05 March 2016

How I Catalogued the Stash

I started sewing in 2004 and since then, I've amassed an insane amount of fabric.  Kyle and Anne can bear witness to the stash running over.  In November 2014, I began the task of sorting, measuring, and recording the details of every piece.  Doing this was daunting and brought up a lot of emotions, but I'm glad I did it.  I now have an accurate record of everything I own and am not so quick to buy fabric - last fabric purchase notwithstanding.  Hah!

Storage


All of the fabric is stored in 18-gallon plastic bins and separated by category:  

Wovens:
  • skirt wools
  • coat wools
  • pant/dress wools
  • jacket wools
  • bouclés
  • bottomweights
  • stretch suitings
  • non-stretch suitings
  • lightweight and stretch cottons
  • linen
  • silk
  • denim
  • striped shirtings
  • solid shirtings
  • printed shirtings
Knits:
  • ITY (less than 2 yards)
  • ITY (more than 2 yards)
  • colored ponte
  • black/white/grey ponte
  • printed ponte
  • double knits
  • cotton knits
  • solid rayon jersey
  • printed rayon jersey
  • activewear knits
Linings:  (rayon, silk, polyester, Kasha):
  • light colors
  • dark colors 
 
There are also three bins marked "miscellaneous" which contain a mixture of fabrics.  Since I've run out of room in the other bins, I had to combine fabrics until I (a) buy more bins or (b) sew more clothes.
 
Cataloguing
 
My system is très old-school.  Aside from the single "here's the fabric I bought" photo, I have no other digital records of my fabric.  Instead, I have index cards with fabric swatches.  Essentially, I have the sewer's version of a card catalogue.  
 
Two plastic shoeboxes are used to hold the index cards on which the measurement (length and width) and a small swatch of each fabric is recorded.


Each of the above categories is grouped on a separate ring with the approximate total yardage recorded on the front.  I try to keep this total updated, but I often forget.
 



If I remember when/where the fabric was purchased or if the fabric has been prewashed, I include that information as well. 

(skirt wool)
Using the Catalogue
 
When I'm ready to sew a fabric, I take the index card from the ring, record the intended pattern to use, and the date I started sewing.

(jacket wool; in progress)

Once the garment is completed, I record the finished date as well. 

(bouclé)

I also record any information related to sizing, fitting, construction, and mishaps on the back. 



I put all of the completed projects on a separate ring and store them in a metal box.



At the end of the year, I have an account of all of the garments I made (successes and failures) and the fabrics used. 


So that's it!  There's my stash in all of its glory.  Hah!

***

How do you catalogue your stash? Do you have a digital or paper system?  

L  

31 comments:

  1. Awesome organization!!! I organized a year or 2 ago, but fell back since then, in the process of redoing my fabric room. Need to pull all the bins out to paint the room, purchase utility shelves and do the tedious task of resorting the old & new fabrics & patterns... ugggh. You did good tho.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sheila. =) It is definitely a huge task, but I'm sure you'll feel good about it afterwards.

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  2. That is an amazing system but I would need therapy if I did count and catalogue mine. For the last 3 years I have been keeping an excel spreadsheet of in and out but that doesn't come anywhere near what was in the stash before then.

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    1. Haha, thanks Sharon. Counting it all was therapeutic...sort of. =) I realized how many of the purchases were coping mechanisms. I've made it a goal to track how much I buy and spend on fabric this year. While my spending is way down in general, I am curious to see how much I acquire and at what cost.

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  3. Hey Lynne! What a system! You really are organized.

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  4. I used a bin system like that years ago but found that I like seeing mine best. I was never as organized as you to use the card/swatch system. I'm impressed that you've catalogued everything - that is pretty awesome!

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    1. =) Thank you Carolyn. I used to store the fabric on my bookshelves, but I started noticing moisture accumulating on some of the pieces and wanted to protect them. Plus I was running out of shelf space. Hah!

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  5. Great system L - but then I love to catalogue my stash - beats rummaging around in the hope you know what you have and how much....Love the idea of recording your garments on the cards too.

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    1. Yes, definitely! When I have a garment in mind, I'll check to see if I have the fabric I want and if what I have is enough. I used to rummage through the bins trying to remember what was there.

      I used to keep a notebook of the same information, but I wasn't consistent with it. Then I would have to try to remember what I did to sew/alter the pattern. I find writing things down on the card helps a lot!

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  6. Very inspirational! I should do this, because I'm entering the point where things are forgotten or temporarily lost.

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    1. Yes, do it! It's a large task, but I think you'll be grateful at the end. =)

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  7. I use the box/ bin system to separate fabric types. I rely on memory for when I acquired the piece (fabric store/ estate sale) and how much I paid $$. I do better seeing the entire piece and I am currently trying to finagle my larger pieces out on hangers. Touching and feeling (petting) the pieces leads to 2am inspiration. I also blog my finished projects.
    Congrats on your orginizational skills. Your box of finished garments cards must make you super happy.

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    1. I'm like you if I catalogue the piece as soon as it comes in. If I wait a while, fuhgeddaboutit. =) Even though I can't readily touch each piece, I like having the index cards because I can at least get an idea of what's there.

      The box of finished garments definitely makes me happy! It gives me a sense of accomplishment - especially when the sewjo goes on hiatus. =)

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  8. Your system is pretty amazing! I was very impressed!

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    1. Thank you Kyle! I still laugh at your initial reaction: "OK. Let me take it all in." Bwahahahahaha

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    2. I don't know about Kyle, but I felt like it was a little too amazing to really take it all in. That day was unforgettable and is a favorite memory!

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  9. I bow to your organizational skills. That is all.

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    1. Aaah, thank you grasshopper.

      LOLOLOLOLOL

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  10. Wow, I love your card system! I don't have any stash organization (yet), let alone a catalog.

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    1. Thank you! Come on, you can get it going. =)

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  11. Wow - I wish I had the patience to do likewise...maybe someday. You are so organized - amazing!

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    1. Thank you! I accepted that my mind works better like this. A friend recently commented that my dresser is way too organized. Hah!

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  12. I'm supposed to catalog it all???

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  13. Mine is all digital. On my phone and laptop. Photos and everything. Mine are also in plastic tubs but they are numbered rather than categorised. And even though it's all catalogued and pics are on my phone, I still get surprises when I open a tub. LOL

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    1. Oddly enough I don't take the time to digitally catalogue everything, but writing it all down by hand works. Haha! I'm always surprised when I open a tub.

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  14. Your organization is impressive. Mine not so much. My fabric is nicely folded in lovely stacks aon three big Rubbermaid seven foot shelves. I have to literally SEE my fabric. Storing it in bins would never work for me. I can just see myself ripping through a bin to find the perfect yardage and the mess I would leave be behind. For me, the fabric inspires and I have to see it for that to happen. That being said, I really don't need much more organizing as its there in front of me. I am impressed with your stash and your method to control it, just not my way of doing it. I sort of like pulling out the fabrics, measuring them to see if I have enough and running my fingers through their lovely fibers. Cards and swatches just don't inspire me but I get that others are far more methodical and may sew from a different perspective.

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    1. Thank you Bunny. =) Part of the reason I began storing fabric in tubs is because I had dogs and the dog hair would be everywhere. Plus I had an old mildew-y couch in the basement and it was smelling up the fabric. Since I've gotten rid of the couch, I don't have that problem anymore. But the stash has grown beyond my shelf space!

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