Hello and happy Wednesday! Today I’ve decided to finally write the post that has been on my “to do” list for quite a while…a post on managing your fabric stash. I’ve written on many related topics over the years…
Other Posts on Organizing Your Fabric Stash
- Building a Fabric Stash,
- How to Sort & Organize Scraps,
- Organizing Quilting and Sewing Projects
- and Organizing Project Left-Overs
However, today’s topic is a little different: I’ll be focusing on great ideas for weeding out your stash and deciding what to keep.
Recently I read an article on how to manage a fabric stash from Unclutterer (an organizing/decluttering blog I’ve been reading for several years) that gave several good ideas on this topic. While all of them may not apply to every serious quilter (only storing an amount of fabric you could carry out in an emergency or the idea that scraps are clutter definitely don’t work for me), there are some really good ideas to be found in the article.
Quarterly Stash Management
But one of the best things I’ve read on this topic was the idea from Becky Goldsmith that one should weed out their stash at least once a year (or sooner if there is fabric stacked on the floor)! I often end up with piles on the floor several times a year, and so I’ve started weeding out or more properly “managing my fabric stash” quarterly. This quarterly organizing seems to keep me on track, and since the quarter just ended and this task is on my list for this weekend…this post!
Tips for Managing Your Fabric Stash
Sort pre-cuts first
Pre-cuts are fairly easy to organize and store, and they are the easiest to sort. Beginning by sorting these fabrics gives you a win-win feeling right at the beginning. Usually what I do is go through my Fat Quarter Bundles and decide if there are any I’m sure I won’t use. My daughter will often take some off my hands, but others I occasionally list in my Etsy shop. I also go through charm packs, Layer Cakes, and Jelly Rolls the same way. Mini charms that I’m not going to use I bundle up in packages of two to give to students when teaching. Trading, donating, or gifting pre-cuts is also a great way to keep them under control.
Sort Larger Cuts of Fabric
Since larger cuts of fabric take up the most space, sorting them next will help you make progress fast. One thing I’ve started doing when I decide I can’t part with some fabric is pinning a note to it with what I think I’ll use it for along with the date I wrote the note. Then, if I find the fabric untouched the next time I organize, I think seriously about donating it to charity. Remember that fabric pieces close to a yard make great pillowcases which are great to make for charity or even for gift-giving.
Sort fat quarters and other similar pieces
I organize most of my fat quarters and pieces just a bit smaller than fat quarters by color. I have a designated shelf for these, and when I start running out of room I go through the fabrics color by color to see if there are any I don’t love anymore. This has really seemed to help a lot lately. Now there are fabrics in this part of my stash that I’ve had for several years and still love, and I’m fine with keeping them indefinitely on the shelf (although lately I’ve been doing better about using them).
I do keep holiday fabrics together and certain fabric collections together that I know I’ll use again in their entirety.
Finally, sort scraps
For me, sorting scraps often has to happen even more frequently than quarterly. I try to cut up left-overs from projects into usable pieces as I finish– 1 ½″, 2″, and 2 ½″ strips, 2 ½″ squares, 3″ squares, and 5″ squares. These pieces are the ones I use the most. I also have a separate bin for low-volume fabrics which comes in really handy when I need small pieces of backgrounds for a project.
A Few other ideas…
- Becky Goldsmith also suggests just trying to power through it. If you think about it too much, you’ll want to keep everything! I’ve had great success having someone else help me…sometimes someone else can look at things a bit more objectively and know whether you are going to use it again or not.
- Keep orphan blocks together…there are so many great ways to use them for small projects…see my post on tips for using orphan blocks here.
- Know when to abandon a project. If you’re never going to finish something, donate it to charity. One time I gave a lot of left-overs to a friend’s sewing group, and she was able to tell me later that one woman happily finished and used some of my unfinished works in progress. I’m so glad those aren’t still in my closet!
- Reminding yourself that stash management is an on-going process keeps it from becoming too overwhelming. You don’t have to get to everything at once. Progress is progress!
- Remember that your style may have changed since you first purchased a piece of fabric. It’s okay to get rid of it when you know you won’t be using it.
I hope some of these ideas will help with your on-going process of stash management…this is definitely what I’ll be doing this weekend!
Thanks so much for stopping by!