How I organize my fabric stash + free downloadable stash tags!

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You’ve seen how I organize my enormous stash of patterns. But what about fabric?

I will admit, my stash is bigger than I’d like it to be. In spite of fabric swaps, donations, and finally getting rid of a lot of the useless leftover scraps I’d been holding onto, I have a lot of fabric. 12 boxes of it, to be precise.

I could conceivably use the same method I use for patterns with my fabric, but I don’t think it would be ideal. That’s because:

  1. Fabric isn’t as resuable. The sewing patterns can be used over and over, but the fabric can be used up, so things cycle in and out more frequently.
  2. Fabric is tactile. I often make decisions based on how the fabric feels, so swatches are a must.

My old method

Years ago, some of you might recall the method I came up with for storing it in boxes and attaching swatches to the outside.

This worked fairly well, but it wasn’t perfect. When I found a swatch of fabric that looked like I might want to use it, I’d still have to root through the box and figure out how much I actually had.

It was also hard to flip through all my swatches, because they were attached to the boxes where the fabric was stored.

I needed some tweaks.

My new swatch system

I decided to keep the swatches in one place so that I could look through them all at once. Instead of attaching them to the storage box itself, I’d just note the location of the fabric.

In addition to the swatch itself and location, I wanted to keep track of how much fabric I had, how wide it was, a short description, and any other relevant information.

hanging-swatches

I created these simple little hang tags where I could note the yardage, the width of the fabric, a short description, and attach a small swatch. The hang tags are strung onto key rings that I hang on my tool rack.

Whenever I want to browse my stash, I have a neat little library of swatches to paw through.

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Make your own swatch tags

Want to try it yourself?

All you need is the hang tag template (see below for the free download), scissors, a hole punch, some hole reinforcers, and key rings. You’ll also need a way to attach swatches to each tag. I used a stapler.

supplies

Print as many tags as you like. I printed mine on a cream colored background, and I think they look particularly nice on colored paper. Cut them out with scissors. You don’t need to be too precise about it, just cut the lines away.

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Punch a hole in each at the top, and group them by location onto keyrings. So everything in box 1 is on one ring, box 2 on another ring, etc.

If you don’t want to keep it in boxes, you could just as easily number your shelves or other areas. Or just write down the location if you like.

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Cut a little swatch and staple it to the tag, and fill out the info.

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Label each box or other container or shelf. I just used a piece of washi tape, nothing fancy.

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That’s it! The only trick is keeping the yardage on the tag up to date if I use part of the fabric, or remembering to throw the tag away if I use an entire length.

This has made it so much easier to use what I have instead of letting it languish unseen.

Enter your email below to get the free tags I made for myself. I’m just putting them out there since I already had them made and thought you guys might enjoy them.

Oh, and when you enter your email, we’ll send you other cool free occasional goodies and updates. Don’t worry, we won’t spam you (emails are pretty infrequent) and you can unsubscribe at any time if you don’t like the bits we do send.

Enter your email to get the free template!

How do you organize your fabric? Any tips to share with the rest of us?

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Do you wear more dresses or separates?

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I wear dresses because I am lazy.

As much as I love clothes, putting together complicated outfits has never really been my thing. I like things that are comfortable and easy, both physically and mentally.

I keep it simple.

Dresses are a godsend for a lazy dresser, because they’re basically an entire outfit in one piece. Throw on some tights and boots in the winter, done. Add some sandals in the summer, done. Why complicate things?

Add to this the fact that I have a high, wide waistline. I just can’t deal with anything that cuts me in half, and dresses rarely do that.

However, in recent years, I have seen the allure of separates over dresses sometimes. You can do a lot with just a few pieces, for one thing. It’s hard to deny the versatility of a pair of black trousers or a classic white button-up.

Slowly, I’ve been won over a little to the separates side. But in my heart, I think I will always worship the dress.

Are you a dresses or separates kind of person? And which do you prefer to sew?

Giveaway: Sewing Fashion Knits with Linda Lee at Craftsy

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Craftsy has chosen a winner! Congratulations to David, who has been notified privately.

Obviously, we’re all about knits right now. I’ve extolled their virtues left and right lately, and if you’ve been following my Me Made May posts this month on Instagram, you might notice that I’ve been wearing them just about every day.

If you’re new to sewing knits, or just want to go beyond the basics in a class environment, Craftsy has the perfect class for you: Sewing Fashion Knits with Linda Lee. And today, we’re giving away an entry to this class (scroll down for details).

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In this class, designer and star sewing teacher Linda Lee goes over just about everything you’d want to know about working with knits, including techniques to use with or without a serger.

I think that’s one of the most valuable aspects of this class. Since everyone has different equipment, there are a lot of options and different ways of doing things when it comes to sewing knits. Having all of those options clearly laid out for you is incredibly valuable.

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What you’ll learn

This class covers a range of topics that are essential to sewing knits:

  • How to prepare and cut knit fabrics.
  • Seam finishes you can acomplish without a serger.
  • Techniques for stabilizing knits.
  • Hem finishes.
  • Edge finishes (like necklines).

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Each lesson is fairly short (between 10-30 minutes), so you’ll get up to speed very quickly.

If you’ve started getting into knits more and more lately the way I have, this class is a really nice compliment to books and patterns.

Win this class!

Craftsy has generously offered a free enrollment in this class to give away!

