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Thread: Overwhelmed with Fabric

  1. #1
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    Overwhelmed with Fabric

    Hi Everyone,

    I must preface this with I am not a very good organizer of material. I have quite a bit and I tried to color code it and was not successful. I went to Home Depot and bought these shelves that are just too large because you cannot see all of the material on the self. I need to know two things:
    I would like to know a good storage system to buy for fabric and also how to best color code the fabric.

    I am giving away a lot of fabric that I have cut off to the GoodWill. I know someone will enjoy the scaps and make a wonderful quit. I have started another barrel of scrapes that I will use myself. I do not want my fabric to dry rot so I need to use it. But I just cannot do any sewing with my room looking as it does. I have a very large den and when my family visits, we are in the den and kitchen. So, I made my living room which sits off to itself my sewing room for now. I have a sun room that I would really like to use as my sewing room but I need to get the heat going down there. So what happened is I got overwhelmed by the material and the unorganization. So right now I have begun placing all the fabric in plastic containers until I can get a way to store it so I can use it. I hope I have not confuse you all. I just need help and I know from reading many of your posts, someone can help.

    Shirley

  2. #2
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    I bought two cheap bookcases at Walmart and just put everything in them according to color in the first one and novelties and "themes" in the second, also my large stash of orange/autumn/Halloween fabrics. Christmas fabrics are stored in an antique dresser that has a chifferobe - spelled incorrectly I'm sure - on one side. The previous owner put shelves in. Batiks, strips and selveges are stored in large but not deep plastic boxes. Not ideal but it works for me. My fantasy is to buy another apartment, a studio, on our floor and put every bit of quilting equipment and fabric there. Not gonna happen.

  3. #3
    Super Member Chicca's Avatar
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    Recently we moved to Oregon. In Texas, I had my own "bedroom" for my quilting room. Everything was organized and it was fabulous. In our new home, there is a built on room that was going to be my sewing room, but we found out quickly it was extremely cold and gathered moisture easily. So my sewing machines have been moved into a corner of the living room. My quilting tools and materials are in various sections of the house. It is really rather depressing, but I am getting used to it. I emptied some cheap shelves and have began to refold my fabrics to fit the space. Trying to keep to a color coding system; plus using drawers in dressers and the bathroom closet. It is frustrating, but I also realize that it will all work out in the long run. Just taking time to get used to it. So you are not alone, but each one of us has to decide what works best for us. Remember to not get overwhelmed and have fun while sorting and figuring out storage. It will make this effort so worth it in the long run.
    Brenda

  4. #4
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    You might consider posting this on the Mission: Organization board; I've seen some amazing setups over there!

  5. #5
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    I also store mine on book shelves. Works well for me. I store by colors. Let me take a few pictures, in case they help. You can tell that I prefer blue and purple. My scraps are in the garage in an old dresser. So far I have just been putting my scraps there, to be used later. I have only been quilting 3 years, so I don't have too many scraps.

    Dina
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  6. #6
    Super Member Sierra's Avatar
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    You know that you don't want deep shelves, but since you already have some you might want to use them for you larger fabric pieces that, when folded, will still show from the front. I strongly suggest you put a curtain or some covering over the front to make sure they don't get damaged by dust or sunlight. You can do this by thumb tacking or by using a metal curtain rod (I'd put the place for the rod down a bit and thumb tack the top extra fabric down on the very top of the shelves to keep out dust; you can still use the very top for small boxes of your different tools, etc.

    A lot of stores sell series of plastic boxes, with about 4 or 5 shelves each, that have wheels which you can remove if you want to store one on top of another. I use two of these for very small pieces (less than fat quarters) and still had to resort to "very very small pieces" boxes! (I do a lot of applique.) You also can get little storage bins for your labels, clamps, paints, marking pens and pencils (and regular pencils), store bought bindings, etc. Before I bought clamps I used one for clothes pins for holding the sandwich together until it was stabilized.

    I still use large plastic bins for different kinds of batting; in my case I have a lot of smaller batting pieces for my appliques. The large pieces are wrapped in giant rolls or in plastic bags if they were pre-sized, and they go in "that part" of my sewing area so they are all together, smaller ones in a box.

    One thing that I do a bit different from most quilters is that I have a lot of cardboard boxes, about 12"W x 18"L x 8"Deep with labels on both ends (one is upside down) with shipping taped tops that I can repeatedly open and reseal (by putting tape down below where the movable tape flap (with a folded over end of about 3") will adhere); I can put these boxes upside down to help keep them closed and safe because the labels can be read both ways (of course you have to put the side out that is "right side up"). If I start putting aside fabric for a future quilt I can put it in one of these. Also, fabric to be used only for applique goes into these boxes by subject (large baby prints; small baby prints; animals; cars & trucks; butterflys & bugs... you get the idea.

    Fat quarters are an in between for me. All of my bigger fabrics are in a 4'w x 8'h x 18"deep cupboard and since it isn't "full" I have reserved a section for fat quarters. I'm (mentally) part of the challenge to use what I have, not buy new, which in reality means I only buy smaller pieces because sometimes you really need a certain color or design to fit into a quilt on which you are working.

