Friday, September 14, 2012

Fabricaholics 12-Step Programme - Step 2: Organize your fabric

First and foremost: these tips are not intended to stop buying fabric. I don't want to cure my love for fabric. What I want is to stop buying fabric I don't need. Even the most beautiful fabric has little value if it is stored in a plastic container, without being used, for a year, two, or even longer. My fabric buying habits have improved since I joined the Simple Living Pledge a few months ago. Two most valuable principles I have adopted since then are decluttering and elevating experiences above possessions (that is sewing and wearing above fabric).

I am happy to say that my gigantic (for my standards) stash stopped growing since then. It is still large, but I was able to cut it down to certain extent. So, let's move to the next step.

STEP 2: ORGANIZING YOUR FABRIC STASH

  • Make an inventory of your fabric. Separate it into piles. But do not organize it by color - this may have some visual appeal, but it is less functional.  Organizing it by fiber content and type is much more helpful.
  • Get two bins, one for fabric that can be sold, another one for fabric you will donate. I discovered a bag full of synthetic linings, as well as few other synthetic fabrics which I no longer sew with. Two bags were delivered to Salvation Army. If this is an emotionally difficult process for you think why you haven't used a specific fabric, especially if it was in your possession for years. Your style may have changed since you got the fabric, or you might have found (and bought) a better piece for the same purpose...
  • Store you fabric so you can see it every time you sew. This way you will have a clear overview of what you have. It is important that your fabric is not exposed to the sun, so keep it away from the direct sunlight.


Let me show you my fabric stash (and I really don't claim that this is the best way to do it - it's just an example of what works for me). All fabrics are organized by content and/or weight or type.



Ok, it's not the prettiest sight, but I know what I have, and seeing this so often I keep this image in my head every time I go fabric/notions shopping (which happens at least once a month).

There is a basket on the top shelf - it is a box full of organza yardage, mostly in white, black and skin tone. I extensively use it for underlining and always have sufficient supply. (I put it into a lined basket because it is so slippery and impossible to keep in one place otherwise). If I spot a good deal on a good quality organza I buy it without feeling guilty. In the shelf compartment next organza there is silk charmeuse and silk crepe-de-chine - I use a lot of it for linings, lingerie or light-weight tops and blouses. 

Print silks are stored separately (you can see them under the basket) - I don't have many of those but I am always on a lookout for nice silk prints, which I also love to use for linings in jackets or coats. So this is another 'may buy'. 

Bouclés take up whole three compartments, so it reminds me that I have too many of those and however tempting, I won't buy bouclés during my next store visit. Also, medium and light-weight wools haven't been used much, so I am sticking to what I have for now. And I don't sew much with cotton... 

You get the idea.

I am not saying this system would work for everyone, but it worked for me. I spend much less on fabric. I see what fabrics I use most, and what fabrics I haven't touched in ages. So, if I shop for fabric, I go for those that I've been using more frequently.

That's it for the Step 2, readers! I have a few more tips and will post them regularly, but I also want to ask you to contribute. If you have good fabric management tips post them here and I will include them in my next post. Or, you may want to write a guest post on this topic - let me know at mvk(dot)fashion(at)gmail(dot)com


Related posts:

STEP 1: Hi, my name is Marina and I am a fabricoholic.
Five more signs that you are a fabricoholic

27 comments:

  1. What a stash! All of my fabric still fits underneath my sewing table... but just barely. I can't even imagine having this much fabric! It must inspire such creativity though!

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    1. Oh, lucky you, Amy! I need to get rid of many fabrics, even if I like them a lot.

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  2. Hi Marina,
    Great post! I also organize my fabric by type, and try to go thru my collection for potential "weeding" at least annually. For reducing my stash, I try two techniques:
    1) "shop my stash" first before going to the fabric store, and 2) start a project by looking at fabrics I already have and how I might incorporate those into my wardrobe.

    Maris

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    1. 'weeding' is a great term. Your tips are great, thanks.

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    2. I've been trying to start projects from stashed fabric lately, too. It's so satisfying to make something out of fabric you've had hanging around for a while!

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  3. I have been thinking about using something like FabricStash http://www.blueshiftsoftware.net/iphone-apps/fabric-stash/ for the iPhone. I am wondering if others have as well.

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    1. I used to have an app like this, or the same one. But at the end I haven't really used it a lot because I just could not have the same overview as with the real thing. It may work for others, however.

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  4. I love this post! I have that same shelf and now I'm thinking I should think about using it in my new sewing room. I wish I had all that gorgeous fabric to put on my shelf!!!

    I love that you are writing posts about organizing because I am in the middle of moving my sewing room to a larger room in my home. Right now it is basically in a closet so now I am going to paint another empty room in the basement and get to organizing :)

    I am looking forward to the future posts you have planned on the subject. Who knows...you may post something that will make my room fabulous!

