Storing the Stash

A reader asked in the comments yesterday about storing the fabric.  There are so many different ways to store the stash fabric.  In the trunk of the car, in the freezer, under the mattress .. anywhere your husband won’t find it!  🙂

Please share how you store your fabric. Or, share how you wish you stored your fabric.  Share what you’ve tried or seen that works great or what you’ve tried or seen that doesn’t work so well.  What absolutely doesn’t work for some may work perfectly for others.

My stash has been stored in everything from Rubbermaid type boxes, to a three shelf bookcase, to a linen closet to a walk-in closet.  My guess is that we’re all doing the best we can under our circumstances.  While we want to make our fabrics as accessible as possible, I pretty much just take the space I’m given and use it as best I can.

My current fabric storage setup, and probably my most favorite so far are shelving units that we got at Sam’s Club.

stash2 I like this setup because the shelves are deep and I have other things stored behind the fabric.  There’s more fabric behind some stacks; there are boxes of varying sizes behind some stacks; hidden suprises behind others.  Because the stacks are short, the fabric doesn’t topple over too easily.  I can see pretty much everything I have and I can get to it easily.

My fabric is stored in the basement so there are no problems with food odors and dust from the tons of baby powder and flour that I use upstairs.  Don’t try to figure that out — baby powder in the bathroom; flour in the kitchen!  🙂 Since our basement is a walkout and part of our living area, it’s heated and cooled so I don’t have to worry about humidity issues.

With the fabric being in the basement, there are no windows where direct sunlight can reach my fabric so I don’t mind that it’s on open shelves.  If my fabric was stored in a room with windows and sunlight, I’d probably prefer to have the fabric in a closet with doors or in storage containers.

Think about what works for you when re-organizing  your fabric.  Not only does the fabric need to be easy to get to, but it also need to be easy for you to put it away.

In a previous house, I had the fabric stored in a walk-in closet in one of the bedrooms but I sewed in the family room.  I was constantly bringing fabric into that room and rarely taking it back to the closet.  Having my fabric right next to my cutting table now helps me get it back onto the shelves when I’m finished using it.

Think about possible problems such as sunlight, humidity, bugs and work around any such issues.  If your fabric is stored in multiple locations (hall closet, bedroom closet, under bed type boxes, etc.), you might keep a notebook or spreadsheet as to where you have things.  Like . . reds in hall closet, blues under bed.

Do the best you can with what you have but don’t stress about it!  Get the stash organized though because it’s just a bit less than 2 weeks til the real stashbusting begins!  🙂



  1. 1


    My best storage idea is the large 3 drawer plastic things with wheels. Since I am a scrap quilter I sort my smaller pieces by color into the drawers and then when I need green I can just go to the drawer. If I am using a lot of a color I can remove the drawer and take it to where I am working. This also lets me see what colors I have a lot of or those I am lacking.

    When pieces get small then I cut them into strips and they go in the strip drawers.

  2. 2


    I have a closet in my sewing room – Bob took out the rods & shelf and I got a big storage unit with deep shelves. Initially I stacked the fabric on the shelves by color. That lasted a few months but it was hard for me to keep organized – probably because everytime I pulled out a fabric that pile would tilt and slip around – for what ever reason it got real messy. Now I use clear plastic containers and try to sort by color. I’m not real fond of this method either – do I put the bluegreen in with the blues or the greens? Plus it’s harder to find the fabric piece I want. That’s a down side of having so many fat quarters.

  3. 3

    Carol says

    My stash (some of everything) are stored in a dresser, plastic bins with and without wheels, in plastic bags and a few totes. My goal for this year is to get it all organized and get most of it in one room. I like the idea of using a spreadsheet to keep track of what I have and where. I can use my old PDA. Then, I can take it with me when I’m “browsing” a quilt store.
    A couple of questions:
    How often do you buy a print just because it “calls to you” and you have no idea how you’re going to use it?
    How are your chickens doing with this cold weather? I’m waiting for the storm to hit here in the Northeast. We have a blizzard warning starting at noon today for Long Island.
    Did that plant ever flower before the temperature dropped?(Oops, I guess that’s more than a couple of questions.)

  4. 4


    Ikea shelves right now…we repurposed my dining room into my studio/office and I’m using the Billy Shelf units from Ikea but now I’m running out of space…and to think I own a quilt shop and everyone calls that my stash.

  5. 5

    Sandy says

    I have two shelving units in double closets in the spare bedroom.
    After spending two weeks organizing the shelves are organized and full. Now I only have 6 large rubbermaids still full of who knows what. Plans are to use from the shelves and pull out of the rubbermaids when the shelves need to be replenished.

