Organizing Your Fabric Stash

February 16th 2017 | Cheryle Writes

Organizing Your Fabric Stash,

Atlanta, GA Author, Cheryle Boyle, shares how she manages her fabric stash and how memories play a vital role in each and every piece of fabric forever cementing a union between cloth and stitcher.

Organizing Your Fabric Stash

by Cheryle Boyle

Fabric stash, most sewers have one, but not all will admit to it. Mine became increasingly more difficult to hide from my husband, but along the way, I had to come up with a very creative way to organize all this fabric that I love to touch and look at.  You see, we all joke about hiding our stashes. It started out as a small pile on a shelf, then to a banker’s box, you know the kind that you file all your tax returns away in.  Oh those were the days; to have so little to encumber your life.  Along the way, seven moves from state to state with my husband’s job, four children and now ten grandchildren later, I have added to my stash.  He has always accepted it; thank God he loves me.

Yes, my stash has grown from that little shelf to 34 plastic storage totes.  You know the kind, 18 gallons!.  That comes to 612 gallons of fabric!  But, whose counting?  Now that I have made myself totally sick, I will try to explain how I have come to organize this mass quantity.


It seemed innocent at first.  I really had not started hoarding this cotton of all types, until my first move to another state.  I had met and made several friends and we would visit the Amish village where you could purchase fabric at a substantial lesser cost than the “big name stores.”  The quality seemed to be okay, anyway for the types of sewing that I was doing at the time.  This grew out of necessity as I had joined many quilting and sewing groups and then another move came.  This move took me to New Jersey, where fabric shops seemed scarce.  That just fueled my fire!  Whenever I could smell a fabric shop or got near one, I took great advantage of the situation.  You get the picture.

To get to the organizational part. Like I said, I use plastic 18 gallon totes.  Whatever size or shape that fits your hiding place, will work.  You must always have a camera ready, a good quality one.  The phones these days are excellent, but you might not want to eat up your storage, so give that some thought too. 

Each and every time I would need a particular piece of fabric, I had to get my husband to help me wrangle the containers, as I would look through each and every one, as he patiently stacked them and restacked them.  Of course, the piece that I needed was always in the last container!  In addition, I was faced with him knowing full well the scope of my addiction.  Ugh, to be faced with that each time.  Something had to be done.

One day, I had had enough.  I took my two little dogs (George and Paisley) to the storage room with me, dragging along their beds, their bowls of water and toys.  I declared, “Okay guys, we are in this for the long haul.  I have to get this sorted for one last time.”  This turned out to be a two-week project.  By end, my dogs were not happy with me, but again, thank God they love me!  As I look back, this was the best two weeks and most worthy investment I have made.

I took each piece of fabric and, if need be, refolded it neatly.  I photographed each fabric.  One by one.  Now is where you have to pay attention.  I allocated a plastic tote for each type of fabric, i.e., Children’s Flannel, Christmas Fabrics, Quilting Kits, etc.  If the fabric wasn’t that specific, I had totes Fabric 100, Fabric 200, etc.  Now here is where the fun begins.  I also create on my computer, a file folder to match each tote.  Then I take the picture of the fabric, designate the tote that I want it in, and place that picture in the identical specific folder on the computer. 

Dog with laptop

Example:  I had a piece of quilters cotton which I wanted in Fabric 100.  I took the picture, created a computer folder called Fabric 100 and then put the picture there.  I then placed the fabric in Fabric 100.  Here is an example of my computer folder:

FOLDER:                Fabric Stash

SUB FOLDERS:      Fabric 100

                                Fabric 200

                                Fabric 300

                                Children’s Flannel

                                Christmas Fabric

                                Quilting Kits

                                Fabric Scraps

                                Fabric 400                                            etc.etc.etc.   Whatever works for you..

I continue on with this until all fabric has been neatly folded, placed in its appropriately labeled tote and the picture placed in the appropriate folder.  When all is said and done I have all 34 totes labeled and the folders on my computer to match.  When I need a specific fabric or I just want to “shop” my stash, I pull up my Fabric Stash Folder, on the computer, and look through all subfolders.  This tells me what the tote is labeled, then I can go to that tote and find that exact fabric.

Folded Fabric

*IMPORTANT: I then back this system up and I will never again have to go through that two-week ordeal.  I will always have a record of each and every piece of fabric I own.  This system has been a life saver, back saver and humiliation saver for me and I have used it for about 15 years now. My husband thanks me as well.  I have thought about changing many times when I see all the pretty fabric all lined up on Pinterest, but I know that would take up entirely too much room and expose my fabric to the elements.  I hope that this system organization helps you. 

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