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To enter, visit this link on Craftsy and join using your email address or Facebook.

If you’re already a Craftsy member, all you have to do is visit the link, click the “sign in” button, and sign in with your Craftsy account. If you’re already logged in to Craftsy, be sure to log out before clicking the link or you won’t see the special sign up/log in screen.

Craftsy will pick one winner from all the entries.

Good luck! And be sure to check out the class after you enter.

Click here to enter to win!

{This giveaway was generously sponsored by Craftsy, one of our partners this month. Thanks Craftsy!}

Weekend reading: Ballet, wildflowers, and lovely US-made clothing

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Last weekend, I took an amazing class on natural dyeing at Wildcraft Studio. If you are in the Portland or Hood River areas, I highly recommend taking one of Chelsea’s incredible classes. I also took a textile design class with her a couple years ago, and she is a phenomenal, inspiring woman.

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In this class, we took a short hike and collected wild lupine, which we used along with other plant material (like onion skins and wild fennel) to dye silk, cotton, and wool. I am so excited about all the possibilities (even though my silk scarf came out a rather uninspiring khaki due to overdyeing with too many colors).

Here are a few good links I came across this week. We’re off on a short trip to Victoria, BC to do a little orca-watching! Whatever you’re up to, have a good one.

5 lessons and goals I took from Me Made May

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{days 1-8 via instagram}

I love a creative challenge, especially when it can be done in a group. That’s one reason we’re so invested in doing sewalongs. There’s something so motivating about taking on a project with other people.

I also really enjoy challenges that constrain me in some way. As any designer will tell you, constraints and paramenters are an excellent creative tool, because they force you to make different types of decisions and look at your resources and ideas in new ways.

This was the first year I was able to fully commit to Me Made May, and I’m so happy I did. Thanks to the wonderful Zoe for organizing this epic challenge!

For my challenge, I chose to wear at least one handmade item every day for the month. I photographed and posted them every day on Instagram.

It was much easier than I thought, and even more rewarding. The most difficult part was posing for 31 selfies, which I must admit made me feel like a narcissistic 15-year-old.

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{days 9-16 via instagram}

Here are the top five things I took away from this challenge.

1) Quick and simple projects are vital to a handmade wardrobe.

Over the course of 31 days, I found myself mostly wearing the simplest, fastest, and most comfortable garments I’ve made.

Perhaps that’s not surprising, but it was fascinating to notice just how often I reached for my Mabels, Monetas, Zinnias, or other really easy to make and easy to wear garments, like the slip dress/camisole I recently drafted for myself.

Part of this is likely due to the fact that the weather was quite warm, which makes dressing quite a bit less complicated. But still. I wore my various Mabels seven times!

This has led me to recommit to making more quick and fun projects in between the more complicated ones. More knits, more simple clothing, more bags and accessories, more fun.

Goal: I plan to make more quick, simple, wearable projects.

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{days 17-24 via instagram}

2) I love neutrals. Like, a lot.

I already knew that I loved neutral colors, but looking back over the photos from the month, I really feel most like myself in classic neutrals like black, navy, white, cream, and camel.

Throw in the occasional dash of color, sure, but I really can’t think of anything lovelier than a white dress with bright red lipstick.

Goal: More neutrals! I want to make at least one Little White Dress and one Little Black Dress this summer.

3) Body attitudes change.

You get so used to believing that your body is a certain way that seeing yourself through the eyes of others and through photos for an entire month can be quite a jolt.

I’ve gone through drastic body changes in the past, and it took quite a long time to come to terms with what I looked like. In the last year, I’ve had a few more subtle body changes. Nothing drastic or all that noticeable, but it’s interesting to realize that they really are there when I look at photos.

Not only do bodies change, but what I consider to be flattering on my body changes. Right now, I love shorts, short skirts, drapey things that show off my shoulders, and body suits with full skirts. Many of these are things I hated wearing in the past.

So this exercise opened me up to the fact that bodies change, and that I shouldn’t get too set in my attitudes about what I can or can’t “pull off.”

Goal: Make at least one more full skirt and body suit this summer. Maybe a Nettie?

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{days 25-31 via instagram}

4) I don’t need much to love my wardrobe.

I really dont feel like I want a lot of clothing.

I found that a few simple pieces could be mixed and matched so easily that I easily came up with outfits for the month (with only 1 repeat, I believe).

I’d like to replace some pieces I have and don’t wear for various reasons (such as things that don’t fit or are worn out), but I am very comfortable with the amount of clothing I have.

Goal: Replace things instead of increasing my wardrobe size by getting rid of something whenever I make something new.

5) Casual comfort wins the day.

I like to think about things in terms of cost-per-wear. The cost includes not just the cost of materials, but the amount of time it takes me to make something.

The best values here were definitely the versatile, casual, and comfortable pieces. It’s nice to look pretty and put together even when I’m completely dressed for comfort (secret pajamas).

In contrast, there were beautiful things I’ve made that I didn’t even have a chance to wear once, because they are just too dressy. They were fun to make and they’re really fun to wear when I get the chance, but mostly they just sit in my closet.

Goal: Focus on cost-per-wear, and let fancy party or date dresses be an occasional indulgence.

Conclusion

Over all, I feel inspired and ready to do more sewing! I want to make some amazing basics in beautiful fabrics and pretty neutrals.

My only hope is that there’s a Self-Stitched September this year!

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