Organising your fabric and trimmings collection


New member
Help me! I am surrounded by my collection of fabric and trimmings and patterns and all manner of useful bits and bobs that 'might come in handy one day'. And I need to sort it and organise it somehow - but I have no inspiration as to how to do this!
I currently keep each group of bits in the plastic bag in which I brought it home, and this cannot continue as I look like a bag lady from under a bridge somewhere. Not to mention I can't find a darned thing (it doesn't help having a daughter who has learned to rummage from a very early age!).
I'd love photographs or diagrams of the ways YOU organise your stuff (or would if you could be rich enough and have a separate sewing room!).
I wait with breathless anticipation - please don't make me beg!


New member
At this point, I have huge tubs with material in them and lists of materials on the outside for belly dance, historical costuming etc. That includes the trim, patterns, etc.


New member
"Yarn it!"

(I hoped you were offering advise on the subject because I NEED IT! :lol:)

On the other hand, I've been trying to better my storage system (Bwarrhahaha...) lately and things seem to be improving a teeny tiny bit.
Some of the things I've done (still in project mode) are:
  1. Buy/collect (too) many nice storage boxes.
  2. Sorted all my pearls, smaller "thingies" and ribbons in "roughly same colour" piles.
  3. 1 box per pile - name the boxes by "colour code" for easier retrieval.
  4. Keep one box for "oddballs" and one for "just bought, need sorting" - not everyone would need the last one, but I've come to understand that I do. ;)
  5. Do the same, bigger boxes+bigger items, colourcode.

For scarfs and "scarf sized" pieces of fabric I found the weirdest contraption in IKEA, that I highly recommend if you can get it. It's the ugliest clothes hanger you'll ever lay your eyes on, but I am so happy I got it!
I'll see if I can find a link for you, or I'll take a picture of the one I have "in action" in the morning.
Here you go! IKEA | Clothes & shoes organizers | Clothes organizers | KOMPLEMENT | Multi-use hanger You won't believe how much it can hold! :)

I am still very far away from perfection though, so I hope some genius in here has come up with the perfect plan. :D
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Super Moderator
I'm a tub girl myself- clear plastic tubs so that I can see what is in them. I also am fortunate enough to have a double closet in my studio. I prewash my fabric, dry it, then fold it over hangers and hang it up in the closet. I keep some tubs on the floor of the closet, and have a place in there to store my ironing board and embroidery equipment as well. I put patterns I'm not using and vaious other seldom used items on the upper shelves. I bought inexpensive plastic drawer units for embroidery thread and notions and stack them up along the walls. I have a divided wooden orange crate under my desk to keep books and papers I am currently using, and have an entire wall of sewing, embroidery, other needlework, and art books. My cutting boards hang on the wall behind my sewing table and my husband made me beautifully framed bulletin boards for the walls to stick pictures and other things on. He also put a shelf high up o the wall, above the height of my windows, and there sits my collection of toy sewing machines, tractors, stuffed animals and small dolls from my childhood. There is room for framed embroideries on top of the bookcases.

I don't have a lot of space, especially since my computer equipment is also in the room, but it is amazing how much useful space one can find simply by looking up near the ceiling and under tables. My upright Navajo loom takes up one corner of the room all by itself, but I use the rug in progress to hide my boxes of paint and glue and papier mache materials. I keep tools in drawers of a small wooden sewing cabinet my father-in-law made for my mother-in-law, along with practical notions like needles and pins and elastic. I'd hate to tell you how much room my embroidery thread collection takes up, but I've got it sorted by type and color.

My papers are kept in two oak file cabinets on either side of my computer table, and my floors are oak as well. My husband built the cabinets and refinished the floor. How's Manly Jack at construction? Or you, for that matter. Specially built stuff is awfully convenient.

Nowif I could just find a place for the several boxes that still sit on my floor... oh, and I forgot about Dancing Miranda, my dressmaker's form. She stands in the corner by the sewing machine table next to the fabric boxes.

Too much information? Sorry.
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New member
OMG Shanazel, you are a goddess! Can I see pictures pleeeeeese!! Lise I have some boxes with little plastic dividers for my beads, sorted by colour, but not my trims or threads, elastic or tools, needles, and HOW many bits of interfacing, tracing paper, patterns and goodness know's how much fabric, some of it 'classic' or 'retro' even! And I cannot believe you Teela - so organised with lists and everything! Wow, now I really do feel incredibly wretched at the mess I've got my stuff in... sigh...
MORE, MORE, MORE please!


New member
I use milk crates with hanging file folders for my patterns. One crate for tops, one for bottoms.

I have a cedar chest where I keep my fabrics that are still on bolts. And a cabinet where I store yardage fabrics. I also have a scrap tub. Smaller items like trims and beads and needles, I keep in Rubbermaid or Sterilite drawer-shelf units. It all stays pretty organized.


