The Art of Choosing: Organizing Your Stash by Color

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Art of Choosing is a series discussing fabric, color, and the fabric selection process. The purpose of this series is to arm you with the tools and knowledge to build your own color schemes for your sewing and quilting projects. You'll dive deep into your stash, organize it, and hopefully look at your fabrics in a new way.

Organizing Your Stash by Color
Now that we have covered fabric folding and fabric stash storage ideas, let's actually organize those stashes! I am going to focus on organizing your stash by color. Before we dive in, a few reasons why I think this method is beneficial.

Plastic Bin Stash Storage, originally uploaded by jenib320.
It Breaks up Collections
For those that have trouble breaking out of collections and mixing collections, organizing by color is a great way to help you let go. When your stash is organized by color, it forces you to put other combinations together instead. Don't worry, if you decide you want to put the collection back together, you'll remember. This will help you start to look at your stash in terms of color.

It Looks Nice
Especially if your collection is displayed in the open, or stored in a common area, using color organization is rather pleasing to the eye (at least I think so). It tends to look less messy and more organized.

It's Easy to Evaluate
Having your fabrics organized by color helps you evaluate your stash better. It is easy to see which colors you are drawn to and any holes in your stash. This will be helpful when we talk about stash building.

So, let's dive right in. I'm going to show you how to organize a single color. For this example, I am using greens.

Unorganized Stack of Greens
First, make piles for each color. If you need help identifying the overall color of a fabric, refer back to the post on recognizing a fabric's overall color. For this exercise, grab one of your color stacks. Here is my green stack. It already looks decent but when I do a full reorganization of my stash I like to get it a little more organized.

Split Stacks
Split each color into 3 different fabric groups. 1. Tone on Tone fabrics and Color + White fabrics, 2. Fabrics with Small Accents, and 3. Fabrics with Large Accents. With my greens, I also made a fourth group, Green with Turquoise Accents. I noticed that I had a large stack with these two colors so it became it's own stack. This stack will sit between the green fabrics and blue fabrics in my stash when organized all together.

Organized Stack of Greens
Once you've got your fabrics all stacked and organized, put those stacks together. Starting with your Tone on Tone fabrics and ending with your Large Accent fabrics.

This can be slightly time consuming, but I have found it's really helpful to reorganize my stash like this every 6 months or so in order to reevaluate my stash. If it seems too daunting, try to do a color or two a day. I like to do this when I'm feeling uninspired. I find that playing around with my fabric and reorganizing usually helps.

In Color Order

Something New, originally uploaded by jenib320.
I organize my fabric by the following colors:

Red - Pink - Orange - Yellow - Green - Turquoise - Blue - Purple - Cream/Tan - Brown - Black - White - Multi-colored

Don't forget, you don't have to organize your entire stash by color. I keep a few of my very favorite fabric collections intact sitting out in my sewing room. I still have the majority of my fabric organized by color. This is only one way or organizing your stash.

The next post in this series is on Building a Well Rounded Stash.


  1. This is great Jeni! I've always stored my fabrics by line and designer, but now I'm breaking out of that and going by color. I still keep my Japanese separate, and whole lines I plan to make a quilt of one day. But going by color really has opened up a lot of possibilities!

  2. I use the color organization method as well. At a quick glance I can see what colors I lack (orange) or have an abundance of (pink!). The only exception is my Heather Ross collection - it has a cubby hole of it's own :)

  3. Thank you Jeni. I'm sure this post will help me gettig more organised.
    Hugs from Brasil

  4. Hubby teases me and says that when the time comes, no matter how organized I am, I will still be missing just the right blue. It is okay for him to tease me, because then he offers to take me to the fabric store.

    I teach people how to do colors with fabric, and you explain it very, very well.

  5. Ah, but when your stash isn't organized by color, you can shuffle it around and be surprised by new combinations. I keep my stash neat, but refuse to sort it in any stable way....

  6. most excellent. breaking up collections may require some deep breathing exercises...

  7. loved this post. I try to organize by color but have a hard time identifying colors. Thanks so much for this!

  8. Great info! I think I will use your tips for organizing my yardage now that I broke the ice and organized my fat quarters by color. Just really great info!!

  9. Hi Jeni, this is a great article series and it's been very helpful! I've just written a blog post in which I address also brown, white, grey and black fabrics:

  10. Thanks for this guide Jeni - I'm just starting my stash as a new sewer and this has been a great help for me to understand how to organise my new small stash (and with a great folding technique from your post on that in this series too).

  11. I love the way you sort within each color, like greens with other accents. Thanks for the inspiration - going to work on my stash this afternoon.

  12. Thanks so much for these tips. I not only used them for my fabrics, but also my paper stock. I always had a difficult time before trying to categorize the color patterns.


Thanks for keeping this blog a positive place, I appreciate the time you are taking to leave a comment! I will answer any questions here in the comments section.

All comments are moderated to filter out spam. Your comment will appear after it has been approved.