  6. 6

    JOY says

    I tried bins (still have some in bins) and found that doesn’t work for me. Tried the drawers on wheels and I must not treat them well, the drawers always stuck and I found them very inconvenient for me to use.

    My favorite was one time I went away for a week and came home to find that dh had reworked a closet and sorted my stash into it 🙂 🙂 🙂 He used closet organizers – shoe cubbies for my FQs and larger cubbies for my yardage. Easy to find and keep (somewhat) organized. The only problem was that it was in the back hallway and I sewed in the multipurpose room…

    Now I sew in the basement (and quilt in dd’s room when she is off to college) and find that I needed more enclosed storage as the basement is a bit more humid than I want. I bought large garage storage cabinets and I put damp rid in them to help keep my fabric from getting icky. BUT I have piles of fabric everywhere that need to be folded and sorted into the cabinets. I put my FQs in tubs that slide in and out of the shelves and just put the yardage folded on shelves.

    I try to have things organized by:
    batiks (the largest portion of my stash),
    FQs by color and
    yardage by purpose/color.


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    I sew almost completely from donations and other people’s leftover scraps. Saving them has been a challenge.

    I recycle plastic blanket holder bags and sort strings and pieces by color/theme…children, patriotic, hospice, etc. With only a 7×8 sewing room, space is limited.

    I put the bags in my homemade cloth bags by theme and pile them up in cute baskets on the floor and bigger bags under the table and ironing board. It’s always tidy as cramped as it is, this way.

    Want to stash bust big time? Donate your leftover fabric to someone who does charity quilting like I (and many others) do. We also love unfinished quilt tops you’d like to move along! We count on your being over stocked and charitable 😉

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    Started with clear plastic containers, they got too heavy and were too unwieldy to use. Went to the metal racks, could see the fabrics better, but always seemed to need the fabric near the bottom. Which meant the rest sort of toppled over as you tried to get to the bottom fabric. Took 1 niece & 1 wknd to totally wipe out that system. What a mess. Now I have IKEA shelving units on both side of the room. Took almost 1 yr to get all of my stash washed, folded to fit neatly into the shelves. But I love it. I can see what I have, it’s easy to pull out the fabric and it looks great when you walk in the room. Now if my room was only bigger and had enough space for another shelving unit:) Plan for this year is to use the stash.

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    sheddy says

    I can’t wait for the big stash busting year. I love all your quilts so I’m excited about what lies ahead. Thanks for all your inspiration, both quilting and cooking.

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    I’m not a cook, so my stash has taken over half the pantry, plus my craft room! I am trying to sell of my rubber stamp collection and then my fabric will get more organized. I have a few drawers that are sorted into novelty prints and batiks, then alot of stuff is at the PIG stage (project in garbage bag). I am trying to keep scrap bins sorted by size so I have a dedicated basket for 2.5″ strips, and other baskets for smaller or larger widths.

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    Laura in AZ says

    Last year I finally got my stash organized so that I could actually get to everything easily and it has been wonderful.

    – My yardage is stored in the spare linen closet, which is the right depth and width to store two stacks of fabric folded in a square.
    – My fat quarters and half yards, as well as unstarted projects, are stored in the wire cubes you can buy and assemble in the height and width you want. I have mine 4 high and spread across the inside of the guest room closet. It keeps the dust and light out, and the depth and width of these bins is perfect for how I fold and store my fat quarter and half yards – 2 stacks in each bin. They are also perfect for my unstarted projects. I do recommend finding more sturdy bins if possible. My first set was from Costco and they are super sturdy. I couldn’t find them there anymore when I needed the second set, so bought the ones I found at Walmart. They wobble and are not nearly as strong and don’t stand straight with the weight of the fabric, so I’ve tied the two sets together with yarn to keep them straight.
    – The armoire in the guest/sewing room stores the rest of my fabric that is not scraps or strings. I like to buy fabric samples and I can fit 3 stacks of those across one shelf of the armoire.
    – My scraps and pre-cut strips/squares & strings are all in either plastic storage boxes, acid free photo boxes, tins, or in the rolling cart with draws that I got at Costco. I won a 4 lb jar of pistachios at our Xmas party last night and after DH finishes eating the nuts I plan to store either thread or my strings on the jar. It’s one of those with the flip lid with a latch so great for displaying things, but yet keeping the dust out, of which we have tons here in the desert.
    – Thread is stored either in tins or thread boxes from Joann’s. I also just found these Xmas boxes at Hobby Lobby with two different heights that are perfect for thread. The shorter depth fits things like YLI or King Tut and the deeper depth fits the large Star, Coats & Clark, or Essentials threads. They are cardboard, but sturdy and have a slide on top – very cool and a great find.

