Sew Great to be Organised - Fabric Stash

Feb 2023

Get your stash super organised so you can safely store it, find it and use it!

Welcome back to this Sew Great to be Organised series where I'm taking you through how I'm tackling organisation in my sewing room.

Why is this so important to me?

Because how I feel in this room is crucial to how productive I am when I'm in here.

When I see clear surfaces and clutter sorted and contained, I can mentally understand the purpose and scope of what I own. Then I feel relaxed and motivated to get stuck into projects that use what I've got!

If your sewing space has gotten out of control, you can tackle organisation by breaking it into manageable chunks.

This makes it so much more achievable.

In the last post I covered notions and all the ways that you can get them under control.

This time I’m focusing on fabric and that means stash talk!

Whether your stash is large or small, collected over a lifetime, inherited or provenanced in a variety of ways, the whole point of a stash is to keep it safely and efficiently stored so that you can use it easily in the future.

Today I’m sharing with you the philosophy I have towards with my own stash.

I want to safely store it, organise it effectively, use it purposefully, and de-stash the rest that I no longer require.

The picture below is when I recently moved everything into Billy bookcases out of my Kallax cubes.

Everything was just stuffed in there to get it out from underfoot, waiting until I could gradually get to go through it all.

You can see here there's not much rhyme or reason! It's not a total disaster, but neither was it organised according to any system that made sense.

Sew Great to be Organised - Fabric Stash - Stash in Progress

So let’s go through how I'm storing, organising, using and destashing what I have ...

1.      Safe storage

So just like your threads, the enemies of fabric are dust, light, moisture and pests.

You want to know that your expensive fabric will not be compromised by any of these.

UV light will fade your fabric in a noticeably short time.

We’re talking a few months here! And because you want the deterioration of your fabric to happen after you’ve made the project, it makes sense to keep it away from prolonged exposure to UV light.

This means bright sunlight and also any old lighting bulbs you may have in your space.

Change your lighting in your space if you haven’t already to LEDs. These type of bulb contain no UV light to fade your fabric. They’re also much more energy efficient – more money for fabric!

Consider storing your fabric so it’s away from bright sunlight.

I have UV coating on the windows of my studio, but even then, some items have faded after being left near the window for several months. I have a bowl of little pincushions that have lost most of their colour from sitting there.

So while it may be tempting to keep it all on show, it will certainly stay in better condition if stored in boxes, cupboards or drawers.

Sew Great to be Organised - Fabric Stash - Safe Storage

Keep it in a low humidity environment.

If your sewing space is damp and prone to mold, then definitely fix this problem or store your fabric some place else.

You’ll also want to pay attention if your home is subject to pests like moths or silverfish. Obviously you won’t want them to damage your precious fabric.

Find closed containers that you can seal to keep them out.

2.      Effective Organisation

So now we’ve sorted how, now we move on to methods.

Do you organise by colour, by fabric house, designer or style?

It’s a good idea to do what makes sense to you.

Store it so you can easily find what you want again quickly.

I actually do a little bit of all of these, because I categorise them in my brain like that. But don’t follow someone else’s system just because it sounds good or looks nice.

It needs to work for you.

As I am a scrappy sewist, I rarely buy a whole line that a designer releases, so generally I sort most of my fabric by colour.

When I do have a favourite designer with super special fabric I love, then I like to keep that all together.

Sometimes I’ll just keep a collection together for a few months while I’m using it or saving it for a future project.

I mostly buy FQs and store them pretty much as they come, just folded and stacked. Some of them go in my Modular Boxes, so I can pull the boxes out like a drawer and see the whole big stack. I can label the front of the box and then relabel when the contents changes.

If you buy much larger pieces, folding them can become impractical.

Many people like to make their own ‘mini bolts’, which is a cheap but sturdy method where you fold/roll the fabric around cardstock.

I’ve recently started storing some of my larger cuts like this and am really enjoying being able to 'shop' my stash this way.

3.      Use Your Stash Purposefully

One of my aims in life is to make good use of my resources,and this carries over into my mantra as a sewist and quilter.

I don’t want to be a hoarder. The phrase ‘she who dies with the most fabric wins’, might bring a smile but when you think about that it’s a bit sad. You can do so much with your fabric that can bless others. It can’t bless them just sitting on the shelf.

When I began to embrace the abundance mindset that there will be more fabric in the future, I began letting go of my fear of running out and my faith for a fabulous fabric future is growing!

So once you're are doing plenty of sewing the product of plenty of sewing is…SCRAPS!

Sew Great to be Organised - Fabric Stash - Scrap Storage

After every project there are always some kind of scraps left behind. Naturally you don’t want to just through that away, and you absolutely shouldn’t.

Everyone has their own minimum ‘save-able size’.

What’s yours??

For me I don’t keep sizes smaller than 1.5” unless it’s Liberty. I make an exception for special fabrics.

But I do bag them up and move them on…see more in de-stashing.

So now I’m in the process of sorting, culling, and then cutting my scraps into some standard sizes so that I can actually use them.

Then I’m going to sort them by colour order into containers and I also have plans to make some ‘coordinated’ packs for future projects so that the fabric pull has already been done for a project in advance.

4.      De-stash

There are times when you decide that you don’t like some of your stash anymore. Sometimes fabric was an impulse buy, sometimes it just wasn’t as great as it looked on the screen, and sometimes you’ve just changed your taste.

I used to think that because I’d invested good money into this fabric that I was stuck with it.

Sew Great to be Organised - Fabric Stash - Destash

Ask yourself honestly if you are going to use it, and if not there are several options for re-homing to a good home.

Don’t assume that no one will like it – usually there are plenty of people who will like what you no longer do.

Try organising a swap with someone who might have some fabric you’d really like.

Run a de-stash sale and make a bit of $$$ to put back in your pocket.

There are places that accept unwanted fabric and use if for great causes.

If you’re in the US try here, and in Australia this charity is a great option.

Google what’s available in your local area, as you might find places close by.

I’m planning to donate a large bag of some of my lesser quality but bright and vibrant poly blend fabrics to our local kindergarten. I also move my tiny scraps on to places like these. They’re always appreciative of craft supplies.

So I hope that you’re feeling motivated and encouraged to go through your own stash and organise it so you can better make use of it.

If you're sorting stuff out, share your progress using the #SewOrderly hashtag on Instagram so we can follow your progress!

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