Friday, November 5, 2010

I ammmmmmmmm back and keeping up with the paperwork...

Hello all you fabulous stash trimmers (and stash stuffers...).  This is Teresa of Fabric Therapy, back again to share a little more of the organizing going on in my quilt cave.  Thanks for checking in and leaving a comment!

Today I want to talk about paperwork...books, patterns, magazines, quilt show photos, free pattern downloads, etc.  It's all got to go somewhere and we all need to be able to find it again when we want it, once it enters our quilting domain.

Let's start with magazines and all that loose paper.  A few years ago, I simply had to come to terms with quilt magazines.  They were taking over my house.  I was really afraid to throw them out because there were so many yummy things I wanted to keep.
Meet my best friend...SHEET POCKET PROTECTORS!!  I LOVE these things!  I'm a total office supply geek and these are available at most office supply places like Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, etc.  I now go through my magazines and only save the things I want...patterns, how-to's, reference articles, and pictures.  The patterns, "how-to's" and articles I slip into these fabulous clear pockets.  If the pattern or article has multiple pages, all pages go in one protector. 

Sometimes I just want to keep a picture or sketch, no directions.  I set these little pictures aside (I'll show you what I do with those in a moment).

From time to time, I find a project that I saved and wonder "whatever made me want to keep THIS?!?"  I just throw those pages away and reuse the pocket protector for my NEW favorite thing that I want to make some day.

I keep all my "how-to's" in a magazine file.  By "how-to," I mean articles on things like binding, making hourglass units, yo-yo's,  labels, English paper piecing, foundation piecing, comparing battings, etc.  Fons and Porter's magazine is a great source for these "how-to's," but I find them in just about every publication. 

I like the magazine files because I have not met a 3-ring binder yet that has not disappointed me!  I hate it when pages slip out of the rings!  And these magazine files fit so nice on the shelf next to my quilt books, and I can remove the page I want without wrestling with a heavy binder.

Now, what to do with the patterns, etc. in these sheet pocket protectors...

I file them in labeled hanging file folders.  You can come up with your own filing system.  I tend to use many kinds of categories...I file by holiday (Christmas, Halloween, 4th of July, etc.), style (row quilts, medallion, Redwork, scrap, etc.), pattern (star, basket, flower, house, log cabin, etc.), designer (Bunny Hill, The Rabbit Factory, etc.)...the sky is the limit.  It only has to make sense to you.  The whole point to this is being able to find things later.

The nice thing about using these clear plastic pockets is that you can also store plastic templates, fabric swatches, or freezer paper templates (sometimes I re-use my freezer paper shapes from doing hand applique) in the same pocket with the pattern.
I also sometimes shrink or enlarge templates from commercial patterns...I can save all that in the pocket with the pattern.
Perhaps you are thinking that this kind of storage can be expensive.  Well, I use second-hand, two-drawer filing cabinets that I find at the University of Michigan property disposition center.  They cost me about $10 each.  Check out your local college or university - most have one of these places where they sell their old office and lab stuff that they no longer want.  I've also found them at yard sales and recycling centers.  I space them on the floor, then use recycled doors as a table top over them.  This is very sturdy and gives me a flat work space to look through my files.

OK, remember all the little pictures we cut out from magazines?  I combine these with others bits of inspiration...quilt show photos, greeting cards, etc...and glue them in to my "Inpiration Book."

I save little pictures to give me inspiration about color, form, etc.  Any little thing that will inspire my applique or piecing.  I use a large, bound record book (also available at an office supply place).  I use this mainly because I had one left over at home from the days I used to work in a reserach lab and I would use these kinds of record books to store experimental data.  Now they hold my quilting "experimental data!"  I just use a glue stick to glue things to the pages without much thought or planning...just getting as much on the page as possible.

They are comical looking...I kind of like the fact that the books expanded to hold all my little ideas.  You could also use a binder or spiral notebook if you want your book to look more normal when it is full.  LOL

  I store them right above my main work area so I can grab them when I want some inspiration. 

