Filing Fabric & A Fabric Organization Round-Up

In case you missed it, here’s my fabric organization solution that I shared at Made with Hugs & Kisses a few weeks ago…plus 15 other ideas to suit your fancy.

When Hannah generously invited me to be a part of her “Spring Clean Your Sewing Space” series, I leapt at the opportunity to join in on the fun.  In fact, it was just the motivation I needed to come up with a new organization system for my fabric.  My “system” (if you could call it that) was starting to look like three mini-leaning-towers-of-Pisa.  See:

Fabric Organization by The Thinking Closet

But how to solve my problem?

I stared.  And I stared.  And I stared some more.  And then like magic, I had an ah-ha moment.  The solution lay before my very eyes.

Filing Fabric & Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

That’s right.  I would file my fabric!

I had seen it done before by the amazing Karen from Sew Many Ways

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

File Your Fabric | Sew Many Ways

..and I knew our file cabinet needed some major spring cleaning anyway, so I cleared out the bottom drawer and set to work.

I used acid-free Pendaflex file folders that I already had on hand, cut them down the middle, draped my folded fabric over top, and loaded up my bottom drawer with files of fabric.  Just.  like.  that.

Filing Your Fabric | The Thinking Closet

Of course, I had to organize them in ROYGBIV order….

Filing Fabric & Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Filing Fabric & Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Filing Fabric & Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Filing Fabric & Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Pretty nifty, huh?  Sometimes I just open that bottom door to stare at it.  Sigh.

I stacked my felt and burlap up in one of the metal cubes and placed small scraps in my Tupperware drawers.  Since the top of the filing cabinet is freed up, my Brother is no longer relegated to the floor.  {Poor guy.}

Filing Your Fabric | Before & After | The Thinking Closet

And in case this method is not for you, I’ve rounded up a collection of fabric organization methods to help add to the inspiration.  Be prepared for ideas both practical and eye-catching.  Ready?  Steady?  Here we go!

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Isn’t this hutch just gorgeous with the colorful stacks of fabric and mini suitcases?

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Stacks in a Hutch | All Sorts

How about this reclaimed dresser without drawers?

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Dresser Without Drawers | Cameras & Chaos

Here’s a great idea: create mini bolts of fabric using comic book boards.

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Mini Fabric Bolts | That Girl, That Quilt

Or use a Billy Bookcase for larger bolts like Lisa did.

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Billy Bookcase Organization | Home & Away with Lisa

Don’t these white canvas bins give off such a fresh, clean spring feel?

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Canvas Bins by Color | Holly’s Street

I own these exact wire basket organizers!  What a great use for them.

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Wire Basket Storage | Caitlin Wilson

And look how high they can go!

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Wire Basket Stacks | Rethink Design

Neatly folded fabric in clear storage containers just pleases the type A in me.

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Clear Storage Containers | Film in the Fridge

The same goes for these clear Tupperware drawers that are just the right width.

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Clear Drawers | My Fabric Obsession

Or how about storing them in letter sorters?

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Letter Sorter | Jamie Diersing via Design Mom

Imagine how fun it would be to open up a closet door and finger through fabrics…like choosing an outfit.

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Fabric on Hangers | 6th Street Design School

Love how this curtain rod method would stave off wrinkles!

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Curtain Rod Method | Craftaholics Anonymous

For scraps, why not roll them up and display them in a basket?

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Fabric Scrap Baskets | Periwinkle Pincushion

Or stack them artfully in an apothecary jar?

Fabric Organization Round-Up | The Thinking Closet

Apothecary Jar | Prudent Baby

And with whatever system you choose, think how much MORE organized you would be if you downloaded these free fabric brochures to keep track of what you have using swatches.  The teacher in me hearts this method.

Dear reader, what fabric organization method inspires you the most?  Or if you already have a method that works, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

And if there are any beginner sewists out there (like me!), be sure to check out these tutorials just for you:

Thanks again to Hannah for allowing this novice sewist to crash the expert sewist party.  I had a blast!

{Linking up here.}

This is Lauren, signing off.



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Lovely comments so far...

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thanks, Denyse! I’m glad you like them, and props to Karen from Sew Many Ways for her initial inspiration with the filing system for fabric. She really is a genius where organization is concerned. (Much like you and your burlap tags!)

    • GemCrafty says

      I love the filing drawer o’ fabric and have everything needed!
      To the left of the file cabinet are shoe storage that make wonderful craft storage for yarn, small projects, and anything else needing organizing! It’s perfect for all the grandchild sewing projects in the works.