    I have 4 of those Joann fold down white tables but you have to put idustrial size 1" square patches where the pull out leg will sit and on the top of the leg itself or they can dislodge with the movement of your machine. Also, you must put your machine in the center over the permanent 4 supports... if you put it out near a corner w/o any support, that area will start to warp down over the years (duh....). This gives me a 10 ft x 6 ft working area, or any arrangement I need. I've had these table over 10 years now and love them. They fold up and can be stored to the side with ease.

    Hope this is the sort of ideas you were looking for.
    Last edited by Sierra; 01-24-2013 at 09:47 AM.

  7. #7
    Super Member wolph33's Avatar
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    I have a lot of the inexpensive walmart book cases for fabric storage.I keep a thick curtain closed all the time-unless I am up there and want the light.if you have deeper shelves just fold so you can still see what you have and fill it up.I sometimes sort by color,sometimes by manufacturer ,my grand daughter helps me re organize all the time.good luck making it how you want it.
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  8. #8
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    Mine are in cabinets on the wall in my sewing room. I ruler fold them and stack them in the cabinets according to color. They are like pretty much stored lke Dina's except I have doors.

  9. #9
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    I bought 3 white bookshelves at Target. There is 5 adjustable shelves. I also folded my fabric onto acid free foam core board that I bought at the Dollar Tree. Excuse this picture as I took this when I was still organizing my room. It's really not that messy now!!
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    Thanks so much Mrs. Fitz. I think that would be a great idea. Thanks for your ideas

  11. #11
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    Sierra,

    You have some great ideas. Maybe I will look at those large shelves again. I did think about using one of them for the bolted materials and some of the batting. I really want to put the pieces of batting in a plastic container. The bookshelves are a great idea. I hope I can describe this. You know the metal basket shelves that you use in the closets, well I was thinking of lining one wall with them and then I can possible have enough room for fabric. I have some craft things that i want to get rid of but as soon as I do, I will need something I throw away. I have a house in the back of my house that I am fixing up to do more storage -no for fabric but for crafty notions.

    Have a great day and thanks again for your feedback.

  12. #12
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    You are so neat and it looks so good. I am just heartbroken. Thanks again for the pics they are encouraging.

  13. #13
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    When I had my fabric in bins I was not able to see what I had and I made a mess when looking for something. I used Alaskasunshine's mini bolt idea and did all my fabric on them. It is SOOOO much easier o ind what I want and my son gave me a nice wood cupboard with doors that stores it all. What a difference it makes. I think Alex Anderson at www.thequiltshow.com has her fabric in the pull out wire bins. She had a shirt video on last week? On weeding out her stash closet.

  14. #14
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    Tartan,

    Thanks for the website, I did get an idea from a Getting Organized with Jacquie video. She has the wire organizers that I want. Thanks again. I think I am going to move my sewing room to a smaller room which will make me really get organized.

    I love the large room but I want my living room back.

    Shirley

  15. #15
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    I ironed all my scraps and separated them into 4 categories: crumbs, strings, 5" squares and 2.5" strips. I keep them in 4 clear boxes. I keep my ongoing projects in the same type of boxes. Everything else is ruler folded but I don't have that much. I buy enough for specific projects plus some extra just in case I cut wrong. Works for me

  16. #16
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    i started out using shelves but soon got tired of having to dust my fabrics and rotate them to prevent sun fading.

    now i store them in stacks of plastic drawers.
    some of the stacks are on wheels but most are not.

    as for organization of the fabrics, i have not yet settled on a system that works best for me.
    i tried sorting by color but some fabrics just don't fit into any one color category.
    i tried sorting them by color within type (holiday by color; kiddie fabs by color; solids & blenders; etc.)
    that works a bit better but is still far from ideal for me.

    it's all a big mish-mash now because i've been pulling things out; moving things around; and have just generally turned it all into a neatly stored mess.

    it isn't all bad, though. because it's so haphazard, i have to hunt through everything in order to find anything. i nearly always stumble across something i forgot i had. LOL

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  17. #17
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    I find that my fabrics on my bookcases are the ones I notice the most. I have Rubbermaid clear tubs, but I don't really know what's in them. And I have four dressers that I repeatedly open because I forget all about that fabric. I have fabric boxes with lids and don't remember what's in them either. I would like to replace everything with bookcases but some of my dressers are antiques. But you can get a 70" tall bookcase compared to a 40" tall dresser. I need to save my pennies and just do it. Store my dressers! Buy four bookcases!!
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  18. #18
    Super Member nhweaver's Avatar
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    I removed the rod in one bedroom closet, and had my dh make shelves out of outside pressboard that are 36.5" apart. I have been saving the carboard centers that fabric is wrapped on in Joann's, and put my fabric (2 yards plus) onto them. I haven't separated them by colors yet. I don't like folding fabric and puting them in piles, as I always need the bottom one, and the piles get all messy. Also, do not keep your fabric in day light, it does sun bleach, even with minimal sun. If you put it on a shelf, I would make a curtain to protect. it from dust and the sunlight.

