Ready for your MSM (Master of Stash Management) degree? I love seeing all the innovative ways that creative people have for storing and organizing their fabric. But the solutions are not one-size-fits-all. What works for me may not work for you – each of us brings different variables to the formula. Our needs will be different depending on the kind of sewing we do, the space we have to work with, the amount of stuff we have to fit into said space, and our working style.
A good place to start is with a few questions:
- Do you make scrappy quilts? Garments? Art quilts? Baby quilts? Bags and accessories?
- Is most of your fabric cotton, silk, linen or wool? Woven or knit? Fat quarters, pre-cuts, kits or yardage?
- How do you approach your stash when starting a project? Is it all about color? Pattern? Fiber? Weave? Size of each piece?
- Do you have dedicated studio space, or do you share your space with other people and tasks?
- Do you want your materials to be visible or hidden?
- Do you work best in an ordered environment? Or do you prefer that your surroundings “flow”? (Personally, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to alphabetize the spice cupboard. My family disagrees.)
If you enjoy lots of fiber arts like I do, you’ll have a mix to keep track of. I find that I use parts of different systems to accommodate a fabric stash that remains friendly to garment sewing, home dec., traditional quilting, art quilting, piecing and applique. Check out what others are doing and find what works for you!
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Here are our 10 best fabric storage ideas
The Scientific Seamstress uses standard card stock from the office supply store as a template for folding her fabric. It maintains a uniform footprint for stacking on shelves, and it’s inexpensive enough to leave the card stock in the pieces to give them some stability on and off the shelves.
Here’s a clever technique that uses something I didn’t know existed: comic book storage boards! Thanks, Smashed Peas & Carrots! Comic book storage boards are heavier than card stock and are archival. Their extra bulk allows for vertical storage, making your shelves look like a mini fabric store filled with baby bolts.
If you want to make use of every inch of your shelf space, consider making custom cardboard templates for folding. I Always Pick the Thimble shows you how to measure your shelves and to cut folding templates that allow space for multiple folds of fabric.
The Sewing Loft has a pay-it-forward method for stash management: de-stashing! You probably don’t have any (ha!), but I might have a few pieces that seemed like a good idea when I bought them…. There are tips here on finding new loving homes for your overflow.[
File cabinets abound at thrift stores and garage sales. Our Peaceful Planet shows you how to refurbish a file cabinet that has seen better days. Hanging files keep the fabric tidy and visible when you want to see it, hidden when you don’t.
Are you a roller, not a folder? Moore Magnets suggests rolling your fabric and storing it in bins. You’ll get to be good at approximating the yardage in each piece by looking the thickness of the roll, and the storage method is the same whether you have 1/4 yard or 4 yards.
If you’re a quilter, you have a ruler. Create Kids Couture uses a standard quilter’s ruler as a template for folding fabric. Slide the ruler out of your folded bundle to be ready for the next happy fabric!
If have scraps to manage, folding may not be practical. But sorting scraps by color and letting them live in drawers like Mermaid Sews keeps the scraps organized and easier to use. With these plastic drawers, you can see what’s where, and you can pull the drawers all the way out if you’re working with one color more than another.
The St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild asked its members about their favorite fabric folding and storage solutions and shared several suggestions, There are photos of actual, real, live studio spaces, so you can see how a method might work best for your situation.
What’s your favorite storage tip for fabric? Leave in the comments below – we’d love to know!
Check out all of our great organization ideas on Create Whimsy!