How do you store your fabric stash?

comments (40) January 4th, 2010     

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_nikki_ Nicole Smith, contributor
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Almost every sewist has an ever-growing collection of fabrics.

How do you keep your fabric stash organized?

Do you keep it all in a closet and hidden away from houseguests? Or is yours on display on perfectly organized shelves like a mini fabric store?

posted in: fabric, SewStylish, Sewstylish conversation, sewstylish question, organization

Comments (40)

EdwardThirlwall writes: I am not really the artistic or expressive kind of sewist. Thus, I personally prefer to stow away my stash in a storage cabinet with drawers regardless of how beautiful they may all look if arranged carefully together (or dumped altogether to create a rainbow). I am really afraid if I try too hard, I might just produce clutters instead of a beautiful canvas of colours. There are little compartments in the drawers which separate the different colours for easy retrieval afterwards.

Posted: 10:24 pm on January 16th
LoriS writes: I bought the sort of picnic baskets that look like little rectangular suitcases (you can find them at Goodwill for next to nothing) and store my fabric in those. I have a round glass coffee table, so I put one large picnic basket in between the two panes of glass for decoration. My side tables are set up similarly, so I stacked a few (different sized) baskets on top of each other. Pottery Barn sells stackable wicker baskets for hundreds of dollars. If you don't have a ton of storage space and like that sort of feel, it's a great solution.
Posted: 10:37 am on July 18th
dorette writes: I read a lot of the comments and I thought I had this secret of having this stash of fabric because I have been doing this since I starting sewing in 6th grade. I use two now, trunks of rubber maids and I was made fun of by my boyfriend cause I had so much now I don't thank you.
Posted: 9:44 pm on January 28th
sewlongdeb writes: My ideal would be to have all the fabrics stashed in airtight ,clear archival plastic containers on shelves lining spare wall space in my sewing/laundry room. But currently the fabrics are stored in SPACECUBE storage bags by type and color, in as a humidity controlled storage locker I and my ever helpful spouse and I can come up with. After one year in this locker, all seems well. Right now I have approximately 100lbs. of fabric in storage As I continue to rearrange and organize my sewing room I will be using the one large storage closet available to store in the safest and most visible manner I can safely contrive. Wish me well as I do to you all to preserve the yard upon yard of lovingly collected fabrics,each with a pre-determined project or garment yearning to be freed.
Posted: 4:20 am on January 20th
larainy writes: I'm just too disorganized! I have stash everywhere. Closet,amoire, plastic tubs. Clear hanging shoe holders, with most of my fat quarters in it. I still have stash from the 60's to present. I never get rid of anything. Tons of scraps, which I've been tempted to give away. I'm sure I have some sort of OCD. I love to sew and craft. I'm retired so I can do it every day. After working all of these years it's hard not to have guilt feelings if I sew all day! Hopefully, that feeling will go away.
