So Much Fabric, So Little Room

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Do you have an entire room for sewing, one with many shelves and cabinet spaces? Or are you spending most of your sewing time in a guest bedroom, with fabric stacked high in the closet (too bad for guests who need to hang their clothes, won’t 3″ of space be enough?)?

Either way, your fabrics deserve care, and wouldn’t it be nice to find what you are looking for?

fabric_wall_480

Fabric storage can be a problem, but one that’s solved easily with a little forethought. It can even be fun! Of course, less space means being more imaginative, but that’s no problem for creative people like quilters!

First, let’s think it through:

Where will it all go?
The #1 consideration is space. To quilters who have the lovely opportunity to spread out: consider yourselves fortunate! Otherwise, if you can make use of a seldom-used room for essentials like your sewing machine—maybe even a small hoop and chair for hand quilters—think through every opportunity for related fabric storage. Is there a desk or chest in which fabrics can be stored? A fabulous idea in that case is the use of under-bed storage bins. Creative folding in those units is a must, so that fabrics can be seen. Buy see-through bins and you’ll save a lot of time! Do look into acid-free options for long-term or fragile fabric storage.

Shelves in closets can become handy fabric storage spots, of course. Think about the rod—why not hang fabric yardage on hangers (neatly folded over plastic hangers or hanging from clips), especially the multi-tiered pants hangers, if you have rod room to spare. A closet can become an entire sewing center with a fold-out table if a carpenter is handy!

Only you can decide how much storage area will be needed for your fabric collection. Do you have a large fabric stash, or do you buy enough for only one project at a time?

If your sewing space needs to be ultra portable, consider inexpensive drawers on rollers. Roll it out to access the drawers, then tuck it neatly away. (You could add a small cutting mat on top!) Rolling wire carts can serve the same purpose, and either one can roll right up to wherever you are sewing—like the kitchen table—for handy fabric selection of at least the amount you need for your current project.

curtain rod fabricYou could let your fabric hang from the wall on curtain clips or rings. All you need is a curtain rod and clips. How pretty! Can’t you imagine making a rainbow of that? (Thanks, craftaholicsanonymous.net.)

Think creatively! Let your shelves go to the ceilings. You can get a stool to reach those most-seldom used fabrics. Place a shelf over a window file fabricand stack your cute rolls and fat quarter packs to make a sweet display. Or take that shelf all around the room so you can enjoy your fabrics every day!

The search for ingenuity continued on the Internet, where I found a blog by an Australian crafter. Check out How to Store Your Fabric Stash by The Crafty Mummy. She has some wonderfully creative ideas, like using a hanging file!

Light
Always consider the effect of light on your fabrics. Is there direct light on the space you want to use? If so, re-think your spaces! How sad to come across the perfect yardage for your next quilt and find a faded stripe running right down the fold.

Start with a Sort
I can’t wait to hear all the ways you sort fabric! Is it by color family? Do you put types of fabrics together: florals, batiks, and so on? Minimum searching in the long run will be the key to your sorting style. Don’t waste your quilting time tossing fabrics around in a pile. Take some time to neatly arrange them and keep them that way. No more wondering what you have when you see everything at a glance!

Take a close look at the photo of Mickey Depre’s sewing room above. Wouldn’t you say that’s pretty much perfection? Her fabrics are all neatly wrapped on Polar Notions, which are Mickey's fabric close upacid-free to protect her fabric investment. (Watch for four of Mickey’s books including the new Half-Scrap Quilts, coming soon from AQS Publishing!)

Mickey says, “…I began to wrap. And wrap. And order more boards. And wrap. And then just fold and put fabric in holding for even more boards to arrive. And finally after several weeks the wall is done. Behold ‘The Rainbow Wall of Awesomeness’ as it was named by a friend.”

Would you rather buy more fabric than sort through your stash? Why not take some time to have fun with your fabrics like Mickey did, a “sorting party” where you put your color wheel of fabrics in places that will be easy for you to use. Let it be a project in itself, not a byproduct of one.

