How I Organize My Fabric

I have a rather large fabric stash (580 yds when I counted at the beginning of the year). I’m not ashamed. It makes me happy and inspires me. I love having a whole wall of fabric to pick from any time I want to sew. The vast majority of the fabric has been gifted to me or came from the thrift store for $2/yd so it also helps me to sew frugally. However, I also like to be organized and a stash like this certainly needs an system if it’s going to stay organized!

I’ve toyed around with various organizational systems, both physical and digital, and have finally settled on a pretty dang simple method that works well for me. I really wanted to find a digital solution that I loved, but there were always flaws. If it was a digital system without photos (like an Excel spreadsheet) then my descriptions got ridiculous trying to define the individual fabrics. If it was a digital system with photos (like an Evernote document) it got cumbersome to try to find what I was looking for amid all the photos. I thought about the way I interact with my fabric and realized that the vast majority of the time I’m going to it with a specific fabric type in mind and I want to easily glance through all the fabrics of that type. Once I pick a few candidates, I want to easily know how much of them I have without having to pull them off the shelf.

So for each piece of fabric that I have, I cut a small swatch, staple it to half an index card, and write the yardage and width. My fabrics are organized into piles by type (generally sorted by fiber and weight) and the cards are clipped together in the order of the fabrics so I can quickly get to the information I want.

My top shelf is essentially all cottons, with stacks for quilting weight cotton, lawn/gauze/sateen, midweight, denim/chambray, and bottomweight.

I have stacks for wool (not further defined since they’re mostly coat weight)…

and knits sorted by jersey/interlock, sweatshirt/sweater, and ITY/swimsuit/specialty…

and stacks for Thai cotton, flannel, rayon challis, upholstery, fleece/velvet, and silk/lining/blouseweight.

Above my wall-o-fabric is (most of) my organized sewing patterns and below is bins for yarn, scraps, batting, WIPs/mending (which I have got to work my way through!), quilting cottons (too small for garments), muslin, and samples.

What do you think about my lo-fi system? Do you do something similar? Have you gotten past the digital stumbling blocks that hung me up?

Comments 12

  1. If you have an iPhone there is a stash app. I think it’s called Cora. But I didn’t check that before I commented. But last I checked there wasn’t an Android option. So I just stack them in bins by type. Knits, quilting cottons and bottom weight. Not amazing but I’d rather craft than organize.

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      I have heard good things about Cora, but I’m pretty happy with my lo-fi solution and didn’t want to spend the time adding everything to one more database to see if it would work for me. But if you’re into digital solutions, Cora does sound like a great app.

  2. I fold my fabric KonMari style and place it in shoe boxes. This way the piles don’t fall over and I can easily keep it organized. Having said that, I’ve been on a stash diet for a long time so I have less volume to store and I can remember most of what I have which makes everything easier.

    I’m going to break my fabric fast though, we are flying to our honeymoon finally and I can’t wait to explore the fabric in Melbourne!

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  3. Hi, I just recently settled on a similar system :)
    I have all my fabrics in ziploc bags which are stored in a chest of draws (I am ridiculously afraid of moths), so browsing through it was very cumbersome. I started to make index cards with approx. 2”x2” of fabric stapled onto it, yardage, fiber content, where and when I bought it and a unique identifier number.
    I also put a note with the identifier number in the ziploc, so that it’s visible from outside. No more taking 8 pieces of fabric out of the slightly colored ikea ziplocs to find the dark blue one in between the black and brown ones :D
    The index cards are in two boxes, wovens and knits and I plan to sort them by weight.

    I also have an excel spread sheet to keep an eye on the overall amount I have. This is sorted into Jersey, swimsuit jersey, jersey scraps, wovens and woven scraps. It has served me reasonably well over the years, but there were instances when I pulled out a fabric that seemed perfect for a project on paper only to find out it drapes wrongly. The 2”x2” swatches should really be very useful to make sure that doesn’t happen in the future.

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      Your system is impressive! I found that I just didn’t update the excel spreadsheet like I should and it drove me crazy when some of the information in it was wrong. Having a large swatch and an ID is a great solution to not pawing through all your fabric!

  4. What a lovely and organized stash you have. It must be so fun to pick out new fabrics for projects.

    There was a time that I was feeling guilty about how large my stash was and I was trying to conquer it. But something switched inside me and now my stash brings me joy as I love being able to shop my stash for my fav fabrics. I imagine yours is the same. :D

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      Yes, very much the same! I also felt guilty about it at one point, and that was several hundred yards of fabric ago ;) It does bring me great happiness and it doesn’t cost me much money (as most are gifts or thrifted) so I decided that I was going to embrace the stash!

  5. I just revamped my system (after a lot of fails) based on something I saw on Christine Haynes’ Instagram. My garment fabrics are rolled up, tied with a fabric scrape string, and have a little label tucked under the string with width, yardage, fiber content, color / print, where I got it, and whether it’s been washed. They fit into a couple big plastic bins. It’s been working GREAT! This is the first time I feel like my fabric is organized for my needs.

    My quilting cottons are in another couple plastic bins; they’re folded and stacked like files (a KonMari inspiration) and arranged by color / project / specialty (ie a subsection for holidays).

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      Nice. I tried a similar method at one point but it didn’t work for me. I found that the rolls didn’t play nicely on my shelves and I didn’t like having to pull out each piece that I was interested in to see the information on it. But I’m glad it works for you!

  6. Most of the time I don’t feel bad about my stash, but I just moved, and unpacking it was a little bit demoralizing, particularly since I just started working outside the home, and have 4 small children (i.e. sewing time is at a premium). I think that if I get it organized again, instead of just shoved on the shelves (fabric is excellent packing material, so it was spread throughout a bunch of boxes), I might feel more excited about it.

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