Posted: 7:08 pm on January 16th
babysparkle writes: I have my stash stored in open 'cubes' that are made of white coated wire, purchased at Sam's Club, I believe. They are 14" square, and stack on top of each other. I have 9 rows, stacked 4 each row. Each piece of fabric is folded to fit, after being pre-shrunk. They're stored with like-fibres, and I have tags clipped at the top of each cube stating what type fibre is in that cube. I keep the dust off by using fresh dry-cleaning bags cut open to single-thickness and tucking them on top the rows...I can still see what's there through the clean, clear plastic. My 'backbone' stash (interfacings, linings, etc.) is stored in cabinets that were in the kitchen before we had new ones made. I have many thread racks on the walls for all my threads. I have pegboard on the walls for my tools. All these things are also covered with the dry-cleaning bags to keep dust off.
Posted: 2:03 pm on January 7th
vernyce writes: we live in a 100+' house. there was an untended (uninsulated) attic w/open rafters. my spouse insulated, then closed it in w/dry wall, covered the aging wood floor w/adhesive carpet tiles (the only floor in the house that isn't wood). he then erected stacks of rubbermaid shelving we found at a thrift store, leaving enough room below for the plastic totes it seems so many here have on hand for organization. on the shelves i sort according to types and colors of fabric. we have a listserv in our neighborhood, and my "correspondents" gave me their otherwise discarded zippered plastic containers (from pillows or linens). into these i put gossamer weight fabric, overlock threads or trims, and my wool in a nearby cedar closet. my spouse installed a solar heating fan to assure to allow air to circulate, and i now have a place adjacent to my sewing room that i christened my "fabric shrine!"
Posted: 5:44 pm on January 6th
Judy_in_Edmonton writes: I store my fat quarters in those clear plastic boxes that salad greens come in. The larger ones are perfect for two rows of folded fat quarters, and they stack perfectly and fit three high and two wide on my shelves. I sort the pieces by colour, and use one box for that colour family. I can see at a glance what is in the container without even having to open or label it. My yardage is stored folded, sorted by colour on other shelves. I have one shelf of silks, two of cottons, and one for miscellaneous fibres. Quilt backings, fleece and scrap boxes are stored in clear-sided totes in basement shelving units, as they are not used often. I can also see at a glance what is in the tote. I have a selection of drapery and upholstery fabric samples also, and they are stored in zipppered plastic cases that were recycled from game sets. I save a lot of time pulling and auditioning fabrics by being able to see everything at once, and I feel good about reusing packaging from perishable goods.
Posted: 2:30 pm on January 6th
historicclothing writes: Different fabrics need to be stored in different ways. Some need to be kept out of direct light. Some whlole bolts I put in clear protective sleeves and stack flat. Many I keep in transparent stackable bins (so that I can spot the contents).Those that I can keep out and see are inspiring - to be able to see the colors and textures encourages the next project.

