YOUR INPUT NEEDED: My fabric storage cupboards

Hello Friends,

I told you about the possibility of getting a pair of linen cupboards to store my fabric a couple of weeks ago.  Everything went as planned, and I did get the pair of linen cupboards!  They were made by a retired cabinet maker who lives in  a town next to ours.  These pine cupboards aren’t anything fancy, just utilitarian without looking too plain.  Most of our furniture pieces are in dark wood, but I opted for an antique white for these cupboards.

This is a snippet how I have used the top of one of the cupboards.


If you open one of these cupboards,

this is what you would see — a green section that already has an overflow problem.

It’s a good thing I told my husband ahead of time I intend to have the cabinet maker make me another cupboard that is twice as big as the ones we have, phiew! :)  So he already knows it’s coming in the future.

Now, I would love for you to tell me what I should put in my cupboards to keep bugs/critters from damaging my fabrics!  I don’t want to use moth balls.  Are there any good alternatives out there that you use to protect fabrics in cupboards?


35 thoughts on “YOUR INPUT NEEDED: My fabric storage cupboards

  1. I never had a problem with storing fabric in cabinets in Florida. I now live in the NW and we have very few bugs, but I do have a large wool stash and was told that moths do not like lavender so each bin has a lavender bag. Made mine with nylon netting (with small holes) and dried lavender from my garden—-can be bought on line if you don’t have any. Plus makes the cupboard smell good.

  2. I recognize some of these pieces! My Sweetie built storage shelves for my fabric and we put the thin cedar panels on the back. They are 4′ x 8′ and quite thin used as closet liners but fabric critters do not like cedar. I also have a red cedar wardrobe in which I store fabrics though I am very careful to not put the fabrics up against the red cedar – it stains (ask me how I know). The shelves in this cabinet have the sticky shelf paper covering the tops which are made from white pine and I just make sure the fabrics are slight away from the back and sides.

  3. Wendy, your cabinets are just beautiful! I say that word a lot on your blog, don’t I??!! Seriously, you’ve had made exactly what I’ve been looking for, now that we have a house, so I might just have to show this to hubby, since he seems to think that industrial wire shelving he bought for the garage should be sufficient for me, too.

    But, bugs? I’ve honestly never had a problem with bugs in the fabric, even when we lived in the camper & stored all my fabric outside in a Rubbermaid deck box. Of course, I did have more sealed Rubbermaid-type tote bins inside, and we did have a couple of dried up critters (frogs & geckos) that managed to get into the deck box or its walls, but never did any make it into the tote bins themselves. We used that setup for over 5 years, from Florida to Texas, without any issues. Now that everything is indoors, in my closet, I still haven’t seen any bugs or by-products on my shelves. Of course, I am very careful about my fabric purchases – I very seldom purchase fabric from individuals or yard sales, and I always try to wash everything as soon as it’s purchased (made easier now that we DO have a house, and the washer is just inside the garage door. My fabric closet is all the way at the other end of the house, so I just dump things in the washer, throw in a Shout Color-catcher & some soap & press Start. Oh, and all my detergent is fragrance-free & I don’t use fabric softener or drier sheets, so there’s no good smell to draw anyone in.

    But, I would think either cedar wood blocks or some lavender sachets would do the trick, if you were to experience any issues. Good luck! And if you get tired of your cabinets, just let me know, and we’ll come get ’em!

  4. I haven’t had a problem with bugs. I store my fabric in rubbermaid containers. Some of the containers that aren’t rubbermaid I put a dry sheet in and it doesn’t leave a smell. We also use them when we store our pontoon for the winter to keep any creatures away

  5. Love your new cabinets! I don’t store my fabrics in anything special.. and have never had any problem .. I do worry about the wools though.

