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Thread: Organizing hundreds of 4,5 inch patchwork squares

  1. #1
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    Question Organizing hundreds of 4,5 inch patchwork squares

    Hi everyone!

    I've researched "organize" in all the threads and came up with dozens of mentions of organizing fat quarters and fabric rolls and scraps but I'm specifically looking for how to organize my squares.

    I have hundreds of them in about 40 patterns in a box for the time being. But they're all mixed up, and when I organize them in stacks, they take up too much space.

    Should I look for pullout plastic boxes, or a custom-built shelf? (we have a school so I have a carpenter on hand)

    I want to organize them by color. I have reds, pinks, blues, greens, and neutrals.

    here is a picture of my squares for the moment. I feel so disorganized. If that has been answered before, please forgive me and I'd love the link to the previous forum post.

    Here is a picture of my squares in their crappy box:

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    Thanks!!

    Vandamme.

  2. #2
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    Since I've been here, I've cut hundreds of scraps into 8" to 5" squares. I have literally 1000's of squares now. I don't have them sorted by color (yet). I have them sorted by sizes and I found that plastic boxes of my answer. I have 2 old 3 -shelve bookshelves in my sewing room and have 3-4 of the boxes for each size square. It's not perfect...nothing is outside of God, but it is working for me.

    Before I started cutting the squares, I had the scraps crammed into a couple of dozen cardboard boxes, large totes, and plastic bins. Now I am down to 4 large piles. I am not a very organized person, but I'm getting there.

  3. #3
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    I keep my charm squares in plastic containers - they're tall and vertical with a lid and are intended for food storage. I also use the plastic containers that my dishwasher tablets come in. I think that cd/dvd storage cases would work if you want to stack the squares on end - I've seen them really cheap at thrift stores.
    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vandamme View Post
    I have hundreds of them in about 40 patterns in a box for the time being. But they're all mixed up, and when I organize them in stacks, they take up too much space.
    Here is how much space they take when I lay them out. I have about ten patterns missing from this photo. But it's a real headache to have them stacked up and ready for production as I'm making dozens of cushions and want to pull from the stacks as I design.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SillySusan View Post
    I found that plastic boxes of my answer.
    Thanks SillySusan, I'll look into plastic boxes. We don't have great amounts of choice here (in Congo) but I'll see whats available.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtsyOne View Post
    I keep my charm squares in plastic containers - they're tall and vertical with a lid and are intended for food storage. I also use the plastic containers that my dishwasher tablets come in. I think that cd/dvd storage cases would work if you want to stack the squares on end - I've seen them really cheap at thrift stores.
    Thanks for both of those options! Unfortunately we don't have thrift stores here, but I'll look in the market and see if there are shelves like the ones you talk about.

  7. #7
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    sandwich size ziplock plastic bags might work for holding each pattern - and then the bags could be stored in boxes.

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    I think ziplock bags are the answer to so many storage problems in the sewing room and this is certainly one of those things. Bags of each print or type is the start. Then, you can organize the bags in groups you plan to use and have flexibility to change your mind on a whim.

  9. #9
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    Your squares are so colorful!
    Retired teacher, loving it.
    Love quilting also.

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    Ziplock type bags sounds the most practical way for you right now, in my thinking. Your pillow covers are so busy with pattern, even just reach into box and take whatever wouldn't make much difference......have you condidered adding solids occasionally?
    Oh, tell us about the Congo!! Why are you there, how long, doing what, etc.......

  11. #11
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    sounds like you want to keep the individual patterns separate and stored in a manner where you can easily choose the exact fabric. If you do have a carpenter at your disposal, I think I would have a bookshelf made. I would make it about 6" deep, so 1 square would fit but there is a bit of room so the stack doesn't fall off when you select a patch from the stack. I would make the shelves about 6"-7" apart. You want enough space to get your hand in there. I'd cut up some of your cardboard boxes & mock up the sizes to see how it would work.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
    sandwich size ziplock plastic bags might work for holding each pattern - and then the bags could be stored in boxes.
    Genius!!!!!!!!!! Thats what I'm going to do!!!!

