I have my patterns stored on Dropbox. If you want, you can upload your patterns themselves to the pattern cards as a means of digital storage.

Your patterns can be stored on the card and downloaded from Trello anytime, anywhere.

I love how visual Trello is, and it is really intuitive to use. You can click and drag patterns around easily, putting them in any order you choose with the lists.

You can also drag the lists around easily, so you can prioritize dresses in the summer and jackets in the winter. I love it!

I have a little app extension on my Trello that allows me to see the total cards in each list and the total cards on a board. This is handy (and scary) for keeping things under control. You can grab this Chrome extension here. I have a few more patterns than I did when we recorded the podcast thanks to Black Friday!

Well, that’s my Trello method for patterns! I hope this has been helpful and inspiring for you. I have my printed PDF and paper patterns stored on a shelf above my computer so it’s all in one convenient place. Don’t forget to check out this week’s episode of Love to Sew for more tips on organizing patterns!

Blog Comments

Have you tried textillia.com? Their are already many many patterns in their database so you don’t have to log them. They have pattern and fabric stashed but you also can make favorites (like a pattern wishlist) as well as to do lists, and log your projects. It is nice that this product has a phone app though.

Hi Lauren!

I haven’t tried an online community approach yet but that is a great tip! I know the Fold Line also has a database you can build from. I probably wouldn’t switch now that I’ve created mine in Trello, but I will note is as a follow up for the podcast!

Thanks Helen! This is fantastic. I need to look into this for sure.

How much computer space does your pattern pics take in trello? Its limited to 10mb for a free account. This info would help me to decide if my massive number of patterns would work at the free account or paid. Thank you.

Hi Annalisa! Great question. The 10mb limit on Trello is actually per attachment, so you can have as many photos and patterns as you like provided that no individual photo is over 10mb. Most photos are around 50-220kb, so It wont be an issue. Thanks again!

Do you put a pattern in multiple categories? Like a simplicity that has pants or a top. Or a Vogue wardrobe that has five different things.

Hi Suzanna! I do! You can easily duplicate a card and send it to another list. I try to swap out the photo to represent the category it is in, too.

Love Trello! Thank you for sharing this with us

My pleasure, Sharon!

Terrific Post. I have been struggling with a way to always have my patterns at my fingertips when I am out shopping and see a piece of fabric that I cannot live without! I had even thought about developing an iPhone app for just that problem. Now I do not have to. Trello seems like a perfect match. You can also do crochet, quilting, knitting, etc or any pattern that requires materials. Love it. Thanks so much for the easy instructions as well. Lynn

Thanks Lynn! I really feel it works so well for this application. You can have boards for all your crafting needs!

Hi, thanks for sharing! I actually have the exact same organization (trello for pattern stash and fabric slash, and dropbox ) and i love it too!!

Thanks for sharing! I usually just keep all of my PDF patterns in my Google drive, but this seems like a much easier and quicker way to access it while fabric shopping. I’m also going to make a thread colour board, as I always end up buying thread that I already have at home. The possibilities are endless!

Thanks! It is nice to have the pattern files stored in Drive or Dropbox but then have a visual catalog like this available too 🙂

Yes! This is just what I need. I’m gonna start immediately. Thanks!!!

My pleasure! Thanks for checking out my post!

I have been happy with how I organize my pattern stash on Pinterest, but recently wanted to search my patterns by fabric type, as I had a length of Ponte I want to use but with no clear idea how – so your podcast and this blog is very timely! Thank you!

Yay! Glad you are feeling inspired by it! Good luck with your stash cataloging!

Oh my gosh – this looks so fun to set up! Thanks for sharing – and for the podcast!

It is so satisfying to set up! Thanks for reading and listening to the show!

This is just the sort of thing I’ve been looking for! Thank you so much for sharing your secrets.

My pleasure, Sam! Thanks for checking it out!

Thank you Helen -did try trello after listening to the great podcast last week-but wasn’t sure how to go about it- now this is a godsend – thank u so much for this

My pleasure Michelle! I’m glad you are giving it a try!

Thanks Helen, I’ve re-organized my digital patterns in Dropbox and have them inventoried in Trello now! This is helpful to keep track of paper + pdf. My total is 26 patterns!

