Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stash Organization Tips - a tutorial

 If you can't see it, you won't use it!  

That's my motto!    I've tried cardboard boxes... even covered them to make them pretty....  I've tried large plastic totes..... I've tried plastic shoe boxes.....  But this is the system that works for me so far..... 

I use several types of storage containers and systems to organize myself.... depends on what it is I'm storing. 

Large pieces of fabric...  1/4 yard  to 1 yard or more.... 

for a 1/4 - 1 yard piece, I fold it so that it is  4 or 5" by 1/4 WOF   
 for pieces over 1 yard, I fold it so that the piece is approx  9" x 1/4 WOF... 

They go on these IKEA Billy book shelves.  I have added more shelves.  

notice the two sizes of blue fabric stacked in this picture.  They fit on a 12" wide shelf nicely this way.  

I have not tried the comic book boards.... seems like $$$ I can use for fabric.... I can see what I have with this method. 

I sort generally by color group... however, I have my homespuns on the top of another shelf all together.... and I have the fabrics for children's quilts on a different shelf as well.  I also have a collection of leaf fabrics, and outdoor / woodland fabrics  that are each in a separate area. Flannels have their own spot too. 

Smaller pieces.... FQ or smaller, but larger than a 6" square. 

These pieces go into my drawer system... 
These were purchased over time at either Target, Walmart, or wherever I found them on sale.  These were in sets of 2 larger drawers and then 4 shallow drawers.  As you can see... I've rearranged them so that the deeper drawers are more at the bottom of the stacks... this is so I can pull the top drawers out without them being too heavy. I did not use the casters on these in this area.  

I'll post a list at the end of this tutorial of how I separate the fabric... but mostly they are by color, or size of strips.  

These are my three green drawers....  when one gets full,  I sort through it, and cut the smaller pieces, or the oldest pieces down into strips, squares, or bricks.... 

I usually cut out in the other room, so having these drawers makes it easy to pull the drawer out of the unit, and then put it back.  The clear shoeboxes got frustrating for me, trying to get a box out of the bottom of a stack.  I also like being able to open the drawer and stick a piece in. 

Smaller pieces.... squares, bricks, crumbs and triangles.... under 3" 

See the little unit to the right of the plastic stacking drawers?  ...Just behind the chicken pincusion on top of the shelving unit? 

I found these small drawer units that are for holding small hardware.  Mine came from a swap meet, but Harbor freight has them, or you might try Lowes or Home depot.   The small drawers have little handles.... and the smallest size ones are 1 1/2" wide.... the medium size ones are about 2" wide, and the larger ones will hold 
 3 1/2" x 6 1/2" bricks.  

I have three of them....  and they work great! 

Small pieces.... squares, bricks, crumbs and triangles.... over 3-1/2" 

I also save 4" squares, 4 1/2" squares,  5" squares and 6 1/2" squares.  I simply cut the largest size square I can from a scrap when it gets to that point.  I can always cut it smaller if it's the perfect color, but I can't add to it, if you know what I mean....

When cutting with the easy angle ruler and companion angle ruler, if I have the leftover outside piece, I save those too, in... 1 1/2" 2 1/2", 3 1/2" strip size before cutting. 

The bright colored boxes on the right are from the Dollar Tree store.  I have these larger cuts stored in them.  

Special collections.... 

My  pieces of wool, 30's reproductions, civil war.... florals.... patriotic fabrics... solids.... batiks.... muslin... etc..  These are in a different  drawer set.  I purchased these first, and then couldn't find them again.... since they don't interact with the others... and are slightly larger, they work great for these thing.  I also have rolls of fusibles, and golden thread quilting paper in the top drawers.  

For projects under way.... and yes... there are lots of them!  

I love these stacker boxes that go on sale after Christmas... they hold 12" blocks....  and they stack easily w/o sliding around.  They have a handle for taking to class.  

I keep the yardage with the cut pieces until the top is done..... just in case I need to re-cut something or I change plans mid-stream. The pattern or instructions go with the project....  I make a photocopy of instructions that are in a book or magazine, so that I can use the original source for another project if I want to. 

The zippered bags that linens come in make super project bags.... I have several of those..... 

I also have some of these 12" boxes that come in a 6 pack at Costco.... but they aren't as deep, and with their curved edges, they tend to slide around a bit more. 

This pink box is one that I've set up for sorting small cuts while taming scraps.  When this gets full, I take it to the back room and put into the drawers.  
Out next to where I actually sew, is my drawer that has my strings.  Since this is where i cut, it made sense for me to have the string drawer close by.  

List of how I sorted what's in the drawers.... 

  • Whites and creams
  • blacks and grays
  • Black and white prints
  • dark blue, medium blue and light blue (3 separate drawers) 
  • turquoise and teal
  • orange 
  • golds and rusts
  • browns
  • tans
  •  yellow
  • dark green, light green and misc green(3 separate drawers) 
  • bright reds and dark reds/ maroon (2 separate drawers) 
  • light pinks and dark pinks (2 separate drawers) 
  • light purple and dark purple (2 separate drawers) 

  • 3" strips
  • 3 -1/2" strips
  • 2 - 1/2" strips 
  • 2" strips
  • 1 -1/2" strips
  • Bias strips  
  • Plaids
  • focus / novelty fabrics
  • vintage flour sacks
  • Christmas fabrics
  • Seasonal - not Christmas or winter
  • Winter / snowflakes fabrics
  • Orphan blocks
  • left over block components... mostly 1/2 square triangles 
  • Civil war repros (Fat Quarter size or smaller) 
  • Floral fabrics 
  • Solids
  • 30's 
  • wool
  • Batiks 
  • Batiks scraps
  • Patriotic prints
  • Panels
  • Border prints
  • Muslin

Scrap Saver System sizes: (Bonnie's system)

I cut into the sizes that are on Bonnie's blog... so the sizes I store in the little drawers are: 
  • 1 1/2" squares
  • 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" bricks
  • 2" squares
  • 2" x 3 1/2" bricks
  • 3" squares (not usually a Bonnie size, but I save them.)
  • 3 1/2" squares
  • 3 1/2" x 6 1/2" bricks 
  • crumbs 
  • Triangle pieces (these will all go away with wild and goosey! )

I do separate all these little sizes into colors, and into neutrals.... all colors go together.... neutrals go into a separate little drawer.   I know... I'm a little OCD..... As I cut them, I separate.. so it's not a big task, but it sure is easier to grab the neutrals to go with what ever else I'm using, than to dig through the entire stack. 

I hope you have enjoyed my storage tutorial.... 


  1. WOW my Friend!! That is an awesome storage system, and fantastic stash to boot!! Thanks for sharing with us :)

  2. What a wonderful job or organizing. I do some of the same but may adapt some of your ideas.

  3. Wow. You are one busy person with all of those fabrics. I have just a few fabrics and have wondered how I should separate them. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Fantastic. You are some organised woman. I love it. I sort of do the same except on a much smaller scale.

  5. Wonderful! I love your room with the organized fabrics. You did a very good job.

  6. Thank you for sharing your method of fabric storage. I am very impressed!