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Topic: Help! I have tons of fabric to organize. But How???  (Read 1976 times)
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timecrafter
« on: March 04, 2012 06:41:43 PM »

I am a fabric junky. I put most of my belongings in storage, but rented a Uhaul for my fabric and moved across the USA when I moved in with my (now) husband. That's how much I love my fabric.  You know those plastic storage totes from Walmart (15"x 18"x24")--well, I have 24 of them stuffed with fabric: Fur, Plastic, vinyl, knits, lace, sheers, sequins, satins, tons of decorator fabrics, you name it, I have some. 

So, here is my problem: The totes are currently stacked in my very teeny craft room and are hard to get to. Also, the containers are not clear, so I cannot see thru them. Even if I could, they are stuffed willy-nilly with no rhyme or reason as to organization.  Some fabrics I have yards and yards of, and others, I have just small pieces. When I go to search for just the right fabric, I end up pulling out huge piles of fabric onto the floor, and cleaning up and putting away mountains of fabric is an exhausting task lol. 

HOW do I organize this?? I've seen cute little "fabric stashes" organized in various ways online, however, none of the organizational posts tackle the problem of HUGE amounts of fabric. There is no way I can "file" my mega-fabric in a file cabinet, or keep them tied up in fabric rolls in a cute little basket...Any suggestions from people with serious mounds of fabric? Undecided
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sparksfly
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2012 07:08:40 PM »

I don't need to organize my fabric as I'm just starting out but what about putting it by either color or type[sequin, sparkle, fur ect.]. Then taking a picture upclose of the pattern and creating a little like table that has a picture of the fabric and then a description of the fabric.

You could then put it in a page protector and like have it hang off the box or tape it to the box so you can see it?

Also you could try and line the fabric up in the box so you can fit as many as possible maybe fold it into a square and stand it up on one side. If you do that you could have the fabric pictures and descriptions in the order the fabric is in the box so you can easily find exactly what you want.

Or if you have to do layers try making the table so it lists everything from bottom to top and maybe make a column of fabrics so if your looking for a fabric at the bottom of the box but the 1st column then you only have to remove the 1st column to get to it instead of taking the whole box apart.

Hope this made sense!
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LoriS.
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2012 07:26:35 AM »

It's been a while since I've been on this forum. I hope it's okay to post this pic.



Do you see the clear totes on the shelves? They approximately 12x14x15. I used to have most of my fabric in 18 gallon not see through totes like you are describing and I could never find what I wanted. Then I started to do a photographic index so I could "shop" my fabric on my computer. I took a picture of each fabric with a number tag (number written on scrap paper) sitting on top of the fabric. And then I had a word file organized by number that gave fabric description, quantity etc. So I could shop my stash either by pictures or by numbers. Eventually I was going to make a seperate list organized by types of fabric. I also wrote down what tote each fabric was in. While doing this I realized moving those heavy totes around in a cramped environment just wasn't working. So I decided to get the smaller totes and divide the entire stash by color. I do still plan to go back and do the photographic inventory at some point but for now fabric is sure a lot more accessible and organized. Good luck.

Edited to add.. After I looked at my post I noticed that some of the 18gal totes are in the pic so you can see the difference. Also this was a work in progress photo All the shelves are full, and there are more around to the side the entire length of another basement wall. I think I started with like 50! 18 gal totes
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012 07:29:38 AM by LoriS. » THIS ROCKS   Logged
ChrisSews
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2012 02:46:20 PM »

You can roll the fabric and put the rolls upright in the tote.  That way you can see all the material and pull it out without having to pull all the other fabric out.  Like this....



I tend to roll larger pieces of fabric.  If I have less than a yard then I fold it (or I have lots wrapped as mini bolts on my shelves) but keep it separate.  That way if I'm making a larger project I don't have to sort through piles of small pieces.  You could also do mini bolts and then place them in the totes.  Really small scraps  get tossed into a shoebox. 

