How To Organize Embroidery Thread

It’s the Embroidery Question For The Ages – how do I organize my embroidery floss so it doesn’t turn into Thread Mountain? Haven’t heard of Thread Mountain? Well, here it is:
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Sure, there are lots and lots and LOTS of ways to organize your floss, and while some of them are really good, none of them quite fit my needs. Here’s what I wanted:

  • It had to be quick. I didn’t want to spend hours (weeks, months?) taking floss out of its skein and winding it onto bobbins. I didn’t want to have to cut cards or make labels or punch holes in anything. Lazy? Nope. At another time in my life I would have loved the thought of spending oodles of time dividing, arranging, winding and labeling all these pretty threads. But these days my time is limited, and I’d much rather be designing, creating or STITCHING with all of this thread, rather than organizing it.
  • Even if I had the time to wind all of these threads onto cards, bobbins tend to cause crimps in the thread, which leads to knots (and lots of frustration).
  • I wanted to be able to quickly see the different shades of each color, and the different colors in each brand.
  • I wanted an easy and foolproof way to keep the thread left over after separating strands with its original skein
  • It needed to be compact and easy to store.
  • They needed to be kept dust-free.

I think I accomplished all of this. How? Binders and specialized protector sheets, both of which I was able to quickly find locally at Target and Staples.  The binder I bought at Target because, CUTE DESIGNS!! I also have some protectors from an online store called The2Buds.

Binder – I bought the 1 1/2 inch binder, which is the size of the rings. (A link to this binder is at the bottom of this page.) The 1 1/2-inch binder comfortably holds about 10 pages of thread (90 skeins). You can definitely purchase a 2-inch or 3-inch binder for this project, which would hold more pages than that. See how pretty this is? I like the elastic on the corners, because it helps to keep the binder closed when it is so full._dsc0506-4x4

Sheet Protectors –  Most office supply stores will have what are called “trading card pages,” which are the clear sheets that hold 9 trading cards per sheet. (You can find these at Staples or Office Depot.) This is what I purchased locally.  This size works well for DMC floss (6-stranded), especially if you only have one skein (or maybe two skeins) of each color:
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But you can also purchase pages with variously-sized openings from online stores that carry comic book/trading card/postcard storage supplies. I had previously purchased several different sizes of these from The2Buds Collection Protection Shop, and they are really handy. The pages sized for postcards work really well for larger skeins of thread or when you want to store more than one color in each sleeve, like this:
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I was able to quickly organize my threads into color groups and stuff each skein into these sleeves. Honestly, I didn’t really pay any attention to putting them in number order – I just sort of went from light to dark and kept similar colors together. There is a different section for each brand of floss. Here is my DMC 6-strand floss (this wasn’t even all of it!) It’s a little bit hard to see in this photo, but this is 6 pages, each with 9 openings:
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Here is what the inside looks like with the pages attached:

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So now I can easily tuck all of the extra threads back into the pocket with the original skein – no more losing or wasting those threads!

If you wanted to spend a little bit more time, you could make little sticky labels for each pocket so you’ll know where each color lives. I rarely pay attention to the number, so I probably won’t do this. But it’s not a bad idea, especially if you need to re-order specific threads.

This whole process is really, REALLY fast. I was able to organize all of my DMC 6-strand floss, as well as several other brands of variegated thread in about 40 minutes. Rarely do my ideas end up being this easy and this successful!

A couple of things:

  • On the trading card pages (9 openings) the thread does tend to slide up and out of the openings, especially at the top. You have to handle the pages carefully so thread doesn’t slither out. This problem could be avoided by using the pages with larger openings (so the threads are stuffed down a little lower) or clipping the openings across the top with something (paper clips or those cute little miniature binder clips, perhaps?) For now I’ll just turn the pages carefully.
  • If it’s a little bit difficult to see the exact color of each skein, just keep an 8 1/2″ x 11′ piece of white card stock tucked between the pages (not attached to the rings) so you can easily slip it behind a page to see the colors better.
  • Also, I only came home with one binder, and I will need at least one more (but probably two more). But now I can buy the coordinating designs that match the one I already have!

Here are links to all of the products I used:

Binder:  Target

Trading Card Pages: Staples or Office Depot

Postcard Protectors: The2Buds Collection Protection Shop

I hope this has been helpful. Please let me know in the comments if you try this method and what you think about it.

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