You may have recently received my free fabric stash labels or maybe you are just in the organizing spirit! There is something about fall cleaning that makes me so happy--can you relate?
Anyhow, I decided to share my organizing system with you! I figured it would be great to have a game plan to use with my free downloadable labels. (Just click on the link to subscribe and get your free set!)
In case you didn't know, organization is one of my favorite things. I love watching shows like the Home Edit or other shows that show "Before" and "Afters" of a newly cleaned space. My dream is to have a house like that! It doesn't have to be fancy--just have a home for everything and be neat.
I've actually even taken organizational classes to be a professional organizer--but have yet to complete my course. Maybe someday...
But for now, here are my tips for how to organize your fabric stash, the Midlife Quilter way!
When it comes to my own fabric stash, I have found it is so helpful to keep it organized because I'm less likely to buy fabric I don't need.
When I used to keep all my fabric in large bins, I found that I would order something only to find it a few weeks later at the bottom of the bin. That was always a bummer!
I also quickly figured out that if I didn't arrange my fabrics a certain way, the mess quickly returned when I was digging through my giant bins.
So here are some tips I have found that will help you organize your fabrics and help them stay that way! When your stash is organized, not only are you happier, it means saving money AND curating a quilt SO much easier.
My number #1 rule is: File, don't pile
If you are folding your fabrics neatly and then putting them in the bin in stacks, you are inviting making a mess any time you dig. (Ask me how I know!) Instead, I fold the fabrics and then stand them upright in the bin, one behind the other, like little files.
This means I can easily see all the fabrics in the bin at once AND means I can remove the fabric without disrupting all the fabrics when I do.
This alone will help you from losing track of fabrics and keep them more organized!
My second rule is: Use smaller bins versus really giant bins.
I know this might seem counterintuitive--why spend MORE on bins? But smaller bins allows you to break down your fabric into categories. Think of it as your little fabric library. Isn't it easier to find a book in a library thanks to the Dewey Decimal system? Imagine if you had to find a book and there were zero categories. It would be a feat every time.
I like to sort my fabrics by color (as shown above), but also by use. That's why my labels have broad categories like backing and binding.
Keeping your fabrics separated by use means you won't accidentally use them. For example, I really love stripes and plaids for binding. So I will keep 5/8 yard cuts in my binding bin. If I end up using it for a top, it makes me aware that I may have to replace that fabric eventually. And since even large quilts rarely use more than 5/8 yard cuts, I also always know I have enough. That's a win-win!
I also like to separate by color.
I highly recommend sorting by color because you can quickly see if you have the right fabric for the quilt you want to make.
For example, if I have a bundle that I know will need 3 pinks, I can quickly see what I have available before I purchase anything else. It could be that I have the perfect shades already. Or it lets me know that I actually do need to order more.
I always recommend to have a little bit of every color--especially if you make quilts for others. Even though you might hate orange, chances are you will end up making a quilt for someone who loves orange. So I try to pick up fabrics on sale just to have a well-rounded stash.
When I was organizing my own stash recently, I realized I must really like golden brown colors. I had so many more than I thought! But its helpful because now I know that's a color I don't need to buy any more of for a while. lol. Sorry earth tones--you will need to wait until I use these up!
If you are a newer quilter, you may be asking yourself: I don't have a big stash, should I still sort my fabrics? And my answer to that is: YES!
My labels include ones that are broad categories like: Low Volumes, Solids, etc. This way, if your fabric stash can fit in a 3-4 bins, you can still keep things sorted for bundle building. So for example, you can create one bin for your solid fabrics, and you can just arrange them by color in the one bin. This is a great solution if you are still building your stash.
Remember: the point of your stash is to use it for making your quilts. You want to be able to easily pull fabric for a quilt with minimal stress or expense. I have written a series about what fabrics you need to have to easily create an expert fabric pull. You can begin reading the series here.
It's a great tool to help you know that you are getting optimum usage out of all those pretty fabrics you are buying. I never want anyone to go through what I did in the beginning--where I would buy fabric after fabric and nothing ever coordinated. So I've dedicated myself to supplying fabrics for your stash, but also to help you know you are purchasing wisely.
I hope these two easy tips get you inspired to organize your stash. And don't forget I have your labels ready to go here! These labels can be printed on cardstock or you can print them on label paper. These are designed to print on Avery 94237 paper if you would prefer to stick them on.
Oh and in case you are wondering, I purchased my white bins at Target! But I also love Ikea and the Container Store for bins.
Just remember: file your fabrics and break up your fabrics into categories (and bins!) that will make it easier to see your stash.
Again, being able to see what you have and how much of it--it will save you money in the long run. And that means using your fabric money smarter!
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Until next time, happy organizing and quilting!