Organizing Puzzles and Patterns

Do your puzzles fall out of their boxes?

Are your boxes falling apart?

Have your puzzle pieces gone missing?

Do your children forget about the puzzle collection?

When we moved house some years ago, I needed store our large puzzle collection.

I had to do away with the puzzle boxes to save space.

Here are some tips I have found work brilliantly  from my all-time-favourite organization book ~

Confessions of an Organized Homemaker

by Deniece Schofield

(You can read my review here.)

How to organize your puzzle collection:

  1. Make up the puzzle on a tray or board.
  2. Turn it over as a complete unit.
  3. Number each puzzle piece with a number or symbol, (easy for small to medium-sized puzzles), or colour across the back of the puzzle pieces making a pattern using a bright coloured, broad,  felt-tipped pen. (This is good for 100 piece plus puzzles.) It really does not take long!  I organized all my puzzles in one afternoon!
  4. Now place all those puzzle pieces in a small or medium-sized Ziplock bag.
  5. Cut out the picture on the top of the box.  (This seems sacrilegious, but I have never missed the boxes, nor ever needed to repair them every few months!)
  6. Place this picture in a large Ziploc bag and place the smaller Ziplock bag with all the puzzle pieces inside the large bag.
  7. Use masking tape and write how large the puzzle size is e.g.: 36 piece/ 100 piece puzzle.  This is helpful for young children.  They can choose the smaller size puzzles until they are mature enough to try build a large puzzle.
  8. Stack the packets of puzzles vertically, like files,  in a cardboard box/ kitty liter box, so that the children can browse through the bags, looking at the pictures, and select the puzzle they would like to build.  (You could even place cardboard dividers in the box and arrange your puzzles by size/ theme/ wood/ type.)
  9. I have trained my children to build their large puzzles on a wide tray so that they can move it if they need to.
  10. Also, they must pack all the pieces back in the Ziplock bag, ZIP it closed so that pieces cannot fall out and place this in the large ziplock bag with the picture, back in the tray.

Now, this really works for us, but  Deniece Schofield suggests a slightly different method ~

  1. Number each bag of puzzle pieces with some masking tape and places these ziplock bags in numerical order standing up in a cardboard tray.
  2. Cut the picture from the box and write how many pieces in that puzzle and file these pictures in a ring binder.  Label the picture with the matching puzzle number on the ziplock bag of pieces.  These pages are her puzzle catalogue.
  3. Children browse through the file and choose a picture, look and see what number that puzzle is and go find that number packet in the tray.

Organizing your dress-making patterns ~

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  1. Cut the original pattern envelope open.
  2. Press pattern pieces flat and fold it wide enough fill the envelope and stay flat.  Ensure the pattern number is on the top so you can easily find the correct pieces.
  3. Place all the pattern pieces, instructions and illustrations in the envelopes.  (Some dressmakers place a photo of the finished garment, extra buttons and some material samples with their patterns.)
  4. Label every envelope on the top right/ left corner.  Paste the original pattern envelope on the front.  (I sketched a picture of the garment for the envelopes where there was no original envelope.)
  5. Close the envelopes.  (Mine are easy-seal and stay closed when pressed shut.)
  6. Arrange all the patterns in similar groups/ sizes.
  7. Make index separators with sturdy cardboard strips a bit wider than the manilla envelope.  Label each strip.  I covered my labels with clear packaging tape for durability.
  8. Place the strips in between the envelopes.  All arranged!
  9. You can arrange cross stitch patterns/ knitting and crocheting patterns in the same way.

Hope this encourages you to spend the next rainy afternoon and put your puzzles in order!

You can read more practical organization tips 1 and organization tips 2.


3 thoughts on “Organizing Puzzles and Patterns

  1. Ive always put the first letter of each word on the back of each piece. when we get a new ouzzle its labeled, cut, bagged and popped in with the appropriate age bin. Also, with babe puzzles I label, tape all edges and folds of the box. This means better resell. The quality (not character themed) are never resold but the others we get as gifts can earn 1-3$ at garage or second hand sales.



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