Remember not too long ago when I wrote of taking your pattern info with you to the fabric store? I went to JoAnn’s a few days ago and among the things I intended to get, I bought a couple of pre-cut remnants. Remnants are small pieces of fabric at the ends of bolts that this store rolls up and tags with information (you can’t get the info from the end of the bolt if the bolt’s not there). Then they sell them for 50% off. Rolls and rolls of little fabric wonders wrapped up all tidy and on deep discount. Now, the interesting thing I noticed was that JoAnn’s uses a small pre-printed form to mark up, multiple-choice style, with the fiber content, care instructions, and so on. As I thought about all of my bits of fabric and looking into the future seeing fabric I’d be buying, that’s a lot of repeat information to write down on the index cards I take with me in my “fabric store kit.” JoAnn’s had it right: create a form for things you write down again and again.
So I did. Here’s a link to a high-res PDF of the Fabric Stash Tag I made. Feel free to download and share with your friends. I added a skinny white line between them in case you have to use scissors, instead of a ruler and knife, to trim them apart.
You’ll see there are a few blanks for the width and length of fabric. I designed that in so that the original yardage could be written down, as well as room for new measurements as you cut off pieces for projects. Not necessarily when you cut off a few inches, but more like if you cut it in half or thirds or some such. I’m not overly fond of having a great idea and then having to measure all my fabric to see if I can make whatever it is. You don’t have to do that, but you’ll have the option. I measure the fabric after pre-laundering it, seeing as I buy a lot of natural fibers which usually shrink in the wash.
If you bought fabric with certain ideas in mind, you may want to jot down the ideas you had, either on the back of the Fabric Stash Tag or on another slip of paper pinned to the fabric. You know, for 7 years down the road when you run across some of it at the bottom of your stash and have no idea why you bought it.
While we’re discussing buying and storing fabric, it’s a good time to mention that you should go ahead and pre-launder your fabric. All of it. Yes, your entire stash. Nothing kills creativity more than having to wait for laundry to be done before you can make something, especially if you have to hand-wash and hang to dry. Who wants to wait an extra day when they’re on a deadline or in the mood? Just do a load of fabric whenever you need to launder your clothes and you’ll have your entire stash laundered in no time. Once I got through all my stash I created a rule-of-sorts of waiting no longer than a day or two after buying fabric before pre-laundering it. On the teenie-tiny chance no one told you, you must pre-launder fabric if you intend to wash whatever you made with it. Fabric often shrinks and if it shrinks after you made, say, a fitted blouse, that blouse won’t fit after you wash it the first time. Pre-laundering also removes that nasty sizing that the fabric is saturated with, as well as removing dust, or finger oils, or anything it may have picked up in the store. If you are using the fabric in a crafting project and won’t be laundering it, you don’t have to pre-launder, as shrinkage doesn’t apply and sometimes the stiffness of the sizing works in your favor.
On storing your fabric
After you’ve done the laundering, fold your fabric selvage-to-selvage wrong-side-out, like how it was wrapped around the bolt at the store. Because you almost always cut with the wrong side out, you may as well store it that way, makes it easier to work with. Then consider folding it in one-foot lengths so it’s easier to see an approximation of how much you have: each fold is one foot. Finally, I like to fold back a corner so I can see at a glance what the right side looks like. You may notice that in the photo above.
True, all these organizational tips may be “a little too Martha,” but they sure do help me and seeing as I’ve already done the hard part by coming up with this stuff I may as well do the easy part by sharing it.