Getting Organized – Filing Your Fabric

Fabric stash disarray is an epidemic. Every seamstress I know has piles of folded fabric that inevitably fall over, yardage they lose of forget about and random bags, boxes and drawers of notions and pieces they have to dig through every time they start a project.

 With all of the sewing I have been doing lately, I was going crazy! Folding all of my fabric into bags, forgetting what I have and digging through like a dog looking for a bone every step of the way and ending up at the fabric store when I can’t find what I know I already have some where.

I started my solution search on Pinterest, as one does, and came across this.

The problem for me was that I don’t have extra closet or floor space in my 650 square foot flat for a filing cabinet, but what I do have are nine foot ceilings and shelves. I also wanted something clear so that I could easily see what I had stored, especially if it was going to live nine feet high – I want to know what I’m grabbing without opening every drawer.  So, I went to my local office supply store and picked up several clear vertical filing boxes, 100% recycled file folders (why not? They are the same price), an accordion folder and a stiff file folder with pockets.

SuppliesMy original intent was to use the accordion folder for my patterns, but I found that the hanging folders worked better for that.  I ended up using it to sort my notions, mostly ribbing, bias tape and elastic and I used the zip envelope for zippers and closures. I kept my sewing box to takes care of all my pins, scissors, needles, thread etc.  

I think deciding how to file your patterns and notions is going to be very personal depending on how big your collection and if most patters are for you or children or whomever.  Some ideas are to file by sex, or size or garment type.  Most of my patters are for me so I went with the latter.

The next step was just following along with the original tutorial. In the tutorial they suggest you cut the folders so you get two-for-one as it were, but I left mine intact in case I have smaller pieces I want to file with the large piece or a project I want to keep together. I  tend to have several projects going at once, (and by that I mean I have bought the notions and patters for them but not started) so I filed the zipper and patters in the hanging folders before draping the fabric over the top. I was able to fit a surprising amount of fabric in each box (the picture below is before the box was full).  You can also iron your fabric before filing it, but I did not because I end up ironing before I cut anyway.

filed fabricI don’t have a ton of fabric right now, so I organized by project type: a box for clothing, a box for quilting, patterns and notions, and a box for costumes and upholstery fabric.  The division worked out perfect. You can fuss and organized depending on the composition of your stash.  The good news is the files are so easy to pull out and move, changing your mind after you start is no big deal!

Now I just have to set up more shelves so I don’t have to stake them 😉

finished filed fabricand voila! filed fabric stash! But beware, this could lead to higher fabric stash capacity and corresponding fabric shopping sprees. Happy sewing!





Pickle Update


The Pickles looked beautiful with local wild flowers at the wedding and guests are rolling in with the recipes now that they are digging in and cooking with them at home.

Pickle displayThis first pictures is of the Watermelon rinds, bread and butter, carrots and beets.

IMG_9223Here are the jalapenos, cherries and lemons next to our homemade cider and label design by Aaron’s lovely aunt.

Hopefully I will follow this post soon with some delicious recipes for consuming these delectable delicacies.


Bra and Panty Cookies

I love these cookies! all you need is a basic sugar cookie recipe and a heart shaped cookie cutter.

When you roll out the cookies and cut in hearts, there are a few options for shapes.  The easiest is to cut the pointy end off and turn upside down for decorating. 


 Another way is to leave the whole heart and turn it upside down for panties, and then use the top of the heart opposite itself for bras.

White sugar cookies

There are 2 different ways to do the frosting.

In the colored cookie version we just added water and lemon extract to powdered sugar, separated into 4 small bowls for 4 colors and used mini decorating spatulas and toothpicks to draw designs.

The second method is the one we used for the white cookies.  These were then decorated with edible markers for a bridal shower cookie decorating competition.  For this version we made the same powdered sugar and water mix for the fill, but made a second batch of icing with meringue (you can use powdered or fold in beaten egg whites).  We piped the stiff batch with the egg whites using a narrow nozzle to outline bras and undies, and then piped the looser icing into the middle and spread with a knife to fill the space in.  This method was much less messy and can be done in multiple colors as well.

outlined cookie

These were great for the bridal shower as well, because the edible pens made for a no mess, easy clean decorating competition.


Duffle bags

A classy twist on the 80’s gym bag, these duffles were so fun and easy to make!

(adapted from Saltwater kids)


The materials are easy (but can get expensive)

  • 1/2 yard heavy weight fabric (I used upholstery fabric, but you can use heavy weight denim or even outdoor and laminated fabrics)

  • 1/2 yard cotton lining fabric (I used a quilting cotton I found on sale)

  • 16” SEPARATING zipper* (if you get a zipper that does not separate, or accidentally get ahead of yourself and sew one end in, the project gets harder)

  • Jean/denim sewing machine needle  (I used a 90)

  • 76” of 1½”-2″ wide webbing


  • Cut a 26” X 16 ½” piece out of both your heavy weight and lining fabrics.

