You show me yours and I’ll show you mine

I was chatting with Linda at Quilts in the Barn because she’s been going gangbusters turning UFO’s into quilts lately and I am both impressed and humbled.  As I have mentioned dozens of times, I’ve been making stars.  By hand, mind, but still just stars, stars, stars.  My comment was that, yet again, my stash has crowded me out of the limited sewing space I have.  So, Linda jokingly told me to show her my stash and she would show me hers.  Well, below is not my stash – oh no, that is far more impressive – but it does depict recent fabric acquisitions all with the purpose of creating more “variety” in my stars.

 (Note the pile of fabrics on the chair that still need ironing)

My problem is I’ve run out of storage boxes for these new fabrics.  So I move them out of the way when I cut more star pieces and the put them right back while I take my prepared pieces away for hand sewing.

This white metal cart was purchased purely for temporary fabric storage.  It has some long lost 19th century repros and most all of my loud bright contemporary fabrics.  The top was to have been additional work surface but has been covered nearly since day 1 with an assortment of old blocks, old fabrics and new repros that haven’t found a permanent home yet.  The laundry next to it?  Well, I always believe in pre-washing and I hate to see a load of laundry go through the cycle without at least a couple of fat quarters along for the ride.  In addition to some clothes and sheets in need of folding you can see some pieces of the new Indigo Crossing line from Moda.
How do you sort your fabric for storage?  When I see a gorgeous fat quarter pack of Judie Rothermel fabrics like this I hate to break up the party and store them by color.  But, long term, I cannot think of a better method for finding fabrics when you need them.  So, until I make the decision (or buy more plastic storage bins), they sit on my sewing table and get moved back and forth (and back and forth and…) each time I need the work surface.
Do you have stash management issues?  Limited work space?  I’ve shown you mine so you show me yours.  And, please, tell me how to organize the mess!

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  1. Hey! I have absolutely no sensible comment to this. I do not store fabrics by color – and do not have a clue or tip readily available for good storing and clearing of table tops (yes, I WOULD like to know how to store table tops – they are much sought after) Am craving some star sewing, though. Thank you – loved the post!

  2. I love this post – I love seeing your "mess" because now I don't feel so bad about mine! I will be posting on this "issue" (organization) myself, soon!

  3. Originally the deal was all my fabric had to fit in my sewing room. Its a average size bedroom. My DH changed the closet to shelves for me. Now the problem is all of it does not fit in the closet. Nor does all of it fit in the rom. It hasn't for years. I keep my vintage fabric, vintage blocks, and quilt tops separate stored in boxes in another room. My antique fabric I keep in art bin boxes that have little sections. My antique quilt blocks and tops I keep separate in boxes in another room.

    I do keep fabric for a project together. I also keep all the Kaffe fabric together. Most of my stash is repros. Any mod fabrics I keep all together. I am a washer like you. So nothing goes upstairs till it has been washed. So there is fabric in the laundry room. I guess I am not much help in organization. Right now I open the door to the room and shut it. Every work space is covered.

  4. I am continually amazed at the quantity of fabric some gals have. Here in New Zealand where quilting fabric is $31 per metre – 39" we are more conservative in our stashes.

    How wonderful to just go to your sewing eoom and pull fabric to just start sewing whenever you feel like it.

  5. Oh, I have HUGE stash management issues. Luckily I have a big sewing room to corral it all in — but that's in a space above the garage with no heat or electricity. The kids and light are in the house, so I wind up doing my sewing at the end of the dining room and moving things back and forth as I switch projects.

  6. I am one that keeps fabric sorted by color unless purchased for a specific project. Those stay together until used in the project……and sometimes that can be a long time. But of late, I have been keeping a great many of the Jan Patek fabrics together. I am out of shelf space, so they are in plastic crates on the sewing room floor. My sewing room always seems to be a fabric mess on the floor.

  7. I have kept the Elfa company and the plastic storage container companies in business for years. My small sewing room is full to bursting with wire baskets full of fabric. Then there are the dozens of plastic boxes in the sewing room and under my bed. At the moment I have one large set of baskets for reproductions, a couple of my favourite designers sorted separately and some sorted in colour. A lot of my latest fq bundles are in together. I'm contemplating resorting most everything except the repros into colour families. I'm trying to stop buying fabric and feel once I can see exactly how much of a colour I've got I won't be tempted to keep buying more. I also agree it's impossible to keep a clear surface in a sewing room. My sewing table gets so overcrowded sometimes my cats can't even squeeze in!

  8. I have always sorted by colour, even my tiny scraps. I do put large backing size pieces together though and my novelties (quite big) in a seperate plastic tub and my reproductions are housed in a very special (but unfortunatley small) set of draws that my uncle made me. Any project started with fabrics picked (per yardage as per pattern) are kept together, but once it is finished I sort the left overs back into general storage. Cut into fat quarters or fabric I no longer like I cut up into strips (2.5" and 1.5") and squares to make scrap quilts with using Bonnie Hunters free patterns on her website. Three years ago I went on a UFO busting year and whittled down my projects a bit, so I took an extra year and reduced them to an acceptable level. While I was doing this I tried to only by fabric for finishing projects (eg borders and backs) and any new projects I started I tried to make from my stash. I allowed my self some leeway but stuck to those general rules. This year I am back to buying fabric and starting new projects and having lots of fun! However the storage system I have (one side of a built in robe) is back under pressure already!