  1. says

    I’m in eye candy overload from all the glorious fabric and organization! I love your file system, but it would take much more than one drawer for my stash.hmm…maybe it’s time to do a little purging. I can clean out clothes, kitchen goods and toys like nobody’s business, but I find it a bit harder to part with fabric. Thanks for sharing your solution along with a round up of glorious ideas!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      I hear ya! My Mom still has fabric remnants from costumes she made for us as little kids…and I’m my Mother’s daughter when it comes to saving things. And the last time I purged craft supplies (aqua Ball mason jars from our wedding centerpieces), I had MAJOR regrets. So, yeah. Where craft and sewing supplies are concerned, I’m with ya: there is no purging to be had! Ha ha. So, step aside, paper files, and make way for the fabric!

  2. says

    Oh wow, so many organized things! *drools* I have no space for all my fabric things.. they’re just crammed into places, because I prefer to showcase and shelve my books & DVDs and purses, so sadly, sewing things have to take a back seat. Someday..!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Ha ha. Actually, I have the opposite problem with my purses. They’re crammed onto the top shelf of my closet and threaten to rain down on me anytime they’re nudged. I’m always afraid of a purse avalanche! Lol.

  3. Mark says

    Really brilliant idea with the file cabinet… Can’t think of a better use for that space. You’re so creative. Also I like how you spotlighted other people’s cool ideas. Another example of there being multiple effective solutions to a problem.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thank you for letting me take over our living room table with my many craft projects and hijacking our file cabinet to use for my fabric organization. Hubby Of The Year Award is yours!

  4. says

    K, how adorable is your husband? Geez Louise… the cuteness is too much! Also, very cool project! Some day, when I learn to sew (and no longer have irrational sewing machine fears), I’ll be coming back to this creative and brilliant post!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thalita, I totally understand about the irrational sewing machine fears. I had them, too, FOR YEARS, and then one morning I woke up with the strange desire to learn how to sew. And that desire overpowered the fears…and I have hope that the same will be true for you! 😉 And Mark knows I love it when he comments, so every so often, he surprises me with a sweet comment…. Yeah, he’s a keeper. (Just like yours! You two are about the most photogenic couple I’ve ever seen. For realz.)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Oh yes! Once I learned about the fabric filing idea, I started thinking of all the other possible things to file (patterns being one of them!). You can probably find an old one for a song at a thrift store or on Craig’s List. We got ours at IKEA; it was the the perfect size for what we needed…although now that I’ve overtaken the bottom drawer with my fabric, we probably could use more space. Ha ha.

  5. says

    Ooh such a cute idea! My fabric collection is growing slowly, so when it outgrows its current drawers, I may just have to try this! And thanks for the cool roundup too–all of that organization makes me giddy! And also you + your husband = cutest ever. 😀 Happy almost-Friday, Lauren!

    ~Abby =)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      I think fabric collections by nature do nothing but grow! I was just recently corresponding with a friend about how hard it is to “purge” items from your fabric stash. They all hold so much potential! How could I dare give them away? :-) Anyway, I’m glad to hear you may have found some ideas to help you out when your collections does overflow their current drawers. (And “tee hee” re: the hubs. Sometimes I forget that the whole world can see what we wrote on here!) Hope you had a marvelous weekend with your family, Abby.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thanks for stopping by, Heidi! Just took my first visit over to Handmade Frenzy and I loved what I saw. Talk about eye candy! (That color-blocked skirt? Soooo cute.) Great to “meet” you.

  6. says

    I LOVE all these beautiful fabric storage ideas!! I, too, like to peek at my neatly folded fabric just because. :) Thanks for all the great links!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      For sure, Shannon! And thanks for the awesome tip on YOUR blog about the DIY grippy hangers. I’m so going to try that soon!

  7. says

    I just LOVE looking at all this organized fabric, like candy for a fabric addict like me:) I recently reclaimed a china cabinet I purchased at a garage sale and they had already painted it white for me. I love the glass front so I can peruse my stash without destroying it.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Oooo…what a wonderful idea to store fabric in a china cabinet! (You’re right about the glass front being wonderful for seeing what you have without making a mess digging around.) Do you have a photo of it on your blog? I’d love to see THAT candy!

  8. says

    Fantastic fabric storage ideas…..I love it when storage can turn into great looking “displays” too…so much nicer to see all the neatly folded fabric organized by color and so much easier to find too!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      It’s true, it’s true! When organization can also be fun to look at, it’s a win-win. Thanks for stopping by and for your sweet comment, Jamie. Great to “meet” you.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Indeed! That’s a great point I hadn’t thought about, Elizabeth. And being in Florida, we sure get our fair share of sun to protect fabric from (except for this week…which has been rainy and gray). Thanks for stopping by and for your sweet comment!

