Fabric Inventory System

I spent a day last weekend gathering, organizing and calculating in preparation for our meeting with our tax accountant this week.  I love being self employed, but when the new year comes and I realize I have to make sense of the file I threw everything into all year, I start to wonder if I don’t need a better boss.

One of the challenges I’ve faced is keeping track of fabric I’ve purchased.  It’s not really a new problem – I’ve always thought it would be nice to know when, where and for what price I acquired a particular piece.  Now the government agrees with me. 

When I started this project, I thought about exactly what information would be helpful to know in the future.  One of the key things to keep track of is the manufacturer and the name of the line.  This information is almost always printed on the selvage edge.


I started by cutting that off.  Some of them are quite long, but I removed all the writing that was provided.  I also included the color dots that are on some fabrics to show which colors were used in the printing.  Sometimes that comes in handy when you’re trying to coordinate prints.

On the opposite selvage, I cut a small piece to represent the color and pattern.  On the few pieces that had a white selvage with no print, I cut a small piece just above the selvage.


I had a couple of pieces with no writing, which is the exception, so I only cut the piece for color and print from one side.


The other things I decided I’d like to know where the price I paid per yard, whether it was on sale, how many yards I bought, the date and where I bought it.  I made up 3 by 5” cards with spaces to write in that info, along with a space for notes.


You can download the cards here.  I cut them apart, filled in the appropriate information and stapled the two selvage edge bits of fabric at the bottom.  The pieces that were too long I just folded until they fit.  If I need the info, I can remove the staples and unfold it.


One option for storage is a small card file.


I wanted mine in a book.  I started by trying to order plastic inserts from a large online retailer, who shall remain nameless because they gave me a refund after they sent me a box showing a picture of what I needed on the outside, but containing something completely different on the inside.

I had a 12 by 12’” scrapbook I thought I would use instead.  I visited several stores before I found plastic inserts that were the right size for my cards and were the same size as my scrapbook.  I took apart the ridiculously complicated book to put them in and the holes didn’t match.  At all.

Take three.  I went to Office Depot, they had the perfect sized inserts for an ordinary notebook, under $5.  What I should have done in the first place.


I grabbed one of the kids’ old school notebooks and made a cute cover page for the front.  The nice thing about it is there’s a pocket to hold the extra cards.


The cards are easy to put in and take out as needed.


I would suggest you try to avoid turning the book upside down though.


If you look closely, you might notice bar codes on the back of some of these cards.  I ordered fabric online, and each piece had one of these stuck to it with info about that piece.  Since they came off easily and were still sticky, I just stuck them on the cards.  The backs could also be used to record other information like potential uses or projects that fabric has been used in.

I love my new fabric book and I wish I’d started it a long time ago.


We’ll see how long it takes me to fill it up.  This might be force me to be honest about my little fabric addiction.


48 thoughts on “Fabric Inventory System

  1. Don ‘t you just love the card file boxes and what you can do with them? I have one with my addresses and phone numbers in it. I need to get one for my yarn collection and for my fabric.


  2. Thank you, Staci, for the good information and the good laugh as well. I’ve been needing to do something like this myself, and your tips will be really helpful.


  3. Thanks so much for sharing this! I am currently sorting through about 20 years of sewing & crafts supplies collected by my grandmother, my husband’s grandmother & mother, and myself, of course. I have at least 10 large plastic totes I have to sort through and store away from my sewing room (i.e. the attic!). I was looking for exactly such a thing, and had already set aside a couple of binders with a vague idea of putting samples with yardage, etc. in them. I love your blog and look forward to it each week for great inspiration.


  4. I love your finished project. I used to put all that information with swatches in a composition book with no categories-regretted that after a few years. I knew I needed something close to what you made but I felt it was too late to start over. This project makes me miss my organizational days but they were also my OCD days. Great project!


    • I’ve been trying to decide if I wanted to create some categories, put these in color order, or just leave them chronologically ordered like they are now. Organizing is never finished!


  5. Pingback: Tutorial: Create an inventory system for your fabric stash · Sewing | CraftGossip.com

  6. Kudos for tackling the stash inventory, and comiing up with such a great system!

    The only thing I would add is a way to track each fabric back to it’s original store receipt. Since you’ll probably have several items on each receipt, making several copies of the receipt would be wasteful and create a lot bulk in your book. I suggest a second book for receipts, and add a spot on the fabric cards for the page # of the receipt that corresponds to the that fabric. If you are conscientious about logging your fabric, you will also be conscientious about tracking your receipts, and your accountant will be amazed and grateful to have one client that does so.

    Another plus is that if you also bought thread for a business project at the same time, that information will be easy to find as well.


