Thursday, June 12, 2014

Organizing Quilting Fabrics

Hello! This post was supposed to be up yesterday...but it was one of those days...I was early to my first appointment, late to the next, and just couldn't seem to get anything together at the "right time." On top of that I had to take out just about everything in my sewing room so we could move in a cutting table (and let me tell you I was sure happy yesterday that my husband worked for many years moving furniture before we got married because nobody but him knew we were actually going to be able to make it work--big piece of furniture + not so big hallways + not so big door to sewing room = a lot of breath holding to see if it was going to work). After cutting out almost all of my quilts and sewing projects on the kitchen counter for the past 20+ years, I finally have a cutting table in my sewing room.

The way the whole cutting table purchase came about is a story in itself: although I'd had my "dream" work surface in my mind for years, I hadn't ever found it. And I'm not good at big (or small) purchases, either--I much prefer to have money in the bank than lots of stuff. A couple of weeks ago I went to the DMV with my husband, and when I realized there was going to be quite a wait I decided to do some window shopping at the furniture store next door. When I saw this table it was kind of like a "lightbulb" moment with the potential it had for my sewing room. I'm sure it was meant to be for a kitchen island, not a craft room, but I knew it would be wonderful. This unit has seven drawers, two cubby compartments, and two cupboards with two shelves in each one. The work surface is approximately 36" x 60", and it came with two stools as well. I still have three empty drawers a day later!  Okay...on with our we get to start on the fabric!

Day Seven: Fabric Management Part 1--Gather

Today's task is to gather any and all fabrics that aren't organized well. If you have something that is working (like a beautifully organized shelf of pre-cut fabrics) then leave that area alone. Likewise, if you have a big bin of scraps...don't empty it out (just yet). For today gather any and all types of fabrics that aren't well-organized.  Here are some types of things you will be gathering today (be sure to group like items in your holding area):
  • Pre-cut fabrics that aren't neatly organized
  • Fat Quarters
  • Larger cuts of fabric
  • Yardage
  • Scraps that aren't organized
  • Left-over binding strips
Removing everything from the shelves and grouping like items together will help you accomplish two things: first you'll be able to see what you really have in order to decide if you really need it all, and second you'll be able to make good decisions about your storage needs based on the amounts of fabric you have in the various categories.


Day Eight: Fabric Management Part 2--Inventory

Today is the day you begin to make some decisions about your fabric stash. First, make sure you have a box or bag for fabric you want to donate, as well as another box or bag for fabric to sell (stash fabrics sell well on Etsy, Ebay through blogs, and on Instagram--sometimes your "trash" is someone else's "treasure").

How to take inventory:
  1. Look at every item. Move it to the donate box, the sell box, or keep it where it is.
  2. Continue on until you've made a decision about every item. For scraps, of course, this isn't feasible--put all of your unorganized scraps in a large bin or bucket, and we'll deal with them later.
  3. Inventory your storage space: are you going to store fabrics on open shelves, in bins, in the closet or elsewhere. How much space do you really have, and what can neatly fit there? 

A few ideas to consider:
  • Store like items together.
  • Store fabrics by color.
  • Store yardage on empty bolts from your local quilt shop or folded neatly.
  • Think about how light will affect your storage. We had two favorite couches nearly ruined from light exposure in a sunny front room in our previous home. It was amazing how much the light faded the beautiful sofa fabrics.
Save Scrap Bin Organization for Later
If there are fabrics you can move neatly to their new home now, go ahead and do that. Keep everything else out until you have made the final decision about where it will go.
    Finally, make a written plan. Your plan should include what is going to go where and a list of any storage containers you might need to look for (notice I didn't say "buy" yet--we often have storage containers being used for other things we can repurpose for fabric storage in order to save money and time). Okay...that's all for today...I know it was a lot, but the weekend is coming up, and the next two tasks won't be as time-consuming.

    PS One of my sponsors, Little Lady Patchwork, is having a summer clearance sale with all jelly rolls and layer cakes just $24.95. She's making room for new collections arriving soon!


    Melissa said...

    Ok, so I am just going to ask what everyone else is thinking. What is the name of that furniture store? Local or national? That is exactly what I am looking for too!

    Will,you show us a tour of your sewing room when it's all done? I am currently organizing all my fat quarters, using comic book hoards (acid free) and putting them in shelves. Looks so much better!

    Paula @ Sewy Stuff said...

    Wow! I love that island/table!

    I bought a huge desk at a thrift store (for $5!) and it barely went in the front door and now resides in my living room because it will not go through any interior doors/hallway no matter how you slice it (well ok, maybe if we really did slice it, but it'd take a chainsaw). It took two very grown men to get it on the truck and into my house. I like having my sewing in my living room anyway. :-)

    Jeanna said...

    You got a great new cutting table Sherri.

    I am ready for this next two-day assignment. If will feel good to get everything out!

    Laura said...

    Love your new cutting station! I had the same challenge when I moved into my new apartment and ended up getting one of those adjustable leg tables from Ikea. It doesn't have the storage, but so far it's working great!

    Karen Thurn said...

    I too would like to know the name of the manufacturer of that piece of furniture. It would be perfect for me as well.

    Liz said...

    Sherri, these posts and suggestions are so helpful! Thank you! I love your new table....I'm a little envious actually.

    WoolenSails said...

    The table was a great find. I have a really big table that was my dining room table and great for quilting, but no storage underneath. So, It is always messy with things I am working on and then harder to work on.


    Jill @ Happy2Stitch said...

    Perfect cutting table. There may now be an increase in kitchen island sales. I am going to start to organize my fabric per your suggestion. I especially like the written list and 'not to buy' just yet. Thanks.

    Carla said...

    I too am looking for a cutting table. I have been looking at kitchen islands. They seem to be the better height for cutting. Could you pass along the name of the furniture company? Thanks

    Carla said...

    My email is Thanks

    Helen L said...

    what a fantastic piece of furniture!!! It looks lovely as well as being a great cutting table w/ storage!! What a win/win!!! So glad you found it!! :-) Hugs, H

    Valerie said...

    I would also like to know the name of the furniture manufacturer for your cutting table. Thanks!

    valekort at yahoo dot com

    Thimbleanna said...

    That's a fabulous cutting table Sherri -- I'll bet you'll get a ton of use out of it!!! said...

    Your cutting table is gorgeous, I am so jealous. I think I'm going to have to move all the furniture out of my flat and get one of those instead. Just beautiful!

    Christine said...

    i would love to know where you purchased your cutting table. I am in the market for something like that.

    Limbania said...

    Just came across your blog and loving it! You might be thinking "again?" But have to ask (: brand/manufacturer/store where you got your cutting table, I'm looking for one and yours is perfect. Thanks!

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