    I put all my civil war fat q, and 1/8th's and scraps, folded neatly into a large shallow tub. Smaller than 2 yards, I have wrapped them around signboard, and are in totes. Flannel, well, I put it all in a couple of large totes (on the floor in the closet). My notions are all over the place, I can never find what I need, and I buy duplicates. My sewing room will be enlarged this spring, and it will be emptied for the construction. My goal is to organize all the notions and threads.
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  19. #19
    Super Member charsuewilson's Avatar
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    I use clear plastic tubs. I have fabric basically separated by color, but a couple of categories separated out - cat, music, and Christmas fabric. I lift the lid to more closely look at the fabric. My biggest problem also is the thread. I tend to pull out what I need for a project, and then I can't find it for another project.

  20. #20
    Senior Member drgranny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
    When I had my fabric in bins I was not able to see what I had and I made a mess when looking for something. I used Alaskasunshine's mini bolt idea and did all my fabric on them. It is SOOOO much easier o ind what I want and my son gave me a nice wood cupboard with doors that stores it all. What a difference it makes. I think Alex Anderson at www.thequiltshow.com has her fabric in the pull out wire bins. She had a shirt video on last week? On weeding out her stash closet.
    I used Alaskasunshin's method and I am so much happier with my fabric. I have 7 almost 6' tall bookcases full. I stack full bolts on top. I have my windows well covered but I want to make some simple quilt panels to cover the bookcases. They have a plastic drop sheet right now. BUT.......I still have quite a few tubs. Don't have enough space for any more bookcases.

  21. #21
    Super Member paulswalia's Avatar
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    I wholeheartedly second Alaska Sunshine's ruler folding method for storing fabric. Some of my fabric is stored in stacks this way. To pull one out from the middle of the stack, put a magazine above and below the cut you want and then pull. I like the idea of the comic book boards as well, but my bookshelves are too deep to put those boards on - would waste too much room in front of them. I have used corrugated plastic boards from a local sign shop, cut to the size of a cardboard bolt from the fabric store, then fold the fabric around them like a bolt. I can put three one yard cuts on one plastic board and then line them up on a shelf. Larger yardage pieces go around them just like at the quilt shop. As for sorting by color, it's not a perfect science. Look away, then back quickly at the fabric and note the first color you see. You may also want to sort by themes, like florals, civil war, children's prints, etc.
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  22. #22
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    I like vertical storage to save space. I have most of my fabrics folded on shelves. I never use my dining room hutch so I have the fabric sorted and shelved in it. Nice thick glass shelves and doors on top, 4 drawers on the bottom. They can sometimes be found for free - $100 on local Craigslist and Freecycle sites since many people don't have dining rooms any more or want more modern furniture. I don't bother with any pressboard shelves because in the end they are more expensive than decent used wood furniture, supposedly offgas chemical fumes, and tend to sag with the weight of books. Clean wood shelves well before using or use a shelf liner. Be careful with cardboard and plastics- if they aren't acid free you will eventually find brown burn marks on your fabrics! Shelves are easy to make from plywood- your local home repair store can cut the pieces for you from a sheet of smooth plywood, wipe on a water based sealer stain or paint and wait a week to be sure the pieces are well dried before using. Even indoor lights can fade fabrics, so I should put curtains in the hutch doors.

    I try to keep my fabric sorted by category- Orientals, Aussie/NZ/ethnic, novelties, 30's, tones and textures (marbled,bricks, stones) etc. Fabrics from the same line stay together. Holiday fabrics, scraps, and deconstructed men's shirts are in totes. Projects are in plastic shoe boxes, ziplocks, or cake carriers. Makes seeing what I have for spontaneous sewing easier, IF I can keep the table cleared. Me, Myself, and I are quite lazy and never listen to me.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Little RoO's Avatar
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    Ikea storage is brilliant. In the wicker baskets I have collections of fabrics eg babies, specific fabrics to make a quilt so on and so forth. Behind some of the doors are mini bolts cut to size ane arranged in colours and in others part yardage. I love the ideas of shutting the doors and everywhere looking neat...everything is so easy to find....and it wasn't that expensive to do
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  24. #24
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    I bought a 5 drawer office file cabinet off craigslist for $15.00. I take my material and fold it around a 6 x 24 ruler then fold the material in half. I put a label on it showing the size of the fabric and then I "file" the fabric in the drawers separated by color. You can get 2 rows per drawer. This keeps the dust off the fabric and I can see at a glance what fabric I have. This works very well for me and it doesn't take up a lot of room.
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  25. #25
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    Patrice, OMG, I thought I had fabric, I am running a quick second to what you have. I have found some shelves that I have decided to use and I will fold the fabric neat so I can see what I have. Fabric, that I will not use immediately will go into clear containers so I can see what it is. You have a large room of fabric. Thanks for your comments.
    Last edited by Quiltbaby; 01-25-2013 at 05:51 AM.

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