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    1. Congratulations with the upcoming sewing room! I am still organizing my new room :)

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  5. tja... was tun,wenn ich kein syntetik oder billigen stoff habe? das ist es ja.. ich habe nichts,was ich wegschnmeissen kann. und verschenken kann ich es ja auch nicht,weil es so teure und gute stoffe sind.. und beim boucle werde ich systematisch schwach,weil ich immer was sehe,was ich unbedingt haben muss... bei guten jersey aber auch.. die meisten sind bei mir schon längst verplant-da bin ich wirklich sehr beständig, aber ich kann gar nicht so viel nähen, wie ich kaufe. bilanz stimmt nicht. ich schaffe pro jahr maxsimal 49 projekte,wenn überhaupt..
    so langsam nahere ich mich dem punkt wo alles total voll ist ob im schrank (mein kleideungsbedarf) oder stoffvorräteort-alles dicht.
    hast du ein vorschlag ,eine idee für mich??
    was tun? hast du ein vorschlag für mich?

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    1. Bei mir sind es noch weniger Projekte im Jahr... Ich kann's verstehen. Ich habe vor meine bessere Stoffe auf eBay zu stellen. Weisst du, ich habe noch wunderschoene Wolle, die meine Mutter vor 25 Jahren in Sowjetunion gekauft hat, mit Originalstempel - ich kann mich nicht davon trennen :) Aber es gibt ein Paar boucles die mir nicht so viel bedeuten, obwohl sie viel viel teuerer waren. Also, was denkst du ueber eBay Auktion, wir koennen uns anschliessen und auf unseren Blogs die Links zu den Bloggern stellen die ihre Stoffe verkaufen wollen. Wenn nicht dann eine Reise zu IKEA ist genau das richtige :)

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    2. bgzl. sowjetunionstoffe... habe so einige schon verarbeitet(ich ahbe meiner freundin paar outfits genäht und das waren die vorräte ihrer mutter). meine begeisterung ist shcnell verflogen. die stoffe sind schlecht. entweder lassen sie sich schlecht verarbeiten(bügeln vor allem) oder z.b. sitez sieht nach paar minuten tragen wie ein lappen-überhaupt nciht zu vergleichen mit der baumwolle,was wir sonst kennen.
      bzgl. ebay. ich muss mir überlegen. ich hänge an allen meinen stoffen mit herzblut.wenn ich etwas gekauft habe- dann war das heisser wunsch.wie ich shcon sagte, im prinzip ist alles verplannt und ich möchte gerne das auch irgendwann umsetzen. meine bekannte hat mir tipp gegeben- in vakkumbeutel zu verpacken-so schützt man gegen feuchtigkeit, staub, motten, gerüchen und gleichzeitig sparrt das den platz.
      was ich damit sagen will- mein anstreben wäre eh ,diese stoffe zu verarbeiten und KEINE NEUE mehr zu holen. aber da hab ich mich nciht unter kontrolle. jedes mal wenn ich ein modell will, hole ich mir neuen stoff.und dann schaffe ich nciht sofort zu verarbeiten.oder ich sehestoff und denke, wenn ich ihn jetzt nicht kaufe und er in 1-2 tagen verkauft wird- werde ich ihn nie vergessen und mir nie verzeihen.
      die farge ist wie kriege ich das unter kontrolle?
      ich weiß aus psychologie, dass hinter jeder sucht eine sehn-sucht steht. ich stelle mir die frage seit 2 jahren- was ist es bloss bei mir?ich finde keinen grund..:-)
      und die frage,die ich stellen möchte...
      ok,ich verstehe,dass du weniger gute stoffe los werden möchtest. aber generell..warum möchtest du sie verkaufen statt zu verarbeiten?
      so nach dem motto "aktiver stoffabbau". habe mal in signatur einer frau gelesen,so und soviel m stoff in diesem monat abgebaut..:-)))

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  6. This is a very interesting post but I have to admit that I have my fabric collection organized by color because that's how I think of it first. I think I need a blue boucle - so I check the blue shelf to see what's there before I go out to buy. Organizing by fabric was too confusing for me so I think that each sewist should definitely organize by what works for them! This has been an interesting series to read.

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    1. Carolyn, thanks for commenting! I agree with you, everyone should organize the way it works for them. I will add your point of view to my next post, if you don't mind :)

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  7. That is a very pretty fabric stash. I have a blanket box where everything is squashed into and I have to go rummaging around to find what I want. To me you are organisation personified.

