Is Your Fabric in a Wad?

That may sound like a strange question, but, seriously, is it?

Perhaps your stash looks something like this.

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But, wish it  looked like this.

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See all of the wasted space in the top photo?

Now that my husband and I are “empty nesters”, I have a sewing room. YAY!

It’s small, but, it’s mine!  By “small”, I mean 10′ x 12′. That may not seem that small, but this room had to hold a sewing machine table, sewing supplies, a design/cutting table, a computer desk for planning, typing and printing, my fabric stash, and books, etc. so every single inch needed to be utilized efficiently.

I used to keep my fabrics in baskets, sorted by colors.  They looked pretty in there, but the baskets really didn’t function well.

Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places.

While watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory, I saw the “Sheldon” character folding his laundry.  He was using a device that folded all of his shirts to the same size. I thought to myself, “Hmm, why can’t I do that with my fabric stash?”

I searched the internet to find the contraption that Sheldon used. I wanted to buy one of those folding thingies!

At last, I found it!

There was one major problem. It only comes in one size. The size of a packaged shirt. I didn’t need my fabric to be the size of a shirt. I needed to fold it to the size  that I needed.

So, I decided to make my own folding contraption. One that was “just my size”.

I measured the inside width of the shelf where my stash was to be stored.  22 5/8″.

pb010242 And the depth 11  1/2″. (Not pictured.)

I knew I wanted 3 stacks of fabric on each shelf. So, I subtracted 1/2″ for each stack from the 22 5/8″ measurement. That left me with 21  1/8″. I rounded down to 21″ because that number is divisible by 3. You’ll soon see why that’s important.

I also doubled the depth measurement, then subtracted 1/2″.  So, the size of the folding contraption I  needed was 21″W  by 22  1/2″L.

I got a piece of cardboard from a local home improvement store. This piece was flat and straight with no previous folds in it. You can ask them for an appliance box.  They usually have them first thing in the morning because the delivery drivers unpack the appliance from it’s box before loading it on their truck for delivery. They’ll just give you the box. For free.

Free is always good.

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Look at your piece of cardboard and find the end where you can see the corrugated layer in the middle. (It looks like a wavy layer.) Measure your width on this end.  Measure your length on the side where you can’t see the waves in the layer.  I cut this piece 21″ W  by 22 1/2″ L.

On both width ends, I marked 7″ and 14″ and drew lines down the length of the board to connect them. That separated the board into 3 equal sections.

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I measured and marked the center of the length-wise sides (11 1/4″) and drew a line across.

So, to sum it up, I had 2 lines drawn from top to bottom. and 1 drawn across the middle.   These drawn lines are the scoring lines.

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I extended the blade on my handy dandy utility knife so that the blade would not cut through the board. Only score it. (Cut just the top layer so that folding is easier.) My acrylic ruler, designed for rotary cutting, was a guide to keep my scoring line straight and to keep my utility knife from cutting too deeply.

After scoring along the length-wise marks, the board bends easily.

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And after scoring across the middle, the bends looked like this.

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Now, it’s ready to fold fabric!

Turn the board over so that the scored lines are on the bottom.

First fold your fabric length-wise (just like it comes off of the bolt) and align the fold with the bottom of your board.

pb010249 I set my folding board on my white pressing board (more on how I made my pressing board in a future post)  just so you could see the cardboard folder and fabric more easily.

Fold any excess fabric over so that all of the fabric is on the folding board.  For really long pieces of fabric, you may have to fold back and forth a few times until it all fits onto the board.

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Lift one side of the folder and fold the fabric to the center.

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Open the folder and lay it flat.

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You can see that the right section of the fabric is folded over the center.

Now lift the other side of the folder and fold the fabric to the center.

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Again, open the folder and lay it flat.

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All of the fabric is now folded to the center.

Lift the bottom edge of the folder and fold the fabric up.

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Open the folder one last time.

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Now you have a neatly folded piece of fabric in the top center of your folding board.

The fold is toward you and ready to be placed on the shelf.

Let’s look at the “before” and “after” photos again.

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In the “before” photo, fabrics are not easily distinguished from one another. Some are hidden completely.

In the “after” photo,  fabrics are separated, easily seen, and easy to find. No more huge gaps of wasted space on the shelf.

Hmm.  Do you see what I see?   Room for more fabric!

I’m off to the fabric store!

I hope this has given you a way to organize your stash.

Any questions? Email me at diane@lookoutmountainquilter.com

Diane

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