    Thank.You.So.Much!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 06-19-2018 at 11:23 AM. Reason: remove shouting/all caps

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    sounds like you want to keep the individual patterns separate and stored in a manner where you can easily choose the exact fabric. If you do have a carpenter at your disposal, I think I would have a bookshelf made. I would make it about 6" deep, so 1 square would fit but there is a bit of room so the stack doesn't fall off when you select a patch from the stack. I would make the shelves about 6"-7" apart. You want enough space to get your hand in there. I'd cut up some of your cardboard boxes & mock up the sizes to see how it would work.
    I might do a combination of your idea and @bearisgray's idea because...um...we have bugs in Congo and I couldn't leave the squares unattended. Unless they were in an airconditioned room, moths will find a way. Thank you for the dimensions!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Homespun View Post
    Your squares are so colorful!
    Thank you!! I need pops of color. My business model is to bring joy into every home with an explosion of African Wax print patchwork cushion! I'll post pictures when my product is finalized. I'm working with two tailors right now, one of whom is teaching me how to sew.

    it's HARD to sew straight!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geri B View Post
    Ziplock type bags sounds the most practical way for you right now, in my thinking. Your pillow covers are so busy with pattern, even just reach into box and take whatever wouldn't make much difference......have you condidered adding solids occasionally?
    Oh, tell us about the Congo!! Why are you there, how long, doing what, etc.......
    I really hadn't thought of adding solids! You think it would look good?

    It's my first foray into patchworking.

    Congo is the love of my life. I'm 40 and my parents moved here when I was 4, so it's all I've ever known except for studies and stints that were pretty miserable in both France and the US. The people were never as warm and funny and the weather was never as good and I was never as happy as when I was in Congo so five years ago I moved back permanently.

    My parents for the last 25 years have had a private school and I love working in education instead of oil, which is the only industry here. It's sick. So much money and corruption, and so many vices going along with it. I'm so shielded from all that dark stuff because I"m around kids all day.

    I speak the language, Munukutuba, which is beautiful and sounds singsongy, no hard consonants, no r's just works like maboko (hand) nguba (peanut) mankondi (banana) ndeke (bird) yimbwa (dog) niao (cat) which is basically an onomatopeia of meow! Lol.

    I take pictures:

    https://www.instagram.com/congostylephotography/

    That's about it!

    BIG HUGS TO YOU ALL!!!!!

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    I have my I Spy squares sorted by size or theme in bags - and the bags are in a larger plastic tote. It's easier to sort through 50 pieces than to sort through 500!

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.Elizabeth View Post
    Thank you!

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    I am not sure but maybe pin them onto a cork board? I would also love to see a picture of the quilt that is on the wall. all I can see are the appliqued feet but my interest is peaked. LOL
    Anna Quilts

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    Great photos.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Annaquilts View Post
    I am not sure but maybe pin them onto a cork board? I would also love to see a picture of the quilt that is on the wall. all I can see are the appliqued feet but my interest is peaked. LOL
    Nice suggestion @Annaquilts! I have saved one patchwork square (is that the correct term?) of every fabric I've ever bought since I started buying fabrics a couple of months ago, and I want to make a "Memory Quilt" or some other type of ongoing art to remember all the fabrics. I think I might install a turquoise-painted corkboard on one of my room walls, and pin the squares to it one by one.

    Here are some pictures of that quilt on the wall. It was made by South African women, my father bought for me as a gift for my first semester in college, 23 years ago. If my memory serves me right, it was made by women suffering from HIV/AIDS as a part of an NGO's project to provide them with income. It's one of my most tresured possessions and has followed me the last 23 years in every country I've lived in on three continents:

    The quilt was made by a woman named M. Mapuranga (I think, or Mapurango)

    And the captions (in the handwritten note photographed, which is folded and tucked into the quilt block marked ** where the woman is pounding) read:

    Work by Women:

    1. They are carrying sack of maize
    2. They are claypots
    3. She is doing the washing
    4. They are baskets on their heads
    5. She is drying the clothes
    6. They are carrying fire-wood
    7. She is pounding **
    8. They going for a walk
    9. They are approaching



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  22. #22
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    I would treasure that quilt of women for a lifetime, too. What a work of art! Thanks for sharing a photo of it.

  23. #23
    Super Member Gannyrosie's Avatar
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    Yes, you may need to just use ziplocks, if available, due to also the climate if humid you definitely want to keep them air tight.

    What a wonderful quilt that represents the daily task of women there, and some women here complain if they have to take out the garbage. Their art is very similar to some of the primitive folk art we see here in Louisiana. Our however is always painted, Beautiful work.
    Best of luck on your organization.

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    Sorting those squares would be a good sorting project for kids.

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    Thank you for sharing your quilt.

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