Now we come to books.  As I have told you, I sew in the basement.  I used to NOT store my craft and quilting books down there because I was afraid if the basement ever flooded my books would ruin.  I used to store them in my bedroom, two floors away from my stash and sewing machine.  That did not work.  I like having them near where I work. 

So I store them up, off the floor.  I put bookshelves up on top of my filing cabinet/door tabletop structures.  Very sturdy.

I sort my books by category...applique, Christmas, antique, rotary cut, liberated, Baltimore Album, tie quilts, reference, etc.  I tried doing it alphabetically by title or author, but then I could never remember titles or authors correctly and got frustrated trying to find a certain book or project.  This really works for me.  There are certain authors I love and collect...like Blackbird Designs.  I keep all their stuff together. 

I did spend some money on good quality bookshelves from Ikea...I used to use something less sturdy, and I came home one day to find that a shelf collapsed and there were my books...all over the floor.

I tend to use sticky notes in my books to mark things I really liked so that I can find them again some day.

I can see the little colorful notes sticking above the books...just like old friends waving at me, saying, "remember me??"

So, was that easy?  Does it inspire you to organize all your inspiration??  Don't get overwhelmed...I started this many years ago and now I only have to maintain the madness.  This is something to work on over time...especially going through old quilt magazines and organizing all the patterns you've bought.

Thank you for reading along and I am grateful to Stash Manicure and Madame Samm for the opportunity to share my quilt cave with you.  Good luck with your organizing!

See you next time,
Teresa  :o)


  1. I said on your last post that I would like to come and live in your basement. This new post has just confirmed it! lol What a great storage system you have. I keep inspirational notebooks, too. They are fabulous.....Just like your post!

  2. I have always been afraid to pick my quilting magazins apart. Most of them have only one or two patterns in them I was originally interested in. I have bunches of them. I think with your ideas here, I might be able to take some of the bulk out of my sewing media.
    Happy Quilting!!

  3. Teresa - you amaze us again! I don't have a large number of books, magazines or patterns. I do store those I do have, much the same and they fit on a nice small bookcase - that size is find for me.

  4. bravo, bravo! sheet protectors are the best tool for keeping little and big pieces of paper and patterns together. I use them too, but in 1' 3ring binders, but now they are all full. the mag holder is a great idea. I love and keep my magazines, so when there is something I want to bookmark, I use a post it note.

    thanks for sharing

  5. Your quilt cave is a wondrous place indeed, full to the brim with clever ideas! Thank you for sharing them with us all.

  6. You are so organized! I love it. I don't think my fabric organization will ever be as good as yours, but my books and magazine articles are similar. I use page protectors, but put them in ring binders. I like your pocket page protectors much better. I used to put those Post-Its on book pages until I discovered a couple of years ago that when I removed them, some of the sticky had transferred to the pages of my good books. I had so many things marked anyway, that I would never get around to all of them, so I just quit doing that.

  7. Oh Teresa, I was having a bit of a rough day, then I sat down and read this post and it made me forget all my troubles. I LOVE your organization and it is truly inspiring. Thank you for all your great pictures and for sharing your thought processes.

  8. Thank you for the tips - I have so many photocopies of designs/tips/color combinations on quilts etc - that magazine file idea is wonderful for me!

  9. I did this several years ago while preparing an international move, but with my wool and knitting stash and books. Reading your post reminded me to do it with my quilting things too! It takes time, but oh, is it worth it!
    Thank you for a great post!

  10. Good Morning Teresa....and there will be a next time and a next time and a next...
    She's baccccccccccccccccccck...lol. Had to add that bit of something to your subject line...for how could I possibly improve on your post..Can't won't..It is perfect..lol Great shots...and of course you won't be surprised that those plastic inserts, I called them Freda..are my best friend...I do this with my patterns and my cooking recipes..I have binders that are sew heavy, I cannot lift them..but ohhh they are organized...I knew I loved you ....sew what's next? I am excited to hear what will be your next topic?
    piece be with you..

  11. Fantastic, Theresa. It's going to snow here in NW Pennsylvania this weekend, so you just inspired me to organize my quilting area, just as soon as I finish those 7 Christmas table runners. I have lots of sheet protectors and I used the binders for all kinds of stuff like recipes, but they always get wrinkled in there if they are not full, I do have some of the magazine (plastic ones) holders and I'll try those this time. Thanks for all the great tips.

