Anita's quilts and quilting

A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.

A new organizing idea

For anyone looking for the next post about realistic scheduling, I’ll try to get it posted on Monday. I haven’t bought my 2008 day planner yet. I saw one I liked at Target but it cost almost $50. That one was not for me! I’m going to the office supply store Saturday. Hopefully they have one at a better price.

Ok, I finally got around to start the organizing. Complete with some pictures. Yea!

My fabric stash should look like this…..all neatly hanging on hangers so it is easy to find just the right fabric for my next project.


But somehow it always ended up looking like this….


Or this…..


So what was my problem?? In reflecting back; I realize the fabric should be easily accessible and easily replaced. The easy retrieve was good…the easy replaced wasn’t. I loved the idea of the hangers. They just didn’t work. And…the fabrics on hangers take up way too much space. The hangers will get donated to my grandchildren to keep their clothes closets neat…yeah right.

I’ve come up with something much better….I think. I’ll see how it works over the next year. I honestly believe it is a much better system. If anyone does the same thing maybe we can compare after its been used for awhile?

Let me ask you a question or two before I explain the new plan.

Do you ever buy a quilt fabric kit? Or a fabric jelly roll? Maybe a block of the month? I usually don’t but I like the idea of them. If you think about them….the fabrics are all contained together making it easy to create the quilt. No having to search through the fabric stash for what is needed to make the quilt.

Have you ever sorted through your fabric stash…..picked up a piece of fabric…..thought to yourself…..what on earth did I buy this fabric for? Or…..have you ever started a quilt only to realize the fabric you bought for it is lost somewhere in the stash? Me too!

Have you ever gotten a quilt magazine or book…..looked through it…..saw a quilt you want to make someday…..later bought the fabric…..then couldn’t remember what book or magazine you saw it in? Me too!

Have you ever gone to the fabric store…..bought fabric for a quilt you intended to make…..put the fabric neatly away in your stash…..then couldn’t remember what quilt you wanted to use it for? Me too!

Have you taken the pledge to bust the stash? Or taken the no buy pledge? Me too! I’ve also taken a pledge to not randomly go out to buy organizer gidgets and gadgets in the hope it will get me organized. I’m using what I have or be darned sure it’s something I really need before spending money. Heavens, I’ve got lots of ideas for organizing without spending a lot of money…it’s time I started using them again.

Hopefully my 2008 organizing method will remedy all the above situations. I’ve given it lots of thought over the past year but until it’s tried and tested I can’t be sure.

I was thinking about several possible solutions for better organizing this year. I kept asking myself…..does fabric have to be sorted and stored in colors or themes or by size? Can’t fabric be stored together for easier (and quicker) quilts. Like a quilt kit. I kept thinking…..kits are a great idea….but…..I don’t have the time to cut all the fabric pieces for a couple of hundred quilt kits all at one time either.

There must be a better solution….AHA! Light bulb moment! Who says a kit must be cut pieces? Sometimes a kit is nothing more than pieces of fabric and cutting instructions. Or just pieces of fabric like in the jelly rolls.

I’ve spent the last year making copies of the instruction pages of every quilt I thought I might want to make someday. Every book I looked through, every magazine, or any quilt I thought maybe I would like to make, got copies made. I kept the copies all together until I could get around to my organizing.

Ok, I’ve got a head start on you. I took a whole year to make copies. Don’t try to start making copies all at once. Start with a few to get you started organizing or start with your UFO quilts. Start with the visible fabrics first…those are the newest. You know…the fabrics that are stacked right in front of where you want to walk. Anything hidden in a drawer, cabinet, or box is old and can wait for just a bit longer.

I have a computer printer that makes copies. If you don’t have one…..writing the name and book or magazine with page numbers might work too.

It doesn’t matter if I never get around to making all the quilts. It doesn’t matter if I have instructions for 5 or 50 or 550…only that I had a thought I might want to make it. I wanted the copies in one place for me to find them again. Some quilts I want to make don’t really need a pattern. I know how to make them….I only needed a reminder page that I want to make the quilt and who will get it.


I gathered up all my someday quilt patterns. I put a few into a bag. Not all of them. Just a few to start. One pattern or reminder sheet per bag. For example…..this pattern was sent to me by one of the web ring members. My grandchild will love it.


This one I printed off the internet a few months ago when I got some denim fabric donations.


This is a reminder sheet…..I want to use some of the necktie donations I was given a few weeks ago.


This is a reminder sheet too. I hope to enter MQS this year. I’m not sure I will; but, I have the reminder anyway. The actual contest booklet is stored in another place.


So what am I going to do with all these bags and patterns? I’m going to make some kits….NO, NO, NO, I’m not cutting any fabric yet. I’m only sorting fabric so I know what I bought it for or believed I would make with it in the first place.

All I’m doing right now is sorting fabrics into a bag with the instructions or reminder sheet. I’m not even measuring to be sure I have the right amount of fabric. Only that the fabric I pick up will hopefully go into THAT quilt. I can measure and cut….or even change my mind….when I actually get around to making the quilt.

