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Fabric Inventory

Print fabric swatches

The timing on my sewing machine is off (I’ll write more about that unhappy event in another post) so this past weekend I decided to do some fabric inventory of my stash. I decided that slide sleeves would be a nice way to organize swatches and brief descriptions of the fabric. I’m going with the low-tech approach rather than spreadsheets or software or digital photo albums.

So last month I stopped by the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse – they have all kinds of stuff there – to see if they’d have some slide sleeves for three-ring binders – and they did! The slots for the slides at 2 inches x 2 inches. I got about a package of 17 slide sleeves for $1 (20 slots per sheet). And these were heavyweight 10 ml plastic. Perfect!

knit fabric swatches

I don’t think I have a huge amount of fabric but I’m starting to lose track of what I’ve got. Plus my husband was rather loudly complaining about my fabric: WHY do you have so much fabric? It’s everywhere!” Well, not quite every where, just in the bedroom, the bedroom closet, on and around the dining room table, and in the tiny back room. No fabric in the kitchen, bathroom or living room. Heheh.

So I’m trying to be more organized about what I’ve got and note when I’ve pre-washed something by using yellow highlighter. I cut small swatches of fabric to go in the slide sleeve opening and I cut 3 x 5 inch index cards into thirds and then trimmed an inch off the bottom to create small squares to go in the sleeve next to the fabric. I used the extra bit of index card left over to push the fabric swatch into the slide sleeve and help keep it in place. You can see the extra bit of white index card behind the denim and red twill fabric below.

Solid fabric swatches -

I spent half the weekend measuring fabric and putting the following information on the little cards:

  • type of fabric (knits, cotton, linen, fleece, denim, or interfacing)
  • where I bought it
  • what year I got it
  • yardage
  • width

As I mentioned above, yellow highlighter indicates that the fabric or interfacing has been pre-washed. Why should you pre-wash your fabric? Check out my 2013 post: Pre-washing Fabric.

Then I organized the fabric according to type and then whether it was a print or a solid.

Here’s the interfacing I’ve inventoried so far – (Yes, I already soaked all of these in warm water!):

Fusible Interfacing swatches -

I went through about 19 fabrics in my stash and then the four fusible interfacings above. Whew! Now I just need to get a binder to pop to store the sheets.

How do you keep track of your fabric? Software? Spreadsheets? Your smartphone? Piles on a shelf? Bins in your basement? Your photographic memory? I’d love to know how other people are managing their stashes.

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Chuleenan Svetvilas is a writer who sews and collects hats and shoes. She is a fabric addict and loves classic films and vintage clothes.

8 Responses to “Fabric Inventory”

  1. January 10, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Good for you, Chuleenan; sew organized. This was a great idea for you. Get hubby a man cave so he can stay outta yo business! HA HA HA HA.

    • January 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

      Thanks! I wish we had more space so he could have a man cave. LOL

  2. January 9, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    This is such a great way to keep track of your fabric. I like the idea of seeing the fabric and feeling the texture. I use a spreadsheet and photo: But it’s so out of date. I need to do a new system.

    • January 9, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

      Glad you liked my idea! I thought about a spreadsheet, too but I don’t know how good I’d be at updating it. Thus I went the low-tech route. I like how your spreadsheet has drop-downs to select the type of fabric – cuts down on typing! Maybe if my stash gets really out of control I’ll start a spreadsheet. Thanks for the link, Melizza!

  3. January 7, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    What a great way to keep track of what you have–I am envious! My stash is relatively small (unless you ask my husband!) and I keep it in a bin in my sewing room. I’d like to keep track of it better, and I’m inspired by what you’ve done here. =)

    • January 7, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

      Thank you! I’ve got fabric in about three bins and some in a bench with a lid, and some random piles in the closet.

  4. January 7, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Photographic Memory! I wish…
    If I did anything it would probably be something like your system. I like that it’s all there and touchable. Plus if I wanted to compare swatches with something at the store it be easy to pull out and take. But I’m just trying to organize the shelving so I can see most of what I have.
    Hurrah for pre washing! I didn’t know you were supposed to do it for interfacing though… even if it’s iron on?
    Lovely job!

    • January 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

      I would love to have more shelving but it means getting rid of books. ;)

      For interfacing I presoak, not pre-wash, it for 15 minutes in very warm tap water. I should clarify that. Interfacing can shrink, which can be a disaster after you’ve spent so much time sewing your garment.

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