5 simple ways to organize fabric (that you can implement today 👍)

Fabric organizationDo you suffer from SABLE syndrome (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy)? If you do, you’ve come to the right place! To us, SABLE seems not so much a syndrome—it’s more of a sign. A GOOD sign that you’re a dedicated quilter who always has piles of muses at the ready. After all, when it comes to fabric, the more the merrier!

Even if you’re new to stash building, it helps to keep your fabrics corralled so you can easily find what you want, when you want. So today we’re sharing a few easy-to-implement ideas for organizing fabric—because when you’ve got a system to help you keep track of all your treasures, you’ll be ready to sew whenever inspiration strikes!

  1.  Fold, fold, fold. When you fold your fabrics to a uniform size, they’re easier to stack (and prettier to look at). Follow these steps:• Use a 6″- or 8″-wide acrylic rotary-cutting ruler to wrap fabric around until the piece is fully folded around the ruler.

    • Slide the ruler out of the fabric until the folded piece measures to the uniform size you want (in this example, the fabric is folded to form a 5″ rectangle). Fold the fabric onto itself with the ruler still in place. The ruler’s edge will create a crisp fold.

    • Remove the ruler and fold the fabric onto itself, keeping the size of the fabric folds at 5″ (or whatever size you desire).

    Stack folded fabrics on a shelf, or stack them vertically in a basket or bin with the fold in the fabric facing front. And speaking of bins and baskets . . .

  1. Bins, baskets, and boxes, oh my! Containers of all sorts come in handy when organizing your stash, especially if you don’t have much room to spare. Matching containers are nice, but if the cost of buying several at a time is holding you back, take a look around the house—any container will do. From there you can organize fabric by color, size, style, or type of precut. Think about how you select fabrics for a quilt to determine which categories will work best for you. Whether you stack your containers in a closet, slide them under the bed, or place them on shelves in your sewing room, seeing your stash at a glance makes it easy to start a new project.
  1. A “shoe”-in for fat quarters. Amassed a LOT of single fat-quarter cuts over time? Kim Diehl’s clever idea for storing them is perfect—use an over-the-door shoe holder! Rolling or folding fat quarters uniformly will give your stash a tidy look.

Fat-quarter storage ideas
From Kim’s book
Simple Appeal

  1. Scrap-happy solution. Because scraps tend to be small and oddly shaped, they can get lost in a shuffle of yardage or precuts. But sort them by color and put them in see-through glass jars? They become so pretty, you’ll want to put them on display.

organizing fabric scraps

  1. Why organize when you can decorate? No need to hide away every fabric in a bin or basket—instead, turn your favorite cuts into a display you’ll love to show off. We adore what Sunday Best Quilts coauthor Sherri McConnell calls her “library stack” approach:

Sew pretty, right? See Sherri’s blog post about how she organizes her sewing room

Fear you’ll forget which fabrics go where? These handy printable stash labels are just what you need to bring order to cloth chaos. Print the labels on adhesive-backed sheets and press them onto shelves or containers (they’re compatible with the Avery 8161 label template). Or simply print, cut apart, and tape in place.

Free printable fabric-stash labels
Download your free printable stash labels now

Now that you’ve got a fabric-storing plan, you’ll need some fabric-busting quilt patterns! Get a peek inside the books below by clicking on a cover:

Stashtastic! Oh, Scrap! The Big Book of Fat-Quarter Quilts
Stash Statement Scrap-Basket Strips and Squares Stash Lab

Your stash: nice and neat or a beautiful mess? Tell us in the comments!

42 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Both! I do have a system of color coding. However, I have piles that have yet to make it to the color coded container. Someday! It’s on my list.

    —Eilene Hengen on September 9, 2019
  • a beautiful mess but on it’s way to being organized!

    —Amy Cofer on September 9, 2019
  • Some is sorted and neat and some is not. Have a huge stash.

    —Peggy on September 9, 2019
  • My stash is overwhelming – folded stacked by color in cabinets; fat quarters folded in basket-drawers; kids’ fabrics, Asians, batiks and specialty mouse fabrics in bins. Then you have my scraps sorted by size and/or color depending on the mood when I sorted them. Sort of organized chaos to be truthful – definitely sable. Oh, my jelly rolls are displayed for show so I can find them easily. As for charm squares and layer cakes – they have their own containers – too many but so irresistible.