    Love this topic and look forward to hearing everyone’s storage strategies for their stash.

    Laura in AZ

  12. 12


    I started with baskets for fat quarters (sorted by color) and I still use them, but I will eventually move to boxes, as they break-down or I actually use the FQ up.

    I use 16 qt clear plastic boxes to store similar fabrics and smaller shoe-size boxes for WIPS. These are just easier for me to move around and store.

    The “yardage” is folded using the ruler trick which does help to keep the fabric from becoming a leaning tower.

    The stash is in three closets in the hallway, so I don’t have to worry about light, dust, etc. Once everything is in boxes, I won’t have to worry about bugs. Fabrics are sorted by “themes” and types so flannels, plaids, batiks, solids are stored in separate sections.

    I do have a spreadsheet where I keep what’s in the boxes. with pictures and estimates of the fabric yardage. So, I know what’s in the Christmas box without having to get it from the top shelf.

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    I store my fabrics in the basement as well. We spend most of our time on the main level of the house so it is nice to keep most of the stash tucked away nicely. I store most everything in a cabinet. My husband made me a cutting table from 2 damaged kitchen cabinets he found at a hardware store. He put the cabinets together and put a big 4’x8′ top on them for my cutting table. I store all of my fabrics underneath the cutting table. As Judy said, the real stash busting begins in about 2 weeks. Good thing, I’m about to run out of room in my cabinets. The stash is starting to flow into other areas of the house.

    I have most of my fabrics in plastic tubs or shoe boxes. My husband’s work boot shoe box is great for storing 2 1/2″ strips. As crazy as that sounds, shoe boxes work great for many of the precuts. The only downside, is they aren’t moisture proof.

    Here is a link to my fabric stash storage.

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    I have shown on my Blog the new cabinet where I have some of my stash. Using the Ruler method helped decrease the space I was using having my fabric on the bolt boards from Hancock Fabrics. I still have a few bolts on a shelf and totes under my cutting table. Don’t you worry about the Lights fading the fabric? I have a quilt covering my bolts still, kind of hides the fact that I have soooo much and keeps the light out.

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    Evelyn says

    In my old house I had a small sewing room – I loved it! My DH & I found a “dented” kitchen on clearance at Home Depot and we put that in the room with a raised counter top for cutting. The “tower” was perfect for fabric – each shelve pulled out and it was so easy to see my fabrics. The drawers under the counter top held my small supplies and then the cabinet underneath held the bulky things. We put a lower countertop for my machine with no drawers under it for my leg room! Because it was on clearance, it was very reasonable and if I ever get another chance – I would not hesitate looking in the kitchen department for my sewing needs! Cheers! Evelyn

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    Julianne says

    I guess that from reading how others are organised that I am the most unorganised when it comes to my stash. LOL In the past I have had my fabric folded on nice shelves some open some inside a nice closet. The closet was to dark to see the colors and I hated it. No mater how I tried to add light. I hated the open shelves because I had to much light and dust. My favorite is to just shove it all into those totes. I really like to dig in my fabrics when I am selecting fabric. I will have piles of fabric all over the room, when I make my selections I will just shove the rest back into the totes.
    I do keep some smaller pieces in those plastic towers with drawers. I don’t even sort by color any more.

  17. 17


    I have 2 sets of shelves similar to Judy’s but since most of my fabric is smaller pieces and there is a large window in the room, my fabric is in bins — except for the music fabric which takes up two drawers in my chest of drawers.

    I had the boxes before I had the shelves and it was always a pain to get to the fabric because I always wanted what was in the bottom box. I still do, but now there’s only one box to move instead of 4 or 5.

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    Our builder gave me shelving across the sewing room closet. DH installed lighting and I can keep the doors closed to protect from sunlight. Started out with everything in plastic bins but proved to be annoying and space consuming. Ended up having everything stacked out in the open on the shelving by color. Special projects in the planning stage do go into plastic bins though.

    Hope you are impressed with how organized this sounds – I dare not show you what it looks like right now! I couldn’t find a thing if my life depended on it :o) Until after the holidays the closet doors will stay closed – out of sight – in denial…My reproduction fabrics are doing just that – reproducing in the dark! What a disaster!!

