Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Storing and Organizing Minis Part 7: Fabric

Found this in my drafts, guess I didn't have a pic I wanted to include at the time, but I do now.

Like many other miniaturist, I am a crafter at heart.  Miniaturing brings many of those crafts and skills together.  I have previously been into sewing and also quilting.
Over the years of doing minis, I often kept the fabric seperate.  For sewing/quilting I had big pieces of fabric and for minis much smaller pieces.  As part of my recent scaling back of minis to just 1/48th scale and knowing that I wasn't sewing or quilting anymore I re-organized my fabric.
Before the fabric for minis was stored in some drawers about the size of a shoe box and was sorted by color.  The problem I had with my storage arrangement was simply that when I wanted to get to it, I opened a drawer and had a lot of fabric to go through when I just wanted blue for example.  Even though I tried to keep colors together this just wasn't working.  The fabric was folded to fit in the drawer sort of like files, but was floppy and so got disorganized easier.
I could have stuck with the same drawers and used zip bags that fit the drawer and sorted them into the bags by specific color/pattern, but I did choose to go with bigger bags which is what I had on hand and that meant using a different drawer.

Deciding to pare the fabric down to what I might use for minis was easy once I accepted that I wasn't going to use it to sew or to quilt.  First, I got all of my fabric together.  Next, I either culled it because I no longer liked the pattern/color, the pattern was too large, the fabric was poor quality so the weave showed or I had too much.  For the too much, I cut a portion to keep and the rest went in bag to give away.  I gave mine to some other quilters, but giving to a thrift store would be a good option if one doesn't know where else to give.
Regarding the pattern is too large, a useful way to determine if it is truly too large is to cut a square opening from cardboard 1/4" by 1/4" for 1/48th scale minis (use 1" square for 1/12th scale).  Then use the opening to hold against the fabric over the pattern.  If the pattern is obscure in most places, then I wasn't likely to use it for 1/48th minis.  The square opening represents the area, one might have in a seat cushion or a pillow.  If the pattern doesn't show well in this opening and is therefore only good for abstract, then I generally got rid of it.   Keep in mind, sometimes very large prints may be used in some types of decorating.  What comes to mind is cabbage roses that are used on a sofa.  In this case, I can see using a rose print that is maybe 1/2" across but not larger than that, because then the fabric is more prominent than the sofa itself.  Not that I often decorate with that style, just that if I ever wanted to this particular fabric could be used that way.
Another consideration is that often fabric prints have large patterns with smaller patterns in them.  In those, I might keep a portion because it has these smaller patterns or even two pieces with the more smaller patterns.
What to keep for minis also has to do with the type of fabric. Fabric for minis works best if it is of natural fibers so silk or cottons are a good bet. However whatever the fabric, keep in mind the weave. In miniature, scale of the weave is a consideration. If we truly look close at the item made of fabric, I don't want to see anything that is supposed to be delicate look like burlap because the weave is loose.  The print may be great, but the weave is not going to work especially in the smaller scales that I like to work with.

Overall, if the fabric had any use for minis I kept a piece 6" or smaller.
Then, my next step was to sort all this fabric into zip bags.  I used the gallon size (12").  I sorted all the fabric into like colors with exception of some metallic fabric I have and that went into its own bag as it frays real easy and I want to keep the fray as it works as ribbon.
If I choose much smaller bags, I would have sorted by color and seperated by print or solid.  Or possibly different shades of color. 
Now, when a miniature project I am working on needs fabric I open the fabric drawer and pull out the bag or bags of the color I am thinking of using.  In this bag I am likely to find carpeting (faux suede), curtains and bedding.
If I ever decide to go with smaller bags, I will sort my colors by shades.  Light blue, dark blue, blue/green etc, just depending on what I have.  I would fold the pieces to fit the bags.
To me the bags are key to keeping this orgazinized.  Even if the bags slip around, I am still going to grab a blue bag and not a bunch of blue fabric that is a jumbled mess.
Here's a pic of my single storage drawer with the red bag pulled up.

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