Friday, July 20, 2012

DIY Tutorial: Organize Your Stash

I recently came up with a new way to organize my fabric stash. I'm sure its not a "new" idea, but I really like it and have tried it out and it really works! I posted this in my Julie's Pick January 2012 newsletter and will now share it with the world.

A new year always brings about new ideas on how to organize your life. This year I would like to organize my fabric and sewing supplies. I just got married in August and moved, so it was about time that I do this. I have a closet full of fashion fabrics, a big tub of woolens, 2 plastic drawers full of more fabric (fashion and quilting) and a section of another closet filled with quilting cottons. Plus I have a few bins of fabric that my parents just brought over to my house! So I had to figure out a way to organize all of this.

I first started with my fashion fabrics. I took everything out of the closet it is stored in and measured each piece. While doing that, I cut a small swatch and stapled it to an index card.


Then I labeled how many yards I had, the content, and the width. I also tried to write down when I bought the fabric and if it had a specific designer. In the top left corner of the index card, I wrote the "category" -- silk, linen, cotton, knits, lining, woolens, etc. I used a different color marker for each category.


Then I placed all the cards in a file box with tabs labeled by the color of the category. I ended up having 2 file boxes because the linens, woolens, rayons and others did not fit in my first box. Now when you are ready to figure out which fabric to use for your next project, just get your pattern, your file box and start designing. This is also helpful so you don't have a "fabri-lanche" of fabric falling out of the closet on you! You just grab one fabric out of your closet rather than sifting through the piles and piles of fabric. Have Fun!!



Supplies Needed: Scissors, matches or lighter (if you need to identify the content), file box(es), file tables, index cards, variety of colored markers, pen, stapler, and of course your fasbric stash!

Now that I've gone through the process of selecting the fabrics (using the card system) that I will use with my pattern, I've added a few other ideas. 

- When you are finished with your garment, write down the name of the pattern you used with the corresponding fabric. (I like keeping a log of what I make and when I make it!)

- If you do not use the entire amount of fabric, cross out the original yardage and write what is left. Then put your fabric back "in stock". 

- If you have a HUGE stash and have a hard time finding your fabrics, you could mark on the cards what shelf or container it is stored it. Then you would also have to label your shelves or containers with a symbol.

- Write down if you've washed the fabric or not. I usually try to wash it as soon as I get it, but some fall through the cracks.

I have yet to do this with my quilting cotton stash. That will be a whole other index card box in itself!! (who knows maybe more!!!)

~ Julie

8 comments:

  1. great idea! I keep my larger yardages in a tub but forget what I have and how many yards of each. For my smaller pieces (1yd or less) I fold them into ziploc baggies and put them in a file cabinet. To find what I want, I numbered the baggies, then put a cardboard on the wall with snippets of each material along with a note of which baggie it's in. The cardboard on the wall is a quick way to see the color selections I have for those little projects I have going.

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  2. I did something similar many years ago using a notebook. I like the index card idea and I am going to do that this weekend!

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  3. I have my fabric on shelves in my sewing room. Pieces are in bins. For the shelved fabrics, I attach a tag with the yardage, width, type - cotton/lycra blend, wool, linen, etc. I use a quilt basting gun to attach the tags at an end. If I don't use the whole piece, I cross off the yardage and note the amount left. Most of my fabrics are wound on bolts though some are folded. I also store differnt types of fabric on each shelf: knits on one shelf, quilting cottons on another, suitings on a third, etc. I also have an MS Access database I use to enter each fabric purchase (I list all the items purchased at one time in one field, not individually); that table has date, amount of purchase, store, and what I purchased. When I make something, I have another table that I enter date, who the project is for, what it is (blouse, skirt & jacket, quilt, etc), pattern used, and fabric(s) used. So far, it's worked well.

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  4. I do this already. But I use a binder with see-through pages that can hold 6 or 8 (can't remember) index cards and arrange them by color/predominant color. That way I can just take the page with me to the store and the fabric swatch will never get dirty. :o)

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  5. Replies
    1. I guess I'll be busy for a while, but won't it be worth it!
      Thanks for the great idea!

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  6. I organize swatches this way as well. I had tried various notebook methods over the years, but this is the most flexible method of all, I think. It's easy to take the cards out, mix and match, make notes, take a few cards with me to the store, etc. I love pulling out cards and coordinating them for a project as well. So easy!

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  7. Lately, I have mostly been buying fabrics online. Wonder why..... This means I can save the pictures. I have a Fabric File stored on my computer with all the saved pictures of fabrics which I have purchased. On the main picture for each fabric, I note the fiber info, source (if the fabric is from a designer or special mill), width & yardage. I do this the minute I place the order because pictures are taken down pretty fast when a fabric sells out. I have had some luck with Googling "cached" images to retrieve old pictures. Within the picture file, the pictures are stored according to fabric type; I have categories such as Wool knits, rayon knits, wool coatings, cottons, linens etc... Because this is a computer file I can reshuffle and reorganize my stash in any way I want to my heart's content.

    I also print out a picture page of the fabrics, when I order them. These pages are also noted as to fiber, source, width & yardage; they go into a 3 ring notebook and I paste fabric swatches onto the pictures. This notebook is sorted by the date I purchased the fabrics, with the newest fabrics at the front. Because this is tactile, this is the imagining book. I can spend time looking at it and figuring out what I will do with the fabrics. It helps me get to sleep at night, if I am worried about something.

    Finally, my fabrics are stored in large Sterilite bins from Target. This is the type of plastic which does not off-gas. I have labeled the bins with my labeler indicating wool knits, wool boucles, rayon jerseys, ITY knits, embroidered cottons.....let's just say I have an extensive stash. These bins are on shelves in my sewing studio. Within the bins, each fabric is also labeled with all pertinent information on graph paper index cards cut in half.

    I moved last year and to sell the house, emptied both my basement and sewing room into a storage unit. It was at this time that I switched over from storing my fabric on shelves and started to use bins. This was the smartest thing I did for our move - (1) because mice got into the storage unit & NONE of my fabrics were damaged - the plastic bins protected the fabric (2) the fabrics were already packed by me and easy to transport (2a)professional movers have their own way of packing things and you are not insured if you do any of the packing - on non-breakables, sometimes organization wins out over letting anyone else do the job (3) the fabrics ended up in the right room (4) the fabrics were already organized and ready to go on shelves. Believe me, this made the move so much easier than it could have been.

    If I go shopping for thread or zippers, I just take the swatched page from my Fabric notebook with me.

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