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    Cindy says

    If I burn my stash to start over, can I still win? If I had it to do all over again, I’d just buy backgrounds for embroidery and applique and then pick fabrics for the variety of applique pieces I can get. I’d look for green print or hand dyes that I could get lots of variation from for leaves. Red for flowers and berries and such.

    And Karen way up there said something about storing FQ. Karen, go get the plastic shoe box size containers and refold all your fat quarters to fit. Sometimes I arrange them by color and I do keep my fabric line collections together, but most of the time I just pull down a shoebox and rootle through it. You can see everything you have that way.

    Oh and just throw the lids away right off the bat. They are a pain to store and they don’t fit when the FQ’s are standing up like you want them to. So just toss ’em.

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    pdudgeon says

    i have an ecelctic system for storing my stash….

    finnished tops waiting to be quilted are stowed into 3 drawer chests along with their backing and binding strips.
    ( total of wide 6 drawers)
    the fabric that i’ve pulled together for individual future projects are stored together in plastic totes and drawers, along with the pattern (30 projects–all for 2010)

    and then i have the “designated” drawers; each for a different thing;
    a wide drawer for the fat quarters,
    a wide drawer for the 2 1/2 in strips,
    a drawer for 30’s fabs
    and 2 wide drawers for random leftover pieces smaller than a yard.
    i also have 2 small plastic totes filled with individual baggies of squares; 2,3,4,5,6 inches.
    and a small square wicker box for my white and ecru background yardage pieces
    i have one tote full of dots fabrics that i’m collecting,
    and 3 totes full of flannel fabrics.

    and one of these days i’d like to get it all into one unit like Judy’s!

  21. 22

    Norma says

    About the only stash I have organized is my embroidery thread. Once upon a time I had fabric organized by color/type on shelves in the two double closets in my sewing room. I can still find what I want, but it’s definitely not organized, except in my mind. I have fabric on shelves, in bins, in cardboard boxes, in the attic and don’t forget those grocery bags! I also have projects stored in those plastic bags that sheets, blankets come in and also large ziploc bags. I even have fabric stored under my desk where my feet belong. I think I need a 12 step program or to be rescued by one of those TV organizer persons. Except I wouldn’t dare let a camera into either of my rooms. Judy, your stash looks fabulous on those shelves.

  22. 23

    Julie H. says

    Yardage is kept in 1 upright shelving unit with a door (I need another but don’t have the space). FQ’s are in 2, three-drawer plastic thingies under the cutting table. Miscellaneous that doesn’t fit elsewhere is in tubs in a closet. Thread is on racks by color and serger cones are in shoe boxes. Scissors and rotary cutters are in a vintage wooden sewing cabinet drawer on the cutting table in front of a ruler rack. Of course the Dr. Pepper is in a mini ‘fridge near by.

  23. 24


    I have been loving my new way of organizing and storing fabric -if I have yardage of fabric, 2 or more yards, I will use a mini-bolt method where i fold the fabric in half the full length of the yardage and then wind that on to a mini-bolt which is just a cut up piece of cardboard – roughly 12 inches high and 8 inches wide – perfect to fit on my shelves and then I store them vertically and by color, more or less. See it here:

    Now for FQs and 1/2 yard and one yard pieces, I will fold those and keep them in those large clear plastic drawer units you can buy at Walmart or Kmart or wherever. Perfect for me – I know where things are. I also set aside specific project fabric in clear zippered bags (from store bought drapes and other items) – the work great to keep the project together with the pattern and fabric.

  24. 25

    Cindy in California says

    Thanks Judy for asking your blog readers for their input on this question!!

    I will be watching all the “after Christmas” sales to see what might work for me!! Although I have to say that the “trunk of my car” and the “kids closets” have helped to spread out the problem!! 🙂 But it does make it HARDER to shop the stash!!

    My mottos for 2010: Reduce the stash and Finish the UFOs!!!

    Thanks for your help and inspiration!

    Cindy in California

  25. 26


    I have it divided by color/time period/backings. Colors are separated into wire cubes, 30’s–Civil war repros–batiks are in wire cubes in the sewing closet. UFO’s on hangers. Blocks not set into rows in a cupboard. Backings on shelves underneath my cutting table.

    This system works pretty well, until I have so much “stuff” pulled out onto the top of my 9 foot cutting table. Then I have to re-sort and fold and put it away again.

    Since I’ve mostly sorted and refolded the stash this fall as I pulled out the small pieces to cut up, I think I’ve got a fair idea of what’s in my stash. I knew when I was making pillowcases–there would be NOTHING in the stash to coordinate. Shucks! But it’s helped keep me from buying fabric I’m not going to use immediately. I keep telling myself “is it a want or a need?” and that really helps.

