Friday, January 7, 2011

Organizing fabric

How should you organize fabric? This comes up on every quilting list at some time or other, and this time of year even more often. The answer it to think about how you use fabric, then set up a system that will support that. There's a million ways (more or less) to organize.

Since I'm in the middle of a major studio reorganization, here's how I organize fabric.

Sorting into piles. This is just part of my stash
First I separate all theme fabric. My themes are Christmas, other holiday, floral, Oriental, 30s repros, Civil War and other period repros, sewing theme, juvenile, cats, other animals, patriotic, general novelty, batiks, beach theme and solids (prints that read as solid). Most of these are in bins in my storage room. Also in bins are all my cut up shirt fabrics, divided by light, medium, and dark/reds. Any fat quarters and small pieces stay with the bins. And another, giant, bin holds extra-wide fabric and large yardage for quilt backs.

The remaining fabric is divided by color, and will live on my new shelves in the studio annex (dining room). Fat quarters and pieces from about one-eighth yard up to three quarters or so are kept together and sorted by color. Since I use them so often, the batiks and beach theme fabrics stay in this room, too.

Neutrals, greens, blues and blacks on their new shelves.
Over the past couple of years, whenever I've brought in new fabric, I've folded it around by ruler, for nice even stacks, so part of my reorganization will be to refold all the rest of the fabric.

Muslin, white on whites and black (Kona) are kept in separate bins, as is fabric that is set aside for a particular project (I try to keep only a few of these kits).

That leaves the little stuff – scraps. When I finish a quilt larger pieces go back into yardage. Smaller ones are divided up. Batiks and specialty fabrics are left as-is and go into one bin for applique and art quilts. The rest of the fabric is cut into strips or squares, in a modified version of Bonnie Hunters Scrap User's System. I keep strips in 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5 inch widths, and squares in 1.5, 2, 2.5 and 3.5 inch size. If I finish a quilt and have a lot of odd size squares, I'll put them in a plastic bag, label with size and drop them in with the closest square size. When I get new fabric that doesn't have a specific purpose, I'll frequently cut a couple of strips off of it to add to the bins.

Triangles of any size and bonus or leftover half-square-triangles go in their own bin. Leftover binding goes in another bin. Strings go in their own drawer and crumbs into another. Anything else, slivers of fabric from trimming, thread bunnies, stuff too small or strange to use as a crumb, goes in a big bag. I occasionally rummage through it for things for fabric collage and eventually that stuff is used to stuff pet beds.

I'm excited about getting more of my fabric out where it's easily accessible, and getting each type of fabric together. While my system of sorting hasn't changed, moving some things closer at hand and getting all of each type of fabric together is going to be a big help for me.

If any of these ideas help, let me know!

More later.

Photo Friday

Where ever I go I see things that would make an interesting photograph. But I seldom take the time to stop and get the picture, usually saying "next time." So to encourage myself to spend a little more time looking and taking pictures, I'm going to do a Photo Friday and try to post an interesting picture each week.

This picture was taken last weekend on Tybee Island. This is what I call shell crumbs. At first it just looks like sand, but when you look closely you can see tiny shells, interesting shapes from broken shells and a whole range of colors.

More later.