Neat way to fold and organise fabric

Fabric envy!  How to fold and organise your fabric stash.  Makes things so much easier to find and match.  I'm doing it!I’m lucky or unlucky depending on what way you look at it.  My local fabric store only has about a dozen bolts of quilting cotton, and many of those feature vegetables, so I’m never tempted to buy too much.  That means compared to many, I have quite a modest stash of fabric.  Still, it is easy for it to get out of hand, as I rummage about in the crate, make a mess, and the fabrics get creased and just well, messy.

An example of what I mean.  Hmm, messy.

how to fold and organise fabric

That annoys me a lot so I sought advice in our sewing chat group and found the perfect solution.  You can buy these ‘magazine boards’ from Amazon.  They are basically designed for people who collect comics and things like that I think.  It’s a thin but stiff cardboard board, glossy and the ideal size for folding and storing fabric.

(Amazon US and Amazon UK link)

how to fold and organise fabric

Each board is 8.5 by 11 inches, the same as a regular piece of US size letter paper.  And what do you get if you multiply 11 inches by 4?  Well you get 44 inches which just perfectly fits a piece of 44 inch wide quilting cotton.

How to fold and organise fabric

Open out your fabric and then fold it selvage to selvage edge to make it 22 inches wide.  Then fold in half again to make it 11 inches wide, by however long your fabric is.  Most of mine are 1 or 1.5 yards, although I did have a few that were 3 or 4 yards long.

how to fold and organise fabric

Lay out the fabric and place one of the boards across it, around 4 or 5 inches from one of the ends.  Fold that end over the board, then flip the board end over end to wrap the fabric around it until you get to the end.

how to fold and organise fabric

How to secure the end of the fabric?

I’m open to suggestions on this.  I had heard painters tape, but then one member mentioned that over long term storage, the glue had come away from the tape and stuck to the fabric, and she hadn’t been able to remove it without leaving a mark.  So I used a couple of pins in mine to hold that loose end, but hmm, over time I wonder if they might rust or leave marks too.

Maybe I should just make sure to use all my fabric quickly and replace it with some more  🙂

how to fold and organise fabric

What do you think?

Then store and enjoy!

It didn’t take long to fold up all the fabric and actually it was very enjoyable.  Nice to see some fabrics that have been in the bottom of my crate and ‘lost’ for a while.  What was most enjoyable was stacking it all back in the crate afterwards – fabric joy!  Look how neat and pretty that is.  Now, finding and matching fabrics will be so much easier.

I should really get it all out again and sort it into color groups.

how to fold and organise fabric

Whenever  I want a fabric ‘fix’ I can just lift the lid and gaze in with a big smile.  I really should get some more  (fabric, boards and crates!).  Look, there’s still a little room to add some more on top.

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52 Responses to Neat way to fold and organise fabric

  1. Dianne Padich says:

    Thank you. I had been thinking about finding a better way to store my fabric so that I could easily select one without making mess of what is in my bins (and knowing what I have). With remodeling, I haven’t sewn for a while. I do have a hoard of fabric and admit to being a fabric-aholic. I have probably 1000 yds of fabric due to inheritance from my mother (after her decline and subsequent demise) and my sister (when she stopped sewing). I am definitely going to use this method. Just ordered the boards.

  2. Marti says:

    Great idea! I use a quilting ruler & wrap fabric around it in thirds after folding in half. Remove ruler & stack fabric. All pieces are uniform & I don’t have to worry about cardboard or have the extra expense.

  3. Amy Vaglica says:

    I ordered 5×7 backer boards so they would fit in a dresser drawer. I love that everything is organized now! Thanks for the idea!!!

  4. Bev says:

    Why not secure the folded fabric with a quick basting stitch of contrasting thread? Particularly for fabric you will not be using for a while. This is common in Asia.

  5. Mary says:

    I use coroplast(plastic cardboard) it’s archive save. Very sturdy. I haven’t found the clips I’m wanting at the price I want to pay. They’re fabric bolt clips. I’m lucky the house is air conditioned and not humid no rusting issues.