26 patterns is so reasonable! You are all set up to grow now 🙂

This is such a great idea! I just started using trello at work and am only scratching the surface of its personal possibilities. Thanks for sharing ❤️

My pleasure, Dana! Glad you found it informative!

This looks great! I’m about to try it, and would LOVE to have the information available on my phone when I’m at a store. That way I can buy specific amounts, rather than trying to figure out how many yards for a T-shirt or a long-sleeved shirt or…

I am wondering about putting in my old patterns. Could I copy and save the envelopes, then upload from my computer?

Thanks Rebecca! I photographed mine and added them in, but you can totally scan and save them to your computer before uploading them. Trello offers a desktop app that makes it easy to use on your home computer.

This is a favorite episode of mine – I am going back to hear it one more time, so many good advices there. I am in the middle of reorganizing my patterns and fabric stashes. thank you for the helpful tips.
There is one thing that I wanted to mention – “Patterns really don’t go anywhere and I don’t need to rush” – there is an exception and this is Named patterns – they often retire their patterns, which is very very sad. I have no explanation why they could do this.

I’m a massive trello lover too (and use it for recipes as well for easy last minute meal planning on the go) my only con is that you can’t access it offline. I’ve been caught out in the supermarket and a fabric store with no signal a couple of times 🙁

Mind Blown … i will be working with this took asap.

I have read this post multiple times in the past, and have tried out Trello because of it, so thanks for the tips.

I also just heard about a new program called Airtable (free, accessible from a browser and also has an app) that is PHENOMENAL for organizing of this type. I am about to catalog all my patterns with it. I highly recommend it!

This tutorial has seriously been life changing. Thank you for putting it together! I’ve been looking for a way to keep track of which patterns I plan to use with which fabric, and so far my answer has just been to keep my fabric stash small. Not anymore! Mwahahaha!!!

[…] where they are. It has lots of features I haven’t delved into yet. There is a tutorial on Helen’s Closet which shows how to use this program for your sewing stash. Here are a couple of screenshots of my […]

Hi Helen!
Love the podcast! Never miss an episode! I am not very tech savvy, but am dying to organize my many many years of fabric and pattern stashing :). Is it necessary to use drop box with trello? Is that just helpful to get the cover picture of each pattern? And…do you have a tip as to how you tackled this project? It seems a little time intensive at first, but once you get your existing inventory done, than just adding new content, shouldn’t be too hard….right!?? Thank you again for the extra extra joy you and Caroline have added to the sewing community!
Alyson in Alabama,,

I’m late to the party but I just started listening to your podcast and tried out Trello as you suggested and it’s AMAZING! I can actually link my inspiration photos with real patterns and fabric. I use the different tags to categorize patterns I own vs want and fabric that is washed, unwashed or on preorder. Great way to organize the ideas in my head into a real plan rather than a stack of fabric and patterns I forgot what I was going to do with!

I think I’ll start organizing later today when I get of work. Sounds like you have a nice system set up. I really like the labels system! One question though, how do you go about patterns that are in a magazine or in a book?

That is a great question! I take a photo of the design and add it in with a note about what book/mag it is in and what page.

I just found this! It seems to be what I’m looking for. Do you have any new suggestions to this since it was posted back in 2017?

Hi Linda,
We don’t have any new suggestions! Feel free to give Trello a try.

Thanks Helen, This is really useful! I have been listening to the podcast starting a few months in and can’t believe it has been 2 years now. Anyway I was surfing around tonight and took a peak at the microwave bowl cozy (I am making that for myself and my daughter who just started college and probably could use that when making Ramen). Anyway, I decided to read this because we use Trello at work (probably not to it fullest potential) but I didn’t get how it could be useful to my sewing when you described using it on the podcast. This post describes it beautifully. I understand how it could be really useful now. Thanks for this follow up post. I now have to decide if I want to take the leap and catalog all my patterns let alone fabric. Having the fabric requirements for a project at my fingertips is really appealing.

Thanks so much Robyn! We love Trello over here- it’s so useful and organized! The soup bowl cozy will DEFINITELY up your daughter’s ramen game. You can also pass along my personal favourite ramen trick from college- adding a cup of frozen vegetables and a few drops of sriracha!

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