    —Joy B on September 9, 2019
  • Yes, some folded, some not! Fq separate! But still too many piles! Can’t use enough, FAST enough!

    —Connie on September 9, 2019
  • I would have to say a beautiful mess! I try to organize, and then one scrappy project later….as I have gone through and looked for that perfect piece of fabric….it is a mess!!!

    —Patty F. on September 9, 2019
  • My stash is stored in our old TV cabinet and other pieces we picked up at auctions: a chest of drawers with matching dresser, two small stand-alone cabinets, and the best of all — a card cabinet (similar to a library card cabinet). I can find whatever I need very quickly. I am fortunate, indeed!

    —KateinIowa on September 9, 2019
  • Most are nice & neat though I do have some that are strays.

    —Patricia Anderson on September 9, 2019
  • My stash is both organized and beautiful mess! Like many others, some has not made it to the organized place it belongs. And then of course, while collecting from the stash for the next project, parts do not make it into the project or back to its organized place!

    —Marilynn on September 9, 2019
  • I keep my stash organized by color and category. Where I get in trouble is when I add to my stash, getting it to fit in my existing plastic storage bins. Periodically I have to go through and expand all my categories. I guess I am not quilting fast enough to keep up with all my fabric. I should do something about that.

    —Ann West on September 9, 2019
  • WARNING! Leaving fabric out in any room with windows will render it susceptible to sun-fade. (Ask me how I know this!). These are lovely and clever ways to store fabric – especially the clear shoe holder, but I would make certain it’s on the inside of the closet door, again protecting it from those pesky UV rays!

    Great tip to remember, Barbara, thanks for sharing it here! –Jenny

    —Barbara Dillingham Moore on September 9, 2019
  • Definitely a beautiful mess! But I love your ideas for organizing, and will put them to good use as I organize my sewing room (my perpetual to-do)! Thanks for the good ideas!!

    —Sheri on September 9, 2019
  • Well….It was nice and neat until we had medical traumas in the home, and now it’s sort of half and half

    —Geri on September 9, 2019
  • I had a beautiful organized in baskets, wired baskets, totes, plastic containers. Then the granddaughters have discovered the joy of nana’s colorful fabric strips. I love their joy but….

    —carol on September 9, 2019
  • Nice and neat.

    —Rose Marie on September 9, 2019
  • Yes! I’ve folded my fabric already from a tip I got from another quilter. And sorted by color. I still have some to do that I’ve purchased since I did that. I buy remnants at half price from my local fabric store with the intention of making a scrap quilt. I’m out of room! Need to get busy with that scrap quilt.

    —Judith Carlon on September 9, 2019
  • Most of the stash is organized in non-seeing storage bins and the others are a beautiful mess.

    —Denise V on September 9, 2019
  • Mine is a combination of both. My yardage is organized by color, & all folded the same size, on a huge rack. Then, there kits & precuts that I keep in bins. They aren’t as easy to see when I’m looking for something. I always say I’m going to organize better, but then I sew instead. I can’t seem to do both.

    —Susan L. on September 9, 2019
  • Both – Most of my yardage is separated by color and/or style. Most of my scraps are by color in 27 shoe boxes. But then there are the 2 bags and a basket full of scraps that are not separated because there is no room in the shoe boxes. And the in process piles where there is no organization. Better get to work!

    —Linda Lee Ahn on September 9, 2019
  • Thanks for some great organizational tios & the free printables!

    You are very welcome, Barb – glad you find them useful! –Jenny

    —MS Barb on September 9, 2019
  • Great article – i got some new tips. Thanks for the printable labels . They will get used! I already own all but one of the books you showed!

    It makes our day to hear that, Carina – thank you for putting a smile on our faces today! –Jenny

    Carina z on September 9, 2019
  • I discovered ruler folding at least 10 years ago, I have a large shelving unit that contains the solids and reads as solid sorted by color. The prints are stored in bins in the garage — largely organized by type. My scraps are in real need of attention, but I haven’t had the energy. The problem is I find that organization seldom lasts past my next sewing project since I drag everything out in the colors and prints I want to work with – sigh. Then I have to re-organize. A never ending story….

    —Tess on September 9, 2019
  • I’m a mess. I know I need to organize, but then I pull out stuff for my next project. I need to live to be 200. That would be if I quit buying today. will that happen? NO. So many bargains.