  9. says

    Your fabric filing is so clever. And, I appreciate the fabulous collection of other ideas you shared. I’m always struggling to keep my fabric organized.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      It’s definitely hard to keep fabric under control when it’s a stash that is constantly growing…at a rapid rate…with no sign of slowing down. 😉 Hopefully, these ideas will help reign in the chaos for my sewist friends (like yourself!).

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Of course, Sarah! It was SO much fun going on the hunt for these ideas. Pinterest…Google Images…back to Pinterest…it was really the best Friday night I had had in a while! Ha ha.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Digging is the enemy of order. (Sounds philosophical I know; don’t be too impressed. I’m now maxed out on philosophical statements. Ha ha.) Glad you enjoyed the post, Trine! And so happy to get to visit you at Creative Pink Butterfly. Way to rock that maxi dress you whipped up!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and visit my post, Sharon! I thought the Summer Bucket List Link Party was such a great idea; you can bet I’ll be back to link up more projects and visit some of the other link-ups! So much inspiration, it’s not even funny.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      I was happy to do it, Kelly! Putting this together was super fun, as you can imagine. I mean, the photos alone are a feast for the eyes! Doesn’t get much better than neatly organized fabric, all the colors of the rainbow! I’m sure you agree…. 😉

  10. says

    Fantastic! Some other great organizing ideas here as well. I can’t wait to revamp my crafting space now…this stuff gets me so excited 😉

    • thethinkingcloset says

      I get a thrill from it, too, Sherry! Something about seeing fabric all neatly organized…it speaks to the Type A in me. (Now, keep in mind our living room table is a “mess” right now with a current craft project…but almost everything does have a place or “home”; it’s just a matter of mustering up the motivation to get it there. Ha ha.)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      I’m with you, Bethany. I recently bought some fabric for a skirt, and I probably touched every fabric at Jo-Ann’s before finally settling on one. Look is one thing…but feel is a whole ‘nother ball game! (And it’s often the deciding factor for me in choosing between two fabrics.) Wish we could meet up at Jo-Ann’s one afternoon for a fabric fest! #someday

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Hey, at least your fabric is organized, Danielle. Not everyone can say that! (And if I hadn’t been following the blog, Sew Many Ways, I probably would have never thought to file my fabric in a million years. I have Karen to thank for this genius idea.)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Why thank you, Karen! And your little rugby player looks pretty fabulous, too…in a completely different, completely muddy kind of way. :-)

  11. says

    Stop! All these perfect photos of organized fabric are making mine seem horrible! :) I really need to try something like this.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Oh no! The last thing I want is for you to feel horrible, Lisa. Believe me, while my bottom drawer is cute and organized with fabric, you’d shudder to see the chaos of the paper files in the two drawers above it. No one is perfectly organized…except for maybe Martha Stewart and she has a team of people helping her, so that doesn’t count. You can cut yourself some slack, and maybe one afternoon, just take on organizing one small stack of fabric. And then the next week, find an afternoon to take on another. Before you know it, you’ll have a neatly organized collection of fabric that is just begging for a photo like one of these. You can do it!

      • says

        You’re totally right. The photos mostly inspire me! I just need some free time to get organized (which is hard when working full time and taking care of a toddler!) Maybe some day… :)

  12. says

    My head is spinning from all the great ideas I just saw! I am totally going to file my fabric now…instead of keeping it in a cardboard box. =)

  13. says

    I love all of your ideas but especially the filing system at the beginning of the post. That is beyond awesome. This is such an awesome post. I would love it if you would share this post at our WIW linky party. Hope you can join us!


    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thanks, Paula! That’s so sweet of you to say. The filed fabric turned out way better than I even anticipated; not only do I love it for its function, but for its look, too! (Love your blog title, b.t.w. And thanks for the invite to your linky party; will do my best to stop by.)

  14. says

    i’ve tried so many different storage solutions for my scraps and i simply can’t find one that disguises what they are…i have started throwing more of my scraps away so that i can keep the storage looking “pretty”. i looove the filing system and once i have my craft room all set up i’m definitely going to do that. i like it out of sight!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Eek! I’m glad that this post may have saved some of your scraps from the garbage bin, Carissa! (And believe me, I understand that frustration of something being so chaotic looking that the most appealing solution is to get rid of it rather than keep it around.) And how fun that you’re in the process of setting up your craft room! Do let me know once it’s set up, and what approach you adopted for organizing your fabric. I’ll be so curious to find out.