    Happy 4th of July, Independence Day! Will have our annual picnic inside due to the heat. Fireworks tonight in Rogers … ooohhhhh…. ahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Hi Wendy…I have been very fortunate, even with living in the Midwest with both no AC and with AC and even having my studio in the slightly damp basement for 7 years….I have never had a pest problem! I even have a cardboard box of wool samples that have never been attacked in 30 years. I store my fabrics currently in plastic bins on the shelves put up in the studio (a bedroom) closet. In your situation, I would try the advice of the cedar strips (with no fabric touching it) or the lavender. The lavender would be my first choice. And it would smell so good! I also have stored my spray starched flannels on cupboard shelves inside both a cardboard box and plastic bins both with and without lids for the past 15 years (with 4 of those years being in the basement) and also have never had a pest problem yet with them. I guess I must be lucky or else I do not have a pest (other than a perpetually goofy son and our little dog) in my studios.
    I love your new linen cabinets!!! I love the shaker style and the color chosen for them. Good choices on your part. And to get even a bigger cabinet soon is heaven! You will not be disappointed with these cabinets. Ever since we finally moved into a house with a dedicated studio and great storage, it has been a blessing to me in my creative endeavors. You will feel the same.
    Some day when you are not making a quilt or a dress for Baby Girl, please do a quilt room tour of your studio for us. I think we would love it!
    donna j from Kansas.

  7. Whatever you do, DO NOT use moth balls. My friend put some on her basement floor to get rid of a snake and now her car, her clothes, her whole house smell of moth balls. I don’t think she’s even aware of it!

    I love your cabinets, and unless you already have a problem with bugs, I don’t think you will have a worry. I’ve had my stash closet for 3 years and no problems so far. Before that I kept stash in plastic boxes.

    Have a happy and safe 4th! We can’t have any fireworks here in Tennessee, as we are so dry. We live in the country, in the woods, and we just pray some foolish person does not toss a cigarette out their window! We are 45 minutes from the fire dept!!!!!

  8. love the lines of the cabinets – kinda Ethan Allen looking. I store my fabrics in a glass door china cabinet. We moved to a smaller house with a bigger sewing area, so one of the china cabinets was repurposed for my studio….. I saw your birdie quilt in my new subscription Easy Quilt magazine and got excited because I recogninzed your work,
    and then I realized… hey, she doesn’t know me, but I know her…So you’re an electronic friend.

  9. One word of caution. Do not let your fabrics come into direct contact with the wood. It will turn them a brown color. I have seen many old quilts that were stored in cedar chests that turned brown on the portion that was touching the wood. I don’t know if painted wood would do the same thing, but why take a chance?

  10. I love your new linen cabinet! I have never had a problem with bugs in fabric so I don’t think it would be a problem. I do group fabrics for projects in clear zip lock freezer bags. I can see what I have and things don’t get lost. I have been doing this for many years. I would love to see pictures of your sewing studio Wendy. Bye for now Debbie

  11. Hey Wendy…..I have my fabric stored in a couple of pantry cupboards…smaller than yours; but same idea. I have had no problem with bugs or anything getting into the fabric…been there for a few years now. But a suggestion would be a cedar block…or hanger…not a bad smell and won’t hurt a thing..stay away from moth balls…lol

  12. Hi Wendy, As long as your house doesn’t have any moisture/excess humidity problems, you should be OK with storing your fabrics without any additional protection. The lavender sachets do work well and make everything smell so nice. But, I would definitely not store starched fabrics for any length of time as the starch will attract any critters that might find their way inside. Love the cabinets! Very similar to one I had built for a historic house I lived in over 20 years ago. It stayed with the house, but I miss it! Yes, I’ll join the others and invite you to provide us with a studio tour one of these days – don’t wait until everything is neat as a pin, just show it the way it looks when you’re working on several projects – the way our quilting rooms look 95 percent of the time, LOL!

  13. I put a few bay leaves on a (well used) dryer sheet and put on the bottom of my wire baskets with the fabric laying on it. (I usually put one dryer sheet in my dryer and keep popping it back into my load of wet clothes. By the time it is used, it no longer has any scent left in it. It isn’t a problem with me because I don’t mind. The scent will bother some people but I always wash my quilts after I make them anyhoo.) You don’t smell the bay leaves but bugs HATE the odor of them!

  14. I love the sight of all those fabrics! Your top display is cute. I enjoyed reading the comments about how to combat bugs. I detest the smell of mothballs and almost get nauseous from it so I am glad to know of some alternatives.