Why did I choose the really large bags instead of smaller ones? So I can store a whole bunch of fabric and keep it there until the whole quilt is finished. I can put everything, including backing, into the bag if I want. Batting…no. But everything else can be stored together. It won’t matter if there is too much fabric or too little fabric. When I actually get around to making one of these kits I can do all the measuring and cutting. For now…it’s just sorting.

At first I lay a few bags out onto the table to use for sorting. Then I realized I needed the table for folding fabrics.


So I moved them to my machine table for now. When I start filling the bags it will get too heavy for the table. I’ll move them to a container before that happens. I don’t want to damage my machine table.


I gave each bag a number. Next I wrote numbers onto a sheet of paper. I thought to myself….it won’t do me any good to have all these kit bags made up…..if I can’t remember which bag has what quilt. I can’t spend enormous amounts of time searching through bags for a quilt on a deadline either. With a list I can scan through it to see which quilt is next and then go get the bag with the right number.

Think of the bags as fabric houses and the list as the addresses. Ta da! instant quilt address book. Works just like one of my other address books.


Ok, you see there are some blank lines? Those represent empty houses. I haven’t put a pattern in them yet. As I’m sorting through my fabrics…..if I come across a fabric that I completely forgot about but know what quilt I want to make…..it can be given a quilt reminder sheet to live with and written into the address book. Some fabrics simply won’t have a home yet. Those homeless fabrics are going to be folded and stored in the homeless shelter….ready for a someday quilt.

Here is an example of a quilt waiting for a house. It’s colored pictures done by my grandkids.


It gets a house to live in and given an address on the list.


Here are some Dresden plate blades I cut awhile back. I put them into their house which already had an address.


When I’m sorting through the fabrics to put into their houses…sometimes there is an odd piece along with a larger piece. I put both into the right house together. I don’t know if I will need both or not. It’s better to have it all there than to realize later I really could have used that small piece.


These are some of my really small pieces. A couple of fat quarters and some border stripes.


Even fat quarters and border stripes need a home. I haven’t figured out which house they will live in yet so I’m simply putting them into one place for a later sorting. I believe I have a lot of these small pieces…maybe I will find them again as I sort and clean.

How else can I use these fabric houses? Well, suppose, I decide to do the hour a day project with Judy L over at Sunshine Quilts. She gives a fabric list and directions. So, I go grab an empty numbered fabric house and gather the fabrics for the hour a day project. I have to remember to put the owner of this fabric house into the address book!

Ok, suppose I finally do pull out one of the fabric houses to start making the quilt. That’s the time when I start measuring to see if I have all the right amounts of fabric. If say for example the pattern calls for one yard of fabric but I have 6 yards there…I do not cut off one yard then put the rest into the homeless fabric shelter. Just as sure as I do that….I will use the fabric for another quilt….only to realize I should have kept more of it for a border or for the binding. I keep all fabrics in the bag until the quilt is completely finished…..then find a new home for what is left.

Suppose I find I’m short some fabric? Not enough there or simply not the right one. I need to make a trip to the fabric homeless shelter…..(fabric stash)….hmmm….not the right fabric there either. Eeeeeek!…a trip to the fabric store is in order. Lots of temptation there…..so I take a note of exactly how much fabric I need to complete this quilt along with a swatch of the fabrics I’m using and maybe the instruction sheets. If I only need one yard of a fabric; I do not buy more than 1 and 1/4 yards. The 1/4 is for cutting and shrinking allowance.

WARNING! Don’t pull random fabrics off the shelves at the LQS. It’s far too tempting to adopt them all. If you need to know how to resist buying yards and yards of fabric go read this.

I’ve made a pledge to myself….nothing gets put into the trash or donated to someone else until I’m absolutely certain it won’t be put into some quilt in the future. Fabric is much too expensive and getting more expensive. I’m not going to get rid of an old $2 piece of fabric just to go buy a new $15 piece. Even the really old fabrics can find a home.

Speaking of the really old fabrics. Do you have any really old (10 years or more) fabrics but just can’t seem to find a pattern to use them in? Well goodness….look through some old (10 years or more) books. Try to figure out what time period a fabric was made and you will most likely find a pattern for it in a book from that same time period. No old books? Try the library.

So why make an old pattern from old fabrics? Think a minute……don’t you love looking at vintage quilts? Don’t you just love to see all the old fabrics? So why not make yourself a contemporary-vintage quilt? If someone can come up with a name like shabby sheek (?) why not contemporary-vintage?

Hmm…I think I explained the whole idea? I may think of something else as I continue to sort and organize. For now, I’ve given you the basics. I’m headed to the stash to do some more sorting. I would appreciate opinions of what others think of my idea. Now to figure out what title to put this under….. Does it save money, yes. Does it save space, probably. Does it save time, yes. Oh heck, the best is under organize. That covers them all.

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One comment on “A new organizing idea

  1. Leah S
    December 7, 2007

    What about hanging your “houses” (bags) with the hangers in numerical order? Then you can use the space under it for other items/non-assigned fabrics?

Comments are closed.

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