  15. says

    I love so many of these ideas! so cute! but I have a huge fabric stash with large meterage, (I never seem to get away with buying less than 3 meters at a time!) do you think some of these will work for laaaarge fabric stashes? I love the idea of the filing cabinet!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Yes, Jennie, I do think you could use some of these methods for larger cuts of fabric, in particular the Billy Bookcase. Out of curiosity, how do you store your fabric now? I think the key is being able to easily see it and access it…so if you could manage to store the cuts on cardboard to make mini-bolts, all neatly stacked in a row, that would certainly be swoon-worthy (and organized, too!). Let me know what you think!

      • says

        I’ve currently got it in some huge plastic tubs (requiring digging) and a giant cardboard box which I am afraid to dig in! I’ve been wondering about the Billy one and creating larger bolts, what sort of cardboard do you recommend? is there a folding technique that works best?

        • thethinkingcloset says

          Lisa recommends foam board and has some very detailed tips on her post, which you can read here. If you give it a go, let me know, Jennie! I’d love to hear how it turns out, especially since I’m sure I’ll be acquiring larger bolts of fabric in the future. Best of luck!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Melanie, thanks for the personal invite! I love The Weekly Creative Link Party, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be dropping by to link this up!

  16. Laura M in Washington :) says

    I agree with the ever growing stash theory. The more I sew the more it grows??? A friend informed me a year ago the term for my stash was to say I have reached the point of having a St.A.B.L.E. fabric stash! As I looked at her curiously she informed me that meant I had a fabric STash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy. Seeing how I am only in my 30’s and plan on being alive a bit longer I have quietly collected more and more since then and have nearly doubled the former stash! I love the music video by Eleanor Burns on 100 ways to hide my Stash and lucky me my husband watched it once and smiling gave me the keys to his former work shop and my new sewing studio and shrinking stash storage!!!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Ba ha ha ha! I absolutely love that St.A.B.L.E. fabric stash acronymn…so clever and so very true. And I must be living under a rock because I had also never seen the “100 Ways to Hide Your Stash” video. My favorite line: “Call it Christmas presents…and don’t you peek!” Man-o-man, you are just rocking my world left and right with this comment. Thank you, Laura! (And that’s so sweet that your hubby gave up his workshop so you could turn it into a sewing studio for your St.A.B.L.E. stash. Now that’s true love!)

  17. says

    So many great ideas! Even more amazing are the beautiful photos. I’m so excited to file my felt away. I always need the color on the bottom and then ruin the entire stack! Those days are soon over.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Oh, I know, Amanda. Collecting the images for this round-up was so much fun; I mean, what’s better than staring at neatly-arranged fabric? Not much!

      Happy felt-filing to you! And if you do take it on and care to send me a pic, I’d love to feature you in my next Reader Showcase!

  18. says

    Wonderful round up of ideas! Currently, I have my fabric stored in clear plastic drawers, organized by color. Color’s the criteria that I use most when searching for a fabric to use… same thing for clothing. My closet is organized the same way. :) Thanks for sharing!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      I’m so glad to have found a kindred color-loving spirit in you, Angela! I also have organized my closet by color…although now, it’s so out of order, I don’t think you could really call it “organized” at all. Instead, I just open up my file cabinet drawer and stare at the neat ROYGBIV arrangement and it makes all the chaos in my other closets fade away. Ha ha. (Some call it denial, I call it “focusing on the positive.”)

  19. says

    Your post just made my day! I have fabric all over my office spilling out of every nook and cranny and I had no idea what to do with it. I’m definitely going to be using this!

    Thanks again,

    Kelsey Elaine

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Hooray! So glad that it might help you get the chaos under control (and after spying some of your amazing furniture transformations involving re-upholstery, it’s no wonder you have a ton of fabric). Happy organizing, Kelsey!

  20. says

    I really like the hanging option. I’ve used it before with fabrics like silk and velvet that I didn’t want crushed but somehow never thought to hang the quilting fabric! This is terrible 😉 Now I may have to decide between my two loves: my clothes and my stash.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Jeifner, you made me chuckle with your last line there. Though laughter aside, I don’t envy you in your dilemma. That’s definitely a tough one! Let me know which one of the two wins the hanger real estate in the end!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Wow! I’m impressed that you’re able to keep both your and your girls’ closets organized in ROYGBIV order, too! Props to you. And thanks for the feature today! I’m flattered.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      RaeAnna, that is such a great technique! Thanks for linking to it, so I could check it out. I just sort of “winged it” when folding my fabric over the file folders…but this inspires me to come up with a system that is repeatable.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      What a great video! Thanks for the link, so I could stop and check out your AMAZING sewing room. Looking forward to Part 2! (And thanks for the tip on who sent you here. I saw a bunch of traffic today from Facebook, but I can’t see who is sending y’all. Now I can thank the Sewing Corner!)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thanks ever so much for the feature, Kristi! Love your party, and it’s an honor to be spotlighted.

