Monday, January 24, 2011

Wrangling the Fabric Stash

Rumor has it that I have a lot of fabric. You judge:

Granted, it's not as much as some crafters/sewers, but I am still young. I’ve been motivated recently to organize said fabric. I’ve made several attempts over the years as my stash has grown. For example, I bought the lovely bins in which the aforementioned fabric now lives. Unfortunately, the only place for these bins is in the closet of our guest room (which is not a walk in like many fortunate crafters have) along with two bins filled with yarn (I like crafting), all of our holiday decorations, luggage, and who knows what else. The stack of five large bins invariably would create problems when I had an urge to craft because where would the item I wanted always be? In the bottom bin of course.

This dilemma motivated the purchase of these economical shelves (storage solutions can be pricey, and hey, I'm only working part-time these days):

The yarn stayed behind for this organizational stint. And yes, I have a problem collecting baskets, too.
And the purchase of the wonderful shelves motivated a complete overhaul of my fabric organization (or lack of organization actually). Here we are in the middle of the process:

I suppose we can reliably confirm the rumor that I do indeed have quite a bit of fabric.

As a cataloger, I spend my professional life organizing information and items into some sort of logical order, so I took the task of organizing my fabric quite seriously. Here are some questions I asked myself before I began:
  1. Why in the world do you have so much fabric? 
  2. No, seriously, why in the world do you keep buying this stuff? (that second question may have been motivated from my husbands exclamation when he came downstairs and saw the living room)
Then I started again:
  1. How do I use my fabric? 
  2. What sorts of projects do I like to do?
  3. Should I group by color?
  4. Should I group by type of fabric?
  5. Should I separate the large cuts of fabric that I bought to make actual patterns?
I decided on a couple of things.
  • Most of the crafting that I do is small projects that involve matching several different colors
  • I'm a wannabe quilter
  • I have a lot of fabric in our small home (have I already said that?)
  • I do a bunch of Christmas crafting
  • I may never make some of the patterns that I purchased when they went on sale for $.99
So here’s the organizational scheme that I developed:
  • Christmas fabrics
  • Colors: Red, pink, purple, orange/brown, yellow, green, blue, black, white/tan, flowers/prints (when repacking the boxes, the colors got mixed together by combined volume more than aesthetic reasons)
  • Fabric scraps for that day when I'll make a scrap quilt
  • Batting and interfacing will be housed separately (it's so bulky!)
All the fabric back in its newly labeled homes

Before putting the fabric back in the boxes, I took some time to refold things. I didn't go to quite these lengths, but I tried to make all my odd shaped fabric pieces a similar size so they fit in the boxes well. I also think it's a good idea to refold fabric on a semi-regular basis so the folds don't become "permanent" and no one part of the fabric fades more than others.

I really enjoyed going through all my fabric. It was like reuniting with old friends. I remembered clothes my mom made when I was little (she keeps giving me parts of her stash), gifts I have given to friends, projects I’ve enjoyed making, and dreams of projects unrealized.

And back in the closet again waiting for the next sewing project
 It's not as beautiful as some fabric stashes (my little sister painted the inside of the closet for us), but it's my fabric stash. And to me, it's gorgeous.


  1. I need to do this with my fabric! Luckily I don't have as much as you. Looks great!

  2. Ah the stash, the glorious stash. It's worth collecting just so you can go back and enjoy all the colors and textures! I do almost everything: cooking, knitting, weaving, paper crafting from a "palette" - I like to use what I see around me. You gotta have a stash for that. Maybe you have a little of your Aunt Wendy in you...

  3. @Becky - it's well worth it! I'm so excited to do my next project. I always spent so much time sifting through my fabric to match things.

    @Aunt Wendy - I definitely think we share some genes :-) I do love that when I have an urge to craft, I can just go to my closet instead of the fabric store.

  4. I see my old yarn container made the cut. Or did you actually "cut" anything? LOL It is much better organized than the majority of my stash. If I remember I'll ask Aunt Marlene if I can take some pictures of hers. Now that is a STASH!

  5. I saw this: and thought it'd be a good idea. I've seen it done with chunks of cardboard as well. My problem is even if it's an ugly fabric, I'll keep it, justifying it as "practice" fabric. Only problem is that I don't ever have the patience to make *two* of them, so I never make a practice one. Alas.

  6. @Mom - I would never get rid of your yarn container. And no, there weren't any cuts made this time around :-)

    @Sarah - I saw a few stashes organized like mini-bolts, but I thought the fabric would just get dusty sitting on a shelf (Like the red tag fabrics at Joanns). That's why I opted for the bins. I am the same way with keeping fabrics. I even went through my little trash bin next to my machine today and dug out some scraps that I must be able to use for something. Good grief :-)

  7. Oh man, you are my hero. I need to go through my fabric. Too bad we don't live closer to each other- we could exchange fabric!

  8. A fabric exchange would be an awesome idea! But yeah, Oregon is a little far away :-)