I reimagined my sewing room fabric storage, and I wish I would have done it, like, years ago.
I went from a jumbled mess to a neatly folded fabric collection that I can peruse on my phone (Trello FTW).
Here’s the why and how of updating my sewing room fabric storage. I hope it provides you with some ideas and inspo for how to optimize your textile library.
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Why I Reorganized My Fabric Stash
There were three things that spurred the Great Stash Reorg of 2K23.
1.) Spring Mini Capsule Wardrobe
This is the biggest instigator of the stash shuffle.
I floated the idea in the weekly Sie Macht email newsletter of sewing a mini capsule wardrobe for spring. Subscribers were interested, so I thought I’d look through ye olde fabric bibliotek to see what I had for materials.
That’s when I realized the fabric stash needed major TLC.
2.) Storage Style
I had been rolling my fabric for a while to limit creases created by folds. But, I never was good about rolling fabric in the same way so all cuts were the same height/width/depth and space efficient.
In short, I was wasting tons of space in my plastic bins for fabric.
3.) Fabric Orphans
We moved into our current home in 2014, and I claimed a bedroom for a sewing room/office immediately.
Over the years the way I stored fabric changed, and I went from having like fabrics with like fabrics to… not. I think this is a function of buying fabric, using it, and jamming the leftovers anywhere they fit, thinking I’ll find a better place later.
Eventually fabrics that would have made sense together (e.g., knits, rayons) got further and further apart. I was breaking up fabric families!
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Whipping my sewing room fabric storage into shape was a two-part process.
I had to find places in my studio for the fabric, and I wanted to have a cloud-based archive of my fabric collection accessible on my phone.
The first thing I did was unpack my fabric and sort it into three groups:
⭐ Odds and Ends (quilting batting, ribbing, linings, tulle, leftover coat-making materials, faux fur)
Then it was time to re-fold the fabric in an orderly and eye-pleasing manner.
When it came to how to fold fabric for storage, I fully copied Kelly of True Bias patterns, down to the materials she used.
(Hey, no need to reinvent the wheel, right?)
I folded/wrapped the cuts of fabric around acid-free, 8 1/2-by-11-inch magazine boards and secured them in place with 1 1/2-inch plastic plastic alligator clips.
How to Fold Fabric for Storage
The folding method went like this:
1.) Fold the selvages together the long way, wrong sides facing.
2.) Lay the fabric on a flat surface.
3.) Place a magazine board at a short end of the fabric, about 5-6 inches from the raw edge.
4.) Fold the raw edge over the long edge of the magazine board. The fabric should cover a bit more than half the width of the board.
5.) Fold the selvage edge over the short edge of the board. Continue this fold down the length of the fabric.
6.) Fold the folded edge over the other short edge of the board. Continue this fold down the length of the fabric. Now the board is encased in fabric.
7.) Flip the board down the length of the fabric, wrapping the fabric to create a “mini bolt.”
8.) When you reach the end of the fabric. clip it to the wrapped fabric on opposite short ends with two plastic alligator clips.
A few of notes about how to fold fabric for storage:
➡️ You can tidy up the end of the fabric bolt by folding it in. That way there’s no raw edges showing; a fold faces the outside.
➡️ Heavier, thicker fabrics are too much for the plastic clips. You might want to skip clips and use straight pins or skip securing the end of the mini bolt altogether. (I did both.) You could use big rubber bands, too.
➡️ For lighter, thinner fabrics, after folding the selvages together the long way, you may want to fold the yardage again the short way (opposite direction) to give the fabric a little more heft while wrapping it on the cardboard. This folding-in-half-short-ways also is a good move for extra long fabric cuts.
➡️ If you use straight metal pins, be aware that if they get wet, they could rust, which would be bad news for your fabric. (I’m taking my chances that my stash will stay dry in an upstairs office.)
Containers for My Fabric Stash
I wanted to keep like fabrics with like fabrics as much as possible, and I wanted to use the bins I already had.
