- Kat Waskett
How I store my embroidery thread
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
I recently had a complete overhaul of my storage system for embroidery threads and, having tried lots of ways over the years, I think I've finally hit on the one that works best for me - hurrah!
So I wanted to share my new system with you and also take a look at the other ways I have seen and/or tried to store embroidery thread.
Finding the perfect thread storage system is very much a personal thing and depends on lot of factors like how much you want to spend, how much storage space you have, whether you want your threads on show or tidied away...you get the idea.
WARNING: this is a fairly long read so if you just want to see my new system then feel free to scroll down to the bottom to find it.
Let's dive in and maybe you'll spot the perfect solution for you!
This seems to be the most common way to store threads, and for good reason, because it's pretty cheap, doesn't take up much space, and if you store the bobbins in shade number order it's easy to find the colour you want.
Unfortunately I have one major problem with this method...I really hate the kinks you get in the thread from having it all wound up. I know it doesn't affect the stitching but it just seems to wind me up...pun intended!
Other things I don't like about this method are the time it takes to bobbinate (i.e. put the thread onto the bobbins) and unwinding the right length to use. I'm also not sure where to put the small pieces of partly used thread; I guess you could use the hole at the top but that seems messy.
My verdict: a very popular, easy, non-expensive and space-efficient system but too many annoyances for my personal preference (kinks...grrr)
You can buy dedicated bags (such as the branded Floss-A-Way bags) or just use standard grip seal bags and store a single shade colour in each bag. This means you can keep the thread as a whole skein (no kinks!) and small partially used pieces of thread all in together, which would be a big bonus for me.
This is one of the few methods that I haven't tried so I can't speak as well to the pros and cons. However, it seems like it would be a fairly inexpensive option, doesn't involve unwinding the thread or making any additional kinks in it, so had I not gone with the system below I would absolutely have gone for this.
I would then have hung the bags on my pegboard but they could also be grouped together on metal rings and/or stored in drawers.
My verdict: seems like a great system with very few drawbacks...I just found something I liked even better!
This is a specially designed system from DMC where you transfer whole skeins onto long plastic 'bows' which can then be put into slots in the co-ordinating plastic wallets which can be put into binder files. I have also seen people storing the StitchBows in plastic boxes.
I did try this system many years ago but I didn't like the large amount of space it took up and again, there is nowhere to put the small half-used pieces of thread.
I think this could get quite expensive, especially if you wanted to buy all the official storage wallets and/or binders.
My verdict: It's a really clever idea but not one that worked for me
Clothes pegs or similar
I've seen lots of variations on this theme with threads wound round ice lolly sticks, regular clothes pegs, dolly pegs etc. and these can then be popped into plastic boxes, drawers or hung on a pegboard.
I feel like this is a nice option if you don't have too many different colours but otherwise I think it would take up a lot of space and, depending on how you store them, I'm not sure how easy it would be to find the shade number that you want.
My verdict: this can look super pretty but I'm not sure I would find it very practical especially for a lot of colours...and did I mention I hate kinks?!
This can work as a stand-alone system or together with one of the options above such as the bags or clothes pegs.
There are so many drawer units out there that I'm not going to look at different options, but you're sure to find something to suit your space and budget.
My verdict: would work well as part of a system or maybe as a stand-alone option if you had a unit with lots of tiny drawers, and could suit any budget
My new system - Annie's Keepers
Finally we get to my current system and I absolutely adore it :-)
The main component of Annie's Keepers are little plastic tabs with a hole to put the thread through, a hole to hang it by, and circular labels.
Here's why this is so perfect for me;
- there are no kinks in my threads except for right in the middle and I can live with that
- I can hang them in rows on my pegboard and it looks soooo beautiful; I call it my rainbow waterfall :-)
- it's easy to slide the tabs on and off the hooks, and to put them on to binder rings for projects
- I can cut a new skein into ready to use lengths and partially used pieces can go right alongside the full lengths, as you can see in the picture above.
(Side note on how I cut my skeins: I unwind the skein fully then fold it in half, in half again, and in half again, then snip the loops so I have 8 pieces which are just the length I like to work with.)
- you can hang them in number order so it's easy to find the shade you want...well, you CAN do this but I actually don't...
Ok, this is where my specific system gets complicated because I actually like to store my threads in the order on the DMC shade card. This makes it much easier to choose colours when designing patterns because co-ordinating shades are all grouped together. It doesn't make it easy to find the shade by number though, so I created a spreadsheet to match the layout on the shade card and I can simply search for the number on that and see where it will be on my pegboard. Each plastic tab is labelled with the specific location (the pink numbers on the tabs in the picture above) as well as the shade number so I know where to replace it when I'm done with it.
If you are short on space, this might work less well for you, but you could put the tabs on binder rings and then in drawers instead of on a pegboard. It is a bit of an expense to buy the tabs but they are sturdy so will last forever. I saved a little money by not buying the official binder rings; there are cheaper ones online.
However, it ticks all the boxes for me and I think another reason I like this so much is because it's pretty geeky...I mean, spreadsheet - lol! And it makes me smile every time I look up at my rainbow wall :-)
Phew...that was a long post but I do hope you found some nugget of inspiration in it for storing your embroidery threads, and I would love to know what you use now, if you are thinking of changing it, or what you think you might try out. You can drop me a comment below...or leave me a picture...I would love to see your thread stash!
Until next time...happy stitching (and organising!),