  21. says

    awesome!!! fabric and organization! two of my favs :) we are featuring you tonight, thanks for linking up to Moonlight and Mason Jar Mondays!


    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thanks so much for the feature, Taylor and the gang! Love y’all’s linky party (I mean, how you can not when “mason jars” is in the title?). It’s an honor to be highlighted! Just grabbed my featured button tonight and am rockin’ it with pride. Hope you’re having a great week!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Hey, at least you have a designated place for keeping your fabric! I can venture to guess that’s more than most people can say! :-) Thanks for taking the time to stop by, Jennifer Juniper (have I ever told you that I love your name? So alliterative and rhythmic!).

  22. Paula says

    I am a fabric hoarder and my daughter sent me this pin because I have been trying to straighten my fabric up. On the filing – how much fabric did you put on each one? I am asking because my stash goes anywhere from 1 yd to 5 yds & I know it will take more than 1 file cabinet. There are so many neat ideas in this post and thanks.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      My friend Cindy had a similar question on my original guest post, so I went and copied my response to paste here! (It’s a good question. I’m glad you asked it, Paula.) “To answer your question, most of the cuts for my knits, cottons, denim, and duck cloth were 3 yards and under…though my lighter silkier fabrics were as big as 8 yards. If your filing cabinet fits legal sized folders, you could fit more, too.”

      And I’ll add that Karen from Sew Many Ways who originated this genius idea suggested not cutting the file folder in half for larger cuts of fabric. The 2 parts of the folder will help support the weight of heavier fabric.

      Best of luck, and do please send me pics if you end up tackling the file cabinet method when organizing your fabric stash! I’d love to see how it turns out.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Good question, Melanie! I’m going to copy and paste the response I shared with another reader below: To answer your question, most of the cuts for my knits, cottons, denim, and duck cloth were 3 yards and under…though my lighter silkier fabrics were as big as 8 yards. If your filing cabinet fits legal sized folders, you could fit more, too.

      And I’ll add that Karen from Sew Many Ways who originated this genius idea suggested not cutting the file folder in half for larger cuts of fabric. The 2 parts of the folder will help support the weight of heavier fabric.

      Best of luck, and do please send me pics if you end up tackling the file cabinet method when organizing your fabric stash! I’d love to see how it turns out.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      “Extensive” or “out of control” is another way to put it. Ha ha. Thanks for the cheers, friend!

  23. Tara Beecher says

    What great ideas! I am currently putting together my first sewing room, finally have an empty room to work with. Up till now my sewing machine has been in the dining room and my fabric in totes in my upstairs closet, ugh. I love love love the idea with the letter holders! I can’t seem to find them anywhere, any ideas on where to look? I know I’ve seen them before, just can’t think where.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      That’d be wonderful for you to get your material in the same place as your machine. Hmmm…as to where to look, check out the comments section of the post that I linked to. There were a few good suggestions in that mix! And I personally would start with eBay and Craigslist. Best of luck, Tara!

  24. says

    First time reader here,but certainly not the last. I love, love, love to organize things when inspration hits. Being a beginning sewist like you ( and I am glad for that word– not “sewer”, which is where youknowwhat goes–) I have a fairly small fabric stash . I looked at my file cabinet and wondered how I might file fabric there. Voila! You have shown me. But I don’t need it yet. I have just made a guest/ craft room from my daughter’s old room. Plenty of space and ways to organize. Thus far I am experimenting with the swing arm slacks hanger and the swivel neck wood hangers for ironed fabric. I like the look of fabric displayed in the open on bookcases, but seems it would get dusty fast . And my stacks would not stay neat. Drawers and doors are more my style so at least mess can be shut out! Lol

    • thethinkingcloset says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed your first visit here to The Thinking Closet! You are welcome in these parts anytime, Zoanna (especially with a name as cool as Zoanna). You cracked me up with your explanation of why you prefer the term “sewist” to “sewer”…which I had never thought about before, but you are totally right! And how fun that you get to set up a new guest and craft room! I like the idea of using the hangers for ironed fabric…and you’re right about drawers and doors being great for hiding mess! So far, my file cabinet has stayed pretty organized…which is probably a sign that I’m not sewing enough. Must get on that! Anyway, thanks for the smile tonight, Zoanna, and happy organizing!

