05 July 2017

Storing Fat Quarters and Scraps

I went to put away some fabrics that I had finished with, and realised that my fabric storage system really wasn't working for me, everything was sorted by colour and just cramed into my wire baskets.

Exhibit A

I spent a long time with my coffee looking at photos of quilter's stashes and reading how other people store their fabrics; the problem for me is that a lot of the systems which looked great were designed for large pieces i.e. yardage or required cutting fabric into useable sized squares or strips.

The problem with this is that 99.9% of my stash consists of pieces smaller than a FQ. I knew I need to do something, but the question was what?

I have 3 baskets of pink/red fabrics ranging in size from a FQ down to 2" square, I knew that I wanted to keep my fabrics in one piece, so all those wonderful ideas where you cut your scraps down into strips or squares and then sort by size really wouldn't work for me. I like to cut fabric for a project as I go along and I don't know what size I will want 😁

The thing that all these great systems had in common was that fabric looked tidy because it was folded into a uniform size. I knew I didn't want to invest in any other storage, so I measured my baskets and worked out that I could fit 3 rows of  6" wide fabric in my 7" deep drawers.  I made myself a template from a piece of mount board and started folding.

I started with a FQ wrong side up with the shorter/selvedge edge running vertically

and placed my template in the bottom right corner

Then you just use the template as a guide to fold over the fabric

Keep folding until you end up with a strip 6" wide, an imperial FQ will fold nicely into 3

I flipped my template out and turned the strip over so all the raw edges were in front of me

Then using the template again I rolled the strip along the long 7" edge

Keep rolling until you run out of fabric, again an imperial FQ will roll nicely into 3

It also works really well for 1/2 yd or yard cuts as well as odd sized pieces, as long as they are at least 6" wide and so that you can see them in the stack at least 14" long.

I decided to pull out all my scraps that are less than 6" x 14" and store them separately in these plastic boxes that I repurposed.

I have a long way to go, but a little at a time I will tame the mess! I think I have a system that will work for me.


  1. Nice job figuring out a functional storage method...hugs, Julierose

  2. Hi Elaine,
    Your final picture just drew me in. Like a spider to its web . . . I said what are those pretty fabrics doing? All so nicely arranged and it made me just itch to make something in red (my favorite color). I bet you feel the same way. ~smile~ Roseanne

  3. Most of the time I say I don't have time to be organized, but at some point you just have to do something. I think you have a good start. Good luck.

  4. I would not have guessed that there was that much functional fabric in there - that's a compliment to what you have done. Now my question is - how do you keep it like that? My house is a mess from years of depression. I think the doctor has finally got a fit on the medications and I'm being proactive in taking steps about working through abuse from childhood and then throughout life. It used to be pristine and not now. I decided to start with my downstairs bathroom. I got plastic boxes and it was super. Then when I needed something, it was a pain just to get a bandaid and get that box back in the mix and have the cabinet still looking great. What a system! It's really much better than it was. I also set a boundary. My granddaughter who turns 4 today lives with me and her Dada who is my son. She has trouble not touching what does not belong to her. Finally, I had to say that she cannot use my bathroom because she touches any jewelry I have laid on the vanity for whatever reason and will lie straight faced about it. I have an invisible disability and stress is horrible for the pain. She knew to lie at 2 when my son got full permanent custody of her. Actually, it's been a blessing that they are here. It helps all of us. We also have his 11 year old son during summer break from school. I've put my medications in there in a toolbox that locks so she cannot get into them. So, I have lots of organization to go - the end goal is to combine my sewing room and my bedroom so she can have my bedroom. Then everyone will have his/her own bedroom. I'll have to go back to cutting out on the dining table. I went from crafts in every one of my 4 bedrooms and closets to all rooms being used and from just me living her to four of us living here. Quite an adjustment! Thanks for the idea. It may work for me in some of my things when I get to them. I have duplicates of some quilting tools because it was cheaper to go buy new than the stress of hunting for what I had. Again, good job and thanks for the idea.

  5. Anonymous6/7/17 10:55

    Very nice system. I have clear plastic drawers I store my fabric in based upon color. It is folded but not as neat as this. I also have one junk drawer where I throw all the small pieces I might use again.

  6. That looks as though it should work well, especially because you devised it yourself for your stash and your way of working!

  7. It looks as if you have the storage of your fabrics sorted. I have my fabrics neatly stored in colourways in glass door cupboards BUT I am forever tidying them up. My fabrics will simply not be contained.=)

  8. Your system looks like a success. It's nice when you can see what you have!!

  9. I love reading organizational posts. Yet another great idea to stash away in the memory banks when it is time for me to move in. I too was a little confused by those who cut up their scraps ahead of time before they know what they want to make. It doesn't make sense to me. I guess it would definitely look more organized having uniform pieces of fabric to pull from but still, what if you might have needed a larger size and now you don't have it because you cut them all up? Hmm!

  10. You're so good! I love how you've worked out how to store your fabrics. I never have the patience to sit down and figure things out like that. I should take the time. I also loved seeing your progress on Down the Rabbit Hole and your mermaid in your last post. Both are looking great!

  11. Congratulations Elaine you are braver than I LOL I really need to do the same but hate giving up a day or may be several days to do it LOL I do have mine in closed in plastic boxes because of the humidity here and when I first put them in there they were tidy but over 17 years!!!!!!! not any longer LOL Cheers Glenda

  12. Aren't you a smarty_pants?!?!? Seriously, this is a great system!!!

  13. Great system, you'll be so organised!