Stash Storage

June 2, 2010
Thanks to everyone who commented about their stash. I found the responses very eye opening and I learned a lot. They helped me to see how different we are. Some collect by fabric line, some by style of fabric (ie: Asian), some by exactly what’s needed for the next project and some just buy what speaks to them in “that” store at “that” time. I would fall into the last category.

My philosophy is to have a well rounded stash with a good variety of colors and values so that I’m able to create my next project without having to go shopping (a good theory, even if it doesn’t always work). The majority of my fabrics are arranged by color and I developed a method of storing them when we moved into our current home 6 years ago. I was able to design my new quilt studio in our walk out basement with lots of light and a good amount of storage. I have quite a bit of space, but it’s not limitless, so I still have to be organized. 

Here’s what I’ve found works for me. I don’t like to dig in bins and I want my fabrics protected from light, so I keep them on wheeled carts. 

The carts have 3 flat shelves each and the shelves measure 15” x 20”. I purchased the carts to fit in a cupboard built under my counter and made the mistake of having the cupboard built first (duh!). Surprisingly, it only took a short bit of internet surfing to find them on a physical therapy supply website (of all places!). I’m sorry I don’t remember the site, but I’m sure the size you need can be located fairly easily.

Most of my fabric pieces are around a yard, but many are as small as a ¼ yard and some are as large as 2 yards. I fold each fabric to approximately 7” x 9” so they can be stacked 2 across and 2 deep on each shelf.  That way I only need to spin the cart to see other colors.
You may notice that I have bungee cords wrapped up the sides and over the top of the carts. This keeps the fabrics on the top shelf from flying off if I spin the cart too quickly :-).

 Now you may not have a cupboard such as mine, but I envision this working very well for the many quilters I know who make their studios in the empty nest rooms of their college age kids. These carts would fit beautifully into those abandoned bedroom closets and if the machine is in a different room, the wheels make it all very mobile. This would also be helpful for those who make their sewing space at the dining room table – the fabrics can easily be in whatever room you need them.

My main fabric stash fits on these carts and there’s still a little room to spare. My multicolor prints, hand dyes and batiks are not grouped by color, but category, and they fit on one of the carts also. I have to admit that the fabrics I use less frequently such as my holiday fabrics, children’s prints and flannels are still in a bin or two. Nothing is perfect. The only down side I’ve found to this system so far is that when I finish a project and there are fabrics left over they don’t magically reshelf themselves. Any suggestions?

           Kathleen’s comment about storing smaller scraps is a whole new topic. I have a large fish bowl on my counter that I fill with these “too small to fold” pieces and strips. When it gets full I dump them in a bin and when the bin gets full I make myself do a scrap quilt. My most recent one was from Sharon Rotz’s book: “Log Cabin Quilts With Attitude”.  That top used up most of my scraps and is awaiting borders. The trouble is I’ve already refilled my fish bowl. So many quilts, so little time. Here’s a true confession: Sometimes when my fishbowl gets full and I can’t deal with the guilt, I’ll dump it in a bag and donate it to my guild’s next white elephant auction. My friend, Laure Reuters, purchased my last “guilt dump bag” and made a delightful quilt with it!

I’ll watch for more comments and come up with a new topic on Monday :-)!



PS Here’s how I fold yardage to fit on the carts:

step 1: lay out fabric length with original fold

step 2: fold left edge over 9" (1/4 yard), repeat as needed

step 3: fold remainder into thirds


  1. I love the gold fish bowl for the small scraps

  2. What a good idea with the carts. My workspace is an old harvest table with lots of unused space beneath. Those carts would be perfect.

    I also like the idea of open carts. I have a set of plastic drawers on wheels. It allows me to see the fabrics inside, sort of, but the quality is not good and the drawers are tricky to open and close.

    I like how the openness of your carts offers easy viewing and access.

  3. I really like your gold fish bowl idea!! Welcome to blog land Chris. I’m a friend of Laura’s.

    • Thanks Jen! I guess the fishbowl idea is a hit. When Whoopie Goldfish died,
      filling her bowl with fabric seemed more creative than putting it in the attic :-)!

  4. Chris.. this is a great topic.. I too love how you use those carts.. what a great idea.. I mostly sort mine by color.. but, then I have some sorted by type such as hand dyes, my own dyed… and some by maker. I guess I am a miss mosh of everything..

  5. I love the carts! I have some of my fabric stored away in a large cabinet, but there is quite a bit “Out of The Closet” (no pun intended) for the sun to still hit. Your idea is really creative.

  6. Going off on Chris’s fishbowl idea – I’ve always loved those big apothecary jars, the kind they used to put big pickles in or bars of soap. They would look pretty cool filled with scraps too.

    Good ideas Chris!

  7. I have a box with a box that I fill with scraps and when it gets full I take it to one of my quilt guilds wrapped in pretty paper and bow. a great prize for not so old quilters as myself.
    Loved your carts storage. I am going look and see if that won’t work for me. Do I really want to refold all my fabric?

    • The gift wrapping idea is a great one :-)!
      As far as refolding your fabric – it’s a chance to revisit your stash and since we quilters love to fondle our fabric, it’s a win/win situation.
      When we moved to this house a friend recommended I wrap my dishes in my fabrics when packing. It was very green (no paper to dispose of) and as I unpacked I was able to sort and fold my fabrics to be placed on the carts. So many good ideas!

  8. I like the cart idea but what if you don’t have a cabnet to put it in. I just have open space so my fabric will get dusty so what can I do?

    • Good question. I still think the carts are a great option because they’re mobile. Perhaps you could just drape them with a sheet or some old yardage to keep the dust and light off the fabric.

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