Fabric organization is one of the great dilemmas faced by quilters, especially when that stash first starts building. There really isn't any one best way to do it. It depends on the kinds of quilts you like to make, what other things you use fabric for, how large your stash is, and what size cuts of fabric you typically keep on hand.
One of the things I like to do in that lull between Christmas and New Year's Day is revisit my stash. It reminds me of how much I already have and inspires me for some new projects in the new year. It's an opportunity to neaten up and reorganize. I believe a stash is something that ebbs and flows with the wants and needs of its owner. Here's how mine is looking for this year.
I'm a girl that doesn't like to waste, so I tend to keep even the smallest of scraps. Sometimes I'll go through my scraps and cut them into more standard sizes. Those live in these glass jars. The idea was that once the jar was full, I'd find a scrappy project to use them for. So far, I just keep adding more jars. At some point, I'll hit my scrap limit, then a new project will be born.
For the rest, I store them in open cubes. This picture shows half of the cubes. I really like to see all of my fabric when I'm working on a project. Each cube is 15" x 15" x 15". Most of it is sorted by color, but there are a few special cubes. It is in stacks within each cube. There is usually one stack for bigger cuts (half yard or larger) with the rest folded into smaller stacks. The stacks are generally two across and up to three deep. It's easy enough to pull a stack out to see what is behind it. I don't have any special folding method since most of my fabric is odd shapes and sizes.
Black and White. This includes Black on Black, White on White, Black with Bright Colors, Grey, and of course, actual Black and White prints.
Kaffe Fassett. I'm a big Kaffe Fassett fan and have collected a lot of his fabric. It gets its own cube for two reasons. One is that I sometimes want to make a project that uses only his fabric and the other is that I struggle to put many of his fabrics into a single color. They are so bright and full of so many colors. It's just easier to keep them all together.
Brown and Cream. This includes muslin, which I try to keep on hand for foundation piecing.
This is a shared cube. The left side is purple fabric and the right side is all Christmas fabric.
This is the multi-color cube. It holds all those multi-color focus fabrics that I just couldn't decide belonged with any single color. This cube sometimes serves as overflow, too, when some of the other cubes are getting near their limit.
Yellow, gold, and orange all live together. Sometimes it's a tough call to know when it is gold and when it is tan/brown.
Green. My favorite color. Can you tell? The green cube is a bit full.
Red and pink. This cube is pretty full, too. Might be time to think about separating the pink and red. One of my first projects in the new year will use some red so we'll see how it looks after that.
Blue of all kinds. Teal is my favorite color of blue and I can see that there isn't a lot here. Need to add that to my stash shopping list.
The other wall of cubes look like this:
These four cubes hold all of the bigger cuts of fabric, most of which are Kona solids. It's a great assortment for both quilt fronts and quilt backs.
These are all of my batiks. I made one exclusively batik quilt last year so that cut into this group. I'm not as into batiks as I once was so this group may continue to dwindle.
These are my Nancy Halvorsen fabrics. In the years that I had a shop, Nancy Halvorsen was one of the best selling fabric collections and I was constantly making samples from her fabric. Over the years I have accumulated many scraps and they all work very well together. They recently grew to the point of needing their own cube. When I cleaned up this year, I realized that it was hit or miss if a Nancy Halvorsen fabric was with its color or with all the other Nancy Halvorsen fabrics. After putting them all together, they needed a cube to themselves.
This cube is where all the pre-cuts live. I tend to purchase fabric by the fat quarter so when they first come home, they go in this cube. I usually have some purpose in mind with the purchase so it's easy to find them here. If they linger too long and the cube gets full, I'll clean out and move them to their appropriate color bin. Charm packs, jelly rolls, and any other interesting pre-cut go here, too.
Last of all is this cube where all sorts of tiny scraps, orphan blocks, and other odd items are stored. When I'm feeling uninspired or I'm between projects, I'll pull these bins out and cut them down into standard sizes, which then graduate to the jars on the top of the cabinet.
I tend to lean toward more organization rather than less. I like some creative chaos in my life, but always need a point of organization to return to. This is just one of many, many ways to store your stash. I really enjoy learning how other quilters organize their stash so I can continue to refine the way I keep mine.
I'm looking forward to a year of stash sewing, now that I've been reminded (again) of all the great fabric I already have on hand. Happy sewing to you, too, be it stash sewing, or a project made with all yummy new fabric!