Organize Me! – Fabric Storage
Hey, ho there! I blogged! Can you believe it? I could give a big long explanation about how busy I have been, but you are all there with me so I will skip that and just say I am happy to be writing again. And I’ve had an idea! One thing that I really love to do is organize. I have talked about it here and there on the blog, but I think I am going to make it a regular feature: Organize Me! Once every couple of weeks, I will either post some organizational ideas I have had or used, or discuss something I have seen in the vast knowledge base that is Pinterest/Instagram/Blogs/etc etc. What do you think? Would anyone find that useful? Or at the least, interesting?
I thought I could start by showing you how I keep my fabric organized. This is no small job, as there is A LOT of it. As a casual sewist there was lots, but now that I am sewing for my business it has grown exponentially. It got really out of hand a couple of weeks ago, so I took some shots as I worked to get it cleaned up so that you could see what I do to keep things in check. So lets start from the largest pieces and move down to the smallest, yes?
Anything full yardage that is over 2 yards in length goes on bolts. Most of the time your local fabric store will have a surplus of cardboard bolts that they will give to you if you ask nicely. You are usually saving them from throwing them away or recycling them. If that isn’t an option for you, you can cut down a large cardboard box and make you own!
Cut your cardboard down to 7.5″ x 47″.
Make 4 little creases in the cardboard with a pencil or stick, tearing through one side of the cardboard but not all the way through at 11″, 12″, 35″ and 36″.
Fold over the cardboard at these two spots and tape the layers together. Tada! Bolt!
(You might wonder why you wouldn’t just use a flat piece of cardboard. I find that the fabric doesn’t crease as much if it is on a bolt with some “depth” rather than just being folded flat around a cardboard chunk.)
Once you have your bolts, place your fabric on a table with the fold to the top and the selvedges to the bottom. Tape the left end of the fabric (I use masking tape) to the bolt and roll away! The reason you do it in this order, (fold to the top, roll from the left) is that when it is unrolled off the bolt, you can line up the fold with the bottom of your cutting mat. Just trust me, it works. 🙂 I like to fold over the end at a 45 degree angle and pin.
I use a numbering system to keep track of my in stock fabrics, but that isn’t necessary if you don’t have a reason to do it.
For fabric that I still have over a half a yard of, but less than 2 yards, I like to store these flat. You can use cardstock for this job, but it is a little wide (and could be non-acid free, which could affect your fabric). I like to use comic book cards, which are 6.75″ x 10.5″. You can buy these in huge packages from your local comic book store pretty inexpensively. (I think my pack of more than I will ever use in my lifetime was $9). Again, I tape the end of the fabric to the cardboard and then roll away.
I don’t bother pinning for this size, as I haven’t found it necessary, but you might want to if you intend on storing them for quite a while. Once rolled up you can place them upright like a book or stack them flat.
For fat quarters (which I actually do not have a large number of) I like to fold them like this:
Two long sides into the center:
Then in half:
Then the two ends into the center:
Then in half.
There are so many different ways to fold fat quarters, but this one is my favourite. Once folded you can store them on a shelf stacked by colour, in shoebox sized plastic bins, or like you will see below, in a CD case!
Scraps and Smaller Pieces
Two main ways to organize scraps are by size and by colour. I actually do both. As I am working I put all my offcuts in a basket for later sorting. Then once I am finished, I pull out any pieces that can be used for shop pieces and sort them into small labeled bins (you will see those below). Then all the little pieces get organized by colour. I love this part!
I love using shoebox sized bins for this because I know when I outgrow a bin it is time to either use, sell it, or give it away.
One other thing that I have to store is colour cards and coupons. I keep these neat and tidy with my shorter pieces that are on the comic book cards.
I thought you deserved a before and after of the studio during this process. Here is the scary before pic:
You can see on the back wall on the right that I was using a hutch for books, and my fabrics are supposed to be in the bookshelf on the left. Supposed to be. I had long outgrown it.
The top shelf has my larger cut out pieces (boxes are from Target):
The second and fourth shelf have my bolts of fabric, and the third shelf has my comic book card fabrics (along with my colour cards and some extra voile that I had and didn’t want to put on a bolt).
On the left is my CD case holding all of my fat quarters. See? They fit perfectly!
From top to bottom: Solids, Flea Market Fancy, special pieces, vintage sheets.
The remainder sorted by colour (there are also some odd shaped pieces in here with the fat quarters), as well as my Cat in the Hat and Civil War repro fabrics.
This little corner of my studio just makes me feel happy now!
And here is the same shot from above, but clean!
Hopefully that gives everyone some ideas on how to sort out your fabric, regardless of what level of organization you have now. Does anyone else have any good fabric org ideas or tips? Leave them in the comments!