Ribbon is beautiful on display on shallow shelving. And notions are kept in pull out bins on an shelf unit. To be organized is wonderfully helpful. At least when I have pulled out several thing to inspire -it has its own home to go back to.
Posted: 9:33 am on January 6th
patgreendigit writes: In the bottom of a sliding door closet, I had a wooden frame built to fit. The back and sides of the rectangle attach to the closet walls with the front piece supported in the middle by a vertical piece of wood. Then I had dowel rods cut long enough to rest on top of the wooden frame. All my fabric hangs off the dowels allowing it to be seen at a glance and to be moved around easily. I was inspired to create this after seeing pants displayed in a men's clothing store....
Posted: 9:04 am on January 6th
pamlawson writes: I live in a very old house built in 1898. It has a closet that my mother used as a pantry. It is a walk in closet with 3 walls of shelves. It houses all of my fabric, notions, and sewing machines. I have enough fabric to keep me sewing for the rest of my life, yet I still buy more when the opportunity presents itself. My mother-in-law had a bumper sticker that said, "The one with the most fabric when they die wins!" I think that I will win. I have been thinking of opening a store, but how could I decide what I can part with?
Posted: 9:35 pm on January 5th
craftyarts writes: Storing fabrics in Florida is an art in itself. There are no basements, and garages and attics are too hot and humid. I have 3 see-through plastic totes (24Lx12Wx14H)with washed fabrics, folded so the patterns are visible from the outside. Then, I ask for the end of the bolt cardboard and keep unwashed fabrics on the original cardboard standing on end in a large walk-in closet. Again because of Florida the & possible 4-legged critters, I keep these enclosed in large, clear plastic bags that come from dry cleaners or meat counters. I keep interfacing, batting, pellon, etc. lying flat on closet shelves above my clothes. Seam binding, rick rack, thread, ribbons, elastic, etc. are kept in smaller clear plastic latch-top totes from KMart. Patterns are kept in photo storage boxes from Michaels--they fit perfectly. Zippers, needles, bobbins, velcrow, and other small accessories are kept in a sewing basket. Maybe I'm wrong, but sometimes it seems like sewing is a lost art. I do it because I love it.
Posted: 7:06 pm on January 5th
mamartinek writes: I should have read all of the other comments before adding mine!! It makes me feel so good to hear where others store their fabric...I'm not the only one with fabricitis;-)
Posted: 4:47 pm on January 5th
mamartinek writes: I purchased two (Now I need two more) used 'horizontal' type filing cabinets. These are the kind with doors that slide out, up and then can be pushed back out of the way. The bottoms can be pulled out also. If I want to know what I have, all I have to do is open all of the doors with fabric behind them. This way they are protected from dust, etc., but readily available for viewing. I was getting very tired of buying fabric or other sewing needs that I already had in the house in a 'clear' storage box. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, I need more as I've gone a bit off my head buying fabric. The fabric is all sorted by type: cotton, fleece, upholstery (half yard pieces I use for bags) etc. If I can find more of these at the great price of $15 (they were on super sale at a used furniture store) I will have to label the doors. Currently, I can remember what type of fabric is behind each door. Now to quit emailing and start sewing bags to reduce the overflow of fabric. Happy New Year to all.
Posted: 4:44 pm on January 5th
KSarceno writes: I was reading "MaryJane's Farm" magazine, and she writes about having her fabric ends rolled up. So....I found pretty baskets and rolled up my ends, and then I arranged it like bouquets. I can keep them on my table, and they look neat and organized!
Posted: 1:48 pm on January 5th
Tana55 writes: I had all my stash in large plastic tubs. Then we had children move out so we had a spare room. The room had a large closet/shelf unit. I took all my fabric and sewing supplies and gave them a new home. Now I only have my yarn stash in the clear plastic tubs. The closet is great for hanging those projects that are not quite finished. The shelves are deep and adjustable. The yarn is visable so I don't have to search through all the tubs. This arrangement was good until the inevetable happened. One of the children came back home. I had to relinquish the closet. Oh well, some day I will have a sewing room that only has a twin bed.
Posted: 11:39 am on January 5th
sewold writes: Keeping swatches in a file/book is a good idea but doing it retroactively is a daunting task. I really liked our old house with lots of room where my sewing room could be left cluttered with bits of fabrics for working projects. Also had lots of room for shelving where fabric was in the open to be seen. Now have to store it out of sight in closet, totes and drawers. "Out of sight, (almost) out of mind." Posting about swatches gave me the idea that taking digital photos of stacks or laying yardages out to be photographed might be an alternative. One of my best buys is a cutting counter bought from a fabric store. It has a hard surface top and shelves underneath. Slot down the middle for cutting is handy and a yardstick tacked to the side is useful, too. It barely fits in the "new" house but I was determined to keep it!
Posted: 8:50 am on January 5th
lvstosew writes: i store all my fabric in a plastic 3 drawer storage piece and put prints in one and solids in another i also store my scrapes that are still good for little projects in plastic stack able containers
Posted: 4:17 am on January 5th
SewJoe writes: I have so much stash fabric that I finally opened a store! (giggle) I love buying fabric and find so many fabulous pieces in downtown Los Angeles that I get great satisfaction buying and then selling to happy collectors who appreciate the variety I have. And my husband is happy to get the dining room back.

