Fabric Stash and Organization
I have a closet in my sewing room that is vastly underused. My fabric stash and some other odds and ends are kept in bins in the closet. The SAMLA boxes (12 gallons) work great for holding fabric and are useful with the rest of my IVAR shelving around the house. I love sorting everything into bins.
Four of these boxes would all but be empty if I just took the time to sew for myself. I don’t sew a lot during the summer, because my sewing room gets uncomfortably warm and any spare time I have is spent in the mountains hiking, fishing, camping, etc. Even this year with the pandemic, sewing feels like a waste of time during the summer. It’s not that I lose my sewjo; it is just that I have different priorities during the summer versus during the fall/winter. Luckily I have plenty of fabric and a pretty empty wardrobe, so lots of potential projects for myself starting this fall.
This is where I store my bolts of fabric, usually just muslin and interfacing. My multi-use snap, grommet, rivet, fabric button, and awl press sits on this shelf. It’s a beast and weighs a ton. Finally, my hardly used pressing ham is up there as well. Honestly, I never use it. I can’t bear giving it away, though, because it cost good money. I store our extra hangers in this closet because our laundry area is just outside the sewing room and we hang 90% of our laundry to dry to save energy.
I’ve recently adopted a new method when I buy fabric. Before I wash, dry, and store the fabric in my bins, I order thread from Wawak. Wawak has fast shipping, so the thread usually arrives quickly. Wawak sells this storage bin, and I use it to store the thread plus bobbins. I have two machines, one that does only straight stitching and another that can zigzag. They use different bobbins. I can store both bobbins and the spool in the small compartment. I really like this storage method so far, and I love that all my spools are consistent in size. I never like having a hodgepodge of anything. And yes, I have the Gütermann 700 color thread chart to help pick thread color.
My most full bin is the one containing lightweight wovens. This fabric is severely neglected because I’ve been neglecting myself. This box includes fabric for two hiking shirts, a couple of dresses, maybe a quilted jacket, my first rayon project, and some lightweight summer tops. The pandemic really upended my sewing plans, but that’s fine. Right now, I have 5 short-sleeved Union St. t-shirts that get me by.
I have a bin where I store all my samples. I’m a big fan of ordering samples of thread, buttons, fabric, etc. so I can always refer back to the item if needed. Let’s talk about some of the fun stuff in my sample container.
I design neuroscience fabric for Spoonflower. I use to design and make custom bowties through Etsy, but that was too much work. I found it helpful to have the Spoonflower color chart, especially when I was designing bowties for customers.
I have found it challenging to find shirt buttons in colors other than clear, cream, black, navy, and light blue. Wawak offers a much better variety, and having this sample is useful if I ever need to precisely match my fabric. You can get associate shirt colors, designer buttons, and suit/pant buttons. No, I am not sponsored by Wawak, I just find shopping online to be really convenient.
I also sew a lot of kids’ clothes, and sometimes you want the perfect snap color to go with the outfit. I have samples of all the snap colors from KamSnaps.
One of my resources for spandex type fabrics is Sportek. Unfortunately, shopping for spandex online is extra hard. Unlike quilting cotton, where you know what the fabric will be like, spandex is a much broader category. What’s the fabric weight? How stretchy is the fabric? Is it shiny fabric or matte? Sheer or opaque? Years ago, I got samples for some of the fabrics I was curious about. This is nice, because I can always refer back to these samples whenever I have a new project in mind.
Outerwear fabric is particularly hard to buy online. If you are ever looking to make your own Gore-tex jacket, softshell pants, etc. I’ve really liked shopping at Seattle Fabrics. Their samples make it easy to find just what you need. I hope to recreate a pair of almost 10 year old Lululemon winter running pants that I still wear. The front panel is softshell fabric and the back of the pants and waistband are just heavy-weight spandex. They were great for running, because the front was water-repellant and the rest of the pant was breatheable.
This last year, I’ve made an effort to figure out what colors look good on me, warm autumn, and what colors look good on Ryan, soft summer. When trying to buy colors that fit in these categories, I find having samples helpful whenever possible.
My bin with knits is thankfully 99% leftovers from older projects. I have some knit fabric here that is intended for leggings for me, but it’s camoflaged. Giggle. Part of buying just enough fabric for projects is that I hate having extra fabric. The less fabric I have, the happier I am.
I’m a little more tolerant of having extra bottom-weight fabric. Pants are so hard to fit, and it’s nice when I can make a potential wearable toile. This bin contains some pretty precious fabrics like Cone Mill stretch denim, Cone Mill raw denim, etc. I need new pants for winter, and I will definitely be raiding this box to make me some pants!
My final box contains fabric that I have no idea what to do with, and I keep this box at the bottom of my stack in the darkest corner of my closet. Not having a plan or purpose for something gives me too much anxiety, and frankly, I wish this box didn’t exist. Anyone need 3.5 yards of Kaufman Durango flannel in Americana?
I didn’t take a picture because it’s just a box filled with white cross-stitch fabric, white embroidery fabric, and white self-adhesive printable fabric. This is Ryan’s box. Ryan cross-stitches and does embroidery. He gets a box for his supplies.
Next post, I will show you my cutting table and cutting supplies. My cutting table is not actually in my sewing room! Stay tuned.