Quilters have a few things in common, we buy a lot of fabric, we need to store a lot of fabric and we are almost always looking for a better way to store fabric.
I have been re-arranging my sewing room (yes, again!) and changing the way I store my fabric to make it easier to keep neat, easier to find what I want, and nicer to look at.
Of course, we aren’t all working with the same types of space so as well as explaining how I am storing my fabric, in this post, I will also showcase how some other crafty quilters have created their own fabric storage.
These fabric storage solutions came from quilters who know that organization is key. They’ve turned some everyday items into fabric storage ideas that are useful and creative.
My New Fabric Storage System – Folding & Rolling!
As part of my Sewing Room Sort Out Series, I did a massive re-organization of my sewing room, including taking EVERYTHING off of my shelves and out of my drawers and bins in order to decide what to keep, what to destash and sell, and….crucially…how to put my fabric stash back on the shelves in a way that made it work better for me.
I have a YouTube video all about this organizing phase of my sort out which you can watch below or read on if you want the written version!
Larger pieces of Fabric
I have an Ikea Billy Bookcase which is where I store most of my fabric.
I know a lot of sewers who store fabric on a bookshelf purchase comic book boards and fold and pin their fabric around those, but realistically I don’t see myself refolding fabric around comic book boards every time I take it down so that solution wasn’t going to work for me.
Instead, I thought about how I tend to use my fabric.
I am a scrappy quilter so I reach for the smaller pieces more often and the larger pieces less frequently.
So in order to store my fabric in a way that won’t cause a big mess down the line when I pull things out to use, I chose to treat my larger and smaller pieces of fabric differently.
So for my larger pieces of fabric – which I am calling a half yard (half metre) or more I chose to fold these fabrics to fit my shelves (see below for what I did with the smaller pieces).
To fold these larger pieces – anything up to 3 or 4 yards (I don’t tend to buy full bolts of fabric) – I cut a piece of cardboard the size of my shelves.
This means the cardboard was the same width and depth as where I wanted the fabric to go.
I then folded the fabric with raw edges in until it was the same width as the cardboard and then rolled the fabric around the cardboard until it formed a rectangle the size of my shelf (see video above if you can’t picture this!).
I then removed the cardboard by pulling it gently out of the side of the fabric and placed these larger pieces in a stack on the shelf.
I organize my fabric also by color so I have a stack for blue, purple, pink, low volume (white, neutrals) etc.
If I left the cardboard inside it would make this stack bulkier but it might make it easier to keep neat if I pinned it (similar to the comic book boards). However, since I know I don’t pull this fabric out as often I am happy with this solution.
If you have lots of yardage, or you access larger pieces more often, you might want to leave the cardboard in place and treat them like mini bolts of fabric with a bulldog clip or similar to keep the ends in place.
Smaller Pieces of Fabric
For my smaller pieces of fabric, anything from just under a half yard to a fat quarter, a fat eighth, or even smaller sometimes I chose to roll my fabric and store it in color-separated baskets.
Sometimes I put super tiny pieces in these baskets but read below for how I store my fabric strips and fabric crumbs too.
To roll my fabric I basically estimated the height of my baskets – I used wire baskets bought from ebay and Amazon – and folded my fabric to roughly that height and then rolled it fairly tightly and put a small clear hair elastic around it to secure it.
Putting the rolls in these baskets means I can see inside for inspiration, I can lift a single basket off the shelf and nose around in it, and I can pretty easily see everything I have from above as I have stood my rolls up vertically inside the baskets.
The other plus of this setup is that if I grab one or two rolls out to audition them for my project I am not upsetting all the other fabrics, nothing gets unrolled or unfolded so it is much easier to keep neat.
For many years I have rolled my clothes for packing in suitcases to go on holiday (because it takes up less space!) but for some reason, before now it never occurred to me to do it in the sewing room – I thought I had to fold fabrics for quilting! Not sure why!
I am much preferring this rolled fabric setup. So far I am finding it much easier to maintain and I think it looks pretty too.
