My New Years Resolution was to clean up all the piles of fabric that I had in my studio and storage closet. Like many of you I have a large stash of fabric and I was beginning to lose control of it. My issues were many…….
- The piles were toppling over
- I feared the folds were making permanent creases in my fabric (like in the photo below)
- I didn’t know how many yards I had of each, or if it was 45″ wide or 60″ wide
- I wasn’t sure of the fabric content
- I couldn’t remember where I bought it, or who the designer of the fabric was, or how much I paid for it
- The folded edge of the fabric which was exposed to the light and dust would fade over time, leaving a discoloration in the fabric
So after much consideration I came up with the following solution: I decided to roll EACH individual fabric onto a cardboard fabric tube and catalogue each one as I went along. This is how I did it.
The first challenge was to find enough cardboard tubes. I counted how many fabric pieces were in my piles and I had at least 30. I decided to visit my local Calico Corners (a home fabric supply chain). They couldn’t have been happier to ‘get rid of’ a pile of tubes that were laying about. Although I realize that not everyone has a Calico Corners nearby, other suggestions would be to visit the local Joanne Fabric store or upholstery workrooms in your area. You can also check on eBay or post a ‘wanted’ add on Craigslist.
If all else fails it is possible to buy the cardboard tubes. Check out Uline or Browncor or Papermart online. It is best to order 58″-60″ tubes as even the narrower fabrics will work on these. (If your fabric is slightly wider than 60″ it still works too.)
Before you begin rolling each piece of fabric make sure to measure the yardage (length) and mark it down.
Begin rolling the fabric onto the tubes, smoothing the fabric gently from the center to the ends as you go, every turn or so. I found it easiest to begin rolling by tucking an inch of fabric under the tube on the first turn as shown in the photo below.
I cut a swatch of the fabric once the fabric was completely rolled up onto the tube. This will be used to catalogue the fabric. Be sure to cut a swatch large enough so that you can really tell if a fabric will work for a project by feeling it. If the swatch is too small this will be difficult later.
To keep the fabric tight to the tube after rolling it I wrapped strips of printer paper cut lengthwise around the fabric in three or four places along the length of the tube. I taped the strips together where the ends met. This is better than using a rubber band that could leave indentations in your fabric, or pins that could tear your fabric, or tape that leaves a gooey residue after a while.
I designed a template for a printable FABRIC STASH ORGANIZER to help me catalogue my fabrics. Sign up for our newsletter and an email with the link to this pdf template will be sent to your inbox. I printed it out onto 8 1/2″ x 11″ soft gloss photo paper. It can be printed onto any 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper or card stock. A fine tip Sharpie marker writes well on the photo paper.
This is how the rolls looked as I was working. I measured the length before rolling the fabric onto the tube and recorded this onto the FABRIC STASH ORGANIZER. I also found some receipts that helped me figure out how much I paid for some of the fabric and where I might have bought it.
I plan to print several sheets of the FABRIC STASH ORGANIZER on regular printer paper and keep them folded up in the pocket of my handbag. When I am out shopping for fabric I will be sure to mark down all the details of the fabric including the price, content, where it was purchased from, etc. When I get home I will roll the fabric onto a fresh bolt, cut a swatch, and fill out a FABRIC STASH ORGANIZER.
The last step of this process is to TAG the fabrics and assign a number to each fabric. Thus when I am going through the swatches on the FABRIC STASH ORGANIZER I can decide which fabric is appropriate for my project and easily identify it from underneath my cutting table. I used key tags that I bought at our local box stationary store. I randomly assigned a number to the fabric, and then wrote this number onto the key tag as well as on the top of the FABRIC ORGANIZER CARD. Just be sure not to repeat the numbers over again. You can keep track of this on a separate piece of paper.
I pinned a key tag to the fabric at the end of the bolt so it is easily visible.
So there you have it. Now I can peruse my file box of FABRIC STASH ORGANIZERS for inspiration for my next project. I can check the yardages against the pattern to make sure I will have enough. If I have a pattern in mind when I buy the fabric I can make note of this on the card to remind me. I can easily identify which fabric bolt I should pull out and I am ready to cut and sew.
When I use up a fabric bolt, I will ‘reassign’ the number to a new fabric as I add to my stash.
This technique has saved me a lot of frustration and confusion already and it has only been a few weeks. I believe this is an organizational system that is easy to maintain as well.
If you are interested in the printable FABRIC STASH ORGANIZER just sign up for our newsletter and a link will be sent directly to your inbox.