  6. Mary says:

    My grandchildren call my stash the store. We are in the process of moving. Getting it packed up was an eye opener. Didn’t know I had so much. It is fun to find somethings that had been forgotten. I use plastic containers to store most of it, I look forward to reorganizing it.

  7. iluvsew2 says:

    I liked this idea however I used card stock (much less expensive) cut in half to 51/2 x 81/2. I used paper clips to hold fabric. When I ran out of card stock I used cereal box sides cut to that size. I made several 25 fabric boxes that fit into drawers,marked fabric with amount with post it notes. Using small pins. Organized according to color and also holidays

    • Marlette Louisin says:

      this is an option only for short term storage! Cereal box cardboard, esp. contains acid that will ruin your fabric. Cardstock too, isn’t advisable though it is a bit safer since it has no ink on it and is a better quality fiberboard. Only acid free yardstick would be recommended and for the money, magazine board is a better buy.

  8. Geni Beanie says:

    I fold my fabric the same way…But when it comes to wrapping, I don’t use any boards ( they cost money, more importantly – they take up room). I wrap my fabric around my 8 1/2 ruler; then when finished wrapping I slide it right out and on to the next fabric. Whether in plastic storage bins, (9 to date) or on shelves with glass doors, they are covered with dust covers, (as are all of my threads) to keep from fading.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Thanks for the tip Geni. That sounds like a great idea. You’ll certainly have a lot of sewing ahead of you to use up all those 9 bins. Have fun!

  9. Marty Arnold says:

    I fold and stack fabric as described. Problem is that most banker’s boxes are not acid free and I’ve heard plastics give give off a gas which can deteriorate fabrics. So I drilled holes in the top edge thinking it might help. Any truth to this ?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Marty, we’ll do some research on that and let you know if we find anything. My sense is that there’s as likely to be contaminants in the air, particularly if you live in a big city, as there is coming out of the plastic. Most plastic is supposed to be pretty much inert so hopefully not too many gases coming off. Many people use containers of the same material for food storage, so I hope it is pretty clean in that respect. Thanks for your comment and regards.

      • wendy pearson says:

        The storage totes people use to store fabric and other things, are not the same as plastic bowls for food. Plastic sold for food use are made with food grade plastic, storage totes are not food grade, unless you’re spending an arm and a leg to get large food grade storage totes.

      • Marlette Louisin says:

        In the US, Sterilite, sold at Walmart and JoAnn’s, is acid free as is ArtBin, (not at Walmart) which is sturdier and more costly but often found on sale.
        Both will keep fabric clean and orderly.

  10. Sj says:

    I don’t know if it’s been suggested yet, I didn’t take the time to read through all of the comments, but when I use to work in a fabric shop, we folded down the fabric at an angle before the last go around and when the fabric wrapped back around the last time, it got tucked into the fold… Hope I explained that reasonable… Instead of using glue, or pins..

  11. Sydney says:

    I like this idea. I am an artist so I think I will just cut acid free foam board to wrap fabric around. Also, I have seen fabric stores wrap the final edge in a triangle and then tuck a little corner of the tip down into the triangle. It seems to hold well for them with no pins or clips.

  12. Gail says:

    Always use something archival and acid-free when storing fabric. Do not put anything sticky onto the fabric or anything metal into the fabric. Both will cause problems over time. Invest in some “plastic shirt clips,” the kind you find in new clothing at retail stores, to hold the fabric closed. If you google that phrase, you’ll instantly recognize those clips. They’re not expensive. Plastic-coated metal paper clips can still have cut ends that are not coated, so be careful. Rubber bands usually become crispy & deteriorate with time, and I’ve had some leave marks as they age, or leave pieces behind that are fused to the item. You can save your selvages and your cut “straightening” strips of fabric to use as ties. Also, if you take your fabric out to use it, fold the remaining fabric a slightly different way to avoid putting continued stress on the old fold spots. This advice is from someone who used to work at a museum.

  13. Lizb says:

    I end up using rubber bands to hold my fabric onto cardboard and that is how my stash/stock of fabric is starting to become organized!

