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Pretty ways to organize your fabric


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We’ve been using the Expedit bookcases from Ikea for our fabric storage. A few months ago I spent the afternoon banging together these boxes to hold all our fabric. Sarai had the idea to cut little swatches of all the fabrics in each box and safety pin them to the outside of each container. It makes it easy to find the right fabrics that way.

In our new studio, we’re thinking of laying the bookcases so that their long sides are down to block off a dedicated sewing space. We’ll have extra space on top of the bookcases for storage bins. I’ve looked online at a bunch of different options and thought it’d be fun to share them with you, and also hear about what you use for your fabric storage. What have you found works for you? Do you like to see your fabric or keep it hidden? Do you have a particular way you organize it all?

Images: Rugby Stripe Bags, Crunch Can, Ikea Box, Green Tins, Black Trash Bin, Pink Trash Bin, Antique Wood Crate, Locker Wire Basket

Some related posts you may be interested in:

Caitlin Clark   —  

Caitlin is the Colette Patterns design assistant. You can follow Caitlin at her blog, the story girl.

Comments 33


This is a wonderful idea! It does make it easy to see everything you have and the boxes are deep…another plus!



I have a small space, so cram fabric wherever I can fit it! I wrap long yardages on empty bolts I get from the fabric store and fold the rest on a shelf. Upholstery fabric goes in a chest. (I have a lot of fabric!)

I’ve seen some creative storage ideas on pinterest though:
wrapping fabric around foam boards:
on bins and hangers:
fat quarters in a drawer (prob best for quilters):


Oh I like to see my fabric ! I love seeing all the colors together. It brightens up my sewing room. And that way, I never forget which fabric I have, and when I have a new project in mind, I can browse my fabric collection in my head easily :)


What an inspired idea! I LOVE the pretty but functional simplicity of hanging swatches from the box.


I got this super inexpensive chest from Target to hold my fabric:|pdp|12173911|ClickCP|item_page.adjacency&lnk=Rec|pdp|12173911|ClickCP|item_page.adjacency

I have some great Ikea bookshelves in my studio, and had all my fabric folded on shelves for a while. But I also have a lot of yarn and found after a time that the explosion of colors from the fabric and the yarn – even though organized by color – was just too much on the eyes. I like it better now folded out of sight. This dresser isn’t a high quality piece, but it has held up well and looks just like similar Ikea ones. There is no Ikea anywhere near where I live, so we have to make do! :)


Earlier this year I spent a few days scouring the internet for good pictures of fabric storage, but couldn’t find anything that really worked for me… I’d love togo the expedit route, but I’m on a budget right now! Instead, I found used 4 cd/dvd shelves which are PERFECT for organizing my bits of quilting cottons by colour! The shelves are removable, so it’s easy to adapt to larger pieces of fabric too.

Here’s a picture – It makes me happy every time I see it!


Fantastic idea! I like it very much.


Expedit shelves really are a great size for storing fabric. I have mine folded up on the shelf, on the side facing away from the window. If you’re thinking of putting them on their sides, two Expedit shelves together make a great cutting table surface. Here’s some pics of how I set mine up here:


I thought about doing something like that! We have a great cutting area already, but maybe for some other use.

Angela W. Fitch

Love your ideas for the shelf, and the bars to hang works in progress. :)


I always make sure to use a storage solution that is safe for my fabrics. Wood and cardboard bins can be acidic and ruin your stuff if left unbuffered for too long. I always opt for plastic bins as they are also water resistant.


I just posted about this yesterday, actually –
My fabric is folded on an Expedit shelf (I love the idea of rolling everything, but it’s just not practical for me – I want everything out in the open so I can stare at it :) lol). I swatched all my fabric, stapled a little piece of paper with yardage info to every swatch, and then pinned them to my bulletin board. I can easily see what I have and how much of everything there is when I’m planning projects, without actually pulling my stash apart. I also uploaded everything (and my patterns!) to Flickr so I can view it when I’m on-the-go as well :)


I’d really like to do the photo/flickr thing for the vintage patterns I have. It’s not a huge collection, but I think it would help me use them.