    —Stephanie Woodward on September 9, 2019
  • My scraps and fabric are definitely a beautiful mess.. my sewing building still isn’t finished so everything is still in totes and some in shelves folded all sizes, not so pretty to look at. Thank you for labels I will use these.

    —Debra Ingle on September 10, 2019
  • Some of my stash is organized nice and neat by color, others are random in a stack. I keep saying I’m going to organize better but go onto an new project instead. This is an inspiration to get organized.

    —Donna K on September 10, 2019
  • My Mom and I each have some fabrics that we each have chosen for ourselves and some that is a share stash. Right now we are a beautiful mess and attempting to sort things out. Thanks for the suggestion on how to fold our fabrics so that we can have a neater appearance that looks much prettier than what we have now. The categories the labels you included will provide some guidance and will be used.

    —Judith Campo on September 10, 2019
  • Mostly nice and neat – except for the parts that are overflowing.

    —Sheila Beins on September 11, 2019
  • A lateral file cabinet is perfect for storing fabric. Just open up the shelves while sewing, close them when done to protect the fabric from light. Try Good Will or Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore; I’ve bought them for ridiculously low prices.

    Brenda on September 12, 2019
  • Hi,mostly neat, as I tidy up after each project!Thanks for a Great Giveaway!

    —Linda Douglas on September 12, 2019
  • I have 3 cupboards with doors of fabric organized by color, 3 current projects sorted in bins and the rest is an uncontrolled mess!

    —Cheri Bergeron on September 13, 2019
  • I have an Expedit from IKEA and found stackable bins that fit 2 to a cubby so most of my fabric is folded to fit into the bins. The larger pieces are folded and stored in larger bins under my cutting table. But I do suffer from SABLE!

    —debby on September 13, 2019
  • A little bit of both. I have tall IKEA CD shelf that has folded fabric in it and a number of bins scattered around my sewing space. One day it will be organized…… or so I keep telling myself…. 😁

    —Maria on September 13, 2019
  • Most of my fabric is sited on comic strip birds, and the pre-cuts are stored on the same shelf, but my scraps are a disaster! Jadahlgr at yahoo dot com

    —Cindy Dahlgren on September 13, 2019
  • I have what I gather is a fairly small stash … 2 or 3 totes of yardage and 8-10 plastic containers (that contained mixed greens from the grocery store) of fat quarters. They’re organized by what project I hope to eventually do with them … Thanks for the tips!

    —bookboxer on September 13, 2019
  • Both, some areas very organized then plenty areas of works in progress that are definitely a beautiful mess!

    —Julie Brack on September 13, 2019
  • I use the 24″ ruler for yard or more, but small than that I find the more it is folded the more I get to press.

    —Christianson on September 13, 2019
  • Most of my stash is pretty well organized by color or type, such as baby or Christmas. But my string and strip bins are a mess of color and sizes.

    —DunlapQuilter on September 13, 2019
  • My sewing room looks like a pack rat’s home away from home, with my big old fat cat curled up in the middle of a couple of pieces from my SABLE. My sister "loaned" me the cat to keep each other company, and I can’t see her ever being away from me. However, when I want to fold laundry or find a piece of fabric to cut out and sew, you’ll never guess where her new sleeping quarters have moved to. That’s right. My sewing room is in total chaos. My sister tells me to just shoo her away from "my" table, but then she won’t even look at me for a couple of days. I guess I’ll just have to bite the loneliness bullet and take back the table, but it’s not because I want to. It’s more a case of need.

    —Cheryl on September 13, 2019
  • a beautiful mess of color – I know where pieces are but really should organize but that takes time from creating

    —LizAnn Lizotte on September 14, 2019
  • Both! My stash is contained in totes beneath the guest bed, 3 sets of dresser drawers, and a variety of boxes. Plus a bunch of plastic bags. Looks nice on the outside, but inside: CHAOS!

    —Linda Towers on September 14, 2019
  • Yes, I color code and do put them in special piles of ’30, civil war, etc sometimes even a line of fabric that comes together leave them in as they come…..I don’t mind looking through all of it if I want a special fabric color etc It’s a release for me, makes me feel calm etc

    —bobbie rumler on September 15, 2019
  • Mine is all folded and stored neatly on my shelves, until someone comes in and messes it up. LOL

    —GwenH on September 16, 2019

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