Monday, August 8, 2016

The Studio - fabric arrangement

At the beginning of the year I moved my studio from one end of the house to the other, and had big plans for getting it completely organized and making wonderful art. But life has a way of changing plans and this year was no exception.

I'm finally getting back into the studio - to work on it, and in it - and while it's definitely a work in progress, I'm pretty pleased with my fabric storage arrangements. Since fabric storage is a question that comes up constantly in my sewing and quilting groups, I thought I'd get back to the blog with my storage system.

Folding the fabric around my folding board
I have a lot of fabric. A lot. I make both traditional and art quilts, and recently got back into making some clothing. And of course make some things for around the house. So my stash consists of quilting fabric, garment fabric, specialty fabric, home decor fabric and miscellaneous fabric.

Home decor, specialty and misc. fabric are boxed up in the closet, as I don't need them often. So that leaves quilting and garment fabric easily accessible in the studio. Over the years I've tried a lot of different organization plans for my fabric, large shallow bins shelved in a storage room, open shelves mounted on the wall, huge bins stacked on top of each other - the worst.
Nice, neat stack after folding

When we moved into this house, I decided I wanted to start with cube style shelves. They are sold under several brand names and in various sizes. The ones I bought are 36 by 36 inches, with nine 11-inch-plus cubes in each. They can be stacked two high -- attaching both the lower and upper to the wall for safety!

For a long time I've been using the ruler fold method of folding my fabric -- fold selvedge to selvedge, then fold around my six-inch ruler as if it were on a bolt. Slide the ruler out, then fold in half. Nice, neat stacks that are all the same size. With the new shelves, that left wasted space, so I cut a piece of heavy cardboard to 10-inches wide and use it for folding. That gives me nice, neat stacks that fit perfectly in my cubes. And no spending money on little pieces of cardboard - I'd rather spend on fabric! With this system, fat quarters can be folded in half, then in half again and fit nicely in the stack, so they are not stored separately.

Main fabric storage. On the left are novelties and specialty types of fabric.
On the right are fabrics that don't go in a special category, sorted by color.
As I said, I have a lot of fabric. So I had to arrange it to work with how I use it. Color is always a consideration, but I also work by theme or type of fabric. So my first sort is by type. I have: batiks, beach/underwater/lighthouses, landscape/seascape, 30s repros, Civil War/other repros, realistic florals, cat fabric, sewing theme, fruit/vegetable, birds/butterflies, other novelties, juvenile, stripes, bright combinations, Christmas, other holiday, and everything else.

Since I don't have room for everything, Christmas, other holiday and juvenile went into separate bins. I have a lot of batik, so it is sorted by color, then shelved. I have a lot of beach and related fabrics, so they are separated by type or them and shelved with the batiks.

The other specialty types I have less of, one or two cubes at most, so they are just stacked without sorting for color.

Then everything else - the calicos, the blenders, the small florals and geometrics are sorted by color and shelved. Since many have multiple colors, I go by the color they "read" as at first glance. The bright multi-colors have their own separate stack. The stacks of colors start off light to dark, but get jumbled with use, so every now and then I pull out the stack and rearrange.

Garment fabric above, backings below.
Bins to left have yarn.
Batik and beach theme fabrics
That covers four of my five stack of cubes. The final one has fabrics set aside for backings, and my garment fabric. I try to watch the clearance and sales tables for good backing fabrics, and last year stocked up for my backlog of quilt tops.

My only issue with the cubes is that they sit right on the floor, so fabrics on the bottom shelf may get dirty. For one set, I built a base out of two-by-fours, but ran out of time for the rest. So the bottom level has fabric bins filled with yarn - another stash for another day!

With screens up to protect fabric.
Finally, because my studio gets a lot of sunlight, I use screens - woven beach mats - to cover the shelves when I'm not picking out fabric. They protect the fabric from dust and sunlight, and make the room look a little less busy.


Debbie Turner Altman said...

Awesome job, Vickie! Wish we didn't live so far apart, I'd hop over for coffee and you could do the same! I really enjoyed spending time with you at TOGA. Take care and stitch on!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I wanted to use the cubes, but, I use comic book cardboard to fold my material, and didn't want to start over with a new size, since I'd already used a couple of packages. I can't use the bottom shelves of my fabric bookcases for fabric, since I have dogs, and the fur gravitates toward the bottom shelf (little dog in the sewing room).