Question of the Day: fabric storage

K8OrlandoApril 18, 2012

I know we've talked about this before but I'm struggling with it and might be inspired by your answers.

How do you store your fabric? Boxes, bins, shelves, pizza boxes, random stacks? Do you neatly fold to make everything similar sizes or are you more of a 'stacker and stuffer'? Do you sort by color or by project or not at all? Do you keep fat quarters and small bits separate from yardage?

Speaking of inspiration: after a QotD we had about ruler storage, I added some shallow shelves to my sewing room wall and ran a string of lights along them so the rulers light up almost like they were in a window. Thanks for the idea!


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kate, I have a pretty modest stash (though my DH thinks it's a LOT!) and I have it in big clear Rubbermaid bins sorted by color. I have one bin for big pieces (1 yard or more) and a bunch of shoe box sized clear bins for small scraps, also sorted by color. I try to remember to preshrink everything before it goes into the bins so I don't have to worry about it when I pull fabrics out. I also have a project bin for kits and patterns that I already have fabric for.

All of these are stored on shelves that my wonderful DH installed in my sewing room closet.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 10:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I use plastic bins and TRY to sort by colour.Yardage and fq's are usually in these bins. Things aren't always folded neatly (my bad) so every so often, I go on a tidying spree.
I also have a bin with lots of neutral fat quarters and I have some pretty FQ's folded on a shelf. And there is a bin with leftovers. As my sister just said, a string quilt waiting to be made.
When the children were younger, we had a long counter with cupboards underneath built along one wall in the basement, where they could do homework etc.. Now that is where my bins are, on top, so I don't have to bend to take them out.
I wonder if there is a foolproof way of keeping everything ready at hand but I imagine each person has her(his) own system.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 11:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I also make sure my fabric is washed and ironed before I put it away, but I really don't like to have *too* much fabric sitting around. I feel like I have too much, and when I finish the project I'm on I'm going to work on using what I have before buying more. My fabric is sorted on shelves by colour, and I have one project bundled up and ready to go. I also have to have a reasonably ordered room to work in. It doesn't have to be fanatically clean, but I can't work in chaos.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 11:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

LOL - I LOVE to have too much fabric sitting around! Susan, you would hate my sewing room because Chaos happily reigns. Stepping into that room is like moving into another house: I'm not a dedicated housecleaner anywhere but I can keep the rest of the place reasonable neat. However, the sewing room is crowded and messy, with scraps of fabric on the floor, stacks of fabric on every surface, bundled fabric for projects, TV on, computer on, cats on tables, dogs either on the sofa or under the sewing table. Chaos and sensory overload! Pure bliss for me, but I know it's a room that could make others claustrophobic. DH Jim says when I'm at the sewing machine I look like I'm laughing in the calm eye of a fabric hurricane. I like that!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 12:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I haven't got a stash of any size. I buy fabric only for a specific project, so I may never have large pieces of fabric lying around. When I purchase fabric for a project, I keep it all together with the pattern in a pair of plastic bins.

However, I have all sorts of small leftovers from completed projects. For these I bought three stacks of six plastic drawers that were advertized for scrapbooking from JoAnn Fabrics. (Thank goodness for 50% off coupons.) They fit under the desktop that I installed in my office/sewing room. I keep the fabric pieces sorted by color. I also keep the fabric for smaller projects in some of the drawers. They are great for notions too.

So far I haven't cut any of these pieces into strips or squares, because I don't want to limit my options. What I don't know what to do with are all the little scraps. I took a confetti quilting class once that used batiks and hand-dyed fabrics that you just cut into confetti-sized pieces, and I don't know that I'll be doing much more of that, but I still can't bear to toss out the scraps.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 12:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Except that I have no dogs or cats, I am the same as Kate. My piles are really projects-to-be and I like seeing the piles of future quilts on my tables to inspire me to get busy. My stash is in plastic bins sorted by color or type. I have a printed card inside the facing end that you can read through the plastic that labels it, such a "hand dyed", "Black & white", "polka dots" when it isn't color evident. These go in the shelves I built into the closet.

Projects put aside have a bin as do patterns. Then there are the big bins at the bottom that hold large pieces of yardage I have come across at sales intended for backings.

My TV is on and there are three sewing machines and one ironing board. You can hardly move around but who cares. Hubby doesn't venture in here and I have it all to myself.

I do clean it up sometimes when I expect a quilting-type visitor might want to peek in. Otherwise, I just shut the door.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 12:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't have a HUGE stash but I have enough to fill 7 big plastic rubbermaid bins. I have one filled with flannel only, all different colors. One with white, black and neutrals. One with green, brown, yellow and orange. One with blues and purples. One with reds and pinks. One with linen fabric only. One with odds and ends (small cuts less than 1/2 yard, etc.) Then I have a few bags of small scraps and strips. All this is in the closet. When I am working on a project, the room is strewn with that project's fabrics and tools, etc. but all the rest is put away. Between projects all is put away. For the tools and notions I have one of those stackable rolling storage carts with several drawers. The cutting mats and rulers are all on one nail on the wall. One ironing board and one buffet table for the cutting and sewing.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 1:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stacker/stuffer here! I have two floor to ceiling bookcases with glass doors in my sewing room that hold "most" of my fabrics - sorted "mostly" by color except for plaids, batiks, and multicolor florals. Then the 1930s repro stash is in its own cardboard suitcase. I used to keep my landscape fabrics together, but now I'm not sure where they are......


