Quick Tip | Organizing Pattern Paper Scraps

Over the 12+ years I have been scrapbooking and paper crafting, the most valuable lesson I have learned about storage and organizing is that not every solution is going to work for everyone. You have to try out different methods. Some things need to be put away in boxes. Other things need to be out so they are easy to flip through. You have to try things until you land on something that works for you.

I have always been very happy with how I keep my cardstock scraps, but I have never found a way to keep my pattern paper scraps so that I will actually use them. They tend to get ignored or I try to use them up right away on cards.

But since I just moved, I have the opportunity to re-evaluate everything. I’m going from a dedicated craft room down to half a wall in the great room. The rest of my supplies will be tucked away in a large closet and scattered on shelves in different rooms. Because I no longer have a space, the things in my primary space have to work for me.

I want to use my pattern paper scraps so I’m trying something new.

My 12×2 paper collection is stored by manufacturer (more on this in a future post). I think about pattern paper in terms of collection and brand so sorting by color never worked for me. I tried keeping pattern paper scraps along with the 12×12 paper, but the paper holders would bulge. I tried to keep pattern scraps the same way I kept cardstock scraps only by manufacturer and it never worked either.

I let this drawer idea grow on me and now that I’ve set it up, I think it’s going to work.

I am going to dedicate two 12×12 drawer files (there are three drawers to each unit) to my pattern paper scraps. I will be grouping colors by red/pink, yellow/orange, blue/green, brown/kraft, white/black and cream. All shades of each color will go in the drawer — aqua in blue, peach in orange, seafoam in green, etc… Where’s the purple? Well, I do not use purple enough for it to have it’s own drawer. But I have figured out where purple papers will go.

Here is the first pile I was working with:

The question that always comes up when sorting pattern paper by color is: what do you do with multi-color patterns? I never could figure it out, so in general, I don’t sort by color. (There are exceptions – cardstock, flowers, brads, buttons and other solid color embellishments all go in color drawers – maybe a topic for a future post?)

But I really wanted this drawer system to work for my pattern paper so I established one rule from the beginning: I go by the background color.

This pattern has several colors but the background is obvious: green. It goes in the green/blue drawer.

While the yellow is bright and dominate, the background is pink. It goes in the red/pink drawer.

There are quite a few colors here, but the background is yellow. It goes in the yellow/orange drawer.

Some patterns are tricky. The background in the top pattern is kind of grey. The bottom two are obvious. Red and pink. Since this other pattern coordinates with the red and pink and there is a lot of red and pink in the paper, it’s filed in the red/pink drawer. You can improvise. I’m keeping to my background color theory 95% of the time, but there will be exceptions.

What happens when the background is white and all of the colors are more or less equal? It goes in the white/black drawer.

Here, I’ve got another grey background paper. I don’t have a grey drawer. Because the dots are white, it’s going in the white/black drawer. I don’t have a lot of patterns with black backgrounds, so if there is white running through it it goes in the white/black drawer.

Cream has a drawer to itself because by far, most of the patterns I use have a cream background. In a plaid print, there isn’t a dominate color. But if it’s got cream in it — like these patterns do — it goes in the cream drawer.

This is a good example of a rule breaker. My eye sees blue as the background so it could go in the blue/green drawer. But the pink edge almost makes me want to put this in the red/pink drawer. Because I couldn’t decide, I’m going with cream as it’s also there in the background.

And here’s one of the few purple patterns I had (it is lilac even though this photo makes it look more blue). Lilac is the background color but I don’t have a purple drawer. Since there’s white running through it, it goes in the white drawer. This might not always work if the paper is all purple and tonal, but that would be very rare.

What about text patterns, notebook paper and grids? I tend to stick with the background first. If it’s a white background, it goes in the white/black drawer. If it’s a cream background, it goes in the cream drawer. If I feel like that isn’t quite right, I might go by the text. If the text is brown, it goes in the brown/kraft drawer. If the text is black, it goes in the white/black drawer. Keep it simple, but flexible.

