You can’t deny it. Every seamstress has one: a toppling pile of oh-so-beautiful fabrics. As much as we try to use what we already own… there’s always that one more new fabic we HAVE to have (you know, just in case).
Personally, my stash will always exceed my project list. I am never one to pass up a fabric that inspires me, even if I have no project in mind at the moment. And sometimes, if I DO buy specifically for a project, I may lose interest in that plan by the time I get around to it or wish to allocate the textile elsewhere. This method fabric hoarding does make it difficult when I want to make something with stash fabric. It’s been so long since I got it, I no longer know what it is!
Is it 100% cotton or is it poly-blend? Wool or acrylic? Can I trust two fabrics will play nice if I use them together? Did I get this from a friend or family member? Have I pre-washed it?
On a few occasions, I’ve made some lucky guesses to my fabric’s origins and all was well, and other times…not so much. It really is a shame to lose a project to factors that are ultimately in your control. So after a particularity fruitful haul in Europe this summer I knew I wanted to use that fabric to its best ability (and remember what they all were). I would start keeping track of my fabrics.
I devised a fairly simple system by looking at what other’s were doing and choosing to track the info I used most. To keep it from being overwhelming, I am slowing adopting the system with each new fabric purchase from now on.
Taking a small swatch and some basic notes, I now have a permanent reference for my fabrics so I may treat them all properly. Plus this also give me an easy reference before I hit the stores. I can identify what I have before buying more, plus spot gaps that need to be filled.
I shared my methods on Instagram a few days ago for Bimble + Pimble’s Sewvember (organizing #likeaboss, hehe) and got lots of wonderful feedback so I decided to share my printable catalogue pages. Now all of you can join in on the organizational fun. Just click the download image below and print (or save for later). It’s easy peasy!
How to keep track of your fabric stash
If you are buying fabric at a chain shop, take a photo of the bolt with the fabric info on your phone for reference. They sometimes won’t write it all on the receipt, and if you are buying a lot, it can be hard to remember what’s what.
As soon as you get home, cut a small swatch from the corner of each fabric, about 4×4 cm should do.
Staple, tape or glue (whichever method floats your boat) your swatch onto the page, then using your references from your order/receipt/photos, fill in the following alongside:
- Fabric name. If it’s from a collection you like, or if you bought online and want to tag, credit or find it again.
- Fibre type and percentages, for obvious reasons.
- Where it was purchased from. If you want to note the store, place or date of purchase for memories or reference during clear-outs.
- Quantity. So you know what you have on hand. Ideally you’ll adjust this amount as you make stuff with it.
- Pre-washed? I don’t always get around to pre-washing fabric when I sew (I know, BAD) so I am never sure which leftovers have been washed or not. Probably just best practice to wash it as soon as you get home and check it off.
- Project ideas. I like to write in what I initially had in mind for it when I bought it, or to make a note of any inspirations you have but don’t have time to tend to immediately. These definitely aren’t finite plans, but are good to know in case you forget later on.
Just print a new page anytime you need one (print on card-stock if you can, it’s sturdier). I also print and swatch double-sided to save paper. I currently keep all my pages in a folder, but you could easily hole punch them and store them in a binder. If you wanted to be REALLY organized, you can keep like with like ie. knits together on one page, cottons, bottom-weights ect. and keep everything divided. Or sort by colour, or season. The options are quite endless.
Personally, it took me enough effort to get this far, so I will just add each new fabric sequentially as I acquire them. I tend to shop in batches so it’s fun to see the patterns emerging about my tastes and interest at the time. Snapshots of my fabric story.
I hope this page and tips will help you control your stash and be a better seamstress. I can’t wait to follow along with you for the rest of #BPsewvember. Happy weekend!