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.
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.
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.
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.
- Place Pile #1 where it is most visible and most accessible.
- Pile #2 ideally goes behind or underneath Pile #1, still pretty accessible if possible, but not in constant sight.
- 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:
- 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.
- Go through Pile #3 to remind yourself what’s there, and see if any project ideas spring up
- Swap Pile #1 and Pile #2 over so they are seasonally relevant again
- 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!