Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stash Management—the Dishpan Method

On the Quilt Art list they have been discussing ways of storing your fabric "stash". Most quilters/fabric artists keep a large supply on hand and it is a dilemma. You want to keep it somewhat organized, yet easily accessible. You don't want things buried and out of sight or you forget what is there. I've tried stacking neatly folded lengths of fabric, arranged by color, on shelves as I have seen in photos of wonderful artist's studios. This looks good and organized for about as long as you don't need to use it. Then it becomes a jumble. (At least for me)

Several people have been talking about wrapping their fabric around 1) hanging file folders, 2) the cardboard bolt cores that fabric is wrapped around in fabric stores or 3) pieces of cardboard cut to size for this purpose. This all sounds like a lot of work to maintain in my opinion.

So far, the best system I have come up with uses small plastic dishpans from the Dollar Store. They measure about 11" x 14" and I buy a few every time I hit the store. I fold my fabric (not very neatly—I'm just not that compulsive about it) and stand it up in the dishpan so that when the tub is full I can see the top edge of every fabric in it sticking out of the top.

I sort, mainly, by color and have multiple tubs of some colors. For convenience I also have a separate tub for Japanese fabrics, one for African fabrics and other specific categories of fabrics.

Here is a section of the shelving where I store the tubs. I love that I can pull out a whole tub of reds, paw through it, choose what I need, then put the rest back on the shelf. It is really quite easy to refold and poke the fabric back into the tub when I am finished with it.

Works for me.


  1. Terry, I store mine in a somewhat similar way and have also found it very convenient. I still end up with big messes sometimes when I go on a making bender, but overall it's great!

  2. Anonymous12:53 AM

    Works for me too! I have my stash in cheap stacking see-through plastic container/drawers in a closet. I can see through to what color is in which drawer and when I need something, I too, paw through the stash. What I need for a project ends up on the floor, and then when I'm done the leftovers get folded (sorta) and stuck back in the appropriate drawer. It's a controlled mess :-)

  3. this sounds perfect for me. i've been struggling with the stash management issue (and i don't even have a real stash)...thank you!

  4. Nice and neat. Wouldn't work at all for me, too damn logical, how do you TRIP over it? How do you drag the long skinny strips all over the house? GGG

  5. Hey...That's very clever. I've been using larger tubs with lids and find that I end up making two layers. That makes it difficult to get at.

    I like this!

  6. I buy plastic containers at the Dollar Store, too. I am so happy to have a friend who is not compulsive!! i like sorting by color. My multicolored stuff is sorted by types of graphic design - organic, dotty, linear, etc.

  7. This is a great idea. I have my fabric in my dresser drawers, pretty much the way you have yours. Sometimes I pull out whole color sections when I want to audition fabric, but I try to leave as much as I can in the drawers, so I don't have to "refile" them.
    I am trying to limit my stash to those drawers. I have to reduce my stash (make mroe quilts) if I want to buy any more, because there isn't any more room.

  8. Wonderful. I have mine in rolling plastic drawer things, like Kristin. I pull the whole drawer right out of the unit when I need it. Now... when it come to refiling all the pieces I've used or auditioned... let's just say, I'm way behind.

  9. Some how I missed this post. I love your system. It will work very well for me as I tend to pull everything out and hate putting it back NEATLY.