I like to organize my fabric according to its use.  So I have one tote for fleece, another for wool and felt, an area for garment fabric separated into bottom weight and shirt weight, quilting cotton shelved in mini bolts, etc.  Then I sub-sort according to color.  Label the totes (on the end or sides) so you know what kind of fabric is in each.  If you want to be really organized you can make lists, photos, swatches, etc of what's in each tote as other have suggested. 
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Craftsunderground
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2012 04:13:03 PM »

If you want to see the most amazing system for organizing a ton of fabric, check this out:
 http://thedomesticdiva.wordpress.com/2007/06/30/sewing-room-organization-challenge-part-i-fabric/

she organized mountains fabric, then ribbons and trims. You have to see it to believe it.
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012 07:11:17 AM »

I also have a massive amount of fabric.  I find it easiest to keep it organized by type and then by color within that catergory.  So for example I have totes that are just quilter's cotton.  Within those totes all the reds and pinks are together, all the yellows, all the oranges, etc.  I also have a scrap bin that that is all the small scraps that come in handy making dolls or doll clothes or scrap quilts.  I taped plastic page protectors to the outside of the totes and slide paper with the type and colors of fabric inside.
As I pull fabric for a project I put it into one of my "project bins" with all the necessary directions, patterns etc.  That way I only have 5 or 6 projects going at once.  I have to finish a project to free up a bin for a new one.
I organze trims a little differently.  I have an old cabinet that I mounted tension curtain rods in.  I wrap each ribbon on old thread spools and slide them onto the rods.  That way I can see them all and measure lengths off easily.

HTH!
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mandys_momma
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2012 04:40:19 AM »

Wow, there are some good ideas in that link!
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ADDCrafting
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2012 11:07:34 PM »

I'm lucky enough that my fabric is in clear bins, but I also keep them all organized by fabric type. I still have a small stash (only 5 of the totes like LoriS uses), but since I do projects by fabric type first, it makes things easier. Think about what your first criteria is for a fabric choice. If you start most projects with, "this should be a specific color, but I'm not sure what kind of material I want to use," organizing everything by color might work better. I also have labels on all the bins (the sticky ones like from Avery label makers) so I never forget what's in them. I have a separate cardboard box full of scraps, and that's all that goes in it.

Within my totes, I also have some fabric in ziplocs. For example, I have one bin devoted to cottons, but I inherited a bunch of small cuts of Christmas themed quilting cotton. They all got folded up and stuck into a one gallon ziploc bag or two and labelled with permanent marker. I have a few other bags in the same bin with fabrics of various themes and for various projects. They're easy to grab out of the tote because I keep them right on top. (I tend to organize with biggest cuts on the bottom and smallest cuts on the top of the tote.)

And all of my fabric (other than scraps) goes in FOLDED. Now, I'm fond of the rolling it up idea, but folding was easier for me. And I tell myself that if I pull it out, I have to fold it back up and put it back neatly. So far, so good!

Personally, I'm hoping that I'll eventually be able to switch to more of a drawer system. I totally agree that hauling those totes out in a small space is a serious pain. I've got a bunch of other craft supplies in drawers that are much too small for the fabric stash, and I definitely appreciate the ease.
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« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2012 11:18:08 PM »

isnt this the most awful problem to have!?! its been a pain in my tail as well. I dont often sew with much other than regular cotton/quilting fabrics etc so I have semi clear medium size tubs (10h x 16w x 10L) that i keep my fabrics in on a wire shelf above my sewing table. i have them folded in there and grouped by color. i dont have tons, so i have a red/pink/orange/yellow box; blue green brown purple; white black neutrals; and then a few others with random stuff like one whole box of flannels, and one of assorted holiday prints. hope you find a system that works great for you so you can get back to creating!
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CarolL
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2012 10:35:03 AM »

 Grin
I find the color coded system works for me...and is pleasant to the eye as well.....
I have a wooden shelve in the room...with my favorite pieces and ones that I intend to use soon ...then in the closet is more shelving seperated with solids in colors...and textures...laces etc.  What is a sewing room if you can't see some of the goodies ? Grin

Carol
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