Organize Your Fabric Stash with this Free Printable Template

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
  • Pen/pencil
  • 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.

General Notes

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!

Hello, 2018!: My Sewing Goals for the Year

Hello, Makers! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I personally am very excited for 2018. There was a lot of change in my life in 2017, mostly for good, but change still is sometimes hard. Between finding a new job, moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, getting a dog (a great dane), and working towards other personal goals, I am proud of everything I accomplished last year. I honestly didn't have a feasible vision nor necessarily plan my projects as well as I could have, so I am super excited to use this time to make some more concrete commitments.

I want to take a quick minute to note that I listened to episode 22 of the Love to Sew podcast today, and I never felt so motivated to really step back and think about my goals and what I would like to accomplish this year. If you haven't listened to the episode, I highly recommend it! You'll get some awesome ideas and tools to help you organize projects, set realistic resolutions for the year, and engage more with the sewing community.

While we're on that topic, I'd like to share with you some of my broad objectives for 2018.

  1. Start blogging. I'm sure you may notice that this is actually my first blog post. Not too long ago, I made the decision to make this a priority for 2018. While I'm not super new to sewing, I'm pretty new to the sewing community. I never used Instagram, read blogs, or honestly really paid attention to what other makers were doing until mid-2017. After I started slowly getting more familiar with the community by teaching classes, supporting local fabric shops, and buying independent patterns. I was truly amazed at how talented and awesome my fellow creators are. My purpose behind starting to blog is to try to give back to the sewing and handmade community, make friends, and just really do what I love to do.
  2. Learn new techniques. I've done some basic sewing over the years, but 2017 was the first year I made my first bag and my first garment, and it was so much fun! I made a ton of different bags and a handful of garments as well, including the Fancy Tiger Fen Dress, Thread Theory Strathcona Henley, Closet Case Ebony Tee, Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt, and a few others. I learned SO much from reading and re-reading blogs and patterns, and I am excited to continue my adventures with sewing new and challenging garments, like pants, button down shirts, and outwerwear. Additionally, I am bustier than most, so I tend to like more loose-fitting apparel. And since many patterns aren't designed for full chested women, I'd like to learn how to better grade patterns around the bust so I don't look 10 months pregnant all the time (although damn it's comfortable).

  1. Serge like a boss. 2017 was the first year I ever worked with (and purchased) a serger. I am speaking out of complete honesty here - a serger will change your LIFE! I started out with the Baby Lock Imagine (a perfect machine for beginner sergers), and just recently (literally two days ago) upgraded to the Baby Lock Ovation. She's the mama bear of all sergers, and I cannot wait to start learning about the endless possibilities, including how to coverstitch. Expect more content on this in the future. 
  2. Become more involved with the local maker community. In full disclosure, I am an introvert. I have some extrovert in me at times, but when it comes to living in new cities or meeting new people, I tend to have a harder time adapting. And let's be honest - sewing can be lonely! Even for some introverts like me. Since I moved to the San Francisco bay area about 6 months ago, I have checked out many local fabric and yarn shops, and there are definitely some awesome ones around. However, I still haven't found my maker friend base, and that is something I'm really looking forward to doing this year.
  3. Mix it up, strategically. I am the type of person that can get bored by doing the same thing over and over again. When I say "mix it up" I mean in all ways possible. Working with different fabrics, using different techniques, making different types of garments or bags, quilting, knitting, whatever! As I reflect back on my skill set, I realize that I know a decent amount about a lot of different things. I can sew, serge, quilt, knit, crochet, and paint (both furniture and fabric). I need the movement in my projects, but I do need to be strategic about it such that I'm not frantic all the time.
  4. Get better at photography. Or better yet, find someone who is good at it who can take pictures for me! Although, I could benefit from leaning as I am honestly terrible at photography and I so desire the beautiful pictures that I see of fellow makers.

Considering all of this, I'm going to try to be more strategic in my project selection for 2018. I have four concrete measurable goals for the year:

  • Make at least one semi-challenging item every two months. I'd love to do more but also know that I tend to OVER commit to a lot of things and end up disappointing my inner expectations. I will be happy if I can produce one per two months, but thrilled if I can do more. For me, semi-challenging means that it incorporates a technique I have never done before, like installing a hood, for example.
  • Do not carry more than two WIP (work in process) projects at a time. I think this is self-explanatory. I need to commit to starting and finishing my projects before moving onto the next. The only reason I am allowing two instead of one is that sometimes I am either waiting on materials to arrive or need to make a last minute gift for family/friends. Allowing myself to work on something else while I'm waiting will satisfy my itch to stitch in the meantime.
  • Go on a fabric buying ban (unless it's absolutely necessary) until I work through ~70% of my stash. I have a confession - I have A LOT of fabric yardage in my closet. My 70% target is approximate. I have a 4-drawer dresser and a 5-shelf bookcase full of fabric (I'll have another post soon about how I organize my fabric). My goal is to clear at least 6 shelves/drawers of fabric before going on psychotic $400 fabric binge rages. This has happened more than once...
  • Make 4-6 garments for Tyler. Tyler is my partner of 7 years and has been amazingly supportive of my sewing and quilting dreams. Now that he knows what I'm capable of doing, he has been asking for (and has even picked out fabric for) additional garments. The Thread Theory patterns fit him very well as he has a tall and slim frame. He loves his Strathcona Henley and Tees that I made him last year and has requested four more as well as three Fairfield Button Ups. It is destiny that I must get better at plackets...

I'm going to be working on putting together my #2018makenine over the next couple days, so I'll be sharing that and more details about some of the fun projects I completed in 2017.

Cheers, and happy 2018!