The wovens and odds and ends went in bins in the closet, and the knits ended up outside the closet in more aesthetically pleasing containers — a fabric-covered bin and a wooden crate (it’s IKEA) that I got from Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
I ended up with two empty plastic bins once all the sorting and stashing were through. The mini bolts are space efficient. 👍
(P.S. Yes, I did have a bit more room because I threw away unusable fabric scraps/cuts. But, I think folding made the most difference in gaining space.)
Physical organization was only the beginning. Next came digital organization of the fabric stash.
First I took a photo that I thought best represented the color of the fabric.
Then I created a new board on Trello, the organizing app, called Fabric Stash.
Inside Fabric Stash, I created three lists: Wovens, Knits, and Odds and Ends.
I populated each list with the appropriate fabrics and photos.
I tagged each fabric by color, so I can filter my stash by hue. I also tagged quilting fabrics, because it’s not likely I’d use those for apparel.
For the record, Trello says that I have 148 fabrics: 68 wovens, 57 knits, and 23 odds-n-ends.
My most popular color is blue (not surprised), which is featured on 74 fabrics. (See the filter — #blue — in action below.)
What I Like About the New Organization
Along with looking tidy, there are other benefits to this fabric storage scheme.
See All Fabric at a Glance
If it’s wrong to pull out my fabric bins to admire my collection of mini bolts, then I don’t want to be right.
Now, when I get a garment idea or have an itch to check the textile library because I *think* I have enough such-and-such fabric for X, I can pull out the bins and SEE EVERYTHING. There’s no more hiding from me, fabric!
Check Stash on the Go
Now that my fabric is in Trello, I have my stash at my fingertips as long as I have my phone. This means if I happen to be somewhere with fabric for sale, I can check my stash FIRST before making a decision.
Reintroduced Me to My Stash
Y’all, there are some TREASURES in there that I forgot about. That’s what happens when you don’t do a good job of organizing your sh!t — you forget what you have at your disposal.
Rekindling my relationship with my stash also has thawed my sewjo and sparked ideas about future projects. (How’s that for fire metaphors? #sorrynotsorry)
How My Sewing Room Fabric Storage Could Be Better
The new storage system is great, but it’s not perfect. I identified the following future upgrades.
Add Fabric Lengths to Trello
I didn’t measure lengths of fabric when I was putting it on the magazine boards. The added step of measuring everything seemed like a bummer, so I skipped it.
Will I regret this? Probably? Maybe?
I actually have a pretty good memory for fabric lengths (as in, Do I have enough for X? ), especially considering I’ve touched EVERY PIECE OF FABRIC I own. Plus, you can see from the tops (short ends) of the mini bolts how much fabric is wrapped around the board.
Get the Whole Stash in the Closet
GAH, I wish all the fabric fit in the closet. I really, really, really hoped that this reorg would get everything in the closet, but no dice.
I could move some more stuff around in the closet and possibly make room for at the least the light-brown fabric-covered bin, but that’s not happening for a while. I want a break from organization.
Mismatched plastic bins aren’t the most ~*aesthetic*~ choice for storage, but they work a-OK. Perhaps someday, when I can squeeze the entire stash into the closet, I’ll look into buying some flavor of matching storage units.
ALSO — I make sure to leave the lids off the bins so the fabric can “breathe.” I’ve always been concerned about getting moisture trapped in a plastic tub and letting fabric get moldy/mildewy/musty.
Final Thoughts About Reorganizing My Fabric
I wish I would have done this sooner. I could have stopped myself from buying fabric I didn’t have a plan for.
The challenge now is to sew from my stash, and I think I have enough of a selection to keep me busy for a while. I don’t think I’ve achieved SABLE status — stash acquisition beyond life expectancy — but if I’m not mindful, I could get there.
Over to you, sewing friends: How organized is your fabric stash? What fabric storage tips can you share?