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Fabric Organization - Make a Fabric Swatch Book

Guest Author - Tamara Bostwick

I have been sewing for much of my life and have a fabric collection that matches the various phases in my sewing. As a teen and young adult, I primarily made garments and then added quilting to my skill set in my early twenties. After I was married, I began focusing more on home decor items and then itty, bitty clothing after my son was born. Now, my sewing seems to be geared somewhat toward making items that solve problems and gifts. As a result of this progression, I have boxes and boxes of various types of fabric stored around my house. I have quilting fabric under my bed, garment fabric in my closet, and a bunch of assorted fabrics everywhere else. Fortunately, my husband has a generous and understanding nature and tolerates this fabric farm. Of course, he has comic books, so we are kind of even.

The bottom line is that when I want to start a sewing project, I have difficulty putting my hands on the fabrics that I need. This usually leads to a trip to the fabric store which, of course adds to the problem because fabrics are like potato chips: you can't just have one. Or, worse, I start pulling boxes out and digging through the fabric leaving swaths of fabric in my wake. As much fun as it is to buy fabric (and oh, do I love to buy fabric), I know that I already have yards and yards waiting to be made into something. So, recently I have been trying to use fabric that I already have for my various sewing projects and also to complete my unfinished projects. To make this process easier, I have decided to inventory my fabrics and create a fabric swatch book so that I can more easily locate the fabrics I do have. Also, I tend to be inspired when I look at my fabrics so hopefully being able to easily see them will lead to more productivity and a higher completion rate.

fabric swatch book suppliesThe system that I came up with was born mostly from what I was able to scavenge around my house. I gathered up a glue stick, half-size index cards (2 1/2 inches by 3 inches), and trading card page protectors (these are like page protectors, but they have nine individual pockets). I just happen to live with a collector (comic books *and* cards) so I was able to snag a few pages from him. He did squawk a bit, so it looks like I am going to have to order my own to finish my swatch book. They are inexpensive, about $5.00 for 25 pages, which is enough to inventory 450 fabrics. The rotary cutter and mat are optional, scissors are fine too.

fabric swatchesNext, you just cut small pieces of fabric about 1 1/4 inches by 2 1/4 inches and glue them on the bottom half of the index cards. Add some information about the fabric on the top half and you are done. I like to include fiber content and the amount that I have on hand. I also add a note if they are earmarked for a specific project, such as a quilt.

fabric swatch book pagesTo finish up, you just slip the cards into the pockets on the page protectors and put them into a three-ring binder. This is a great system, because it can be easily organized by fabric type, fabric color, or projects by adding some tabbed dividers. You can take a page out and take it with you to the fabric store to look for coordinating fabrics. You can also use the pockets to hold buttons, trims, or other notions. Best of all, it is cheap and easy to do.

I hope you enjoyed this fabric organizing tip. I know that I struggle to keep my fabrics and other sewing items organized, and I think this will really help me keep track of my fabric stash.

If you need more ideas for organizing your sewing area, here are some books that can help!

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Content copyright © 2015 by Tamara Bostwick. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Tamara Bostwick. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Cheryl Ellex for details.


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