  25. Carol S. says

    I love the idea, but why cut the folder in half? Drape the fabric over both sides of the folder and use the inside for storing ideas about how you want to use the fabric, patterns, threads and embellishments for the project, etc. That way you don’t have to go searching for everything when you’re ready to start. If you don’t know what you want to use the fabric for, you can drape two pieces of fabric on each folder, one over each side. Keep the folder intact won’t take up that much more room in the drawer.

    I might appropriate this idea for my needlework fabric storage. Of course, it means going out to buy a new filing cabinet. Darn.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Carol, you are very creative! What a great idea to use the file folder to store ideas, patterns, etc. I love it! And you’re right about it not taking up too much space in the drawer. Now, why didn’t I think of that?! :-)

      Appropriate away! And if you end up taking it on, please send me a pic of your needlework fabric storage upon completion! I’d love to feature it in my next Reader Showcase. Happy file cabinet shopping to you! 😉

      P.S. If you don’t want to invest in a while file cabinet, I know you can buy Tupperware containers that store files at places like Staples or OfficeMax. Just an idea if you think your stash might fit into one “drawer.”

  26. Suzanne says

    So very glad to stumble upon your Great ideas for Filing grand old filing cabinet is sitting in my sewing haven and it will be perfect for all the 2 yard pieces that need order…

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Oh, a “sewing haven” sounds like a wonderful place to be! And how perfect that you already have an old filing cabinet just waiting to be given a new purpose in life! Yes, the filing system is perfect for 2-yard pieces, I can attest. Have fun getting them organized, Suzanne!

  27. Jodi Behee says

    Just wanted to thank you for the inspiration my fabric (most of it any way :) is neatly filed away and easy to find and use, just had to says Thanks for the inspiration via pinterest

    • thethinkingcloset says

      You’re so sweet to take the time to say thanks, Jodi. So glad that you took on filing your fabric and that it was a success! If you care to take a moment to snap a pic, I’d love to feature you in my Reader Showcase at the end of the summer…if you don’t mind the spotlight for a spell! 😉 My email is thethinkingcloset {at}

  28. dinky di says

    A dear friend in the US sent me a link to your site (I have lived in Australia for many years). I had recently had foot surgery and was pretty much house bound and going out of my mind. We had an old filing cabinet and I was inspired to finally organize my collection of fabric. Something I could do while seated! My old 4 drawer filing cabinet is now filled with accessible and neat quilting fabric and my sewing room doesn’t look like a fabric monster had vomited in there. I have shared your link with my Aussie quilting friends and have heard there has been a ‘rush’ at the second hand office supply place. Thank you so much for a wonderful idea from all your friends down under.
    PS – the cast come off on the 17th of July and then watch out!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Di! It makes me giddy with glee to hear how you tamed the fabric monster and got everything so neatly organized in your file cabinet! Congrats, girl! I’m itching to see how it turned out! If you have a moment to snap a pic and send it my way, I’d LOVE to feature it in my Reader Showcase at the end of the summer. I get so inspired to see when people find some inspiration here at The Thinking Closet and run with it. Ha ha, and the vision in my head of quilters rushing to second-hand office supply stores has me chuckling! Love that the fabric filing system is becoming a craze over there in Aussie-land! Thanks for taking the time to let me know and make my night. Send my regards to your pals, and I hope that you’re back on your feet in no time flat. July 17th is almost here! Yippee!

      • dinky di says

        Hi Lauren,
        Thanks for your reply, I have had the cast off and while I’m still a bit stiff the foot sure is better. My toes are straight, my bunion is gone and I have my arch back! Now I’m suppose to have the other one done, hmm, maybe next year.
        I have taken some photo’s of my new, neat, shiny, wonderful sewing room and have arranged for the 15 yr old neighbour to come over and show me how to get them into the computer so I can send you some pictures. Kirstie is great and works for chocolate cake and sewing lessons. I have had this brain fart and would like to quilt my filing cabinet, my husband says this is not possible, but I’ll give it some more thought and see what I can do. I think if I spray paint the front of the drawers and the edges of the ‘face’ and then quilt the top and sides and then come up with some sort of edging it just may work. I think it’s worth a try!
        Have a wonderful day and I hope you are not getting hit by the very hot weather I’ve heard about! It’s winter here and we have had good rains and my rainwater tanks are all full, that doesn’t happen every year. My husband looks at the tanks overflowing and says “look at all that water being wasted, we need more tanks.”
        All the best,

        • thethinkingcloset says

          Whoo hoo! Congrats on having the cast off! I’m sure you feel like a free woman, Di!

