My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

How I store my quilting fabric

Now that I work in an 'open to the public' studio, and my space is smack bang in the middle of an art gallery, I need to keep it tidy and attractive.  Back on the boat, my creative space could sometimes end up looking like below!  Not a good look when I'm trying to look organised and professional.

I have an upstairs, which I term my workroom, and it is a little bit more 'lived in' looking.  I have a plastic sheet on the floor with some dye pots, a kitchen bench with more dye pots, a collection of chairs and a coffee table for stitch and bitch nights (Tuesdays 7pm, all makers welcome!), and a few other odds and ends, but I keep it clean and tidy.

Downstairs is the main gallery space, but it is also where I have my sewing machine and design wall and where I do most of my work.  I can't really be hidden away upstairs if there are people looking through the gallery.

And I need to keep that working space downstairs clean and clear to the eye so that it doesn't distract from what is on the walls.  But where to put all my fabric?  I do have an under-stairs cupboard, but it has threads, UFO's, packing material, the rubbish bin and other essential supplies.

I have a trestle table that has my ironing surface on one end and my cutting mat on the other.  My sewing machine is set up on my sew-ezi table and is behind the trestle.  I covered the top of my table with a white cloth and then to hide the underside, I draped a length of white fabric around three sides of the table, tucking it under the white cloth at the top.  The ironing surface and the cutting mat are heavy enough to keep it it place without having to secure it.

If I lift up the draped fabric I can easily access the underneath of my trestle table and that is how I store my fabric. 

I have eight Sistema plastic tubs.  They are 49 cm x 63 cm and 15 cm high.  They stack nicely and are fairly easy to manoeuvre.  If I fold my fabrics into the size that fat quarters are usually folded to, I can slot these in on their ends and I can easily see all the colours at the same time.  This works for fat quarter to half-metre sized cuts  The tub above is filled with some of my hand-dyes.

I can also fit larger cuts of fabric folded the same height as the fat quarters but double the length.  These slot in on their sides and I can see all the colours I have of these too.  So many blues! (And just between you and me, all my Japanese indigos are kept in a special place upstairs, or there would be double the number of blues.)

I have to have one tub on the top of the stack turned sideways to accommodate the trestle a-frame legs, but that's no big deal.  The best system to store my quilting fabric would be to have some permanent shelves built in the cupboard under the stairs, but I don't have a long-term lease so I don't want to go permanent.  And I don't want to have these tubs in the cupboard because I can't easily stack and unstack them in there.  So, this is the next best thing and I'm really happy with how it's working.

How do you store your fabric?  Leave me a comment, I'd love to know!


  1. I'm a bit like you, plastic bins but mine are in a cupboard. Then I have my scraps which are cut into useable sizes (Bonnie Hunters method) But when I am working on something especially the scrap quilt I have just finished, it is a dogs breakfast! Fabric all over the show! But hey it's creative mess right??

  2. I've got an assortment of bags: Kathmandu type packing cells, one of their more rigid framed 'porter cells' (not the ones they have now, an older version), which are filled like your boxes with my quilting stuff. Fleece and old clothes waiting to be repurposed are in the clear plastic zipped bags bedding often comes in. I made some zipped mesh bags for scraps and interfacings, and some large 'box' bags I made out of curtain/upholstery material (just used what I had!) which have larger pieces of material in that will probably come in useful for something some day but I'm not sure what or when.... to be fair this is the collection that the material for the bags came from in the first place! Batting is kept rolled up in a zipped pillow protector. The Kathmandu type packing cells were originally bought for transporting my quilting stash when I emigrated 10yrs ago and they worked so well I just carried on using them!


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