Your fabric closet has grown to be a headquarters for great ideas becoming reality, the epicenter of completed projects—and dare I say, messy after the latest masterpiece. Help is on the way with tips from our friend Lilo Bowman, editor-in-chief of The Quilt Show. Her book, Love Your Creative Space: A Visual Guide to Creating an Inspiring and Organized Studio without Breaking the Bank, has all the hacks and more! Keep reading and discover her inspiring tips about different ways you can organize your fabric stash.
Lilo: Does your current method of storage look something like the photo below? If the answer is yes, don’t worry, help is just a scroll away. And, since we’re being brutally honest, this was the storage closet in my studio office.
If you have the supplies, but can’t put your hands on them when you need them, do you actually have them?
As makers, the tools of our creative trade (fabric yardage, fat quarters, scraps, stabilizers, interfacing, etc.) can really become a beast to deal with or find, if left on their own. You know what I’m talking about; bags of fabric purchases, found treasures, remnant scraps from finished projects stowed away in the back of a closet, under the worktable or in cubbies in any spare space around the house.
Once packed away, it’s hard to remember what you have on hand much less what it looks like or where you put it. I’m here to help with my tips for organizing your stash so you can get straight to the fun part of creating.
“Buying fabric, starting and then working on a project can be such a joy. Then comes the reality of how to store the wide assortment of yardage, scraps and bits you want to keep for down the road.”
Budget-Friendly Storage Options
When it comes to storage there are a variety of readily available options on the market (Ikea Kallax, Elfa Wire Baskets, ArtBin Super Satchel Cubes, etc.) to organize your stash, but if funds are limited—or you want to save the money for other items—there are easy and creative workarounds.
Find upcycled furniture for storage solutions
Think outside of the box with upcycled furniture such as bookcases, a chest of drawers or wardrobes. Maybe you have something already around the house that you can use. If not, check out garage sales or thrift stores as they are a great option and often, with a bit of elbow grease, paint and decorative shelf paper, can do wonders. And don’t overlook what’s already in your workspace; closets and doors (both inside and out) offer lots of area for vertical storage.
Storing Yardage, Smaller Cuts and Scraps
Those bookcases, wardrobes and drawers you found can hold both flat-fold yardage and smaller cuts (i.e. less than 1 yard). Organizing by fabric content (cotton, silk, knits, etc.) and color, style, etc., keeps items easily accessible.
Hanging clothing organizers such as those for sweaters or shoes come in a variety of colors, materials and size options and offer a wealth of storage in a very small amount of space.
Tips for using clothing organizers for storage:
- This is a great option for yardage and not-so-small, small cuts
- Reinforce hanging loops with several lines of machine stitching to avoid tearing due to fabric weight
- Make removal and replacement of fabric easier by inserting a piece foam core (about 1/4” smaller than the opening) inside each opening on the shoe organizer
- Bonus: Keeping fabric in a closet helps to keep dust and light away from the fabric, while still being easily accessible
How to maximize over-the-door shoe holders for often-unused vertical storage:
- Fill each opening with a different color. When the time comes for a bit of orange, it’s just a matter of “grab and dump”
- Place a shoe holder on the back of an open door to keep out light, or if the look is visually distracting to you
- Bonus: No one likes craft cleanup, but with this method, it’s easy to put leftovers back in the compartment when you’re finished
Use small containers for smaller scraps:
Finding containers for your small scraps can be as easy as a stroll through your local grocery store. Did you realize that lidded containers that hold tomatoes, seeds, lettuce or nuts you’re already buying can also hold small scraps of fabric?
Things to consider when reusing food containers for storage:
- Use clear containers so you can see what’s inside
- Consider square or rectangular packaging as they take up less room
- Choose lidded containers that stack so they can sit nicely on a shelf
Store even smaller pre-cut bits in jewelry gift boxes
If your work often involves numerous small precisely cut pieces of fabric (1” strips, 2 ½” strips, small squares, etc.), flat, white-lidded gift boxes are an easy and space-saving way to stack and store your collection.
Keep in mind:
- Flat-lidded gift boxes are available in most craft (jewelry section) or home-organizing stores
- Look for boxes with sturdy bottoms and lids
- Label one side of each box for easy access
- Organize the collection by color, size, type, etc.
This is just a sampling of creative and inexpensive ideas for fabric storage that can help you keep things under control, save you money (for other fun items) and let you get back to the adventure of playing in your space!
Does your creative studio leave you feeling overwhelmed or uninspired? With over one hundred photos, Lilo Bowman’s lookbook, Love Your Creative Space: A Visual Guide to Creating an Inspiring and Organized Studio without Breaking the Bank, offers an endless visual parade of ideas for your craft room. Visit The Quilt Show or C&T Publishing to get yours, or request a signed copy from Lilo herself at LiloBowman.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
About the Guest Author
Lilo Bowman has worked as a floral designer, translator, tour guide, wedding planner,
and is now editor-in-chief of TheQuiltShow.com. Food, travel (both as a military wife and tourist), and curiosity about other cultures have also played a large role in shaping Lilo’s sense of taste and design and her understanding of how others prioritize the items they choose to have in their homes. When not working, she travels, gardens, and spends time with an extended, loud, noisy family. Lilo lives in Fort Worth, Texas. Find Lilo on Instagram and on Facebook.