Claire (aka Seemane)

I have the exact same Expedit bookcase + Prant wooden boxes (same colour wood & everything LOL!). I use mine to store incomplete & in progress projects.

However after only 2-3 weeks of use (that’s maybe getting each box out 1 / 2 times per week?) I noticed the following:

1) The bottom of the boxes started to scratch the thin wooden veneered surface of the shelves (boo!). I checked and the metal strips on the corners were not tuching – so it was wood-onto-wood contact that did it. And I was even careful in te first instance not to rub the box hard onto the shelf when I was picking them up/down too * sighs *:(
2) It’s kind of fiddly pulling the whole box out everytime to access things.
3) I got annoyed having to do 2) + then rest it n the floor / table to get the lid of to peer inside (I’d prefer no lids basically).

So, I got rid of those boxes (I strongly feel they would work better on an open shelving unit – perhaps something more industrial made of plain metal – so there’s nothing to scratch ). And, I replaced them with a mixture of single, and doublee-drawer inserts. I store tools, notions and projects in my drawers.

For fabric storage – I think the DRONA boxes (no lids) are a cheaper and better option than the PRANT wooden boxes. the Drona are also sized to fit EXPEDIT shelves.

I have my fabric folded (and visible) on the IKEA Broder metal shelving unit (comes in many different size options). With Drona boxes used on it just for scraps, and for interfacing, and batting).

UK links single drawers, and double drawers, DRONA, Broder shelving

USA links single drawers, and double drawers, DRONA, Broder shelving.


This actually reminds me of a post I read earlier today on Design Sponge. You can make doors with hinges to hide the contents of your shelves and avoid the scratching issue:

This example uses canvases, but I see no reason you can’t install something on hinges.

Claire (aka Seemane)

I posted a comment – but it’s awaiting moderation :)


Heh, all the helpful links you included triggered the spam filter. :)


Unfortunately, my sewing space doesn’t really have enough room for all of my fabric. And because we move so often, I don’t always have the option of a dedicated sewing space. I have 2 large wicker baskets that I keep current projects in and those sit on shelves. I have my extras (elastic, ribbon, seam binding and bias tape, etc.) in clear rubbermaid totes with the locking tops and they’re labeled with a label maker. I also keep the ribbon wrapped around lengths of cardboard – usually flaps I cut from boxes – and pinned w/straight pins. Each cardboard is then put in the tote. (I organized my rubber stamps and paper crafting stuff this way, too.) I also have a clear tote full of usable sized scraps from my quilting in a similar tote.

My fabric is sorted by type and print – quilting cottons (solids and prints are separate and these are only fabrics I’ll use to make a quilt or other patchwork-type of sewing), cottons used for garments (including quilting cottons), linings, muslin, corduroy, linen, denim and twills, solid knits (includes ribbing), floral knits, stripe/geometric print knits, general print knits, wools, velour and knit terry, upholstery fabrics… you get the idea. Most are in large rubbermaid totes or in very large footlockers (upholstery) and are labeled with the label maker, then stored on wire shelves in the garage. I don’t have cars in the garage (we have entirely too much junk), so there’s no worry about it smelling funny. And the garage is almost always closed, so there’s no danger of too much exposure to sunlight.


I am contemplating the expidit set as well but prefer to keep my fabric on show. All the colours and textures become part of the room decor and are some beautiful to look at. The only thing I will be getting are some of the drawers that slide in for notions and offcuts.

Am loving how organised the stash is. Am totally jealous!


We used to roll our fabric and keep it on the open Expedit shelves. I was worried about sunlight though, because our space is extremely bright.

Rachel W.

Ooh, I’ve just been pondering this issue myself as spring cleaning rolls around. I envy everyone’s pretty spaces and clever solutions! Since we’re just poor young’uns, my budget for the sewing room is basically nonexistent, so I have to make do mostly with free or secondhand storage options. My local Joann will give me sturdy cardboard tubes (left over from stocking upholstery fabric, I think) to roll long lengths of fabric around, and the rest of the fabric gets rolled on stacked on sturdy-but-ugly snap-together plastic shelves, which live in the sewing room closet.