  14. Pam Roberts says:

    This method works. For any readers in Sydney, Australia – the comic book store (I think it’s Kings) in Pitt St, just down from the Town Hall stocks the boards.

  15. I used jumbo colored paper clips from the Dollar Store …. they work well. I also slipped a little sticky note under each one stating the length of fabric and whether it was washed or not washed.

  16. mumbird3 says:

    looks great – going to give it a try!

  17. I’m disabled so on a very strict/small budget. My local fabric store recently just started saving the cardboard for me when a bolt of fabric is emptied off it. They have far more than I can use as it’s Marshall’s Dry Goods, but it’s cost effective for me. I can also cut them down, use them whole, cut them in half, or whatever size I need. They mostly throw them away but I got lucky in there one day when I saw them going to the dumpster with them so I asked and now they save me all that I want. It keeps it from going to the dump, and saves on the carbon footprint, repurposes them, is extremely budget frriendly for me 🙂 and I can keep my fabrics neat and organized. Or at least I am slowly getting them neatly organized Check with your local fabric stores. They might save them from you too.

  18. Catherine says:

    If you think your precious fabric might be stashed for a long time, use acid-free boards. Best search term in the UK is ‘comic backing boards’ . Ebay have a few good suppliers too.

  19. Judi says:

    Third time’s the charm, right? I keep somehow clobbering what I’ve typed!
    I use 2 boards for each length of fabric. Folded to 11″ wide and then folded accordion style for the length at 36″ each way. On each end of the folded fabric, I wrap 3 or 4 inches around a board and then fold the board over once toward the middle. The two boards will meet in the middle and you can fold them together into a fabric “book”. No need to secure the ends because they’re folded inside. No need to unwrap the entire length to cut off a small piece and then re-wrap it. Added benefit – you can tell how much fabric you have left just by counting the accordion folds. This works for me on lengths from 1 to 7 yards. Might work for more but I’ve never tried it yet. I do know I will NEVER go back to any other way of storing fabric. This beats anything I’ve ever tried before and the very best part is that I keep up with it so the stash is neat and tidy. The other stuff isn’t, but the fabric is.

  20. Karen says:

    Some of my fabric needs to be organized ,but what would be even better is time to sew it into something. My husband thought on my collection of fabric is at some point it becomes something useful.

  21. Patty Brown says:

    Deby
    I have been organizing my fabric using this method for the last 3 years and it works great. I do not secure the ends! I have found that the fabric doesn’t unfold or get messy. And I go through my fabric weekly!
    I buy or dye most of my fabric as fat quarters so I cut the boards in half lengthwise and wrap the FQ around the board. I still don’t secure the ends and have no problem with the ends coming undone.

  22. Hilary says:

    I use hanging file folders that I cut in half as I had them in house already and didn’t have to buy anything. Well, that’s not exactly true – I had to buy two clear plastic file folder storage boxes to put them in.

  23. Yvonne says:

    An idea that may be interesting to some – fabric stores generally recycle their cardboard bolts daily, depending on size of the store. You can ask them if you can have the empties! We donated some to a local theatre group and anyone who shows up early in the day before the boards hit the big bin.

  24. Joy B. says:

    I use the magazine boards to make mini “bolts” of fabric. I fold the long ends of the fabric to match the size of the board. Then I wrap the fabric around the board like they do the bolts of fabric at the store. Once I get to the end of the fabric, I take the top corner and fold it down to meet the bottom, forming a triangle. Then I fold the triangle over the front of my mini “bolt” and secure in place. I use large paper clips (the ones that are about twice as long as the standard clip) to secure the end of the triangle to bottom of the bolt. If the fabric bolt is too thick for a paper clip, I use medium sized binder clips that you can get from Amazon or office supply stores. Then the bolts are stored upright in a glass doored cabinet. It keeps the dust off the fabric and I can see my stash without having to open the doors 🙂

  25. marysews says:

    OK, that takes care of my one or two boxes of quilting cottons. I have much more knit fabrics, which are mostly 60 inches wide. I’m looking for a method for those, since most are roughly folded and thrown into bins.

    • Me too, I have wide knits in 2 and 3 yard lengths. I think I’ll still give it a try with the boards on those and see how it comes out. It’s got to be better than rummaging around and getting my boxes all messed up.

