Quilt Studio Inventory

Have you inventoried your studio contents? Can you list all the items from memory? Silly question, huh? But if you ever need to make a claim for insurance purposes, you need to know what you’ve lost or you won’t be paid for it.

Not only is an inventory helpful for insurance, it also can be part of your estate planning. As we discussed recently, none of us will be quilting forever. Someday our quilting things will be dispersed or transferred to someone else, or thrown out. Unless you’ve considered what you have and where you would like it to go, AND written that down, chances are pretty good it won’t go there.

After that post, I thought about my best intentions and how I haven’t lived up to them. Jim and I reviewed our wills and other documents recently. A big gap for me is in my studio. I’ve never created an inventory, other than of my books. It’s time.

For insurance purposes, a camera is a good way to document your belongings. I’ve taken pictures of my studio, which would give me a head start. Better is taking video of your studio space. Remember to open drawers and cupboards, and describe all the stuff as you see it. In a safe place keep receipts of equipment, so you can prove value if needed. If that is all you had to make a claim, you’d still do better than trying to list by memory.

For both estate and insurance purposes, a written document would help, as well. Here are the categories I thought of, with a few notes on each. If there are other ideas you would add, help us out in comments.

Equipment (sewing machines, long-arms, sergers, embroidery machines, die cutters)
List each of your machines by maker and model. Include the year acquired and approximate value at that time, or currently if you know that. Also note special attachments or add-ons. For estate planning, note what should happen to the item. For example, my small sewing machine (with modest value) could go to a family member; my long-arm should be sold back to the company. As mentioned above, receipts need to be kept. You can scan them and save them “on the cloud,” even by simply emailing the documents to yourself.

Fabric, batting, thread
Note where all items would be found. My fabric stash is almost entirely in my armoire; batting is in the closet; thread is in one of two places. Have some idea of your stash yardage. Quilting cotton is approximately 4 ounces per yard. Four yards is one pound. You can use a scale to weigh a typical fabric bin with fabric in it, and then subtract the weight of the empty bin. Divide the pounds by 4 to get the approximate yardage. Note who should have first dibs on fabrics if it’s to be distributed, and what should happen to the rest. If you’ve purchased a special collection of thread, comment on that and approximate value, and note who should get it.

Iron, ironing board, cutting mats, rulers, rotary cutters and blades, notions
These might seem like small items, but imagine the cost of replacing them if you had a fire or flood. It adds up.

Furniture and lighting
I have my long sewing surface supported by wooden cabinets, office chairs, bookcases, cutting table, my armoire, an open cabinet, gel mats, and lights. None of these are sentimental to me, so I wouldn’t worry much about estate distribution. However for insurance purposes this is a chunk of money. I need to list these and take pictures.

Books, patterns
Ironically, the one thing I have a pretty good list for is my books. I have about 100. If the replacement value averages $10 each, that’s a good thousand dollars. It’s worth keeping this list up to date. (I also put a return address sticker in each one. A book that is lent will more likely come back if my name is in it.)

Projects in process and UFOs
Do you have a list of these? Random blocks probably don’t matter a lot here, but projects that have a large portion done, or that would be sentimental for some reason, deserve extra attention. If you have plans for the finish and for who would receive the finished quilt, note that in your inventory. And go one more step and pin a note directly to the project.

Finished quilts
Quick, tell me how many finished quilts do you have in your home? Honestly I could only make a guess. I have quilts we will keep, quilts on walls, placemats and table runners in cabinets and drawers. And there are others that will eventually be given away. Besides those are quilts we’ve received as gifts, such as the one Jim’s grandma made. Who has first dibs on the big grey quilt? How should the others be distributed? Should the kids take turns choosing, or is there a good reason that shouldn’t happen?

If you have antique quilts or art quilts, consider having appraisals done. Use a registered quilt appraiser rather than an antiques dealer who doesn’t specialize in quilts. It is easy to be fooled by both fabrics ands styles, so if you’re going to pay for the work, get it done right.

No one wants to think about bad things happening, but they do. Be prepared. Take some pictures, make a list, pin a few notes on finished quilts and unfinished projects, locate receipts. When bad things do happen, this will make the aftermath easier.

Comments? Questions? What experiences have you had, dealing with someone else’s studio or making an insurance claim for your own?


17 thoughts on “Quilt Studio Inventory

  1. Pingback: Multiple Technique Practice Piece – Deep in the Heart of Textiles

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks very much. I’ll read it. We had the privilege of seeing a couple of Faith Ringold pieces at the Jazz Museum in Kansas City (KS). The museum shares a building with the Negro Leagues Baseball museum, and they both host a lovely art collection. (The baseball museum is fascinating, by the way!) Thanks again.

  2. snarkyquilter

    You’ve given me a compelling reason to give away as many of my quilts as I can. I’m light on the machinery side of quilting (only two sewing machines and those aren’t super fancy) but heavy on fabrics/batting, etc. I don’t care what happens to this stuff once I’m dead. I told my husband to contact my guild. I am concerned about getting $ to replace any items destroyed by whatever. How do you keep up an accurate inventory of a stash that changes monthly? I know myself well enough that I might start a spreadsheet listing everything, but I would never maintain it for each half yard lopped off or added.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I don’t think you can inventory your stash, other than documenting an approx yardage you typically have. That’s why I suggest weighing it as a baseline. Maybe the ins company then says, uh, well, we’ll give you half that… That’s still more than you’d have if you have no info for them at all. My yardage changes by dozens of yards, up down, through the year. But over time it is pretty stable. My bins are, on average, always about as full.

  3. Thread crazy

    I hadnt thought of getting otdinary quilts appraised…hmm… I do have documents (receipts) showing value of machines and furniture, but the rest is just a guess. Oh i do have receipts for fabrics and supplies in spreadsheet form, so that’s a plus. Yes, something to do this spring/summer, when the weather is too hot to work outside, will be to get the video camera working.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      As Joanna (snarkyquilter) mentions below, it would be hard to keep an accurate valuation on your fabric, because you do use the yardage over time. And supplies get used up, so that is harder, too. But knowing what you usually have on hand would still put you ahead of not knowing.

  4. katechiconi

    I’m still hoping to interest one of my young relatives in actually producing instead of merely admiring my quilts… We have no children, and our executors would find selling my stash and equipment beyond them, so I’d much prefer to pass on the sewing room’s contents en masse to someone. It’s a lazy solution, and they’d end up getting a valuable legacy where others would miss out on the value, but I see it as an incentive to keep the torch alight and pass it on themselves…

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      But what about insurance? You still need a listing of everything to get reimbursed in case of disaster. I expect US thinking on that might be different from Australian, but I don’t know anything about it.

      1. katechiconi

        I know that we are underinsured in any case. We live in a cyclone, fire and flood-prone area, and to be properly and fully insured in this area is beyond the means of most average wage earners. We pay what we can, pray, and get away with it. I can’t see myself adding to the insurance burden. The loss of my books would be a far greater disaster!

  5. knitnkwilt

    Even “ordinary” quilts should be appraised; otherwise insurance considers them as cheap blankets. I’ve also heard of having the stash appraised officially. You have added even more to my awareness of what needs to be inventoried. Thanks.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, it’s true. If they are not appraised they are a blanket. That’s true at home and also if you are shipping them. Don’t bother paying for shipping “insurance” of some reasonable/realistic value. If it isn’t appraised, you won’t get that value for it, if the quilt is destroyed or goes missing. Thanks for the reminder on that.


Thanks for your comments. I don't check them often. Please email me if you have questions.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.