I think my stash is safe from sunlight, but does anyone worry about storing wool? I came back from Christmas vacation to find a single innocent moth fluttering around the sewing room, and boy, did I panic!


i have my fabric in a glass front bookcase, it’s stuffed to the gills though so the overflow is either shoved in the corner or in a box! i used to keep my fabric in stacked wooden crates similar to what you pictured above… either way, i need to see what i have to be inspired to sew (out of sight out of mind describes me to a T!).

Michelle Bannon

Wow! Lots of great ideas. I love the large IKEA white shelves – putting 2 together on their sides – for storage & cutting. I don’t live near an IKEA store so might order on line. Can someone tell me the approximate measurements of that particular shelf? Thanks!

Constance has the dimensions; search for expedit and look under product information. The 2×4 box version is 58.5 inches (147 cm) long. I use them as the base for my standing desk with a combination of Kasset (paperboard) boxes and non-woven fabric storage boxes (I think from Target; I’ve had them a while). The problem with using them for the base for a cutting table is I find them too low (and I’m only 5′ 3″) and building a stable base to bring them up to height can be complex without access to a table saw. They will not take legs without sagging; they’re designed to distribute their weight over the entire length and width of whatever face you designate the bottom.

My standing desk is a pure IKEA hack — two expedits with pieces of an IKEA coffee table mounted as the desktop on top with cabinet legs and bracing in the wall. But they are sturdy, if the finish is a bit delicate. (Avoid duct tape. Just sayin’.)

IKEA shipping can be ginormous; before ours was built, I found it more cost effective to make an 18 hour round trip drive.

Rachel W.

Oh, excellent! Thank you for describing your standing desk– husband and I were dithering over how to build one from Ikea components last time we were in the store. It’s great to hear how someone else managed it!


I love the idea for swatches you came up with! The rolling seems to work well for me too, but really i just like folding them up real nicely and putting them all in my bookcases. I can see everything and about how much I have of each piece. They serve as decorations for my tiny space too! The scraps are a whole other story though. Those somehow ended up in my dresser!

Michelle Bannon

Thanks so much for the IKEA info!

Jennifer Lachman

I love your ideas. My living room doubles as a bedroom/sewing space so I love any way to make my fabric stash look like a design element.


I am poor too and have small children, so anything out on a shelf gets pulled out twice a day . . . So I store my fabric by category, (dressweight, bottomweight, lining, etc.) in plastic bins with lids. I am in process of rolling them all and I love having all the neat little tied bundles! So thanks for that tip. :)


I also have an IKEA fabric storage system. I have a tall, skinny shelf unit from them (Bonde, I think – it’s been discontinued) that I use to store fabric kept in lots of Ikea’s clear Samla boxes. The fabric is more or less sorted by color, and the clear boxes let me see some of what I have / get a head start on finding something specific. Every box has a lid so the contents stay clean and the wooden shelf protects the fabrics from the sun. I bet you have a lot more fabric than I do though…


Since we live in a high-rent area we have to deal with a small (but cozy) appartment right under the roof and almost no space for extras. All my fabric sits in an old suitcase right under the desk, and habdash in a basket in the Expedit next to it, as well as books and patterns.

I’d love to use my great-grandparents kitchencabinet for my stash, if we could afford the space. But as long as my fabric isn’t out in the sun, I’m fine with it!


I recently bought a tall white bookshelf, where I keep all my fabric, sewing books, trims, and patterns. I keep all the heavier weight fabric on the bottom shelf and the lighter fabric on the next shelf up. All my sewing notions are divided into mason jars to keep them organized, and I have my patterns sewing books, and fashion magazines on another shelf.
I have a small apartment, so it’s great to have all my sewing stuff in one place where I can find it!


What a great idea – I have an ikea wardrobe, but with shelves instead of rails, so all my fabric is stored folded in there, means that I can see most of it when I open the door but it stays clean and the room stays fairly tidy !!

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