Wow, do you all have a lot of tips for organizing and storing your fabric stash! We received more than 300 entries.
It was very hard to choose, but mc2fran's list of ideas for organizing everything from yardage to doll embellishments resonated with us, and she wins the Back to Basics Quilt Pattern and Fabric Kit!
Read her tips, plus five more of our favorites entries, below:
1. 1-3 yard pieces folded over edge of hanging file folders, in file drawers.
2. Scraps under 2" tossed into a large, heavy crystal rose vase behind my sewing machine to use as testers and leaders. I call it my "bit bucket".
3. Manila folders cut into 12 pieces used to stiffen folded fat quarters, 8 pieces for halves. These fabrics stand on edge in Iris Media boxes, and the boxes stack on shelves. Fabrics are in order by color and value. Red, White and Blue are grouped separately, batiks, too.
4. Fat and long eighths are wrapped around 3x5 cards in shoebox size clear fliptops, according to color, etc.
5. Tiny prints for doll clothes have their own section, too. Narrow laces and tiny trims are there, too, with a couple of "model" dolls, who try things on.
6. Scraps are in zip bags inside shallow plastic tubs, sorted by color family.
7. Recent purchases wait in their store bags with the receipt until they can be tagged and filed. Wherever there is space in the closet or under the sewing table extension.
8. Completed quilts are kept in nice cotton pillowcases on shelves in a linen closet, and under a guest bed.
9. Charity quilts are a wonderful way to develop your skills, and use your stash. No stress on you because they will get unconditional love.
I sort my fabric by content (I'm a garment and household sewer too!), then color. I fold around a 5" x 24" ruler, which makes the perfect size to fit a double stack in each section of a 9 section cubicle shelf I purchased from Lowes ( I have 4-need more!) Precuts and scraps are in 3 7-drawer rolling carts next to the shelves, and flannels, backings, fleece, and batting are kept in a nearby closet. To protect the fabric in the shelving from dust and light, I purchased a flannel-backed vinyl design wall sheet with grommets along the edges, which hangs across the front of the shelving on eye hooks.
Scan fabric samples and organize the images in folders and subfolders labeled Predominate Color (red, pink, etc.). For each image include Designer (if known), Approximate Size (if 1 yard or more), Location (closet, attic, etc.), Fabric (cotton, silk, etc.), Rating (10 = I love this fabric to 1= unlikely to use), Age/Condition. This is particularly useful for fabric that will be packed away. Then I can search for what I want on my computer by predominant color. For small pieces I'm likely to use, I store by color in drawers in small, plastic stackable storage units.
Being able to quilt, travel frequently and having downsized my stash after retirement I keep my fabrics in vintage suitcases. I have them sorted by color, use ribbon tried on the handles to indicate the color of the fabric inside and also have one for batting and backings. When I travel, I gather an inspirational assortment, add my tools to yet another suitcase and am ready to go! I stack the filled suitcases in towers of three and use them as end tables. Or I store them under the futon and bed in my vintage trailer. All fabrics are fairly compact and easy to see as I store the folded fabric like little files , in rows in the suitcases.
When my stash outgrew the plastic labeled bins I was using, I was looking for a better system that fit my 'new' studio. I was fortunate enough to find and buy some used sewing pattern cabinets - not too tall (I have short knee walls that stop at 48") but heavy and solid with compartmented spaces inside. I sorted the fabric by color, then by value and folded the fabrics to fit into the compartments in each drawer. I labeled the outside of the drawers with the colors. Now I can just pull open a drawer and pick and choose the colors/values and audition them easily. The three cabinets are one of my best finds, they store a lot of fabric, and it remains dust free until I need it. Plus the tops of the cabinets offer more horizontal space for other supplies.
Once I spent almost a year with a friend getting my whole house all perfectly organized. All my fabric was folded into pieces exactly the same width and stacked perfectly on shelves or sorted in bins or other containers. It was beautiful. I still look at the pictures of this perfectly organized space, but what I realized was that in that year, I had spent all of my time organizing and none of it creating, so now I put stuff where I can see and get to it, and spend the rest of my time creating. If organizing is your thing, go for it, but if what you really love to do is create, then spend your time and energy making art!
To each her (or his) own!