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    The bulk of my fabric is in a shelving unit and a kitchen island,re-purposed in to a cutting table, all from IKEA. The rest of the stash is in totes stacked everywhere. My sister suggested I get another shelving unit and then I could get rid of the totes. I didn’t really like that idea because I think it would encourage me to buy more fabric to fill it up. Oh and all the fabric is sorted by colour, yardage on the shelves and fqs in pull out totes under the cutting table. I’m very fortunate to have a room dedicated to sewing/crafting and if I quilted when we finished this room, I think I would have made it a little differently. More storage! Or I could get rid of all the other crafting supplies and then I would have all the storage that I need and then some. Have a great day!

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    When we moved to TN I took the smaller bedroom as my sewing studio. My husband put selves in one closet so that is my primary fabric storage area. The other closet holds bookselves for my books/bolts. I have now “repurposed” (I like that word) my dining room since I have a longarm. I have no storage in there! and use a metal shelve, tubs, and those little rolling things for fabric. I also now dye my fabric and store it by color in a rolling thing. Since there is a lot of light in there—I try to only put fabrics in there that I am currently using. I have two giant tubs full of scraps. My goal is to use as many of those as possible. I have a “thing” about throwing fabric out and so am now trying to realistically only keep fabric scraps that are REALLY usable. My wish is to take over my living room as my longarm room—after all we are suppose to use the house to our advantage. At this point however, DH is not a supporter of that concept 🙂

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    My fabric was all over the place till a couple of months ago when I moved it all into the closet in my craft room. I have washed-but-not-ironed fabric in two huge bins under the table and in drawers along with scraps & projects in progress. My stash is not too large so it all sort of fits into half a closet. I posted pictures in October.
    Now that the space I made in the closet is filled up, I’ve just placed another order with Connecting Threads – it is as if I don’t want to be able to store everything properly. Also, it can’t count towards the stash reduction if I buy it all before the New Year! – I plan to join the stash busting effort in 2010.

  29. 30


    I recently acquired a sewing room when DD#1 moved out a few months ago. It is the smallest bedroom. My books/tools/fabric had previously been spread between a Hoosier cabinet in my sewing area downstairs (a shared open family room split between DH’s guitars/piano/amps and my sewing desk and Hoosier), and in half of our home office closet in bins labeled fat quarters, yardage, and Christmas fabric. Projects were in the Hoosier cabinet. Now I have a small bedroom closet, a large chest of drawers, a lingerie chest about 4′ high, the Hoosier cabinet, and rolling bins. My fat quarters and yardage are in the chest of drawers in the closet, sorted by color. Projects are still in labeled bins in the Hoosier cabinet, as are tools, patterns, and books. Thread and precut scrap strips by size are in a rolling cabinet under a sewing cabinet my MIL gave me. The lingerie chest is a work in progress. It’s holding some non-sewing crafty stuff and miscellaneous kits and leftovers but I really need to get the closet revamped. It’s taken me a few months of working in there to find out what needs to be changed. However, I LOVE having all my sewing stuff in one room. It’s a pleasure not to go up and down stairs from the dining room table carrying bins when I want to play with fabric! I can also now use the pullout tabletop on the Hoosier cabinet for all my cutting. Wonders never cease 🙂

  30. 31

    Sue says

    My home has a large loft area filled with my needlework/quilt supplies. It includes a 20 foot long closet where my husband installed reinforced shelf/rods where most of my stash is hung sorted by color. After using yardage the small pieces are in small plastic boxes. Under the hanging fabric are bookshelves for books, magazines, batting, etc. Works great for me. Can easily see and reach everything with no falling stacks of fabric.

  31. 33


    I have two stashes, my old stash of regular quilting fabrics which is in an old cabinet and dissappearing fast, as I am using it up. And my new stash of batiks and handdyes, which is in clear plastic containers and is sorted by colour and type of fabric (meaning that for example I have a box of blue batiks and a box of blue handdyes). There is still space in the boxes for more fabric, but I am not buying anything, as I have enough.

  32. 34


    Have you heard of Polar Notions? I visited their booth at an AQS show in Knoxville this summer, and now I’m hooked! They have bolts for both yardage and fat quarters. I also have small-ish rubbermaid bins of strips and squares that I use for scrappy quilts (think Bonnie Hunter) that I store on bookshelves in the sewing room/office. We just moved this past weekend, so I’m still trying to decide on the safest but most accessible place to store the stash to protect it from sunlight and a curious dog.