How to Organize Quilting Supplies

12 Jan 2012

I love fabric and quilting supplies, and I try to keep them contained. But sometimes I look around my studio and think, who let the hurricane in?

vivika's quilting supplies
Many of my quilting supplies are
stored in this cupboard.
That’s when I set aside time to restore order. Although on the messy days it may not seem like it, I do have a system.

I use baskets and jars to store small items; one jar doubles as a scrap jar for materials for my nests and a pin cushion. I keep my scissors in a utensil carrier made for picnicking.

Frequently used fabrics are stacked in baskets on my shelves and hidden in the drawers of a dresser. There isn’t room for all my fabric: I have 15 – 20 bins of yardage stored remotely in the basement, organized by color.

Of course, no matter what the state of my studio, there is always room for my pug, Elvis. He’s my studio mate!

elvis in the quilt studio
Elvis is in the building!

These strategies work for me, but everyone is different, and I don’t think there is one right way to organize quilting supplies.

I like to peek into other people’s studios to see what techniques they have for keeping their supplies accessible and the creative work flowing.

I was looking through Inside the Creative Studio: Inspirations and Ideas for Your Art and Craft Space by Cate Coulacos Prato, and I picked up lots of quilt supply storage ideas for my next studio re-organization.

Here’s just a sampling from the book:

Vintage and contemporary fabric storage:

  • Stacked on shelves by color or randomly
  • Folded and stacked in wire rolling bins
  • Scraps mixed in open bins like laundry baskets
  • Folded and piled in enamel or ceramic vintage bowls and basins
  • Rolled and put into cubbies

quilting supply storage
Mary Hettsmanberger uses shelves and cubbies
to house her jewelry and quilting supplies.
From Inside the Creative Studio.

Quilting thread storage:

  • Hung on wall pegs
  • Contained in glass jars
  • Held in printer or cutlery trays
  • Stacked on spice racks
  • Sorted in see-through bins or specially made drawers

 Quilting tools storage:

  • Scissors laid in segmented drawers, stored in vintage flower pots, and hung on pegboards
  • Paintbrushes stashed in recycled cans, vintage pails, and flower frogs
  • Stamps and stencils laid in flat baskets and blueprint drawers
  • Dyes and paints held in colorful dishpans, plastic cutlery totes, and on shallow picture shelves

There are plenty more ideas for arranging and organizing your quilting supplies in Inside the Creative Studio. It was a lot of fun to page through and see how creative fellow artists can be when it comes to their workspaces.

Do you have some innovative, creative, or just plain efficient ways of organizing your quilting tools, fabrics, and other supplies? Share with me and the other readers in the comments section below.


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Comments

dianedoran wrote
on 12 Jan 2012 9:17 AM

Stored remotely - I love that! Thanks for the tips, Vivika.

TracyAllyson wrote
on 12 Jan 2012 2:26 PM

Those are some great tips. I am currently mid project of setting up my space. I have been blogging about it - basically I started blogging to keep me on track to actually finish the room. Is it okay if I do a post and link back to this post? This is my blog 3littlebrds.blogspot.com/.../2012-resolutions-my-sewing-room.html  

(Sorry about the competitor 8/... )

TracyAllyson wrote
on 12 Jan 2012 2:26 PM

Those are some great tips. I am currently mid project of setting up my space. I have been blogging about it - basically I started blogging to keep me on track to actually finish the room. Is it okay if I do a post and link back to this post? This is my blog 3littlebrds.blogspot.com/.../2012-resolutions-my-sewing-room.html  

(Sorry about the competitor 8/... )

debp33 wrote
on 12 Jan 2012 6:07 PM

I use shoe cubbies for my fat quarters, and I also use one of those cubbies with some of the shelves taken out for my yardage. Here's a picture of what that looks like: debzpicaday.blogspot.com/.../day-57-of-365.html

lizzygail wrote
on 14 Jan 2012 10:37 AM

We turned a 3 car carport into a quilting/sewing and painting space for my mother and me. My favorites for storage - I have three triple dressers - 2 that support my cutting/worktop and another one for my 'big board' ironing surface. I also built a 12" deep cabinet with covered doors for a design wall. No wasted wall space that way and lots of shelving for my quilting and handbag supplies, tools and trims! I have pictures if there is a way to post them.

on 14 Jan 2012 11:08 AM

What I have found that works for me are coffee cans (maxwell house) they have full size and half size. When they are empty I decorate the outside of the can with wall paper scraps and or paint and to identify the content I glue on the front of the can a button, a piece of wool or what ever I am storing in this can.