  15. I would think there wouild be some nice smell ng herbs you could use which wouldn’t leave an overpowering aroma but would be over-powering for the insects/bugs. Rosemary, thyme or something! I’ve neve r had a problem with bugs in my fabrics so have no experience that way. Love your cabinets.

  16. I’ve discovered that mice and spiders don’t like peppermint. I shake a few drops on a cotton ball. It does need to be refreshed occasionally I’ve learned the hard way. (cleaning ALL the cupboards of the “evidence”) I was having real issues with spiders here by the computer, even hiding under the keyboard! UGH!! Since I put out a few cotton balls, no spiders. Wouldn’t make your fabric stink like moth balls! Might be worth a try.

  17. We were always given lavender sachets to put between our clothes, or even bars of soap are found inbetween my clothes. I haven’t put anything inbetween my materials and I’ve got a huge stash. I did however have a problem with moths in my garage, and if I see them, I kill them right away. There, finally after 2 years I put some moth balls in, which is slowly eliminating the problem. I haven’t had too many come indoors, and most times the door to my sewing room is closed if I’m not in it. I don’t think I found too many moths in my sewing room yet, and if I do see them, I kill them right away. But soap, lavender and smelly candles in the room do seem to help.

  18. Oh, how wonderful! I am jealous. Can you send the cabinet maker to PA? I have mine in book cases but have hung a lace curtain over the front of each. My quilting fabrics are sorted by type rather than color – florals, plaids, stripes, etc. I like your way, however. I have used lavender sachets, as well as cedar bedding (for little critters) which I have put into sachets and you can also use pennyroyal which is in the mint family and is a great bug deterrant (but not edible). I used to use it on my dogs. I did not think moths ate cotton fabrics, especially if they are washed to remove sizing. However, there is a nasty critter called an Indian meal moth that can come in to our homes in pet food (freeze all new bags of pet food for a week), and they do eat natural fibers with a special love of SILK! Bay leaves can keep them away in the food pantry so maybe a bay leaf sachet would help too? Cedar would probably do a good job but would not smell as good as lavender!

  19. How would it be to put some of the cedar balls (about 1″ diam) in a
    tulle or nylon netting bag tied with a pretty ribbon and put the bags on the shelves? That should keep a lot of the uninvited visitors away.

  20. I have read not to starch fabric until you’re ready to use it because starch attracts bugs. I’ve never found bugs or critters in my own stash, but I have everything in open shelving where I can see it, and maybe that makes a difference. I’d try the lavendar sachets first and only resort to moth balls if you start to see a problem. Who wants to be ironing and sewing fabric that smells like moth balls?!

  21. Put some cedar in those cupboards! It smells heavenly and has been used forever for protecting fabric from bugs. (I used to own a house with a cedar closet — lined completely with cedar — designed to keep clothing safe from moths etc.) Cedar hangers are available, but might not look that attractive, so I suggest getting cedar shavings at a pet store, and putting them in an attractive clear glass container. I hope you let us know what you decide to use — the cupboards are gorgeous!

  22. A word of advice – lavendar doesn’t keep bugs away, though it does smell nice! Over here in the UK you can get modern versions of traditional mothballs, they come in sheet format or hanging thingys and they have the ingredients to keep the moths away, but also they have scent added to them so they smell lovely. If you can’t find any over there, I can send you some.

    I’m a bit jealous of your cabinets, they’re lovely.

  23. Oddly enough, I too am seeking fabric storage. On Friday I’m getting an estimate for custom cabinetry, across one whole wall! Since I don’t have any sewing storage, I need a lot. I too will be interested to know suggestions for pest control.

  24. I don’t think you need to worry about moths if your fabric is cotton. Clothes moth larvae eat protein based fabrics such as silk and wool – not the plant based stuff. Not sure about other potential pests, though.

  25. Pingback: Scrappy Spring: Sneak Peek #1 « Ivory Spring

  26. wonderful cabinets. I was lucky enuf to inherit my son’s teak cabinets he had in Thailand. Insects don’t seem to bother “eating” cottons – it is more the stains from their tracks or dying on the fabric. I used Bounce dryer sheets in nylon net bags between the piles. My biggest issue is mice in winter and it works well for them. Also kept out the beetles and curly worms that like moisture.

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