Well-known member
I use Sterilite drawers also. They let me catagorize all the little nick nacks in a place where I can find them easily and the clear plastic lets me see what is inside. I also like that they aren't air tight so the stuff can breath. I keep my fabrics on a bolt whenever possible but if it isn't they go in the drawers as well. I don't have that much (compared to my MIL that is) so they don't take up to much room. My MIL has a cedar chest like Jujube that she keeps her bolts in. It is huge and holds an amazing amount. The really old ones can be found for cheep if you keep your eyes open and it's not to hard to fix the inside to hold just about anything.


New member
I think everyone has covered my methods for storing (using much grander words than "in a pile"); but, I may be able to offer an idea for keeping track of your inventory . . .

I think I alluded to this in another thread. When I buy fabric, I nip off one corner, enough to get an idea of the color and pattern. I then staple this swatch to a plain old piece of white paper, where I note the (approximate) yardage. I slip this paper in a sheet protector in a notebook (binder style). As I buy more fabric, I add more swatches and notes. As I sew, rip off the little swatch and move it to a different page of "completed" projects, noting what I made, and approximately how much (if any) fabric was left.

I also note the patterns I own on one page, as well as whatever costuming / sewing books I have.

And, I keep my "shopping list" in the front.

When I am hyper-organized and really frisky, I throw sale fliers in there too, along with pictures of my "significant bedlah."

Net result, the bellydancer's best scrapbook! I take it to every fabric store, vendor's appointment, and workshop I go to.

And, one day, I will add this to my poor little blog . . .

Hope this helps,



New member
WOW you guys are organizers extraordinaires!! :shok:

*Stealing ideas, storing them in piles for "later" usage*
...if you know what I mean... :D:rolleyes:
(If you don't it means that odds are, that I'll accidentally come across them lying inside some overdue dentists' bill in a couple of years and go: "Oh! Yes! Brilliant! I'll get right on that!" and leave it in the fridge or sumfin... :lol:
But some day...! :pray: :D


I have huge plastic containers, but have too make a horrid mess when I look for something, because it's always at the bottom LOL. I also put those little sachets with dehydrating stuff in them in the boxes to keep moist out.


I was a bag lady myself until I found stackable see-through plastic containers with lids that nest inside each other (in case they get empty :lol:). To avoid Amulaya's problem, they are mostly medium sized (I've got some large ones for larger items as well).

I have huge plastic containers, but have too make a horrid mess when I look for something, because it's always at the bottom LOL.
The containers are perfect for storing fabrics.
Beads and sequins etc are kept in small see-through plastic ziplock bags or boxes in the containers.
Before I got too much stash, I also used an ordinary PVC toolbox.

It isn't a genius solution, but it works until I find a better way. At least it is better than being a bag lady.

The thing I'm most satisfied with is they way I have organized my accesories:
Nearly all of the items are sorted by color and kept in small see-through boxes that fits perfectly in a drawer in my wardrobe. If I'm going somewhere in a hurry, I can grab a box and I'll find everything I need from necklaces, rings, earrings, brooches etc in matching colors (the red box even contain a lipstick and red nail polish).


Daimona, that's a better idea, mine are long flat boxes, I also store my costumes in those, but those boxes are ideal for costumes, not fabric.


Daimona, that's a better idea, mine are long flat boxes, I also store my costumes in those, but those boxes are ideal for costumes, not fabric.
I agree. I've got a couple of the long flat boxes myself for my costumes as well. Very handy to store under the bed..


New member
Y'all make me want to jump off a high cliff in despair... so many incredibly organised people!

I DO have some organisation in my life - I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have an extensive set of external hard drives with all my computer back-ups, saved photographs, music and pdf docs (including copies of my PhD!!).

I also have a great set of wooden words hanging on the wall which I have put hooks on so I can hang my necklaces on - and two long ribbons with safety pins on which I've hung all my earrings. I also have a couple of thingies (hanger-type thingies) that I have all my scarves and belts hanging on (and there are one or two of them...!)
All my patterns are stowed safely in a clear plastic tub, and when I use each pattern and have successfully altered them (because I like them to FIT!) I trace them onto interfacing so I have a durable copy.
I do have a couple of containers with spikes on them to store all my sewing spools, and a similar one for my bobbins, a couple of fishing fly boxes with separate sections hold my bits'n'pieces like hooks and eyes, safety pins, snap fasteners and other doofers.

Otherwise, everything else is definitely in bags, stashed at the bottom (always, every time!) of the wardrobe.

I love the idea of snipping off a piece of fabric and attaching it to a page in my 'design diary' - that's a great idea and so simple!

I think what I really want is a wife. You know, someone who can organise me...!

BTW, there IS no under the bed for me - that's where my shoes go!
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New member
I keep mine in an assortment of bags, drawers, shoeboxes, ice-cream tubs and biscuit/sweet tins that are the result of multiple half-assed attempts to get really organised. I'm a sucker for saving anything that stacks. One day it will all be neatly on shelves in a sewing room, all labelled...



New member
...that could be when the pixties have run off with you and your Fairy Godmother (has to be a woman!) flicks her magic wand to make it all happen instantly! At least, that's what it would take in my world....