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Organizing Your Fabric Stash: Step 4

This is the fourth installment in a series on Organizing you Fabric Stash.  While some of these tips apply to other crafts, I'm focusing here on fabric.  Before reading, be sure to check out Step 1: Let It GoStep 2:  Gathering Projects Together, and Step 3:  Organizing Your Fabric By Size.

Step 4:  Organizing Fabric by Material

If everything you own is quilter’s calico, skip this step!  But the rest of us should group like fabrics together. As a rule of thumb, fabrics of the same material should go together.  Split your fabric into categories as below. Keep in mind that you might have additional categories, like Homespun or Faux Fur!
I’d still recommend sorting by size!  I have a dresser drawer of large pieces of flannel, and a plastic bin with flannel precuts.
  1. Calico (aka Quilter's Cotton): These are your basic cotton quilting fabrics.  You might want to subdivide into Batik, Floral, Plaid, Semi-Solid, Solids, etc.
  2. Flannel:  I keep my flannels in three groups:  Baby, Plaid, and Other!
  3. Denim:  Growing up, my siblings and I never ever got rid of jeans.  We wore them until they wore out, even if that took a couple ‘generations’ of hand-me-downs.  Now, I keep all my old jeans (clean and folded) in a plastic tote, ready to be cut up and turned into a demin blanket!
  4. Minky & Chenile:  These are bulky but lightweight, and can be stored rolled up like sleeping bags and tied with string.
  5. Canvas, Upolstry & Outdoor fabrics:  These are dense and heavy fabrics and are best stored on hangers.  If you don’t have a closet in your sewing area, you might want to stick them in the back of a closet in another room of the house.  Since they are dense, they shouldn’t take up too much space.
  6. Novelty/Costume Fabric:  These are the fabrics I think of as “Clothing” fabrics rather than “Quilting” fabrics.  Examples include satin, linen, polyester, and wool. If you make clothing, I’m sure you’ll want to split this into more than one category!

Let It Go:  I used to have vast quantities of low grade fabrics that looked  dingy next to my higher quality fabric. I realized that I would never want to mix the two in a project, because they would wear at different rates.  Can you imagine putting a ton of work into a quilt top only to have the backing wear out while the front is crisp? Ugh!
If you are going to put 100+ hours into a project, treat yourself to high quality fabrics that will last generations, not years.  (Mind, I’m not saying you have to use expensive fabric. You can often find high quality fabrics at very reasonable prices.)
Donate the low-grade fabric to a theater troupe, who needs sets and costumes to last a few weeks!  Or whip up some very simple (i.e. less than 5 hour) blankets and donate them to a charity!

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