I do still have my own personal stash in tall Ikea cabinets in my store, which is also my studio. Lots of fun in those cabinets, and on my retail racks and shelves. I try to sew something fun every day, most often handbags and totes, then sell them in the store. Will be opening an Etsy store soon. For now I'm at:
((*_*)) Jeanie
Posted: 2:12 am on January 5th
ChallisMac writes: Fortunately my house has an ATTIC - not high enough in the middle to stand, but an ATTIC. I put in flooring and shelves when we first moved in - covers about 800 sq ft. I store my stash in large Rubbermaid tubs, identified by an alphanumeric in broad letters on the side with contents listed in a 3-ring binder that I keep in my sewing room. Each tub has a page listing contents with color and fabric content. I, of course, keep silks, woolens, cottons, linens separate. I now have about 70 tubs. I keep moth balls in each tub. Yeah, I know toxic and not PC, but keeps the bugs out of my stash.I purchase my fabric by what I like. Therefore, have few problems combining fabrics in creations. One of my resolutions is to attach swatches to each entry in my catalog.

BTW I wash my fabric when I take it out to sew. Folds better with the sizing still in. Velvets are stored on hangers with clips.

Later, Challis
Posted: 11:26 pm on January 4th
Sasky writes: Happy New Sewing everyone! I too sort by type and have my fabric on book shelves and in clear plastic totes. I snip a piece of the fabric and staple it to a large index card. On the card I also indicate the size of the fabric and any special care features. Also the "great Idea" when I bought the fabric. I tape the cards with the accumulated pieces and notes on the outside of the tote bins and on the shelves. It makes it very easy to locate a new project piece without having to lift and move all the totes/fabrics to find what you are looking for. It also makes dream designing fun!
Posted: 11:22 pm on January 4th
mmkrzus1 writes: My stash has pretty much taken over our master bedroom, but this year my only New Year's resolution has been to start cleaning out our basement so I have, well, MORE space for my stash. I have the long, low, clear under-bed boxes. I keep my embroidery stabilizers in one, wovens in another, knits in another, lining fabrics in another, batting in another, etc. The fabrics are easy to spot since the boxes are clear, and the boxes are long, which means I needn't fold the fabrics into small packets. The boxes store on top of one another, keeping the mess to a minimum. The boxes also keep the fabrics dust free. Anyone know a basement remodeler? :-)
Posted: 10:18 pm on January 4th
sewhappy1221 writes: Funny you should ask - I just finished cleaning my sewing room & all the storage shelves, reviewing my fabric inventory is the next step (I try to do it once a year - right after the holiday sewing madness is finished.)
Silks & upholstery/deco fabrics are stored on rolls standing in the sewing room closet. Lining & interfacing have 1 deep drawer each in the credenza that holds my machines (this helps control the amount I amass). The remaining fabrics are stowed in 18 gallon totes or bankers' boxes according to fabric type - top & bottom weight wovens, wool, knits, fleece, etc - these are stored in the sewing room closet & atop cabinets in the laundry room. The boxes are all numbered, and I keep an inventory of the contents of each. I try to remember to update it as fabric is removed, the remains are returned to the box, or new fabrics are added. Remnants & scraps are in easily accessible labeled boxes. I can grab appropriate bits for small projects, making facings or trims, trying new sewing/dying/painting techniques or making patches.
Now I just need to figure out how to stow all the boxes so I can access the fabric in the bottom ones without lifting & removing all the upper boxes.

Posted: 9:33 pm on January 4th
Sewing2enjoying writes: We told our adult daughter we could not afford to pay for her rent while she went back to school full time so she could move here and we would provide all her room and board. We had just purchased and restored an older cape cod house and turned the entire upstairs into a master suite. It was perfect for her to have her privacy and quiet when she needed to study. In the meantime, we have crowded all her furniture into the house with ours. We have almost another year in that situation so I am stashing things wherever I can and am excited about the time I am finally able to enjoy my "new" house, even though we love our daughter dearly. My husband had already provided me a perfect sewing area in the larger of the two main floor bedrooms, so I was all set with special lighting, many electrical outlets, etc. Well, that area is now also crowded with a guest bed and dressers for clothes. In the meantime, my fabric stash is in three dressers, two plastic 7-drawer towers, and on shelves in the small closet that was original to the house but renovated for what was supposed to be the "office". I have also run out of space for all the materials, so there is one plastic square basket full with fabric, too. All my items to re-make and/or finish are in a box close to the sewing machine cabinet. I use an old office credenza for a sewing machine cabinet and it is wonderful as it has two huge drawers on the left side and another smaller drawer with a door under it which also has a
huge drawer that pulls out that holds my books and information. I will be happy to be able to organize things truly properly but I have definitely attempted to organize things by material types. I love some of the ideas above, especially the ladies who keep a file or book with samples and the ideas they had about using the fabric when they acquired it. That is my biggest problem with my material; I have so much I forget what I wanted to do with it and why I was so excited when I brought it home. By the way, I also wash all my material when I bring it home before I put it away. I have purchased the fabric organizers with the tabs but have yet to find a good place to put them. I would love to hear from any of the ladies who have used them. Any special suggestions for using them? I have the original instructions on how to use them, but many times one can find terrific ideas just by utilizing something like this. I hope to hear from some of you on this.

