I have to tell you that revealing my stash is a little like showing people my underwear drawer...all of it, even the ratty stuff.
hoarding collecting fabric since the early 80's, and I'm not so much embarrassed at the size, but more my obsessive-compulsive organization of it. I have tried all kinds of storage ideas over the years and what I am doing now works well for the fact that I sew in the basement, which isn't what you would call "finished." Oh, it's cozy enough, lined with stash...but most people would want something more finished and sophisticated (with less rollie-pollies and spiders...). I think it is Heaven.
I sort in three major categories...yardage (including fat quarters), large scraps, and wee bits.
For yardage, I fold based on fat quarters, which are roughly 18 x 22 inches. By this I mean I fold in half from fold to selvage, then in half again in the same direction, then in half crosswise.
I used to store fabric in really big bins, but they were just too heavy and now I use boxes by Sterilite and Art Bin. My folded little piles fit well in them and they are readily available at Joann's, Target, and even my grocery store. I collected them slowly, getting most of them on sale or using a coupon. Here, I picture the container on its side.
I can get two rows of stacked fabrics in a tall bin. I NEVER permanently label my bins because things can change so easily, and I hate removing sticky labels. I use 3 x 5 index cards and a black marker and just insert the card on the inside of the container.
I collect heart fabrics and outgrew my first bin...I added a second one, in a smaller size and labeled it accordingly.
So that brings me to how I sort yardage. I used to just sort by color...red in one tub, blue in another. Then I found it inconvenient to have red reproduction fabric in with bright reds...it caused too much rummaging around in big heavy tubs. Now I separate everything, which allows me to utilize these smaller containers. I sort my reproduction stuff by color.
I sort my crazy brites by color.
But I also sort by categories...Cats, Dogs, Horses, Halloween, Christmas, Hearts, Animals, Butterflies & Bugs, Harvest, Black on White, White on Black, Batiks, Plaids, 30's (sub-divided into colors), Patriotic (sub-divided into neutral, red and blue), Kitchen/Food, Misc. Novelty, Misc. Flowers, Music, and some lines of fabric that I wanted to keep together.
Then I have bigger bins of general colors like these neutrals.
I separate the general greens, blues and browns into light, medium and dark.
For bigger yardage, I still fold into the same basic shape, based on how I fold fat quarters.
Then I sort my larger scraps by color and keep them mostly in Art Bin boxes with handles...this way I can grab them and go for taking to workshops or cutting parties (I LOVE scrappy quilts!).
My scrap bin categories are neutral, green, blue, red, brown/orange, black, warm brites (red, yellow, orange, pink), cool brites (blue, green, purple), reproduction, 30's, and novelties.
I do a lot of hand applique and save even the smallest scrap. I put them in larger art bins and sort in color groups.
I also cut and save scrappy strips for log cabin and liberated piecing.
I also store ongoing projects and misc. cut scraps (squares, triangles, etc.) in labeled bins.
I love little drawer units that are meant to store hardware, etc. They are great for tools and thread.
I have storage for tools, rulers, thread, and movies right at my fingertips. I use found objects from garage sales and second-hand places for storage. All the shelving units that surround the basement and hold stash (and games, toys, overflow kitchen stuff, scrapbooking stuff, seasonal decorations, etc.) are plastic, as we have had water in the basemnt before.
As this is getting really long, another time I will show you how I store books, patterns, ideas, etc.
As you do your sort, make it fit your stash. I like being able to walk right to some container, shelf or drawer and find what I am looking for. I keep some open bins at my feet under my sewing machine to throw scraps and fabrics that need to be washed and/or "be filed."
I'm a wash girl - I wash everything because I am sensitive to the chemicals and because I don't like surprises concerning shrinkage and color fastness. I keep scraps of batting and larger yardages for backings in larger totes under the stairs.
I'm not really crazy about keeping my fabric in bins...I love pictures of other stashes where it is out on a shelf, just looking all yummy and inviting, saying, "pet me, pet me!" But, since I sew underground in the quilt cave, it has to be so. My husband and daughter have computers in the basement, so along with the washer and dryer, an old TV (and the cat food/cat box), I am never really alone down there.
Thank you for stopping by and enduring my stash...I try to keep things orderly and neat because I don't function well in chaos. I appreciate your comments, your suggestions. We all pull our creative energy from different places, different spaces. My stash is a living, breathing, work in motion. My buddies give me a hard time about being too organized, but I sure like being able to put my hands on something when I need it (or when I want to offer them something for their project...)! As my blog title suggests, fabric is my therapy.