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Five ways to organize quilt fabric

Last weekend, I went into my disaster of a sewing room and didn’t come out until I had a workable space. You know the feeling… you don’t even want to work on a project because the surrounding mess has become noise. That is exactly where I was. So I got rid of some things, put some stuff in the storage closet (the items I have been collecting to use in a booth at a farmers’ market someday) and implemented a few (new and old) solutions that organized my space and organize quilt fabric. I have five tips for you on how to organize quilt fabric. I will tell you how to organize larger cuts of fabric, project fabric, holiday fabric, scraps and fabric trash.

Organizing your quilt fabric - keep your projects together in project bins

Tip 1 – Organizing large fabric cuts

Organizing your quilt fabric - wrap your fabric around fabric boards

First off, I want to show you these cool fabric boards called Polar Notions. I love them! I am totally adding them to my Christmas wish list. Hint. Hint! These boards are thick and durable, so durable that one can hold 15 yards of fabric. Wow, that’s crazy right? They come in two different sizes: mini bolts (11.75” x 7.5”) and fat quarter (5”x 4”). The design is so smart. There is a nook to slip the fabric in between which helps to start the first folds. I have seen other quilters fold two or more fabrics together on the same board. This would help keep fabric from the same line together. They are simple to use. I pinned the ending edge to secure it in place but you can use clips, too. These boards help break down the barriers that stand in the way of creativity by allowing you to see your fabric the way you see fabrics in the store. I give Paper Pieces, the producer of this product, two thumbs up!

Tip 2 – Organize quilt fabric by projects

I have four project bins full of different block of the month projects

When I find a line of fabric that I like a lot, I start buying many designs from that line. I usually have an idea of what I will be making with it. Example: Lizzy House came out with a line called Catnap a few years ago. I have bought eight different designs from Catnap locally, electronically and from road trips. I hoard all of that fabric together in a project bin so I don’t accidentally use some of it. This is because a line of fabric is almost never reprinted after it has been released. I didn’t know about Catnap and had a hard time finding all of the different fabric options it held within it. My goal for the Lizzy House project bin is bathroom decor: wall art, laundry bag, towel accents, wash cloths, storage containers, PJ pants, tank top and more. Hmmm… I hope I have enough. I have another project bin that holds all of my block of the month fabric and finished blocks. A project bin is especially helpful in this case because I can grab it as I run out the door. Since I am always running late to block of the month, this is really helpful.  Everything is right there, all together and ready to go.

Tip 3 – Organizing fabric scraps

Keep your left over fabric scraps in plastic bags

When I am working on a new quilt, while cutting all of its pieces, it never fails I always have a little extra. Maybe an extra 10” square or a 2.5” strip. Maybe a 5” rectangle. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it is large enough for me to use in a block for my sewing bee, Do Good Stitches. I place all of these scraps in a pile and that pile gets larger and larger. When I have time or my sewing room is too messy, I sort them by color and then place them in large gallon-size Ziploc bags.

I have one bag for red, orange, blue, purple, green, yellow, teal, pink, brown and black. This is my simple, affordable solution to all of the bits of fabric that I can’t bring myself to throw away. I recently changed the way I sort these scraps. I was using one medium-sized bin where I kept all sizes and colors together, but I never worked for me. Did I look at it?? No. It was to overwhelming. Now I can grab a bag and it’s easy to see what fabrics will match with the project I am working on.  

Tip 4 – Organizing fabric trash

keep the unwanted fabric in a basket so you can stuff dog beds and pillow with it

As I cut, the smaller pieces that are too tiny to use in a quilt block go into a large basket under my cutting table. I call it my fabric trash. Test blocks, unwanted scraps, unusable batting and quilt bits (cut off the sandwiched quilt to make it square) also go into this basket. The basket is basically my fabric recycling bin. When I am making a dog bed, cat bed or need to stuff something I include this fabric trash with some store bought stuffing. This is my way to be green. It cuts down what goes into the landfills. At one point, I have even used shredded paper to fill my dog’s bed. They really don’t know and if you use felt fabric they can’t chew through it.  

Tip 5 – Organizing holiday fabric

keep themed fabrics in baskets

In some cases I have a lot of fabric with the same theme. Halloween is a great example. There are so many different colors and contrasting designs of Halloween fabric. Cotton, apparel and upholstery Halloween fabric. I keep these cuts together in a basket. I will even put partially finished projects in that basket. In total, I have three baskets that look the same. In the second basket, I place the T-shirts I want to keep to use in a T-shirt quilt. If you known the size of square you will be using, you can cut the arms, neck and bottom off. This will allow you to save a little extra space. I have another basket of Jack and the Beanstalk fabric. This is the fabric that I designed and had printed by Spoonflower fabric. Someday, I will make another quilt from it. Basically, I place special things that I will not be using all year into these baskets. They are functional, pretty and a staple in my sewing room.

After all of the cleaning and sorting, I feel energized and refreshed. I can’t wait to work on something new. And I especially hope to finish some old projects. I love having an empty project bin because that means I have made some real progress, completed a project or at least finished a quilt top or bottom. Hopefully these tips help you organize your sewing room, as well as jolt your creativity. I would love to hear how you organize quilt fabric. So let me know how you do it. Have a wonderful week and Sew On!

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