Hello there, fellow makers!
Before we get started, answer me this: Do you have a fabric stash that is a little (or a lot) out of control? Do you never remember what type of fabric you have on hand and what fabric to use for your pattern stash? Do you hate measuring and re-measuring the length and width of your fabric?
If you said “yes” to any of these questions, fear not – I know the exact situation you’re in. Over the years, I have fabric binged like no other, and it got to the point that I was running out of space and it was difficult for me to plan out my projects. That’s why I took a few hours (probably 4-5 to be exact) and got my shit together. How? I promise, it’s so easy. Let me walk you through my process.
Step 1: Gather Your Fabric
If you’re like me, you probably feel that organization is unnecessary and daunting, especially if you’ve let your stash build up for a while. For this first step, grab any fabric you feel you need to really spend time to organize. Personally, I focused on yardage, mainly for apparel. I’m not concerned with my quilting yardage or pre-cuts; I can generally tell how many of those I have, and I’m honestly not going to break my back over some scraps or partial yardage leftovers (at least not yet).
Step 2: Download the Free Fabric Organization Cards
Feel free to download and print out my free fabric organization template below. There are two versions:
I personally like the “four per sheet” because I only use half as much paper. However, if you have big handwriting or just feel you need more space, the “two per sheet” will be perfect for you.
Step 3: Fill out the Cards
Don’t feel pressured to fill out every single detail on the cards. Trust me, sometimes I can only gather a few different items, and that’s perfectly OK. To fill out the cards, you’ll need the following:
- Fabric card
- Hole punch
- Left over yarn or fabric selvege
Using selvages works out quite well as I have been saving them for years… to use for something… I just didn’t know what.
After I fill out the cards, I put a hole punch in the top of each card and use either yarn or a long piece of fabric scrap/selvage to attach the card to my fabric.
I also try to fold my fabric somewhat neatly so that everything can fit in my fabric dresser. I can stack my fabrics, and I can easily find details about each piece of fabric I have.
Step 4: Create a Digital Inventory (Optional)
I’ll be honest, the more time I HAVE to spend on organization, the less sustainable it is for me. I also then spend less time sewing. I don’t look forward to doing inventory or organizing my stash, let alone creating super detailed planners and following through with color coding, handwriting, blah blah blah. Also my handwriting sucks.
I need a solution that is simple and quick. If you have a huge stash built up, I don’t think any organization will be quick, but you have to start somewhere. After listening to the Love to Sew Podcast and how Helen from Helen’s Closet uses Trello to organize her patterns, I thought that would be a great idea to adopt. Here’s why:
- I had already used Trello before. This is not a necessary criterion. But, I was already familiar with the layout and functionality, so I was able to just hit the ground running. Trello is very easy to use and if you haven’t tried it before, you’ll pick it up in no time.
- I wanted something that I always had with me. There’s nothing worse than going to your local fabric shop and forgetting what you have in stock or what fabric and other supplies are needed for a specific project. Trello is also an app, which allows me to have access to my inventory on any of my devices.
- It has filtering capabilities! I love that I can label my cards based on what makes sense for my stash. If I want to filter all my cards down by knits or if I have linked certain fabrics with a specific pattern, I can easily see that.
For all the fabric I created cards for, I also have a corresponding card in Trello. I tend to add as much detail as I can into the Trello cards, since that is really the backbone of my stash organization. I started filling out less detail on my physical cards, except for basic things like width, yardage, contents, etc. I just thought it was a bit redundant to have all so much detail in two locations. If you don’t have some sort of centralized inventory, I recommend filling out the physical cards with as much detail as you’d like.
Step 5: Print Extra Cards and Take Them With You
As an Industrial Engineer, I’m all about efficiency and process optimization. Here’s how I save time: I put some extra cards on hand in my purse, fabric bag, or whatever I choose to take with me to the fabric store.
When I’m shopping for fabric (either in a shop or online), I fill out my cards while I’m shopping! You could also do this digitally, by the way. I quickly jot down valuable information that I typically forget to capture. I can’t tell you how many times I bought fabric and immediately forgot its composition, where it’s from, how much I paid per yard, etc. The more you can do this upfront, the more time it will save you down the road. And, you’ll build a great habit.
I’ve tried many different solutions in attempt to organize my stash. While it is really nice to have a “library” or inventory of your fabric swatches and details, I found that I really needed the fabric details close to my fabric. I supplement this with my electronic inventory (which is very helpful when I don’t have a hard copy in front of me all the time).
Use the back of the cards to add a fabric swatch (especially if you want to file that card away for either a record or for a future fabric purchase) or to add any other details that might be important, like washing instructions or any other interesting information about the fabric.
I have also printed these cards on both regular printer paper and on card stock. While I prefer card stock because it holds up much longer if you’re doing a bit of fabric handling, it is more expensive and some printers may not handle the paper weight all too well. If you decide to use regular printer paper, I recommend reinforcing the area for the hole punch with a small piece of scotch tape. This will help the card from ripping away from your yarn/fabric selvage.
Please feel free to leave feedback/comments/suggestions! I’d love to hear from you!