  7. I’m not a maker of fabric things for sale (but I do have a big stash because I sew for myself) but I am a jeweller. I have to adopt your system because currently all my receipts are carefully filed in alphabetical order and that’s where they stay. I never look at them again.

    This is really bad. All of my pricing is a guesstimate. With this system hopefully things will be different.


  8. Great system! I need to catalog the materials better so I can put the correct fabric care labels. I have been taking pictures of the fabric and putting them in a spreadsheet.


  9. This is a neat idea! The good news is it’s early enough in this year to start a book for 2012 still. Well without too much headache, I have managed to already buy a pile of fabric . . . I really need to stop doing that!


  10. Love this idea and will definitely be doing this! I never remember what fabrics i have let alone where i bought them from. This is perfect. Thank you for the downloadable cards : ) x


  11. Great idea but seems very manual to me and your folder could potentially grow quite big. I started such a tracking system about a year ago using Evernote. That way, all my fabric stash information is available electronically and is accessible on my phone when I am on the go and about to buy some fabric. Here is my original post:

    But I like very much the idea of using the selavage information for an accurate description of the fabric. Some online shops give a rather abbreviated description of fabrics.


    • I actually have to track my fabrics electronically as well, because I list my available options for custom Etsy orders online. I like the idea of being able to access what you have at home via your phone!


  12. I like your idea of putting this information on note cards. I tried doing lots of fabric swatches on plain 8-1/2 x 11 paper, and it was not a flexible system because of course you use up your fabric, and then don’t need that swatch to be there anymore.


  13. Thank you! I’m curious about how you keep track of scraps. (Not teeny tiny scraps you could only use for strip-piecing or something, but pieces large enough to make small items from, and not large enough for, say, garments.) Any suggestions?

    @bluesquarequilting The electronic version may save space, but it probably doesn’t preserve the accuracy of the colors very well, so the manual version would allow for better color-matching, if that’s something a seamstress also uses her swatches for.


    • Rachel, because of the size of the items I sell on Etsy and many of the projects here, I often hang onto small pieces of fabric. I usually just try to fold them and keep them on the shelf, although I will admit to a surprise or two when I find one that’s been buried. If it’s smaller than about one foot square, I throw it in a plastic bin and eventually cut it into strips or squares for a future quilt project. I haven’t logged any of those with this system though – I wish I had time to, but I’m just moving forward with the new things in this book.


  14. Pingback: Inventory « Fabric Heart

  15. Amazing idea. I would like to do something like this but electronically, where the card would have a digital, detailed picture of the fabric that would include the strip information on the selvage as well as the rest of the information. An Excel file would provide the tools for checking inventories (yardage/costs/etc.) and it would be easy to do with a cell phone and a laptop. A good closeup shot can show nap and texture if you do it right. I am still trying to figure out the best way to store and index my stash! This is an excellent start.


  16. Thanks for this GREAT SOLUTION!!! My stash is in DESPERATE NEED of organization and an inventory system, this is really going to help me so much you have no clue!


    • I’m glad it was helpful! It’s saved me a few times since I started it when I was about to run out of a print, but couldn’t remember where I bought it. Now, I just have to flip open my book!


  17. Pingback: Tutorial Tuesday: Organizing your Fabric Stash | rubyalicedesigns

  18. Have a huge fabric addiction! Love this card idea. Must now make myself a fabric binder as well as an armoire or something to store all my fabric.


    • I still use this and it’s come in handy many times when I wanted to replace a print I ran out of. As far as storing the fabric itself, I’ve found every time I move it to a larger shelf, I manage to fill it up again! 🙂


  19. Hi Staci,

    Great idea and creativity! I don’t know how thankful I am to have found your website. This information is much needed for me, as I manage the finances for a small retail store and the designer always purchases fabrics or the customers give her a deposit to buy the fabrics for the garment they want made. So with this method, it will make the process much easier and simpler to track information. Once again, thank you for this information and making your cards available to download.


  20. Just a thought… Walmart carries a zipper style one that ALSO has an accordion file in the back so you can keep your receipts organized by month there… Also you could use small paper clips to keep the pockets closed so even if it gets flipped around you don’t lose anything and for the bottom two pockets you can use a razor to make a 1/2″ slit for the paper clip 🙂


  21. Coming to this conversation extremely late, but I have a very similar system. The differences I have listed on my cards are whether the fabric is pre-washed or not, listed as “PW?” On my cards, and where in my sewing room the fabric is stored. Since my sewing room is packed to the rafters with fabric, leather hides and about 50 plus containers of yarn, knowing where the fabric is stashed is essential. I want to eventually put together a better system to include all of my materials, as well as notions, but who has that much time? 😄


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