Storing Fabric Scraps
So as I said above some of the rolled fabric is probably of a size that many quilters would call ‘scraps’ but for me, the ‘scraps’ that I feel need to be stored differently from my other fabric are crumbs and fabric strips.
Storing Fabric Crumbs
Crumbs for me are small pieces leftover after cutting out units for quilt blocks or other projects. They usually have odd angles and aren’t perfect squares or rectangles.
Sometimes they can be larger than a mini charm pack square (2.5″) and sometimes smaller.
I store these by color as well. I have been using packaging boxes from my monthly coffee subscription (it comes in a cardboard box with magnetic closure) and adding a new color of crumbs each month.
For the colors that don’t have a box yet, I store the crumbs in a Ziploc bag tucked in beside that color’s basket of rolled fabric.
Eventually, I won’t have any more bags and they will all be in easy-to-access boxes.
Storing Fabric Strips
I store fabric strips in a few ways.
If the strips are of a good length – half WOF (width of fabric) roughly or more – and they are in one of the two widths I use for quilt binding strips (2.5″ and 1.75″) they go in their own small storage container on the ‘binding strips’ shelf.
If they are a different width or they aren’t very long then they get separated by color (again!) and stored in a Ziploc bag. I have two plastic bins full of these fabric strip bags on one shelf of my bookcase.
Storing other Fabric Types
In my sewing space, I use lots of different types of fabric.
The majority of what I need to store is quilting cotton but I also have a stash of men’s shirts and material cut from old jeans that I like to upcycle into quilts.
I also have fabric samples, second-hand duvet covers that I use for quilt backs, linen and some thicker upholstery weight fabric that I use for bag making.
I store the denim material in separate storage containers and I have plastic storage bins decorated with wallpaper for some of the other items that don’t clearly fit on the shelves with my cotton fabric.
They go on top of my bookshelves.
- How to Make a Quilt-As-You-Go Denim Quilt (also uses quilting scraps!)
- Quick Denim Quilt (Improv Quilt with Instructions)
Storing Other Items
I have two other posts on previous craft room makeovers which I will link to below but in brief here are some of the other ways I store non-fabric items:
- Thread is stored in repurposed cutlery drawer inserts that fit on my shelf and allow me to pull them in and out to keep everything neat
- I use jars for buttons
- I have separate plastic tubs for different types of supplies like bag handles, elastic, zippers, etc.
- I have project bins for WIPs (works in progress).
- I store batting and very large pieces of backing fabric in a storage bench.
Perfectly sized for small scrap pieces, this set of small storage baskets can be placed anywhere in your crafting room.
Large Storage Bins
Maybe not your typical way of storing fabric, but it can definitely work. These large storage bins can be used for large heavy pieces of fabric.
Plastic Stack and Carry Boxes
You can’t go wrong with plastic storage boxes.
They will keep your fabric safe and secure no matter where you place them. These containers stack so that you can make room for plenty of other supplies.
I use some of these and I make them prettier by covering the fronts with wallpaper offcuts and then put a simple computer-printed label on them so I know what is inside!
Yarn Storage Organizer
Even though we aren’t storing yarn, this storage bag could certainly work for fabric and it is portable. Plus, you can also store a few of your cutting supplies too.
I hope this post has given you some ideas for your own sewing space and remember there is always a solution even if you are working with a small space.
If you can’t fit a dedicated bookshelf or plastic tubs you can always use a closet and hang fabric from a curtain rod with pants hangers or use a small filing cabinet and put your fabric in paper folders.
Get creative and hopefully, you’ll find a solution that fits the way you sew!
Video Version – My Epic Summer Sewing Room Sort Out
Other Posts you might enjoy:
- Horn Sewing Cabinet Review – And the alternatives I didn’t choose!
- Free Patterns from Scrap Fabric Love
- Sewing for Charity (2022)
- AccuQuilt Go! Fabric Cutter Review (2022)
- 5 Ways to use Fabric Scraps to make your own Fabric
- How to use Fleece for Quilt Backing
- How to Make a Modern Scrap Quilt – Improv Style!
- 31 Thoughtful Gifts for People Who Sew (2022)
- 18 Best Sewing Scissors for Quilters (2022)