Happy 2010 everyone! ML
Posted: 9:21 pm on January 4th
sewfun56 writes: I store my stash in a walk in closet that has cubed shelving on the right, left and center! On the right side, my stash is sorted by colors, in the center, all the light and non cotton fabrics and on the left are all the printed fabric with Asian on top, Hawaiian prints next and stripes below!
Posted: 8:53 pm on January 4th
Clarasita writes: Currently I store fabrics I inherited from my mom in the garage, in a 5 drawer chest. Fabrics I've purchased recently are in clear plastic tubs under the dining room table. But everything is overflowing. In the next few months, I have 3 plans to correct this. 1) Make circle vests from lots of my inherited fabrics. 2) Clean all fabrics (except delicates) and store in vaccuum space bags so they stay clean and bug free. 3) Move the dresser into the dining room and store cleaned delicates in it. I like to store the fashion fabric, underlining and lining together. Velvets, however, I store in my closet on cardboard rolls placed on hangers. I cover the rolls with terrycloth to avoid disturbing the nap. I cover it with vented plastic wrap to keep it dust-free. I have more fabric than projects. So I keep a small swatch of each in a notebook with my measurements. I take it with me when shopping for clothes, fabrics, or patterns. Now if I could just make myself keep that notebook updated.
Posted: 8:44 pm on January 4th
Cleo_Elaine writes: I always wash it first before putting it away as I would not remember whether it was ready to sew or not. Then it is put into drawers in my sewing room, if it is a stretchy type or a knit others are folded on hangers and placed in the closet all is very close to me so I can get right to work on the next project. I really try hard to keep from getting too many projects at once.
Posted: 8:11 pm on January 4th
livestosew writes: My daughter recently left home. We had restored an old house, and so we moved all my sewing articles into her old room. The closet is built in a dormer wall, which gives me a lot of shelves behind the clothes hangers. My fabric is organized in "types of fabric" neatly on the shelves which are both 8 ft. wide.

I was proud to show my friend my new sewing room, and upon opening the closet doors, she (a non sewer) exclaimed "Look at all the fabric!"

Posted: 8:08 pm on January 4th
hazelcraft writes: I have three 6' X 3' wire book shelves filled with folded cuts of fabric, arranged by fabric type (knit or woven)and, to some extent, by fiber content, i.e. all silks are together. There are also plastic tubs , 6, I think, and a large plastic trash can filled with remnants and scraps. Oh, and another large bin full of felts. Some smaller containers hold trims. All of the above is in the smallest bedroom in my apartment, no bed, just a table for sorting and folding. The closet holds out of season clothing and project in limbo.
Posted: 8:07 pm on January 4th
lukehead writes: I inherited my propensity to collect fabric from my mother. She had an incredible filing system (which I wish I still had but I wouldn't be able to hoard as much - that's not a bad idea!).

She had a blueprint filing cabinet with 24 drwaers. Each drawer was wide and shallow, I would guess about 22"x30"x3", just large enough to hold her fabric, pattern, notions and inspiration picture for an intended project.

