What’s the best way to store floss? That is the million-dollar question! I’ve heard and read rave reviews about different methods of floss storage. Here are a few commonly available storage systems – followed by what I do (which isn’t too conventional!).
I should first make it clear that I haven’t tried every single one of these methods of storage personally. I know some people who’ve tried one or the other organizational systems, and I’ve tried just a couple of them myself. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with “mixing and matching” your organizational methods, which is what I tend to do.
Bags and Rings: Ok, first off, if you’re talking about organizing and storing a relatively large stash of floss, this isn’t the way to do it! But, bags and rings have their uses. I use the little zip-lock bags that fit onto a large ring when I’m working on a small project and I want to be able to tote my stuff with me. I select the threads I’m going to use, put them in their own little bags, run a ring through the bags (or not), and throw them in my embroidery basket. For large amounts of floss (for example, to store your stash), I say forget the bags and rings! The bags are too slippery, and the heap that ensues when you attach more than 10 or so bags to one ring just isn’t that appealing. You end up having to “dig” for your colors, and that’s just inconvenient. Besides, there’s no neat and tidy way of storing bags and rings.
Cards and Boxes: Here’s another pretty common option for storing large quantities of floss. Compared to Bags and Rings, it’s definitely neater, but… By cards and boxes, I’m talking about the little card “bobbins” that you wind your floss on, write the number on, and tuck into the “made-to-fit” plastic boxes that go with this system. You can fit quite a few wound cards into one box, which is a nice advantage to the whole idea. But… but… Personally, I don’t like taking my floss apart and re-winding it. They make a little floss-winder doo-hickey that makes the winding apparently easier, but I still don’t like the idea of winding my floss onto hundreds of little cards, and cramming the cards into a plastic box. It puts too many kinks in the floss, too many “stress” marks and fold marks. I know I would never do it with my silks! And the snag-factor is just a bit too great. I have used this option before – I just don’t like it, personally. On the other hand, I know people who use this system faithfully, and they swear by it. So it just depends on what you like.
DMC StitchBow Organizer System – Here’s a system that’s pretty interesting. There are about four components of the whole system: the “bows” that hold your thread, the binder inserts, the binder, and the travel bag. First of all, what’s good about it? I like the bows. These are plastic sticks with little arms on each end, on which a skein or two of floss can fit, stretched its normal length. It’s easy to put the floss onto the bows (no unwinding and rewinding), and on the side of each bow, there’s a plastic tab over which fits the sleeve off the floss indicating its color. That little bow thing is rather ingenious. The only problem I’ve had with it is that the sleeve from the floss doesn’t really fit those tabs, and they always fall off. It’s easier just to write the number with a permanent marker on the tab (but then the tab becomes unusable for other colors!). Ok, so that covers one component of the whole system, and if you’ve got a lot of thread, and you want to put it all on those little bows, you’re already obliged to spend a small fortune. 10 bows cost from $1.39 – $1.50 or so, depending on where you buy them. You’ll pay $15.00 easy to store 100 skeins of floss. I guess that isn’t “so” bad, but then, if you have a larger stash…. well, you’ve only bought the bows so far! Next, you need the binder insert – this is a clear plastic page with slots into which you put the loaded bows. One page holds 15 bows. One page costs around $2.29 – $2.50 depending on where you’re buying it. If you are storing 100 skeins of floss, then, you’ll spend around $16.00 for these binder inserts. So now you’re up to about $30 or more to store a 100 skein stash. Then there’s the third component – the binder – which costs around $8 – $10. It holds up to 8 loaded pages (assuming one skein of floss per bow, for a comfortable fit), and now you’re up to $40 to store 100 skeins of floss. And then you can get the travel bag – actually, a zip up binder, with side pockets for storing your project. It retails for $18 – $22 bucks. If you get that, you’re up to $55 to store 100 skeins of floss.
ALL IN ALL – that’s not that bad, considering that you can tuck the binder away, and your stash is neat, organized, and at your fingertips. However, I generally have anywhere from 300 – 400 skeins of floss on hand (I teach classes), not to mention a variety of silks, wools, metals, and whatnot. I won’t spend $200 to organize my stash! I’d rather buy fabric or threads!
Positives of the StitchBow System: 1. The bow – it’s a great idea, and for individual projects, it’s great to have some on hand to stick your floss on. 2. The binder inserts, though you don’t really “need” them. If you’re using the bows just to accommodate threads for a current project, you can put them in plastic bags. 3. The idea that you can open a binder, flip through the plastic inserts, and find just the floss you need. That’s a cool idea.
Negatives of the StitchBow System: 1. The binder they sell with it is cheap, cheap, cheap. It warps (I’ve even seen them on shelves in stores, already warped), and it doesn’t do that great of a job holding everything in. It’s flimsy and cheap. If you’re going to use this system, buy a large 3-ring binder from Office Depot. You could even buy one that zips up, and you’d be miles ahead of this chintzy little thing. So skip the binder! 2. The floss number sleeves don’t fit on the bow arm, and they will just fall off – so don’t plan on using them. It’ll just irritate you to have to chase the sleeves around. 3. The price – if you’re storing an exceptionally large stash, I say find a different method – or just buy the bows.
So those are my views on a few of the available floss organizer systems out there. What do YOU use? Let us know! What’s your opinion on available organizers? We want to hear it! There are a couple more that I’d like to mention, and then I’ll tell you what I do (which isn’t that fantastic, and probably won’t suit all tastes!), but I’ll save all that for Part II.