Sewing Tips

How to fold your fabric so you have room for more fabric

I was doing a little sewing room clean up last week. I had let thing get really messy and it was no longer a fun space full of inspiration. Instead it was a really cluttered space that was paralyzing. Do you ever let your sewing room get that messy?

someday I'll get organized

Part of the issue was I had a ton of fabric that need to be folded and put away properly.

A few years ago, I took a class from Lois Hallock who wrote a great book called, “Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space.” In her book she gives a wonderful way to fold fabric that not only keeps all your fabric uniform and easy to see, it also gives you more space! I have been folding my fabric this way for years so I thought I would show you.

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First start with your fabric. I separate it into pieces larger than a half yard and pieces between a fat quarter up to a half yard.

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Let’s start with the bigger pieces. You will need an 8 1/2″ x 24″ acrylic ruler. I know this might be bigger than what you already have so you have my permission to go buy this size ruler. I promise, you will use it for more than folding fabric. (If your hubby complains, have him read this post :).


Put your fabric on the table with the fold closest to you and the selvages at the top. Have the bulk of the fabric to your left. (NOTE: If you are left handed, you may want to flip this)

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Lay the ruler on top of the fabric and flip the cut edge over to cover most of the ruler.

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Use the ruler to wrap the fabric around it.

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Once all the fabric is folded onto the ruler, turn it so it is perpendicular to you and slide the ruler out about half way.

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Fold the fabric up onto itself, then pull the ruler all the way out.

yardage fabric folded

Tada! You have a wonderfully neat piece of fabric and even when they are all stacked up, you can see enough of the fabric on that folded edge to know what fabric it is.

fabric folded yardage

Now onto the smaller pieces.

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For these I use a piece a cardboard cut to 4″ x 12″. You could buy another ruler if you wanted. I believe 4″ x 14″ is a fairly standard ruler size, but the day I started folding my fabric, I didn’t have one that size so I took the top of a shoebox and cut this one.

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If you are anything like me, you are mostly folding fat quarters and every store and every person folds and cuts fat quarters differently. But one thing that they almost all have in common is a selvage edge.

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I put the selvage edge at the bottom and the cut edge at the top.

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Then fold the selvage edge up to the cut edge.

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Put your ruler or cardboard piece on top of your fabric and fold over it just like you did with the big pieces.

fabric folding 9fabric folding 8Once it’s all folded, pull the cardboard halfway out, fold the fabric onto itself and viola!

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If you have a piece of fabric that is smaller than a half yard, but bigger than a fat quarter, you can fold it this same way, just put the folded edge at the bottom and the selvage edge at the top, have the folded edge meet the selvage then continue to fold as before.

NOTE: Since I do a fair amount of applique, I often have pieces cut out of my fat quarters, but if the fabric is still big enough to fold this way and put it up on my shelf, then I do. If it isn’t, I have a bin of fabric chunks that I put those in. I will do another post another time about cutting and storing scraps.

Once all your fabric is folded the same and put away, you end up gaining about 30% more storage space. Do you know what that means? You can go by more fabric! Yippee!

mm photo

Now reward yourself for all of your hard work with some chocolate.

Happy Sewing!

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  • louise R

    thank you will try this , one thing how about marking fabric with a color code like for fat qt , and so on to help with when you are looking for that amount of fabric. or you put all fat qt together like I do , honey buns and so in jelly rolls,

  • Maggie Drafts

    I was taught this technique at the Silver Timble Quilt Shop in Kechican, AK in 2009! Thanks for the reminder! (I live in E.TN)

  • Ann Taylor

    Excellent knowledge here. I do the same method, only just by folding instead of using a ruler or cardboard as my guide. I just took all of my shelves apart two days ago and refolded everything. I also put all the colors together from dark on bottom to light on top. Themes – holidays, patriotic, music o are all in their own piles too! Looking for and finding a piece I KNOW I have, takes only seconds now!! Sew on!!