I’m guilty of not always remembering what fabrics I have in my collection. It’s wasteful, I know, to come home from the fabric store with an armful of white flannelette when I have almost a meter of it sitting on the top shelf of the craft room closet. If this is you too, it may just be the time to pull out the contents of your fabric stash and take stock of what you have.
If you’ve read this Taming Craft Room Chaos column before, you may have seen my craft supply closet tour. I use clear plastic bins to organize the bulk of my fabrics, and while originally I had sorted them by colour, over time, things just didn’t seem to go back into their rightful collections.
I purchased these bins from Home Depot for the nominal fee of $0.99 a piece. They are actually shoe boxes (they also sell a slightly larger boot box), and these shoe boxes are perfect for folded quilting cotton. They are wee bit small for most of my fashion fabric because I typically purchase fashion fabric in larger lengths.
Once in a while, I have to suck it up and take stock of what I have in there.
Pull Everything Out
I made a huge mess. (I took a photo of the room during this process, but it’s too embarrassing to show. Believe me: when I say a mess, I mean a mess.) I pulled every last piece of fabric out of their bins, refolded them, and organized them into stacks based on fabric type (quilting cotton, flannelette, polyester-cotton mix, etc), then subdividing those stacks by colour. If I had fabrics that were purchased for a specific project, I put those ones together so that they wouldn’t get broken up and forgotten.
Purge What You Will Never Use
I’m guilty of keeping everything. What if I really do need a 2″x1.25″ piece of that purple and orange print? If you’ve got the space, keep what you think you’ll use, but if you are limited by a small closet, donate your scraps to someone who will appreciate them. (I have a friend who makes doll clothes, and some of those dolls are absolutely tiny. Perfect match; she’s happy and I don’t feel terrible about wasting the scraps while they sit in my closet for eternity.)
Label Your Collection
Sure, if your bins are transparent you’ll be able to see what’s inside, but don’t forget to label your bins. I labelled my bins with terms like solids, flannelettes, neutrals, etc. Labeling can be as easy as inserting a piece of cardstock between the plastic and the fabric. I did not use any tape to hold my labels in place so it would be easy to change out the labels as fabric is depleted and purchased.
I have a lot of themed fabrics that I collect for specific dream quilts (such as a small collection of Geisha prints, of fairy prints), so I label the side of those boxes with all the project ideas so that when I acquire a new piece for the project, it’s easy to find its mates.
After going through my collection, I was able to turn 16 boxes of chaotically organized fabrics into 12 boxes of neatly folded, colour- and type-organized fabrics. Feels good!
How often do you go through your fabric collection? It’s a great excuse to have another look at all the elements of the fabric stash!