It was a treasure chest when I was little. Oh, to find one of those cabinets again.
Posted: 7:59 pm on January 4th
lukehead writes: It's stored in translucent snap-top plastic bins, sorted by fiber. I've used a set of 4 5"x7" flip page photo albums with a slipcase (left over from pre-digital days) as a catalogue system. Each flip sleeve holds 2 3"x5" index cards, back to back (also leftover from pre-computer note storage days). On each card I have attached a swatch, yardage info, fiber info and if it has been pre-washed or shrunk as well as any other info that I think is important but that I would forget if I didn't write it down, if there is a coordinate fabric in the stash, and maybe what I was thinking of when I added it to the piles. Each album holds enough cards for 2-4 bins. When I'm "in the mood". I can shop my flip books and find something easily in it's bin. Because I can see through the box, I can identify if it's one of cotton, linen, silk, lace, knits or wool. I also store lining and interfacing leftovers each in their own bin. The bins stack - I go no higher than 3 for ease in moving.
Posted: 7:51 pm on January 4th
Lovay writes: I have a floor to ceiling bookshelf in my sewing room and i stack folded smaller pieces of fabric by color in the shelves. In the closet I have clear totes labeled with larger pieces for quilt backs.....flannel....and heavy fabrics. Under my sewing table I have recycled a canvas (hanging unit used for purses and accessories) on it's side and put small pieces that are left over for paper pieced blocks, yo-yo's or applique. I even keep the selvage edges I cut off the quilt borders and backs and use to tie around project pieces to keep all together, some make great ribbon for gift wrapping. I have even knit a project using the long selvage pieces for yarn. So you see nothing is wasted. I even have pretty bottles on the window sill with tiny scraps of quilting jelly and the colors look nice in the window.
Posted: 7:41 pm on January 4th
Beckyrag writes: When we organized our closets, my husband purchased 12' long closet shelves (coated wire) and installed it in the basement supported by the central I-beam. I roll all my fabric and stash it according to fabric type or use. I collected my fabric like some people collect great works of art so I really enjoy being able to view it every time I am at my sewing machine. It brings me great pleasure to see all the colors and textures and remember some fun shopping trips or great bargains.
Posted: 7:36 pm on January 4th
nujoi1908 writes: I use plastic totes. When I buy fabric, I have a general idea of what I'm going to make with it. So, things are organized by garment - dresses, tops & jackets, skirts and pants. Since I'm collecting faster than I sew, I'm trying to think of a swatch system so that I don't have to dig through the containers to see what's in there.
Posted: 7:20 pm on January 4th
Tatsy writes: Since my stash has taken over a second bedroom--the one my grandkids sleep in when they come to visit--the fabric has to be mobile so it can be wheeled into the sewing room while the kids are here. I use to use pop-up laundry baskets, but there were lots of problems with those. I finally found some terrific tall laundry hampers with handles, wheels, and covers. When the kids are coming it takes no time at all to move all nine hampers out of their room. If I have anything that resembles a New Year's resolution, it's to sew more fabric than I buy. I'm sure Goodwill will love getting a few plastic hampers.
Posted: 7:10 pm on January 4th
smith501 writes: I store my stash in an old armoire that migrated from my bedroom set to my studio. Cut quilt squares, however, are in plastic totes in the corner of the garage. Since I live alone and am now retired, I tend to get it out and "play". Isn't that what artists do?
Posted: 7:07 pm on January 4th
purduemom writes: My woolens are hung on hangers in a cedar closet. Other fabrics are stored in an antique china cabinet-organized by fabric type-knits, silks, suitings. They are protected from direct light and dust, but visible to anyone interested! The overflow is kept in the armoire, a 2-drawer file cabinet, various tubs,...:)
Posted: 6:48 pm on January 4th
sewveryhappy writes: When I had children, I stashed it in boxes labeled carefully as to content and color.

Since my children have grown and gone, and I have no grand children, we hardly use our dining room, which is quite large. It has now become "Sewing Central", with racks filled with fabrics, again according to their content and color. I like to keep cottons together separate from silks, as well as wools etc.

When people visit, they can't help but admire the beautiful colors and ask about my sewing. Since I've been sewing for over fifty years, I have many stories to share. The most often asked question is, "Why do you have so much fabric?" My daughter says, "She who dies with the most fabric wins." I say, "You never know what will inspire me or how long the inspiration will last, so just sew."
Posted: 6:44 pm on January 4th
marg writes: I do the same thing. My stash in in 18 gal. plastic totes.I dont remember what is in each but it is like a drug. I neeeeddddd my stash. We just moved and I expect to put everything in an attic closet and only have my immediate project in my sewing room. ( when my husband gets to puting it together.) Happy New Year everyone!
Posted: 6:41 pm on January 4th
dropspinner writes: I store my stash in 18 gal.plastic totes with labels on the top and sides-since moving to FL most of the stash is in the climate control storage center-although I am trying to use it as much as possible-it is hard to figure out outfits for this warm climate with all my wool fabrics. I decided to make more wool purses and totes-should prove interesting.
Posted: 6:24 pm on January 4th
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