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Pattern Organisation

A week or so ago I was updating my pattern reference folder and posted a picture of it on A Little Lime's Facebook page. I had a few questions so I thought it was time for an updated post on my pattern keeping process.

Firstly, the system I used was inspired by this post on Sandy Hunter's blog: Tanglebucket - it's great and I've been using it since 2012.

I tend to work in my pattern folder for a number of different reasons I might not be feeling all that creative and inspired, don't have a lot of spare time, or I want to draw something that I don't have to think about too much.

When it comes to my drawings, I mostly focus on doing my own thing and don't see a lot of new patterns on the web unless I go and seek them out. To do this I usually go to Tangle Harmony and Tanglepatterns to check out what's new.

I don't add every pattern to my folder, only the ones that I like, think that I will use or want to keep a reference of for whatever reason. For instance I'm a bit creeped out by patterns that look like they have tentacles, or eyes. haha. I don't know why, but that's a true story :)

O.k., so once I've found a pattern/s that I want to include, what next? Usually I'll just make a quick sketch of the pattern and slip it in roughly the correct place in the folder.

If I have enough time (or inclination) I may at that time create a more detailed, shaded copy of the pattern.

As I want to be able to know how to draw a pattern just by looking at the tile, for some I'll include partially complete sections and/or variations.

I have lots of sketches of patterns in the folder that haven't had their final "good" copy completed (there's only so much time in the day, right?), so every once in a while I'll go through the folder, starting at the beginning, and put the tiles in alphabetical order and make a finished copy of the sketched patterns. I also curate the folder at this time getting rid of any patterns that I no longer want for whatever reason.

Working on the pattern folder is a great warm up exercise for me on those days I'm feeling a bit low on inspiration -  usually don't get very far into it before this routine task kicks my creative spark into gear and I'm off drawing something that excites me :)

Some notes:
  • I use 2" square tiles, I cut them out of sheets of white card and sometimes round the corners of the tile with a punch if I remember :)
  • I bought the coin holder sleeves on eBay.
  • Alphabetical order works best for me as if I try to put the patterns into categories it gets too confusing - patterns often cross into several categories.
  • This is the system that I like the best, it's quick and easy to update and always available at my desk for referencing.
  • I don't try and keep a copy of every pattern in existence - some I just know I'll never use and others don't fit into my self-imposed pattern parameters :)

You can see my other "pattern organisation" posts here including the previous ones on this very system.

Have an amazing day!


  1. Thank you for this Helen! (and Sandy for the original inspiration!) I loved your organisational tips using Evernote and now this is a great one to carry around when disconnected from technology! I have been developing pattern step out folders (definitely alphabetical) and one of those crazy people who just love collecting all the patterns! I do quickly see which ones I am likely to gravitate toward and use going forward after finishing the Step Out page - so now I think the ones I have enjoyed drawing will be put on a 2"x 2" card and put into this type of folder - a coin holder sleeve - of course!!! - ideal!! Your ideas are going a long way toward helping me slowly get control of my huge collection - thank you!

    1. You're welcome, Lynne :) Good luck with your organising!! h

  2. Oh, this is similar to my pages of patterns that I went crazy on a while back, when I was in a creative slump. Mine are made on inchies, which I then tacked to the one inch template from (somewhere) and put in page sleeves in my tangle looseleaf.

    Some time I am going to emulate LezlieB, who has a tangle library, with each pattern on an ATC, with the step outs on the back of the card. They fit in standard baseball card sleeves. It's a terrific resource. Now I'm getting motivated!

    1. Sounds like another great system, Heidi Sue :)

  3. can't tell you how excited it made me to see All Boxed Up in your post :D thanks for liking my pattern! haha! i feel accomplished. i really like sandy's way of organizing. i used this system for awhile, i have tried so many. i guess it might be time to catch things back up again. thanks, helen!


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