    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 2:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, I think my "blurb" was misleading... lol. When I'm working on a quilt (or cake) project, I make a terrible mess. But it's only current project stuff that constitutes the mess, and I always clean up after every project. For some strange reason, I like to clean. Well, actually, I don't mind cleaning, but I love to organize.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 2:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Susan, on your next vacation would you consider coming to my house for a couple days? I think I need you!!!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 2:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It's mine! Allll mine! Sorted by color in see through plastic bins of various sizes. I've gotten to where I like a little 3 drawer storage unit sitting to the side of my machine for the things I want close at hand. Yes, it's a mess....I was looking for something....or putting things away....don't remember but DH came in and thought it was funny.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 2:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have most of my fabric in 12 quart Rubbermaid plastic tubs w/ lids stored in cabinets in my sewing area so they are light weight and easy to lift. Each month I buy a few more tubs. I need to pull them all out and organize the fabrics - probably by color and then put the fabric quarters in 1 tub. That sounds like a fun way to spend the afternoon. :-) And that way I can inventory what I have to start a scrap quilt. I have a small shoebox size plastic tub filled with scraps, I keep them thinking I will use them on hand-applique projects later, but I don't know thinking it would be easier to give them to someone, problem is I don't know of anyone who wants small fabric scraps.

Best to you,

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 3:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kate, I think you have been in my sewing room, "Chaos happily reigns" here too! I do have 3 of those 3-drawer clear plastic storage containers, mostly sorted by color and usually folded. I also have a couple of the large clear bins ... and about 8 or 9 paper cartons full of fabric. I keep thinking I move the paper cartons into plastic tubs when they start to have smaller quantities of fabric in them, but that hasn't happened in the last 10 years so probably won't! I do need to get more organized ... but I would rather be sewing!
I don't usually pre-wash fabrics - only when I get ready to use them - and then not always!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 3:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Like others I have FULL sewing room. I have a considerable stash, but much of it consists of FQ's which I keep folded in lg. clear sweater boxes by color/type with a card at the end denoting what is inside. If there happens to be enough room I may fold a few larger pieces along side the FQ's..I keep my sweater boxes stacked on 2 lg. industrial shelf units. On top of these I keep extra batts, lg. box of UFO's and sm. bolts of muslin, fusible etc. Along another wall I have a 6' table that holds my extra sewing machine, lg. cutting matt and open bins of larger pcs. of fabric That haven't found a home The bottom shelf of 1 unit has a large box with plain fabric and part of another has bins with larger pieces of fabic folded and placed on end so I can leaf through them. I keep current project on trays. I have a sm. 30x18 table on one side of my sewing area and the ironing board on the other. I have a cutting matt on the table and that is where I do much of my cutting and marking a current project, moving my working trays back and forth in the room. At one end of the table I keep 2 waste baskets that catches waste in one and sm. usable scraps in another.
Another wall has a closit where I store selves of magazines!!Sad. On that wall is lg. dropleaf cutting table that I can't use because of no space. Above that is pegboard which holds thread, rulers, tools, stencils etc..
Choas is too kind word to use for my sewing room but it works for me and is off limits to others for their own safty.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 3:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Honestly, I love you people. Funny, smart, etc... all the good stuff. We certainly all have our own style, don't we?

Sue said, "I do need to get more organized ... but I would rather be sewing!" I think that's my biggest barrier to organization. I open a draw and start to sort, but 10 minutes later I find myself sitting at the machine sewing something. Or I end up with fabric stacked around me in groups for new projects, with a pencil and graph paper in hand. I'm hopeless. But happy!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 3:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I unfortunately have way to much material...46 plastic sweater boxes and about 6 large rubbermaid bins...all inherited from my great Aunt...I received them in 40 cardboard boxes when they emptied her condo...I don't like cardboard boxes much and they all smelled musty. I am gradually getting some of her ufo's and wip's done but still have to sort the rest of the material. DH is going to build a closet on the hip wall of our den upstairs with shelves for the bins and a small closet for winter coat storage...some day.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 4:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love reading how everyone has their sewing areas organized. Reading all these posts got me motivated and so I organized my fabric stash by color and some by projects earlier this afternoon. DH promises me in our next house that I will have a whole room for my quilting hobby - though it may be many years from now am so looking forward to that. Now am off to clean off my desk so I can work on other quilting projects.

Best to you,

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 7:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love Chaos ~ I thrive in Chaos - I am more creative in Chaos ~ what else is there to say?? When I really need to draw and put the blinders on and concentrate only on the project I have to focus on for my business ( which includes fabrics, lots of swatches, colors dimensions, etc), I remove myself from the personal Chaos with the tools I need, and set up somewhere else in my house that is clean and neat and sterile. I get Paid for that - It is Work! Other than that....I love my personal Chaos - always have. Even though, I complain about the pcs of fabric and threads everywhere, I confess to you, My Friends....I really love it! You UnderStand!
To answer the question - I have no specific method....but mostly, I know where everything is - mainly because it is visible.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 7:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How do you store your fabric?