They work well, you can pile them up.  It looks nive and his handy,  Gisèle

on 14 Jan 2012 1:27 PM

I use hanging sweater and shoe organizers in the closet in my quilting room. It's easy to sort FQs in the shoe organizer by color. I store fabric up to 2 yds in the sweater organizer. For longer pieces of fabric I ask the store for an empty bolt core--they usually just have to throw them away. Then i stack the bolts on end in a large tub.

emmer97006 wrote
on 14 Jan 2012 1:33 PM

for me, out of site is out of mind. i use bookcases with glass doors so i can see my inspiration. these are oragnized by fabric type(quilting cottons, wools, fancys, etc.). the glass doors are necessary because my quilting cat thinks that lovely fabric is for nesting in. :-)

on 15 Jan 2012 12:01 AM

The beginning of a new year is always a great time to reorganize, after the hustle/bustle of the holiday season.  You have some great tips!   I traded quilting for cleaning, and a friend helped get me started by organizing my fabrics and a couple of drawers.  I couldn't stop there, had to get going with more jars, bins, baskets and tins.  Take a tour of my studio here:

quiltscapesquilting.blogspot.com/.../2012-new-beginnings.html

on 16 Jan 2012 5:36 PM

Most of my "general" fabrics are stored in dresser drawers, but I have separate bins for "theme" fabrics such as Oriental, Southwest, batiks, seasonal, and one with fabrics I'd use for landscapes such as trees, rocks, sky, & ground fabrics.  I have a bin for ribbons & yarns.  Shelves above my cutting table hold my rulers (sitting in a ruler rack), quilt books, & painting supplies.  

M A Doyle wrote
on 5 Jul 2014 10:33 AM

Perfect timing as this summer one of my goals is to move my quilting room to recently vacated, yes the kids have all moved out, bedroom in the basement - more light, more space.

pawprints20 wrote
on 5 Jul 2014 1:05 PM

I converted a bedroom closet that contained shelves to hold the larger pieces of fabric.  I found small tins (they look like small pails) with lids and handles to store safety pins.  This makes it handy to tote them where ever you lay out a quilt when doing the final sandwiching.  Zippered pencil cases hold the rotary cutters and scissors with labels attached.  Plastic baskets with handles to hold small goods.  Plastic see thru bins with lids to hold scraps marked squares, strips, etc.  My rulers are hung on peg board on the wall (painted to match the wall color), smaller rulers are in zip bags and hung on pegs.

When I'm working on strip piecing a backing I hang my strips on the rungs of a step ladder placed next to the sewing machine.  It makes it easier to just grab a strip and also to see the different colors.  I leave the strips on the step ladder until I'm finished so they don't wrinkle.  I use small snack bags that zip to store my thread with the matching bobbin and place those in a plastic box with a lid.  This keeps the bobbin and thread together and keeps them dust free.  I'm still trying to decide if there is a better system for thread storage.

I don't have a design wall yet so when I'm laying out a quilt pattern I throw a neutral sheet on top of my bed and arrange the pattern.  I do the same thing when I need to measure the quilt top.

It's a work still in progress and it will probably be fined tuned and redone as needed.

Great additional ideas in your article.

pawprints20 wrote
on 5 Jul 2014 1:06 PM

I converted a bedroom closet that contained shelves to hold the larger pieces of fabric.  I found small tins (they look like small pails) with lids and handles to store safety pins.  This makes it handy to tote them where ever you lay out a quilt when doing the final sandwiching.  Zippered pencil cases hold the rotary cutters and scissors with labels attached.  Plastic baskets with handles to hold small goods.  Plastic see thru bins with lids to hold scraps marked squares, strips, etc.  My rulers are hung on peg board on the wall (painted to match the wall color), smaller rulers are in zip bags and hung on pegs.

When I'm working on strip piecing a backing I hang my strips on the rungs of a step ladder placed next to the sewing machine.  It makes it easier to just grab a strip and also to see the different colors.  I leave the strips on the step ladder until I'm finished so they don't wrinkle.  I use small snack bags that zip to store my thread with the matching bobbin and place those in a plastic box with a lid.  This keeps the bobbin and thread together and keeps them dust free.  I'm still trying to decide if there is a better system for thread storage.

I don't have a design wall yet so when I'm laying out a quilt pattern I throw a neutral sheet on top of my bed and arrange the pattern.  I do the same thing when I need to measure the quilt top.

It's a work still in progress and it will probably be fined tuned and redone as needed.

Great additional ideas in your article.