  9. I have the same trouble with storage. I have plastic drawers full sorted by colour (mostly). But these are full and I'm now stacking piles on the floor. I'm trying to use it but can't seem to stop the buying a few more FQ's. I need to work harder at getting this undercontrol. I've enjoyed the other comments.

  10. I've found myself in the same boat as you, I've run out of space and should have a serious purge. I think that's the only way for me to get organised.
    I reckon that any flat surface can't stay empty for long.

  11. Your work surface looks just like mine! I'm always so envious of sewing rooms where there is empty shelving or table tops! How does that even happen!?! LOL

  12. My stash isn't very big, it fits on 3 large shelves in an old cupboard.
    The main problem is that the best reproduction fabrics are in the USA, so I always bought online, which makes me think twice now the postage has gone up so much.
    I also used to hesitate to break up fabric lines, but have found it easier to sort them by colour.

  13. Glad to hear from you, you haven't posted for a month. I try to keep my stash contained in just my sewing room but unfortunately it has reproduced and spread into the adjoining bedroom chest of drawers and under the bed. The closet is also full of about 22 tops hanging on hangers waiting their turn to be quilted. BUT, my goal is to get it all back into the sewing room someday. I recently went through all my old scraps and if I didn't like the fabric anymore – it got donated.

  14. Love your stars! I have a very small sewing space too and it's a challenge to keep my counters cleared off enough to work on them. Mainly I keep my cutting mat clear, the little ironing board and my little sewing table cleaned off. Everything else is general piles of fabric that I shuffle around as I need space.:)

  15. What size are you stars? I've got a vintage quilt rolling round in my head and it's lemoyne stars.
    As for storage, I got a door, laid it out and put legs under it. It's wrapped in batting and canvas and it's my cutting table and it could be my pressing table if it was cleaned off.(never is) but underneath I have 4 rolling carts, each with 4 metal baskets. That's my limit, aside from bolts which are in a book case in my longarm room….and my solids, which are in another bookcase….or the batiks in the plastic bins in the garage……Oh you can see I"m of no help!

  16. Your star project is SO very wonderful – you could show us a good picture of some of your recently made stars :0)
    My stash is only under control now because I had to move it 2 times last year. Once to put in new carpets and the other time I moved it down to the basement so my daughters could have their own rooms. My fabric is mostly on a shelf with glass doors (doors haven't been able to close in years though :0) I like being able to see it. Bigger pieces I keep in a big bin in the furnace room which is not ideal. My fabric collection definitely makes me smile!

  17. Boy, all I can say is that I'm so with you! Your sewing space looks alot like mine (I even have the same wire bins/drawers) and I'm starting to now stack stuff on the floor – it has GOT to stop!! I really appreciate the comments you've gotten so far – good suggestions! I'm also really, really trying to stop buying any more fabric for awhile (this has been a challenging!). Sometimes I think I could almost open a small quilt shop with all my "stuff" LOL! I can't wait to read all of the comments/suggestions you receive on this post!

  18. I never used to break up my Judie's or my Jo's or whatever other fabric line. Last year when I reorganized my fabric in my limited space, I decided to break up by color and found that most if my repros work well together.

  19. I have lots of storage but it never seems enough. I place all my new unwashed fabric on shelves in a bookcase for inspiration and once it has been washed and partly used it then goes into colour coded plastic boxes. If I have grouped together fabric for a specific project that hasn't happened yet it goes into its own smaller plastic box. Take care.

  20. i do have stash management problems and i'm at the same stage as you as far as trying to figure out the best way to store my fabrics. i've even wondered if the best way might be to sort it all according to yardage . . . often if i go looking for fabric i have a specific amount that i need so maybe i would be better off keeping all of the same sized pieces together and then doing some sort of sub sorting . . .
    i know i'll be interested in seeing what kinds of responses you get.


  21. I love your stars and admire your patience in doing them by hand.
    I think you have so much more fabric than I do that I will never have quite the same problems as you display here. Oh, to have such troubles! : )

  22. impressive post. I am very reluctant to buy fabric these days for two reasons…….I have heaps, & failing stacking it all on the floor I no more room for it! 2nd……I'm so busy with my quilting business that I don't get a chance to use the fabric I have!
    As for storage I use plastic drawers.

  23. I have a small sewing room – 12' x 9 1/2'. I've worked to use every inch. On my blog, click on the labels "sewing room" and "organization" and you may get some ideas. And yes – I know I'm seriously organized. It's one of my strongest traits. That is both good and bad . . . .

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