  12. So glad you are back with so many ideas. Really enjoy your guest appearance once again.This blog is one of my first stops.When are you back

  13. All I can say is WOW. I have been wanting to go through all my magazines but just can't make myself throw pages away. What if I need that page someday. Well, I think you gave me the inspiration to start. Thanks!!

  14. Thank you for the kick in the butt I needed. Paper is starting to become an issue in my sewing room too! And you had me at quilt cave, totally made me smile :)

  15. Yeah, twin, it's fabulous!! I buy sheet protectors in bulk! LOL -- keep all my Blackbird Designs (and Thimbleberries :-D) books together...What I don't have is a Quilt Cave...but I have a basement and the 2nd of 3 is a junior in high school, so it's just a matter of time!!! LOL Love, love, love it!!
    Mary Lou

  16. great way to organize - I wish I had more space to do the same but I do not have near as much as you do so not really a problem. One day though hope to have a bigger space and I will remember some of your ideas.

  17. You are definitely a girl after my own heart - I love things to be organized. I use a lot of sheet protectors and I put them in spiral notebooks but, like you, I'm not happy with any of them. I have a few of the magazine holders like yours but last week when I looked for them all I could find at WalMart were $7 each - yikes! Any tips on where to get them cheaper? blessings, marlene

  18. Wow - and I thought I had a lot of books! When you decide to offer tours of your workroom and give away samples, please let me know, I'll be the first in line! It's fascinating to see how someone else does things - thanks for all the tips - now if only I had your energy! xo, Nan

  19. Great post! I had to laugh at you saying your bookshelf broke, 'cause that's exactly what happened to me a few months ago. Those books are HEAVY!

    What I did to remedy that was to buy steel shelves. *L* What I had on one shelf in my old bookcase took TWO on the new shelves. No wonder, huh?

  20. We are kindred souls. I too store patterns, internet printouts and magazine clippings in sheet protectors...but mine are in cumbersome binders. I definitely will look into moving them all to magazine boxes. They will fit better on the bookshelves, that's for sure! But wonders of wonders, I too save snippets of designs and clever ideas and glue them into notebooks. I have one each for Christmas, beads, and crazy quilts, and am working on book number 4 for general craft ideas. My husband jokingly calls them my "secret books" when he sees me working on them. I just get pure joy from looking at the creative things that others have done.

  21. Your way of storing the sheet protectors is much better than my way of using binders. The binders themselves just take up way to much room. Thanks for the hints.

  22. I love your means of organization. As I was scrolling down and reading each different idea, I was thinking to myself that's so cool. Oh, wow! That's cool too!

    I don't have many books or magazines yet (I just started quilting three months ago), but I am starting to acquire things as time passes by. I will definitely keep these ideas in mind. They are so great!

  23. Perfect! Just what I needed to read as I have been wondering what on earth to do with all my Quilt magazines I have collected over the years

  24. I started doing the same thing with my millions of quilting mags about 2 years ago...have many big binders and have them organized with tabs... sure takes up less space and I can put my finger on what I want pretty quickly! Love your system for everything! Interesting that you are a researcher! :-) Thanks for sharing!!

  25. I sew love your ideas!! You need to hire yourself out to get us all organized! One question - how do you store actual bought patterns (not clipped from magazines but the little booklet type things that come usually in a little plastic bag?)
    Thanks for sharing...will have to try some of these ideas, of course a few more hours in the day would help with that!!

  26. Love the inspiration book! What a great way to file ideas.

  27. Teresa, I would like to clone you and have you come live at my home here in sunny Alabama! You do want to come home, don't you? Or better yet, on your way to Auburn, etc...stop by and give me some organizing tips!! I have the whole day to myself and plan to go put some of your ideas into practice. I have to start somewhere. I even have 2 file cabinets not in good use so now I have the perfect use for them.Thanks ever SEW much!


