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How to Organize Your Fabric Stash

by | Nov 30, 2020

Collecting fabrics and using them in quilting projects is one of the joys for every quilter. Surely, over the years, you have built a pile of stash fabrics. But how do you organize your fabric stash?

Every quilter knows how collecting fabric can take up precious space in the sewing room. How much time have you wasted looking for that certain fabric that you will use in your next log cabin quilt project?

Just like any other working area, a cluttered sewing room contributes to lowered productivity. And I think most of us like the feeling of serenity that comes with a tidy workspace. I know I do.  So, it is best that your working area is organized and free from any clutter that can affect your work progress.

What do you need to do to start your fabric stash organization?

fabric organization

Take a Fabric Inventory

Before starting your fabric organization, you must do a full inventory of all your fabric. This way, you will know how much storage space you will be needing.

Ask yourself questions like “Are all of your current fabric stashes relevant to your current quilting style?” or “what are the color schemes that you usually work on?” Answering these questions gives you a chance to ponder if all the fabric in your working area matches your current preference, quilting style, or future projects. If not, you can destash some of it and free up space.  Keep only the fabric that truly matters to you.

I recently did an informal (meaning no spreadsheets) fabric inventory, and let me tell you; After 30 years of fabric collecting (I started in junior high), I have an impressive collection. I donated boxes of no-longer-relevant fabric to a group of charity quilters. I have certainly made purchasing errors over the years or jumped onto fabric trends that turned out to not be the wisest choices.

It was really liberating to let go of fabric that no longer spoke to me. Other fabric, that I was unsure about, I put in large airtight storage containers and put in the garage (where I have staked out some territory). They were roughly sorted into categories. Likewise, the large pile of quilt backings I had amassed. I figured that when I complete a large quilt once in a while, I will make the trip down there and pull the backing box off the shelf and see if there is anything I want to use there.

Between the storage and the donations, I removed almost half of the fabric from my studio and I was left with what I am currently most interested in working with. I think I will make an annual habit of going through this process and maybe switching out what is in storage and what is available to work with depending on how my interests sway between more traditional (currently) and large prints and bold colors (on and off over the years).

charm squares

Sort your Fabric

After you conduct your inventory, it’s time to sort your fabric! It may be an overwhelming task to go through all your fabric one by one, but it is an essential step before starting to organize your fabric.

Different fabrics may require different types of storing techniques. For example, rolls are a good choice for fabric with materials that can easily be slip or do have an irregular shape. Though, it may not work for some fabric types, so you may be doing a variety of folding or storing methods.

After you have done your fabric inventory and decluttering, you can finally start organizing your quilting fabric. Here are some of the useful fabric storage ideas that you can apply in your sewing room.

What is the best way to store fabric stash?

Create bundles of similar pieces

One way to efficiently organize your fabric pile is to make a bundle of similar pieces. You can sort your fabric by prints, designers, or fabric collection. Pick one that works well with how you do your quilting projects.

Place each type of fabric in its own container/shelf, so you can easily identify when you needed them. If you have several scrap fabric or specialty fabric, you can combine them and place them in a “scrap” container.

I usually end up folding my fabrics and putting them on shelves in neat piles. I usually have my fabric roughly sorted by types (civil war, large print Free Spirit, etc) and within styles are organized by color. I also tend to have “piles of hope” which are fabrics that have been pulled together with the possibility of finding their way into a quilt together. These piles of hope may or may not become a quilt but they are an essential way that I work. They get assembled and disassembled throughout the year and they have their own shelf in my studio.

Quilting fabric

Store fabrics by colors

Apart from storing fabric by similar pieces, it is also a sensible option to sort your fabric pile by color. Then, store it horizontally on a transparent basket or storage bin. Using a clear storage bin will make it easier for you to find any fabric when you need it.

Autumn Fabric

Use back of a door as a storage

If you have limited space in your sewing room, why not maximize the space behind your doors? You can install a rack on the back of your door and hang your fabric yards. It will serve as a perfect space to use as a storage of the current fabric that you are working on. Or you can hook up baskets to store smaller cuts and scraps of fabric. Also, you can use a clothes hanger to hang your fabrics.

Konmari your fabric stash

Like many of you, I have been exposed to Marie Kondo and her method of tidying. I will never be a minimalist but I really think her method of touching and feeling for joy in every item you own was very helpful in this fabric inventory process.

Do you remember the decluttering wave brought by the “Typing Up” with Marie Kondo on Netflix last year? Now is the perfect time to adapt and use those clever folding techniques! The basic Konmari folding method is to fold the garments on each side toward the center then work on your way until you fold the clothes lengthwise.

For larger items, such as fabric, you can still follow this folding method but minimize the number of folds so you can prevent the bulkiness of the fabric. Since the fabric is much larger compared to other types of garments, decide on the width of the fold. Consider the size of your drawer or basket bins first when deciding the measurement of your fold, so it will perfectly fit its storage.

The advantage of this method is that you can clearly see everything that you have since it is stored vertically. You can easily get the fabric that you will be working on. Also, this enables you to free up some space and you will have more room for your other quilting tools. I don’t use this storage for everything, but I think having smaller cuts of my favorite fabrics like Liberty of London and FrouFrou fabrics stored vertically in long slender wicker baskets will very look inviting.

Key Takeaway

Whatever storage method that you adopt, it is essential that you determine one that works well with your working style. A well-organized working space will certainly increase your productivity and enable you to focus your energy on creating wonderful quilt projects. Also considering setting off a weekend a couple of times a year so spend some quality time with your fabric stash. It keeps your fabric relevant to your current interests and reminds you of some of the amazing treasures that are to be found in your stash.

How about you? Do you have any tips when organizing fabric stash?

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