~Boxes, bins, shelves, pizza boxes, random stacks? I use shelves for my folded yardage, separated by color. I have a stack of Jinny Beyer border prints and solids on a separate shelf.

~Do you neatly fold to make everything similar sizes or are you more of a 'stacker and stuffer'? Neither. I fold and stack the best I can, but generally don't need to stuff stuff either.

~Do you sort by color or by project or not at all? I do sort by color, but I have plastic project boxes stacked under the quilt frame with stuff pulled for various projects (planned, WIP, and UFO). I also have some rogue/orphan blocks & kits in ziploc bags lined up next to the boxes.

~Do you keep fat quarters and small bits separate from yardage? FQs are kept in some Fons& Porter canvas boxes. Small pieces are kept color sorted in wire mesh drawers. I don't believe in little scraps so they get thrown away.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 9:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What a fun thread!
Love reading how you all keep your work areas...the full gamut, from total organization to total chaos:)

I have a very small sewing room, which doubles as an office area, so I must keep organized, because there's little room to leave things lay. My immediate work area consists of a card table behind my sewing machine, and two TV trays to the right of my machine. The only fabric laying in my immediate work area is the fabric for whatever current project I'm working on, plus whichever tools I need.

My fabric stash (leftovers) are stored in open stackable bins, sorted by color. I have sheets covering them to keep out dust. A shelf unit holds books, patterns, tools, and batting. My yardage is stored in a wardrobe that my Dad made for me when I was little. I had one small wall space area too small for a regular sized chest of drawers, so I asked DH for an inexpensive lingerie chest for Christmas to store fabric. I keep FQs, charm square packs, jelly rolls and small bundles. Some of the drawers have projects (patterns w/fabric) for future gift making.

There is a small built in desk area on one wall, with two more projects (patterns w/piles of fabric) sitting in waiting.

I now have no more room to stash fabric...well....maybe if I move out some of the office supplies and store them in, I'd better not.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 10:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kate, if I lived close by I would swing by and help you out! ;)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Susan, when you get done at Kate's house, make a trip out to Colorado and help me with mine! I'm like Kate - every time I try to organize, I end up pulling stuff to start a new project. I even found a few bags of Lotto block winnings hanging in the closet today! Guess what I did after that??? You got it - laid them out and stitched them together. Now I have two more tops put together and they need a border and sandwiching.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 12:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, I started out with a lovely new craft room in our new house. My husband built shelves for my clear plastic bins that I have for each colour fabric. I wash all my fabric as soon as I purchase it and iron it before putting it into it's correct bin. Everything was going along smoothly and orderly - until I had to have both my feet operated on last Oct. My craft room is downstairs! I wouldn't be able to go downstairs for at least 6 months, so I brought all my sewing things up into a bedroom upstairs - no shelves or cupboards! So there's bins all around the room on the floor, plus the ironing board, queensize bed in the middle, table with my sewing machine against one wall, boxes and bags with projects all over the bed and behind the door. It's an effort to get around to the ironing board!

Re scraps though - when I finish cutting out something, I cut the small scraps into 2" or 2 1/2" squares and have plastic bags for matching colours of each size. Have a great pattern for a quilt that uses 2 1/2" squares, so am saving them, need quite a lot.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 7:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, I'm going to swing by Florida to help Kate, and them I'm going to Colorado to help Sue. Then I'm going to visit Kristene, wherever she to pick up some more of her great tips. That's very organized of you to to cut the scraps into squares, Kristene! (Maybe I should go to Kristene's first :) )

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 12:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I hope you have a lot of frequent flyer points because Kristene is in Australia!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

May I will go with you to visit my son there?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lol! I guess I'll have lots of frequent flier miles after I go see her!!

Yes, Theresa, the more the merrier! ;)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 4:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And Canada... don't forget to come see me on the east coast. ;)


    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 5:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, I live in Canada too, so I'll start with you, Faye :)

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 7:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am in Ontario but would love to join you on your trip to see Kristene. I would then just hop over to New Zealand to see my son and family.

I sew in the dining room so my stash and machines are everywhere. We live in an old farmhouse so the DR and kitchen are basically one big room. We had an old and very large chest freezer taking up a lot of space. We have replaced it with an upright and now I am in the process of getting a storage cabinet to hold my machines, fabric totes and project boxes. DH doesn't like it left out but it is so annoying to have to put everything away when I am in the middle of a project and it has to go into a closet. This way the cupboard will be in the DR but everything will be behind closed doors but easy for me to retrieve.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 8:08PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
I'm new here and sharing my quilts
Hello, I'm new to your forum, but not new to sewing....
2015 April Block Lotto
Welcome to the April Block Lotto! The lotto is open...
The Zelda Quilt-Along
We launched Zelda: The Quilt-Along on my blog yesterday....
Washing polyester quilt tops?
Hello, My granny recently gave me a couple of quilt...
a question regarding binding
I know. I'm just full of questions. I want to make...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™