  • Cut (2) 8 ½” circles out of each fabric for the ends.

  • Sew the body pieces right sides together at the 16.5″ sides and then turn right side out.

  • sew the zipper in across the now finished seams, separating it so that your work remains flat.

  • Turn the piece sideways and lay flat so that the zippers are to your left and right with raw edges at the top and bottom.

  • find the horizontal center line and mark 1.5″ above and below it (you will use these to align your webbing)

  • Align the webbing to the lines so that there is 3″ of space between the top and bottom and make sure the loose ends of the webbing come together at the center point to form a loop. Mark the mid point of your piece of webbing and align it with the joint to make sure the loop is even (picture from the original post are helpful here).

  • Sew along the outer edge of the webbing and add an “X” at the top below where it meets the zipper and becomes handles in all four places (see photo below).

  • pin the circle lining pieces wrong sides together to their heavyweight counterparts.

  • Face the body piece heavyweight fabric side up and the circle heavyweight side down.  Start sewing at the zipper and slowly work the pieces together as you sew around the circle until you reach the other end.  If there is space, try adjusting your seam allowance.

  • repeat on the other side.

  • Turn inside out and you’re done!

  • IMG_2369

Felt Animals

After making a baby quilt a few months ago using felt animal silhouettes as an easy applique technique, I decided to branch out and make a few other fun items as holiday gifts and I think they came out really nice.

First a little bit about how I made these:   For the pillows I started with a basic envelope pillow case, if you have never made one before check out this tutorial.  

pillow case

leaf pillow cases

For the potholders I used 9″x9″ squares of fabric back to back with a 9″ square piece of heat proof batting in the middle and made a handle out of scraps but you can use ribbon too.

Badger Potholder

Felt badger potholder

Once I had the base pieces cut for both projects I used fabric chalk to draw out the silhouettes on different colored felt and cut them out.  After they were cut out I centered them on the fabric and sewed along the edges – that simple and so cute!

animal pillow cases

Your Grandmother’s Wedding dress

Your Grandmother's Wedding dress

Recently a friend’s daughter was getting married and she loved her grandmother’s wedding dress, but as a 6′ size 12 there was no way this 5′ size 4 was going to fit. Rather than try and alter the dress, we decided to deconstruct it and turn it into wedding accessories as well as keepsakes for all the other grandchildren so that everyone would have a piece to cherish. Pictured here are some of the garder belts I made as well as two of the clutch purses I created using the Martha Stewart tutorial. I also made several shawls, travel jewelry bags and pin cushions. I really think this is the best way to honor the white dress.

Oil Cloth Bibs

My first two friends to have babies are about to reach the six month marker and the switch to baby food.  This coincides perfectly with my love for oil cloth and adorable sewing projects.  I found two basic patterns, one rounded and one squared and picked up some oil cloth and one laminated fabric I fell in love with.  

baby bib pattern

bib pattern rounded

Both of the original instructions on these patterns suggested sewing wrong sides together and using binding around the edges.  I chose to turn them inside out however, because both oil cloth and laminated fabric are not machine washable and I didn’t want any nooks and crannies for food to get stuck in places they couldn’t be easily wiped off with a sponge. If you wanted to use cotton on one side and fleece on the other it would also be uber cute and machine washable, so it’s up to you.

Bib pieces

oil cloth pattern pieces

After cutting the pieces out I sewed them right sides together.  You could sew the velcro onto the neck first so that the stitching doesn’t go through both pieces, but I found that it was worth the extra stability and as long as you choose matching thread, it is not much of a distraction.  

On the pattern, it shows a small area to leave open for turning out after you sew the pieces together.  I found that when using lamented fabric, and even more so with oil cloth, that more space is needed, so I chose to leave 3-4″ open at the bottom rather than the more narrow neck line to make the process easier.

Also, I found it looks much cleaner after turning out if you trim your seam allowance down to 1/8″ and press it open with your finger before turning.  This is especially helpful for avoiding creasing around the tight neck line.

Baby Bib

Finished oil cloth baby bib – Left side is the squared pattern,

For closures, you could also use snaps or even magnets for your closure, which I think I will try in the future, but I had velcro on hand so that was easiest.  

I cut the velcro to 1.5″ strips, I found that any shorter really didn’t provide enough strength to keep it from being tugged off too easily, and then I sewed them on in the top corners around the far edges.

Overall I love how they turned out and I can’t wait to make more!