          And thanks for going the extra mile to take photos and find someone to help you send them to me. What a treat! Hope it’s not too tricky. Let me know if I can help in any way. (And I would totally work for chocolate cake and sewing lessons…especially if they were at the same time! Ha ha.)

          Brain fart? That sounds more like a genius idea to quilt your file cabinet! I’ve never seen anything like that before…which means it is SO creative and you totally have to try it, naysaying husband or not! 😉 Let me know how it goes!

          And this is my first full summer in Florida and I’m not quite super sensitive to the heat changes yet. It all just feels like HOT to me. I’m just thankful for air-conditioning. Without it, it really would be unbearable. And I love hearing about y’all’s resourcefulness in collecting rain water. I think your husband would get along well with mine. Mark also loves efficiency!

          Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Di, and have a wonderful rest of your week, footloose and fancy free!


  29. says

    I Have been reading this round up of fabric organization for a couple days now. Ever since, I have been stalking Craigslist for the perfect file cabinet that would work for this project. Luckily, I found a business on CL downsizing their office furniture. Four drawer cabinets for $10 each! {Score!} I have slowly been transferring all my milk crate files of personal documents, school work for both me and the kids, and business documents. My next project will be to iron out all my fabric and fold them {neatly} so that that I can hang them up like you have done. My only adjustment will be to leave the hanging folder in tact so that I can place smaller fabric remnants inside the file. Thank you for having all these great ideas all in one place :)


  30. says

    Love this post; such visual eye candy! As Mark said, I love that you feature other people’s ideas too. Besides yours being my fave (obvi-who doesn’t love filing things??), my second fave is the dresser with the drawers removed. Also, didn’t I hear that apartment therapy so loved your post, they were inspired to do a similar fabric round-up like yours?? And that you were also featured on their site?!! At least, I think a little birdie told me that….:) Go The Thinking Closet!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Aw, shucks. Thanks so much, Brittany! There’s nothing quite so pretty as neatly organized fabric, am I right? In fact, it makes me want to just go out and buy fabric so I can organize it! Lol. Thanks for stopping by.

  31. Debbie Russell says

    I just love this filing cabinet idea. My fabrics are all stacked on shelves and I always have a problem when I pull out one from the middle – now this wont happen again. I need a whole cabinet for my dressmaking fabric and another for my patchwork fabric so where do I put two filing cabinets????

  32. Ginger says

    I loved your filing system and have used it to organize my fabric. I’ve been looking for the letter sorters everyone and haven’t been able to find them to organize my fat quarters. Does anyone know where they can found?

    • says

      I wish I knew, Ginger! If you click through to the post I link to for the letter sorter option, there are some good suggestions in the comments section of that post as to where to find some. And when in doubt, check Craigslist and eBay! Best of luck.

    • says

      Hey Heather! Sorry for the ONE YEAR delay in my reply. (Hangs head in shame.) My felt and burlap would be too thick for my little file cabinet…so right now, they’re stacked on the shelf…but I’d love to get them in a more orderly fashion. Maybe I need a big fat filing cabinet just for them!

  33. says

    I loved hanging my fabric in my HUGE walk in closet. But no more closet,and we have been rearranging and setting up my sewing room these past couple of days. There are some really cool ideas for storage. I have a lot of see thru tubs.

  34. says

    Laure; Love the filling system idea. Also the fabric brochure. I am going to start filling my ton of fabric likewise. Thanks Lauren. Keep sending your greath ideas,

    • says

      Aw, thanks for the encouraging words, Rosita! So glad you found some inspiration in this big old post. Also, not sure if this was a typo, by “Laure” is my Mom’s way of spelling my nickname…so it made me smile to see it there. Cheers!

  35. Keely says

    I was just wondering how many yards you think you have on each file? I typically work with flannel that is two yards. I am just wondering if you think this would work for me. I love the idea and have a couple file cabinets laying around that could use a purpose.

    • says

      Yes, I think this would work great for 1 – 2 yards of fabric! You could of course do a test run with one set of fabric before emptying the entire cabinet. But I love how organized ours is even still! It really does wonders.

  36. Jane says

    Brilliant article! Thanks so much from a true fabricoholic. I have tons of big and small clear plastic bins with folded fabric. If I had a four drawer file cabinet, I’d move some of my batiks and madras into them. Don’t forget that even a bright lamp can fade your fabric. Mine is in a walk-in closet to hide it from light.

    • says

      Glad to know you enjoyed it, Jane! And that’s a good reminder to keep fabric not only in storage, but out of bright lamp light, too. Gotta protect those vibrant colors! Walk-ins are great for that purpose. Cheers!

