How to Store Your Fabrics

how to store fabric

Continuing with my series on overspill content from writing How to Sew Sustainably, here’s a topic that might be considered a bit boring, but I’ll bet that at some point it’s been the bane of everyone’s life who sews…..


Patchworkers and quilters tend to organise their fabric by colour, this makes sense as they tend to work with only one fabric type – quilter’s cotton – a medium weight plain woven 100% cotton fabric.

Dressmakers tend to have a wider range of fabric types, which can make organising a little more complicated and hopefully you will also be adding leftover fabrics and recycled fabrics to your collection.

Here is how I arrange mine:

  1. Start by Fabric Type

I start by organising my fabrics into two fabric structure groups: woven and knitted. Each type is stored separately, wovens in one place, knits in another (these could just be different shelves or different cupboards). Within these two distinct fabric structure groups I then organise by weight: light / medium / heavy:

Light weightLawn, Satin, Challis, Charmeuse, Crepe, Muslin, OrganzaSingle Jersey, 1×1 Ribbing
Medium weightChambray, Poplin, Needlecord, NoilInterlock, 2×2 Ribbing, Scuba, Ponte Roma
Heavy weightCorduroy, Denim, Canvas, Gaberdine, Melton, Tweed, Velvet, Waxed Cotton, BrocadeSweatshirting (Loopback sweat or French Terry), Cut & Sew Knits (Sweater Knits), Boiled Wool, Fleece
  1. Next Sort by Size – within the weight groups I then organise by size of fabric: scraps, pieces and whole garments or garment parts.
  2. Then Organise by Colour – finally I look at the colours I have available within each group that I’m working with and embrace the clashes and happy accidents that I find in there!

Types of Storage:

I store most of my fabrics in clear plastic boxes but have some in a dedicated cupboard. Within them all, fabrics are sorted by colour in clear plastic bags so I can see at a glance exactly what I have.

I recommend keeping your fabrics in clear boxes with secure lids so that you can see what is inside each. Ensure each box contains adequate moth protection for its size.

Storing in plastic boxes will offer some protection against damp but don’t assume you can just shove the boxes out of sight and forget about them.  Mildew is the death of fabric, it infects it with a distinctive musty smell that is really difficult to get rid of and marks that are impossible to remove.

silica packets

I put plenty of silica gel packets into each fabric box to prevent damp. You can often find these in the packaging of shop bought goods so this is a great way to recycle them!

Finally all you then need to do is keep using and checking your fabric so that air gets a chance to circulate around it.

Here is the first post in this series of content that wouldn’t fit into How to Sew Sustainably, it’s full of tips and advice about how to choose sustainable fabrics.

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