As I continue to unpack my supplies, each time I’ve come across pattern paper scraps, I’ve been able to find a drawer to put them in. So far, this is working

And you can’t beat how fun this looks. I love plastic storage bins because they are easy and inexpensive. They may not be the most attractive things in the world, but they work. I really wanted to go to IKEA and buy a ton of new furniture, but that just isn’t in the budget. I’m working with what I already have.

If you made it this far, thank you for indulging me. I hope that this gave you some ideas if you are thinking about sorting pattern paper by color. I could never do this for my 12×12 sheets, but I think it’s going to work for the scraps.

Do you have a fabulous way of storing your pattern paper scraps?

Thanks for stopping by today!


  1. great post. I am just about to ‘re-do’ my scraps system so this arrived at the right time! I don’t think I have as many scraps as you though! I am going to use your 12 x 12 page holder idea and try and try and combine colours and patterns, fingers crossed this will work!

  2. Great way to organize scraps! I actually don’t have any system at all today. I just put all the patterned paper scraps in one big happy pile. 🙂

  3. looks like a great way to store your scraps!! good luck on your organizing project. how fun!!

    i store all my pattern paper by manufacturer. I keep all my scraps in with that collection, but i really try to use up my scraps right away in making cards so that i don’t have a lot of scraps.

  4. Tammy – my patterned paper scraps are stored in a plastic sweater size storage box. Every few months I kind of weed through them and share with Erin. It’ s like a treasure
    box to her 🙂
    I have always had trouble sorting by color, too, but really like your idea of using the background to decide 🙂

  5. I wish I knew what to do with scraps! I’m an obsessive hoarder so nothing gets thrown away, but things get tucked into every box and shelf. Can’t wait to see how this new system works out! Maybe someday..

  6. Great idea. I had such a hard time organizing patterned paper because of all the colors. Noell Hyman (Paperclipping Round Table) suggested organizing by mood-feminine, masculine, geometric, office, subtle, energized.

  7. What a fun way to store your PP scraps! I too love the way it looks 🙂 I store my PP with my cardstock and recently trimmed everything down to 6×6. It’s been working out really well!

  8. When I first saw this scrap area, I thought it was yours.
    That is a gorgeous area, wow.
    Great tip on using the background for sorting your pattern papers.

  9. Great idea to put your papers up against the drawers! Gosh, that first photo is one amazing space….maybe someday ? 🙂

  10. I can see why you were inspired by that photo. That room is cool! I like how you did your storage as well. Can’t wait to hear how it works.

    I have cardstock and patterned paper scraps stored together by color. They are in 12 x 12 plastic paper trays. I put them directly behind my workspace so they are very convenient. This works well for me (but the trays were kind of expensive).

  11. What a great solution for all the scraps! You’ll have to let us know how it works out. I keep all my paper by manufacturer and that seems to work for me. But I definitely could be using up more scraps. I think that’s just me needing to stop buying new stuff though! 🙂

  12. I found this fascinating -using the background color to sort. I use the dominant color or whatever color I like the best. I put half sheets and larger back in the manufacturer file. All the others go in my scrap files by colors along with cardstock scraps. Fullsize cardstock is filed by color not manufacturer. I have to say all my scraps would fit into one of those drawers, because I don’t want them to get out of control. It is all about finding what works with the way you scrap.

  13. Looks like a great system! The background idea is unique and intriguing. I’ll be curious to see how your system works for you!

  14. I often found it hard to sort pattern paper. Using the background is great!

    I am having to rethink my room as well. I just hope to have it up and running soon. Tired of putting everything in the plastic baggies waiting to be put into my project life album!!

  15. great tips Tammy! Currently I have my patterned papers in large scrap bags sorted by colors, but I usually pick the color I like most, or what I think I would use – this is done with all my older papers. The new stuff I keep out, close at hand ready to use, but I need to go through the papers again to sort! It seems like a never ending process 🙂

  16. What a colorful way to store your scraps. I keep mine in hanging file folders by color but it can be tough when there is a bigger piece.

  17. Great system you’ve got! I hope to incorporate some of your ideas into my own pile of paper–thank you for sharing.



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