It’s not working

I have moved many times and sometimes my fabric storage and organization work great and sometimes it doesn’t. It is definitely not working here. We started out part time here at Big Canoe and the few shelves and bins worked fine for the fabric and projects I left here. We moved here full time a year ago and everything came from Tampa.

Because it’s a lower level in the woods, I thought it would be better to keep things in bins. But it’s a mess and I’m constantly moving bins around and trying different size bins … none of it is working. It’s a complete mess.

Another problem is that I have multiple bins with scraps making it harder to use them. In Minneapolis and Tampa I had good access to my scraps that were sorted by color and in open bins that fit into cubbies.

Stephanie pulled Strings out of the hat for July and I know I need to feed my main string bin with some strips from scraps because they’ve been very picked over … I decided I was going to grab a bin or two today and do a little sorting. I didn’t get far. I came across a “leftover” bin.

There’s a reason leftover quilts should be made right after the first quilt!! I pulled some fabrics that will go back in stash, some little bits got tossed in with the strings … and I came across a baggie with leftover tumblers from Mom. I have no idea how long ago she made her quilt but it’s been YEARS!

I laid out the tumblers …

And sewed them together into a little doll quilt

Eventually I’ll figure out something that works for my fabric storage … I always do!


  1. Oh, I can so relate to your post! I’ve moved several times as well and each place/space has its own positives and challenges. I have struggled a bit with my scrap storage at my present location…though I think I might have finally solved it! And I wholeheartedly agree about using up the leftovers from a project ASAP to prevent having “orphan blocks/fabrics” around. Hopefully you’ll settle on something soon that will be a better organization solution for your space.

  2. I have THREE big bags of scraps–all that had leftovers stuffed into them willy-nilly!! You are right about finishing up scraps right away from projects.

    Before I get to them though, I have to go through my fabrics, color by color, and only keep what I really like or think I will use…I’ve sent out two boxes of flimsies and blocks to a charity finisher and will continue to do this until I have whittled things down to a usable level.
    Since I cannot make big size quilts anymore, I feel overloaded with fabrics and panels…big job ahead…
    I hope you can find the best organization for your new room…not easy…
    hugs, Julierose

  3. Well, I think many of us will be watching to see what you do with your fabrics and scraps. I also moved this past year and I kept my fabric in the closets on bookshelves. I also had one of those cubby things that you put baskets that hold 9 to 12 little baskets. Those are nice but you have to label each one with what’s in the basket because you can’t see through the basket. The truth is that I just have too much. I love it all and will be going through it this fall to sort it out. Good luck Mary in finding a solution.

  4. It’s not easy! I’ve been using 6″ deep bins on restaurant – type shelving lately, which works pretty well, but as I get older, even these smaller bins seem awfully heavy. I do have a (retired husband) helper when I can’t manage, but eventually even he will have trouble. I’m now trying to organize kits in project boxes, but the real solution seems to be using up what I have and not buying more. So hard!

  5. Yes of course you will find a solution. Great that you immediately sewed up those tumblers into a doll quilt. Hope you sent a photo to your Mum.

  6. I just keep wishing my stash and my scraps ALL fit into the storage drawers. But I have only myself to blame for it not fitting. I just can’t stop buying fabric. LOL

  7. “…I thought it would be better to keep things in bins.”

    But is it necessary? Can you try a few open shelves or open bins and determine if the freely-accessible fabric attracts pests? Or perhaps poke around in any piles of open fabric (quilts, flimsies, shopping sprees) and see if anything has taken up residence. You may find your sewing space is adequately pest-proof and ready to be converted to the system you know and love.

    Best of luck!

  8. Storage is an issue for me as well. Our house is small, and my stash is large. Also I love to play with scraps, so there are bags and bins of scraps, not well sorted. Some days I try to figure out a better system, but so far no great improvements. I wish you well with yours Mary.

  9. I thought I had a lot of totes, but you have me beat! I love seeing in people quilt and storage areas. I just had a thought – maybe I have that many, but it looks like less because they aren’t all in one room like yours

  10. I think it is hard to organize scraps. I don’t have anywhere near what you have, and even when I organize it things are still hard to find. I mostly donate my scraps but have saved some favorites. Adorable doll quilt!!

  11. I totally understand. I have a class to teach and I get it organized, planned, hand out made, posters made, all the steps made and a full example made…and I have leftovers. I do a project for my Family , so I get that ready and my other project gets set aside, Then it seems I forget where it is or something else comes up or is more interesting. Now I have a mess. or I am disorganized! I have to reorganize to be able to find “stuff”. Good luck. Carolyn

  12. Bins I have a few, okay more than a few. I have a love hate relationship with them. Strips of various widths and really small scraps work. A while back I put groupings of fabrics for quilts tied with strings too narrow to sew with and lost them. They were there but not in my face. I bought new sets to replace them. If I put a lot of fabric in a box it becomes a problem. Hard to move and hard to search in situ. I am comfortable with open shelves by size, then color and if I bought combinations for a quilt I really still like them tied together. Sizes are half yard and under, then yardage enough for a quilt focus fabric and finally big cuts for backings. There is a need for bins but they cause me way too much work packing and unpacking for me to be happy.

  13. I store neatly folded yardage in those large bins, but they’re such a pain to access and go through. I stored all my scraps sorted by color in 12 qt bins. So much easier to access and go directly to the color I need. As I dwindled my supply of scraps, I transferred them to those 10-drawer rolling carts from Michael’s, still sorted by color. Now I can roll those carts around my machine when I do scrappy breadcrumb-type sewing. Storing fabric in large bins is pretty much a must if you have a lot of yardage, but they are heavy and take up a lot of space. My spare bedroom looks like a warehouse. Time to cruise Pinterest to get ideas.

  14. Organization is an ongoing struggle for me!! But as far as the fabric – I keep it on shelving in my walkout basement in humid Southeast PA. I keep the dehumidifier running from April to November and it seems to work well for me.

  15. Thanks for sharing your quilt stash with us , now I feel better about my unorganized stash !!
    I love quilters!!!

  16. In looking at your space with all those bins, if it were mine, I would get wire shelving to put the bins on. Wire shelving is my favorite because you can make the space between shelves fit the bins you have on hand. By putting the bins on shelves, you can go to a specific bin and not have to move 5 other bins to get to it. I have all my bins clearly labeled and that way I know what is in a bin and don’t have to look at 10 of them to find what I am looking for. I also leave my fold up wagon close by so that when I pull a bin, I put it in the wagon and I don’t have to bend over so far to pull stuff from the bin.
    I am sure you will figure out something that will make things more usable for you.

  17. I can’t wait to see what you come up with, Mary. I think we all go through this stage. Things work fine until they don’t, and then they really DON’T. {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne

Leave a Reply