It’s been awhile since I posted
like always because I’ve been working on a ton of personal projects. I have an awesome full time position as an Assistant, but my real passion has always been fiber art. Though I dabble in weaving and knitting, I work primarily in cross-stitch and embroidery. I feel like these forms are almost akin to painting with thread, and match my artistic sensibilities the best as a result of their varied applications.
I use primarily DMC cotton and like to have as much of the collection together as possible so I can start any project at a moment’s notice. This requires less storage and clutter than you may think, as long as you implement a good system. I’m going to share with you how I organize all my threads and other embroidery supplies, and hopefully inspire some organization in your own collection!
All of my thread, as well as my current working projects, go into the largest drawer in my IKEA Hemnes chest of drawers. I love this piece because it’s solid wood and yet crazy inexpensive, and the tall but thin profile is perfect for small apartments. I’m planning on replacing my craft supply drawers, currently white wire baskets, with another of these eventually. At the moment only this drawer holds supplies, with the others holding personal items.
In here I have 4 clear organizers that hold my thread, a smaller clear organizer that holds thread labels, my current project and its thread caddy, and my magnifier. I’ll go into more detail on the organizers and thread caddies in a bit.
As mentioned, a cheap wire-frame set of drawers holds all my other crafting things. I have one drawer here devoted to embroidery odds and ends, including extra hoops, frames, cloth rolls, extra needles, older unfinished projects, and various other stuffs. It’s sort of a mess in there, but I don’t need to access it too much, so I don’t worry.
I keep all my DMC in these clear caddies on bobbins. You can get these caddies almost anywhere, sometimes in the thread aisle and sometimes in the beading aisle. They come in a variety of sizes, but I prefer this bigger size. You can store 6 bobbins in each compartment with 12 in the longer side compartment. Altogether that means one caddy can hold 108 bobbins, so you will need 5 or 6 to hold the entire collection of DMC thread, depending on if you keep the variegated or special edition colors on hand. Putting all this together is a costly endeavor at first, but I recommend collecting as you go and buying colors when you need them. Eventually you will have amassed a decent collection.
I use an app called ThreadTracker to keep track of my collection and it is brilliant. You can even make “to buy” lists for when you are at your shop. I highly recommend it if you are planning on collecting DMC.
Each of my bobbins has the number marked, and I only keep one bobbin of each color at a time. When it empties, I just use the same bobbin again. I have mine marked mostly with the DMC pre-made labels you can buy which is a huge help, but I have also used a label maker in the past with a thin tape. These labels stick better than the pre-made ones but are more time consuming. I do need the label maker for another part of my organization however . . .
EDIT 11/3/16 – Just wanted to say that I no longer use this O-ring hank method for project organization. I now use cards made of of laminate or shrinky dink and refill as need while the project progresses. You can find a post on how I make my laminate cards here.
When I’m working on something I HATE working directly from the bobbins. It’s a pain in the ass and requires messing up my system, which I hate.
Did I say how much I hate working from bobbins? Instead, I wrap the thread around a large book or binder and cut to make a hank of threads about the number and length I want. Then I thread these hanks onto o-rings from the hardware store and loop them onto a hinged ring. You can buy these rings from DMC in some of their bobbin packs, but I much prefer the hanks to the bobbins. It’s super easy to pull of a hank, take a few threads, and put it right back, without ever having to open the ring or take anything off. This caddy is for the first couple pages of the infamous Epic Pokemon Pattern Gen I, hence the incredible number of threads. Usually they are less full, and I keep one ring for each project I am working on.
Each hank ring is labeled with the DMC number. I make these using a label maker and wrap them around the rings. Like the bobbins, you probably only need to make one set of rings that you can keep re-using.
Like many stitchers, I like to keep my ends. At the moment I have been keeping them in these little jars I got on Amazon, one jar for each project. After seeing some beautiful large jars of thread, however, I think I may start throwing all my ends into a communal container. I have an old mini Skull Vodka bottle that would look AMAZING filled with thread, so that’s the plan. Either way, keeping threads is a great way to remind yourself of your work and accomplishments in a pretty way, especially if you plan on gifting or selling your work.
So that’s it! My system isn’t flawless, but it works pretty good. At the moment I have a Sprite Stitch challenge, a belated Christmas gift, a stocking, a store-bought pattern, the Pokemon pattern, and a personal art piece all going at once, and this system keeps them all straight and easy. I might make another post about working multiple projects at once with minimal clutter since I have a few more tips for that, but this is more than enough to start your own stitching obsession!
Send me photos of your collection and feel free to ask any questions! I am, as always, an open book.
Keep warm in this crazy cold front we are having in the Northeast, and remember: