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Tips & Techniques > organizing fabric swatches

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Posted by: EveS

About EveS starstarstarstar
Member since: 11/26/06
Reviews: 116 (tips: 4)
Skill level:Intermediate
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Posted on: 5/11/07 10:52 PM
Review Rating: Very Helpful by 21 people   
Featured in the PR book!
Let me start by saying that I am soooo not organized! I've been TRYING to be organized, but found myself scribbling down fabric contents, washing instructions, etc. on whatever scrap paper was lurking in my purse while I waited at the cutting counter.) Not so organized. BUT, I come from a long line of engineers who's mantras were "There's got to be a better way."

I wanted to catalog my fabric swatches in a binder, but I couldn't find any that would work. They were either too big (I wanted something I could carry easily in one hand while lugging a toddler in the other), not expandable, or not thick enough to than a few swatches.

I FOUND IT!!! I found a great little cd case at Staples for a meager $10.98! It's a great compact size, you can purchase additional pages for it, and it has nice, deep binder posts to handle the extra thickness of fabrics. It zips closed and has a carrying handle on the outer edge. closed view

I put a swatch of fabric in each cd sleeve along with a 3x5 card for notes (yds, where I bought it, fiber content, pattern ideas, etc.). inside view I keep some blank cards in the case so when I get fabric cut, I ask them to cut me a sm. square and right then while they cut my yardage I write down the fabric info. (Bonus: Look busy and you might avoid the ever famous "So watcha makin' with this?" question!) I put a sample of any trim or anything else I plan to use with the fabric in the sleeve, too. I've started photocopying the front and back of pattern envelopes I'm planning to use with the fabric, so if I need trim, elastic, etc., I have the info I need right there to buy EXACTLY what I need. I am so tired of guessing wrong...can you tell?

On the pattern note, I also keep a sleeve of nothing but copies of patterns I really want to make but need the right fabric for in the back. That way, they're fresh in my mind when my car spontaneously turns into JAF (not that that ever happens!) and I don't overbuy because I don't know exact yardages.

This system is working great for me! I keep the case in the car so I'm always prepared. It's also handy for out-of-town shopping. My mom lives near a GREAT fabric shop so when I go to visit, I'll throw the 8" case in my overnight bag. Now I can shop with a plan. Hmmm, not sure if that's good or not...I might spend more money that way BUT at least I'll spend wisely!

I hope this helps someone else break thru the fabric guessing game! Now if I could find a way to conquer impulsive buys!!!

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jso4fun said... (5/8/10 8:33 PM) Reply
What a great tip! Thank you sooo much!
Louise42 said... (3/8/09 7:50 AM) Reply
Absolutely great idea, I already have two of these holders, empty, having bought a larger cd holder, so no excuses now.
1handfull said... (5/22/07 7:14 PM) Reply
That is the best idea I have heard! I am new to this board, and this idea just made my eyes light up. We're going to the store tonight..... Amy in SC
Susan M said... (5/18/07 2:13 PM) Reply
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
aunt saidee said... (5/17/07 5:52 AM) Reply
I love this tip! I have a snack ziplock that has been in my purse forever now, looking for the right color of flannel to back a baby quilt. This seems much better. And I LOVE to organize things...another weakness. Sigh.
EveS said... (5/14/07 8:27 PM) Reply
Edube, that's why I like the option of adding more pages. ;) Believe me, I'm not going to kid myself that I will stop at 30. And they're small enough that I can always throw #2, 3, 4, etc. in the back of the truck, too, if I must. :) Incidentally, DH looked a the number of swatches I had!! Apparently he hasn't found my pattern stash yet. hee
Peggym said... (5/13/07 6:32 PM) Reply
What a great idea. I am going to try to get one too. I overbuy constantly as I see something and make a guestimate and buy extra just in case. Great review.
vasallese said... (5/12/07 5:29 PM) Reply
This looks really great. Just don't let the makers know what you are using it for, cause they might charge sewers more.
edube said... (5/12/07 4:23 PM) Reply
Love the tip, BUT---is there only room for 30, per the box? Wait till you need 300! (ask me how I know). Hopefully, you'll get organized enough so it will never come to that:))
Queendom said... (5/12/07 12:29 PM) Reply
That's a really great tip! Thanks!
Karine said... (5/12/07 9:47 AM) Reply
What a great idea!
Kath in ON said... (5/12/07 8:52 AM) Reply
Brilliant! I love this idea. Thanks for sharing.
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