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    1. I had my fabric squashed in fabric store bags all over the house. I had to find a solution - so this is where I am now :)

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  8. You have lovely boucles! When I am planning 'next season' sewing, I go through my whole stash and put away everything not seasonally relevant in cardboard boxes. I set aside the fabrics that most appeal to me and sketch the silhouettes they want to become. Then I go though my patterns, looking for good matches for my sketches. I may need to look for new patterns, but I almost never shop for fabric for a specific project. Instead, I buy whatever I can't resist. The exception is boucle- I'm still looking for the boucle of my dreams for a French jacket.

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  9. Your collection is amazing! OH man! I will show this picture to my boyfriend so he stops complaining about me stash (which is only 1/5 of yours). At the moment, I have two boxes of fabric: one with the light- and medium-weight fabric and another one with the heavy-weight fabric. I tend to staple a piece of paper to every piece with the fabric info: fiber content, place of purchase, price and yardage. Also I try to wash all fabric when I bring it home.

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  10. Your fabric stash looks very organized and I am super jealous. I've really pared down my stash, but there are still those cuts that I can't get rid of for sentimental reasons. I'm down to only two giant rubbermaid bins!

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  11. I have a card system for my stash. I don't have the space to store my fabrics in my apartment, so they live in (a dry and warm) cellar. I store them in bins, each one numbered, and every new fabrci gets a card where I write down colour, material, how much I have and, if I know, what I plan to do with it. I also pin a sample of the fabric on the card. And, most important, I write down the number of the box.

    It took some work to pull together, but I have used this system for 7 years now and find it very useful. I can easily go through my cards when I need inspiration and when I need something, then it's very easy to pick the right box at once.

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  12. Wow Marina! You actually managed to make me feel better about my stash which I thought was huge!
    As I pick a lot of my fabric at the Salvation army, I'm sure the fabric you donated will find good homes and crafty seamstresses.

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  13. Last year I have started organizing my stash also by fabric. Additionally I have measured every piece and put the information into an excel sheet (together with an image, quality and storage place). Every new piece will be added and I have an overview over the whole "meters", 180 at the moment, and also how much I have used. Not surprisingly the stash is growing faster than I can sew. But it helps me to keep track and I do not have to pull out the fabric to see that this special piece is not long enough for my project. However what bothers me more than the fabric itself are always those leftovers. I can not bring myself to throw them away, but rarely have an idea how to use them. Anybody ideas on that?

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  14. Love this series! I'm a fabricaholic, and I have the hardest time letting go of fabric. I've managed too weed out what I don't use and put it in the basement storage. My hope is to later continue "weeding" when I clean out the basement =)

    I did a major overhaul of my fabric storage earlier this year. My first idea was to store by content, but when I basically only use wool, cotton, linen and silk... Not so practical. Instead I divided the fabric by what type of garment I plan for it to become. (This is of course only practical when one has a sewing plan for most of the fabrics in the stash.) So when I find myself with a pretty blouse fabric in my hands I can immediatly conjure up the image of the blouse fabrics already awaiting the sewing machine.
    Different methods, same result =)

    I wrote about it in my post about organizing my sewing room earlier this year, if anyone's interested: http://swinginvintage.blogspot.se/2012/04/my-sewing-space.html

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  15. The fabric-in-a-storage-bin wasn't working for me. I could never see what I had, and things I wanted to use were always buried at the bottom. I changed to a bookshelf system like you have, and it's so much better now. That doesn't mean I don't buy more than I use....

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  16. I must admit that what you have as your stash is about the same as mine - in my sewing room. There are three plastic trunks, four bins and a few 2cube boxes in our garage, not counting the boxes of yarn. I have not heard of the SIMPLE LIVING PLEDGE but fully support the concept; having finally realized I have more fabric than I can ever sew or wear. (Part of my excuse is I have worked in fabric stores for years, but that does not excuse my shopping in other stores on holiday etc)

    Recently, a woman came in the store wondering if we had any fabric to donate to her project: sewing clothes for children in the poorer countries of Africa. While she many have meant she wanted the store to contribute, the staff took it upon ourselves to give her stuff from our private collections. My husband and I went into the garage, he held out his arms to catch, and I was ruthless; every piece of cotton suitable for a boy or girl was given to that woman.

    Like Egwene, I have trouble getting rid of scraps ("it will come in handy", "I can still use it", "it might be big enough for something"...). Also recently, a woman from a nearby day-care came in wondering if we had scraps of fabric for the children to use for crafts; the store doesn't but I did. There went another pile of stuff.

    My husband has told me he wants me to get rid of all this stuff before I die. I am trying!

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  17. OMG, I love your Stash (Yess, it deserves a capital!) I have the habit to buy only what I need. But occasionally my grandmother donates a piece of fabric. I wish I had a stash like yours!
    kathoprojects.blogspot.com

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