Organizing fabric

Over the past several months, I’ve been collecting a lot of fabric. I mostly just collect fabric that I love or that I think would be perfect for a specific project I want to do, but I also get bundles with a few fabrics I’m not completely in love with or mystery packs of scraps or fat quarters. I do this partly because I think it’s a good idea to challenge myself and partly because it introduces me to new fabrics I hadn’t considered before. Added to these fabrics are the samples I periodically get in packages and the scraps I have left over from other projects.

Unfortunately, I’ve gotten in the habit of always keeping my fat quarters in one bin, my bundles (whether they’re attached to a specific project or not) in another, and all the overflow in whatever nook or cranny I can find. This makes finding fabric very frustrating as I often have to pull out most of my bins just to find the right fabrics for a project (fortunately, they’re clear, so I don’t usually have to open them all).

So, it’s time to rethink fabric organization.

Naturally, I did a bit of research first (I am a librarian!). There’s tonnes of blogs posts and pictures out there with tonnes of great ideas, but so far I’ve found the tips from Jeni, of In Color Order, to be the best for my needs. In this series of posts, Jeni’s mostly discussing colour (recognizing overall colour, etc.), but she also takes time to talk about things like folding fabric and fabric storage.

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After a bit of consideration, I think that this is the best plan for me:

I need to split the scraps from the rest. For me, anything significantly less than a fat quarter feels like a scrap. This means that I may have some relatively large pieces in my scrap pile. I also have a lot of scraps that are long, thin strips (from when I make binding). I’d love to be able to sort the scraps by size, shape or even colour, but I don’t really have the space right now (and I don’t have enough scraps to warrant the effort, just yet). So, for now, they will all be tossed in one bin.

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Everything else can go into one of two main categories: my general stash or bundles. I have bundles that will be used for a specific project I have in mind, but I also have some odds and ends of bundles that I know I want to keep together, despite not yet deciding what to do with them. Now that I have bins to keep things in, I will use one for planned projects and one for bundles that I want to keep together.

All the bundles will be put in clear bags with (where applicable) any additional items, like thread and patterns. I will also make a note on a scrap of paper to remind me of what I plan on doing with the bundle (example: directing me to a pattern in one of my books or a website for its tutorial) and adding any other relevant information (example: if I’m waiting for some more fabric or if the final product has a deadline).

My general stash will be folded and sorted by colour. I tend to go with the following rainbow order, but I’ve seen lots of other orders that may work better for you, depending on your preference or the types of colours you have: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, teal/etc., blue, purple, brown, black, grey, and white. Most of my fabrics will fit neatly in a nice rainbow as I tend to prefer fabrics that have one major colour or range of colours, but I will have some that fit in the “multicolour” category (i.e., they have no one dominant colour). I’ll put these at the end, after the whites. I thought about keeping the solids separate, but I prefer having everything together.

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Any pieces that are large (over 2 yards) will have to be stored separately as it’s difficult to fold them the same way as I fold the others, but I have very few pieces that big, so this shouldn’t be an issue.

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I don’t have very much linen, but I think I’ll keep it separate from my quilting cotton. I may also keep my PFD (prepared for dying) and “natural” cotton cotton pieces separate.

I’ll keep current projects in a separate box. And, I think that it would also be a good idea to keep non-sewing projects separate (mostly so that they don’t get lost under all my big quilt projects).

Lastly, I will commit to reviewing everything every couple of months in case I change my mind about a bundle or project or find that I have a few pieces of fabric that I don’t like enough to use.

Hopefully, all of this will help me stay more organized. :)

How do you organize your fabric?

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