#119: Seasonal Stash Organisation

Check Your Thread
Check Your Thread
#119: Seasonal Stash Organisation

Do you have a system for organising your fabric stash? I didn’t until recently. In this episode I’m sharing my own method of organisation that I’m calling the ‘seasonal stash’. This system is allowing me to unlock the potential in what I already own, whilst stopping it from feeling overwhelming. Could the ‘seasonal stash’ system help YOU?!

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(image source: Mel Poole via Unsplash)


The Seasonal Stash Guide

This is a simple step-by-step guide for implementing the Seasonal Stash system for sorting and organising a fabric collection. It won’t take you long to implement, and once set up, requires little maintenance. 

This will help you to:

  • unlock the potential in the resources you already own
  • shift any negative feelings you may have about your collection
  • plan projects and ACTUALLY SEW THEM. 

Sounds good? OK let’s do this!

The first three steps I’d recommend for whatever system of stash organisation you want to implement. 

Step 1) Gather your fabric. 

Gather it all in one place to sort and organise. Ideally, we also want to be storing it in the same spot as well going forwards. If at all possible, keep all your fabric lengths together in the same room, if not the same cupboard / set of shelves / collection of storage tubs.

This will prevent you from:

  • forgetting what you own
  • losing items you’ve already bought/acquired
  • being unable to compare suitable fabrics for a project plan
  • annoying those you live with with random smaller stashes of fabric dotted around your home

Step 2) Edit.

To paraphrase William Morris: have nothing in your stash that you do not believe to be beautiful or know to be useful. Just hold each item and answer, honestly: Do I think this is lovely and / or  is it useful? If so, am I actually going to sew with it?

Tips to help the editing process:

  • Keep this step running smoothly and quickly: just react to each piece, place it in the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ pile, and move on
  • Work out what you’ll do with the NO fabric another day. That concern will slow you down. Today we sort and organise only

After the editing step you should be looking at only the pieces that:

  • you genuinely like
  • aren’t particularly exciting but you can see yourself using, like lining or toiling / muslin-making fabric 

Step 3) Set aside anything small or scrappy. 

Think about what that means to you. Some examples of definitions may include:

  • anything that is too small to make a garment from
  • anything too small to place a pattern piece on
  • Anything smaller than an A4 or letter sized piece of paper
  • Anything under 50cm

Whatever your definition is, put aside those pieces to be stored separately. Scraps and leftovers are a great resource for sewing, however, finding uses for them will be much easier if they’re not wedged in between the longer and weightier lengths.

**Note: the only exception to this might be if you have scraps of one of the lengths of fabrics in your collection. You might be able to cut some pattern pieces from the scraps when you come to use the length, so you should probably store those scraps with the rest of the length**

If you have any garments that you’re keeping to either refashion or harvest fabric from, separate those out too. 

Step 4) Separate your fabric into 3 piles. 

Currently you’re just dealing with your main stash of garment-sized fabric lengths. Once again, go through them piece-by-piece and place them into one of three piles.

Pile #1: 

In this pile place the fabric pieces that are suitable for the season you’re currently in or are about to transition into. Only include the pieces that you have plans for, even if those plans are fairly loose. 

Pile #2: 

In this pile place the fabric pieces that are suitable for the next six months to a year (basically fabrics suitable for a season or two ahead of what you’re currently experiencing). Again, only include the pieces that you have plans for, even if those plans are fairly loose. 

Pile #3: 

Everything else! Because you have already done the work, at this point your stash only contains items you genuinely want or can see are useful. Therefore, the pieces in this pile deserve to be here, you just don’t know what to do with them yet. 

Step 5) Positioning the piles:

Depending on how much fabric you own and the shape / size / orientation of your storage situation, each ‘pile’ might actually be multiple piles. 

  1. Place Pile #1 where it is most visible and most accessible
  2. Pile #2 ideally goes behind or underneath Pile #1, still pretty accessible if possible, but not in constant sight
  3. Pile #3 can go away, out of sight. But preferably not completely inaccessible should inspiration strike. 

Step 6) When the seasons change:

When a season comes to an end, it’s time to rotate the fabric around. Follow these sub-steps:

  1. Go through each remaining piece from Pile #1 and think about why each piece from this pile didn’t get used. If necessary, redistribute those remaining pieces into one of the other piles. 
  2. Go through Pile #3 to remind yourself what’s there, and see if any project ideas spring up
  3. Swap Pile #1 and Pile #2 over so they are seasonally relevant again
  4. Put it all back!

**When to swap things over**

Finally, a note on when to do Step 6. The timings I’ve suggested above require swapping your fabric round every three to six months. However this whole system is, of course, entirely open to interpretation and customisation. You could make your ‘sewing seasons’ shorter or longer. Or you may decide to to swap things over and reevaluate when you discover the pieces in Pile #1 aren’t inspiring you. You always want to be looking at a collection of fabric that you’re excited to sew with!

Happy Sewing! 

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4 comments on “#119: Seasonal Stash Organisation

  1. Bridget Escolme says:

    Hi Zoe, hi everyone – I really enjoyed the podcast on the Seasonal Stash scheme. I got going, and have become reacquainted with beautiful fabrics. I forgot I had. I now have a section – easily accessible – of fabrics that I want to quickly make things from before it starts to get too warm. This is really inspiring me to plan sewing time. Then I have spring and summer fabrics with plans attached. Then I divert from the scheme a bit, because I then have beautiful wools and knits which I know I’m not going to get to sew with this season, but have plenty of plans for them, for next Autumn and Winter. And then there’s the pile that I really like, but have not the faintest clue what I will make with them. I’m happy to say that I only found 3 lengths of stuff that completely puzzled me…how, when and why the hell did I buy them? Only three, because I took 4 other lengths to the London Destash Swap, don’t know how these last 3 escaped! Anyway THANK YOU, I feel so inspired and excited by this. All the best, Bridget.

    1. Zoe says:

      Hi Bridget! Enormous thanks to you for taking the time to leave this comment. I’m thrilled that the seasonal stash method has helped you unlock some of the fun and excitement in your existing stash! I love the addition of the fourth pile as well, this makes soooo much sense. That’s super pragmatic and honest about your time and what you’ll realistically able to achieve in this current chilly season. Thanks again and all the best x

  2. Michele Swanson says:

    Hi Zoe – The Seasonal Stash scheme was fantastic! I was ‘kind of/sort of’ doing this by randomly pulling out what I thought I might sew in each season – but this takes it to another level, making it more like a seasonal swapping of clothes from my closet and putting the things I won’t be wearing for months in containers under my bed….now that’s where the ‘out of season’ fabric goes too – luckily I have a king-sized bed! I also added another category, I have a ‘grandchild’ pile of fabrics. Some purchased especially for that purpose and some leftovers from other sewing that are a suitable size for little ones. I think as in swapping out your clothes, this give us a chance to review what’s in our stash each season so we won’t add to it unecessarily – at least that’s my plan. Take care, Michele

    1. Zoe says:

      Hi Michele,

      I’m so glad that the system has helped confirm and expand a system you’d already started to implement naturally. Many thanks for taking the time to comment, much appreciated!
      Zoe x

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