With many charity projects accepting fabric, there’s no need to keep what you once bought but second guessed when you brought it home. Yard sales are a great place to eliminate fabric overload! You might start a trend at your next guild meeting when you start a trading session. Will you use it? Do you like it? Is it simply ugly, or a fabric you always push aside? Don’t be so proud of your stash that you can’t give some up to charity. You know you won’t use it. Let it go!

It doesn’t need to be a new year to start this resolution! It’s time for fall re-organizing. Shape up your fabric stash and appreciate all of those beautiful selections you’ve made. You’ll love it—and your fabrics will love you for it!

>>>Ann
ann.hammel@americanquilter.com

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Thanks for presenting storage options! I can’t believe hanging fabric as a good long-term solution, unless fabrics are rotated regularly (little thing called gravity). I use clear plastic bins, for fabrics and projects, with removable labels. I buy labels at office supply, remove and replace as bin content changes.

BETTY MANOULIAN

Does anyone have a suggestion on how to organize precuts (jelly rolls, charm packs, and layer cakes)?

BETTY MANOULIAN

Do you have a suggestion on how to organize precuts (jelly rolls, charm packs and layer cakes)?

Brenda

Love her wall of awesomeness! I did the same thing, my fabric was all flat folded on shelves in the closet (lovingly nicknamed “Mom’s Fabric Shop”. I could never find anything, unless it was on top, so 1 day (and it took a few weeks), I started wrapping my fabric. PERFECT, I can see at a glance what I have and I tagged each piece with yardage. That saves me time when pulling a color, I know right off if there is enough to do what I want.

Cheryl Romano

I have the problem with my fabric piled all over my diningroom and I get frustrated trying to find what I need. I just got a room to hopefully solve my problem. The closet is minimal, so I bought cabinets with shelves to put on both sides of the room with the cutting table in the middle. Also storage cubes to go on top for more sorting. I don’t think I’ll get much actual quilting done this year because all the cabinets and cubes have to be assembled and the sorting and organizing is going to take a long time… Read more »

Cheryl Romano

Just got a new room to solve my problem of fabrics stacked to the chandelier in my diningroom. Will have to assemble the shelving cabinets and storage cubes to organize the fabric. The closet is so small it doesn’t even have a rod to hang fabric from, so maybe divided cubes or shelves to fit. I see by pictures that sideways is the easiest access. Do different fabric sizes require different accessories to store sideways? Fat quarters and 1 1/2 yard pieces won’t work the same!

Kathy Strabel

So many good ideas! I found a solution to my jumbled drawers by cutting pieces of cardboard to a size that fits into my translucent plastic rolling drawer carts. I fold lengths of fabric twice so that it is approx 10″-11″ wide, then I wrap the fabric around the board and slip the boards in so they stand upright. I secure the fabric with a piece of painter’s blue masking tape and write the length of the piece of fabric on it. If I use some of the fabric, I just update the length. I wrap pieces that are at… Read more »

Amy McB

These are great ideas. When I finally got my sewing studio I knew I didn’t want to use open shelving – the sun here in CO is too brutal on fabrics – so my husband took three white wardrobe units (w-39″; h-70″; d-21″) and bolted them to the 12′ back wall. There was about 27″ left over which he made into bookshelves. Fat quarters and big scraps, as well as notions, go into a white double dresser and I have colored baskets on top of the wardrobes to store works-in-progress or fabrics purchase specifically to go together. I’ve sorted my… Read more »

Marian

I use 66qt. clear storage bins. I separate by color, fall, Christmas, solids, craft, baby, flannel, white or off white (tone on tone), 1950 reprints, etc. This keeps it clean & I can see which color or theme I want. I even have smaller totes with quilts I am working on & have things cut out. I have an extra room that I store & stack them in, which is right next to my sewing room. I love it.