      • Marlette Louisin says:

        You might try my method of folding my garment fabric that is bulky. Cut a piece of foam board,sold in art supply departments, to 12-15″ x 24″. Fold fabric in thirds or quarters lengthwise. The, wrap an end over the 24″ side of the board and continue folding. Slide the foam board out halfway, then fold the fabric in half over the board and remove the remain portion of the board.
        If your fabric is bulky, like sweater knit, leave it at the 24″length. You can stack 2 -3 bulky fabrics this way and it stays neat and visible.
        For easy removal of fabric use the thin plastic cutting sheets to slip between the fabric and slide out. You likely will need to use 2 cutting sheets if the fabric is the longer length.

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          This is a really neat way of folding fabrics, and worth sharing I do hope people will notice your comment. Thank you for taking the time to write and share with us. Regards, Mayra

  26. Judy Goldthorp says:

    My favorite organizational tool is an online inventory program called Sew Essential. I have named all my storage drawers and boxes and then started cataloging all patterns and fabric. (You get to designate name of container. I started with D1, D2, etc. for the drawers and then moved to PB1 (for Project Box 1) for a collection of things that already have a planned project.) The inventory tells me which drawer / box holds that item. It sounds like a lot of work, but I have done a little at a time. I have photos of all my patterns, so when I go to the store and think I want to buy a new pattern, I can check on my phone to see if I already own this pattern. The other plus to this system is that if I am tempted to purchase fabric, just because it’s cute, I ask myself, “Do I really want to inventory this?” This has helped me curb some not-so-necessary purchases.

  27. great idea to use the magazine boards… I am going to try that. Thank you for sharing!

  28. Anita Cuevas says:

    I started to use that method but found that I was able to get more on my shelves with a different folding technique. But my mom & daughter use it. Looks so pretty when they are all lined up. Pins can rust but more importantly you can stick yourself when trying to go through. We use plastic covered paper clips. Hair clips can work too.

    • Mary Grace Ronan says:

      what folding technique do yu use?

      • I wrote about how I folded the fabric in the article Mary. First I folded the fabric selveges together along the length. Then folded it in half again lengthways to get 11 inches wide. Then I wrapped the length around the board until I got to the end and pinned the end in place. Hope that helps.

    • Diane says:

      I would love to hear more about exactly how you do it since I was thinking I have fabric in closets (both are packed full – one is 5′ x 3′ x 20″; the other is 36″ x 48″ x 27″).

  29. Elizabeth Cappiello says:

    For holding it on, an elastic loop works well. I have also used ribbon and just stitched a small section of elastic to the loop.

  30. Diane Cullum says:

    Wow, with all of the things you sew Deby, I thought your stash would be bigger! I was surprised to hear about the vegetable prints at your store too, haha. Not what I would expect from an island. There is a quilt pattern that I want to make some day that looks like canning jars full of food when it’s done. Those vegetables would be perfect for it! I only wish I had such a manageable stash. It would take me 5 years to get mine organized like this if I worked on it every day! Oh well, lots to choose from and a goal to sew it all!

  31. Anke says:

    Looks great and like I want to do the same, but I first have to find out what Magazine Boards are called in German! But I guess some Amazon research will bring up when not the same thing then at least good alternatives.

  32. Katherine says:

    Oh I love organized fabric! I recently got an old file cabinet and painted it up and I fold my fabric around hanging folders, works like a dream.

  33. Patsy says:

    I do the same thing, wrapping around the small boards. I am lucky to have a local supplier of these and already used two full packages and thinking about buying the third package! I have separated into color groups, as closely as I can, and lined up on a decorative bakers rack in my sewing room. Love storing my larges pieces of fabric this way. Not so organized on the smaller pieces though.

  34. Fadanista says:

    I wrap my fabric round regular old cardboard, but I have what can only be described as a stock, rather than a stash, so it takes a lot of cardboard! I can’t imagine what it would be like to fit it all into a crate. I have two large cupboards and several crates, some of which may or may not be “secret”!

What do you think?