  28. I started organizing my magazines in the same fashion of using sheet protectors, they truly are a great invention. But I have to say you've taken it a step further and I love your ideas! I can't wait to start using some of them to help thin out some more of the clutter.

  29. I really enjoy your organizational posts. I also keep my fabric in the clear plastic containers and love it organized that way.
    I've used the plastic page inserts for years as well. But I do like binders (as long as I don't get them to full, they hold shut ok).
    I am behind on sorting through my old quilt magazines though to put the pages I like into the binders. I use to scan/print the designs I liked, but that is to costly on printer ink. I hate to remove pages from the magazines, but I think that is my only affordable option. (that is why I have accumulated so many mag. again - cause I dreaded tearing out the pages - lol). I think I may be a mag. horder. Yikes! Anyway, I also have a home made, roll stand I designed. Right now it's floor standing (use to have lots of room to use it in my old studio, but with new studio I thinkn it is going to be converted to a wall unit to free up more floor space). What it does is has several dowls across vertically that fit into holes in the end braces. I have four or five rows of these dowls vertically. On these dowls I place batting, fabric rolls, stabalizers, etc. Anything that comes on a roll, or that i have a large amount of, that I can put on a roll. I place a small tabe of tape over the loose end(so they don't come unrolled on the rack)and mark on the tape what kind/weight/brand, etc - the item is. My rack is placed at one end of my cutting table - so when I need - say batting for example, I just reach down, pull off the little tab of tape - unroll it out on my cutting surface, cut, and then replace my tab of tape. No wrestling around the large roll of batting, or diggin through rolls of stabalizers to find which ones I want. It's all nice and organized and ready to use in seconds. And once I hang my rack on the wall, it will be freeing up very needed floor space in my new - but smaller work room.

  30. This sounds so logical and precise. Just what I need! I've noticed that my tastes change as I become more experienced, and that makes me afraid to throw anything away. That's the start of my trouble!

    Leslie S. in MN
    esclante at comcast dot net

  31. Great post! Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  32. This was wonderful to see and fills my mind with inspiration. I don't have even a quarter of the number of books and magazines that you have, but have needed to come up with a better system of storing my little "reference library". :)
    I very much appreciate your being willing to share your methods and solutions. Your "Quilt Cave" is terrific, congratulations on creating such a haven of creativity in which to work.

  33. I use page protectors too...for patterns for knitting, quilting and other things. I have binders but they are heavy and awkward. I like the idea of putting them in magazine holders. Thank you for the ideas...you are a great inspiration. Maybe after work I will try some ideas in my scrap/quilting room.

  34. I believe I have found my clone. Or is it, "Great minds think alike." I have my books, patterns, magazine tearouts, etc. organized just like you. I did not use the sheet protecters, but I love the idea. I have a box of them I bought for my Embroidery printouts. Good job! Carol in Irving Tx

  35. am I the last one to figure out that you archived your storage posts? cancel the rest of my appointments!

    acutually already do the plastic, but I keep mine in a three ring binder. I am looking for a file drawer I can dedicate to my "TO DO's"

    Goal for 2012 is to take at least one a month from my "TO DO' list and cut it from scraps for a future project. 2012 is the year of the KITS

    great post! cw

  36. Judy from grammasquiltingroom blog sent me over to see your organizational system...amazing! Wow! Great ideas!

  37. I have decided that it is ok to love to handle my fabrics and books and patterns and unfinished projects.. I love organization and it gives me more opportunity to just handle this precious stuff...lol. I fought it for so long.. thinking that the end projects were the most important thing.. but what is really important is my pleasure handling and processing and yes, using my precious quilting supplies.

    You have set me free to just enjoy the process and the "ownership" - if I never made another quilt.. so what? If I enjoy the materials - isn't that what they are in my home for? Liberated at last!

  38. I am liberated now to enjoy my "stash" ... whether it ever produces quilts or table toppers is really not the point. I own it, it is mine and I really enjoy just playing with it.. feeling it, reading it, comparing it and now I see how I can accomplish this. I have been storing in too large containers and too broad categories and was frustrated. Now I see how I can better enjoy my hobby. Thank you.


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