  37. Carri says

    I must be the only one on earth that doesn’t know what ROYGBIV is…. please explain it to me since I seem to be a real dummy….

    • says

      Aw, you’re not a dummy at all! I just think my Kindergarten teacher had a thing for the color spectrum because I learned it then and it has always stuck with me. ROYGBIV stands for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. But you say it, “Roy G Biv” for short! #funfactsfromkindergarten

  38. says

    It would be difficult to pick a favorite, they are all brilliant in their own way and so inspiring. I need this as I am in the process of spring cleaning my craft room. I think I will try the filing system because I already have everything I need. Thanks for all the ideas :)

    • says

      Yay! (Isn’t it always great when a project doesn’t a require a run to the craft store or Home Depot?) Hope you were able to get your filing cabinet up and organized…or if not, that this weekend sparks some inspiration fer ya!

    • says

      Isn’t it great? Hmmm…as to where to look, check out the comments section of the post that I linked to. There were a few good suggestions in that mix! And I personally would start with eBay and Craigslist. Best of luck, Loren! (Great name by the way.)

  39. Donna says

    I love how you did this. How do you handle if you have 1/4, 1/2 and yard of different fabric do you organize by color or size of scrap?

    • says

      I probably don’t have as many scraps as you yet, so I just organize by color. But I’m thinking that once I collect more, I could start a drawer for 1/4 yard, 1/2 yard, 1 yard…and sort by color within those drawers. I’d do whatever works best for you!

  40. Lonnie says

    I too use the fabric ‘filing’ system, but with a minor change.
    I recycle clothing to use in my craft. The end results of cutting up skirts, blouses, vests, etc will naturally not produce same sized materials.
    So instead of cutting the file folder apart, I leave mine whole. Smaller, yet still pattern piece sized, pieces of material tend to slip off. By leaving the folder whole these ‘escapees’ usually slip into the folder instead of the bottom of the drawer. I can still place a second material the other side of the folder. I also take advantage of using the whole folder to select 2 fabrics, one for a shell and one for a coordinating lining, then place this in a smaller file cabinet. This way I spend less time searching for 2 materials for the next project. I have a small section that holds shell material I want to use but don’t have a lining to coordinate. When I head out for a buying trip. I take a small piece of material with me to find the perfect lining.

  41. says

    I use the bolt method but I cut mine from foam core board instead. I also tape on labelsI print from my over-the-top-ocd “fabric inventory” I keep in an excel document; it includes picture, sku #, name, description, width, price per yard retail, price paid, yardage purchased, yardage used to date, care instructions, intended use, date of purchase, availability (clearance or still in production), store of purchase, and receipt number (I file receipts as well). It seems really over the top, and it is, but I love it because I can find out just how much I have of anything, where to buy it, if I can find more, how to take care of it, etc etc all just from opening up the document. No digging through mountains of fabric, and no guess work. The only drawback is that it takes a long time to input and I tend to get really behind, so I end up with giant piles of fabric still in the purchased bags. The solution would be an app I could input all this info into, but I’ve yet to find one I can download to my outdated phone.


  1. […] It perfectly organizes my office space with two drawers above the filing cabinet for office supply storage and even creates room for my gigantic printer on top. With tax season just around the corner, it even makes office work (dare I say it?) FUN. Another bonus of this Christmas gift, was that it freed up my previous filing box (classy, I know) for the fabric organizing project!  I had a bunch of empty file folders already, so I was ready to go.This project is super easy.  You simply cut the hanging file folders in half (so each one gives you two fabric “hangers”) and fold the fabric to hang over it.  I folded most of the remnants selvage to selvage and then in half again to get the width to match the file folder, but it depends on the width of the fabric.  For detailed photo instructions, visit the original tutorial I pinned via The Thinking Closet. […]

  2. […] This one I like, to a degree. I don’t know if I’d be capable of keeping my fabrics so neatly folded and well organized (especially since I don’t have all those gorgeous rainbow color fabrics, my fabrics tend to be a bit more boring). I also feel that in concept this looks great, but without the fabrics secured down I worry that I would reach for one and pull out the rest and everything would erupt in my hands. If I did this I would probably get canvas bins, because of the inevitability of the fabric becoming messy again.3. File Cabinet (The Thinking Closet) […]

  3. […] For example, if writing for a blog on a website that sells quilting supplies, the writer should consider what information is of use to a quilter. Are there any trends or new techniques that the readers may want to know about? Are there any old techniques that could be revived, or maybe skills from other hobbies or professions that could be applied to make quilting more efficient? Like using a filing cabinet to store fabric. […]

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