How do you store your embroidery threads? Earlier, I looked at three different systems (you can read about them here). Here are a couple other ideas that you might want to look at for storing your own stash.
Just to clarify, I’m not promoting one system of thread organization and storage absolutely over any other. I use a combination of methods. When I’m working on a particular project, I can’t tote my whole stash around, so take out what I need and make it easily accessible. But how to organize a whole stash seems to be a perplexing question, since, in my opinion, there doesn’t seem to be one “perfect” system.
File-A-Floss System: I haven’t tried this one yet, personally, but I’ve read some reviews on it. If anyone has anything particular to add about it, I’d love to hear from you! The concept: a very pretty box (there are apparently five designs to choose from), in which brass rods are extended. Your floss goes in bags with hanger tabs (? I think?) on which you can write the number, and then these are hung on the brass rods. This looks like a good system, but according to customers who have bought it, it has one particular drawback, which is that the individual boxes cannot hold more than 100 skeins of floss. If you’re like me, your stash is probably considerably larger than that. BUT – think about it! – the boxes are relatively small, so if they hold 100 skeins of floss in such a small space, and look good to boot, I’d think that would be ok. You’d have to invest in a few boxes if you have a large stash. And you’d probably have to label the outside of the boxes into some sort of category. The other drawback with this one from what I can see is that it doesn’t allow for other types of threads aside from the regular skeins of DMC-type embroidery floss. If you have, then, thread on spools (some of the Au Ver a Soie silks come on spools), this probably wouldn’t be the best storage system. One thing this system has over every other idea for organization that I’ve seen is that it has “looks” appeal – arranged on a shelf, the boxes would be rather nice-looking.
Thread Tux: All I can say on this one is that “packaging is everything” – the idea behind it is basically (again) the zip-lock bag. In this case, the bags are narrow and long like a skein of embroidery floss. The only major differences in this system are: 1. the place where you write the floss number is shaped like the front of a tuxedo, and there are four different “colors” to choose from for this space, so that you can “color code” your types of floss. 2. The shape of the bags – long and narrow, to accommodate one skein of floss. 3. The hole. Each bag has a little hole in it, right below the zip-lock (and right above the “bow tie” on the tuxedo). Through this little hole, you feed the end of your skein of floss, so that you can pull your floss out without opening the bag. This assumes, of course, that your floss will feed out perfectly. The idea is that you just slip the new skein into the bag, and feed the loose end out of this little hole. I don’t know about other people, but I don’t always have great success pulling the loose end on the skein. Sometimes, there’s a hitch, and I have to take the sleeves off and rewind the whole thing. So those are the sell points on Thread Tux. I’m not really impressed for the money. For individual projects, perhaps these might be useful, but why not just invest in the larger zip-locks that can hold a couple skeins?
EZ Bobs: Now, I like these little guys. I use them for hand-held kumihimo disks. The concept: these are donut-shaped plastic bobbins. There’s a hole in the middle of them, and the outside, when opened, is shaped something like a yo-yo. You wind your thread around the core, and turn the plastic in, so that it closes and covers up the thread. Of course, you leave a little tail hanging out. They aren’t a bad idea for thread, and if you had a permanent workspace and a doweled cabinet to put them in, they might be a neat idea. BUT… (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) I’m not sure I’d like the idea of feeding good threads through them when they’re closed. I haven’t had any problems with thread snagging, though, so perhaps it wouldn’t make a difference. The other drawback is that you can’t see the thread, really, when they are closed (except for the little tail). You can write on the outside of the bobbin with a permanent marker to indicate the color, but then you’re stuck using that bobbin for that color. Oh – another neat thing – the individual bobbins lock together when you stack them. Again, this is something that might be great for when you’re working on an individual project. I can’t see storing a whole stash of thread on them, especially when you’ve got specialty threads and such to store as well.
So those are the thread storage and organization systems that I’m familiar with. Which do I use? Some of the above, and none of the above! For my whole stash, I’ve “invested in” (and it wasn’t a large investment, relatively speaking) the little plastic tool cabinets that you can find in the tool section at Walmart. These are small, multi-sized, multi-colored cabinets, all with drawers about as deep as the length of a skein of floss. The drawers are two widths of drawers, and, depending on the cabinet, 16 – 30 drawers in each cabinet. The cabinets aren’t big – they can easily fit on bookshelves. You can also stack them on top of each other on a work table. I have cotton flosses in green cabinets, silks and linens in red cabinets, and gold (metal threads) in the yellow cabinets. The metal threads are kept as well in acid-free plastic bags, or acid-free tissue, and then placed in the drawers. I have six cabinets in all, storing a stash of about 300 – 400 skeins of cotton, 200+ of silk and linen, and a bit of gold. I also can store spools, balls of cotton, hanks, etc., in the drawers. I also have a cabinet to hold notions – pins & needles, wood kumihimo bobbins and weights, cording, various scissors, pens, pounce, tambour needles, punch needle handles, etc. So all my “stuff” fits very easily into these cabinets, and they all fit easily onto bookshelves in my work room, or I can put them out on a table when conducting class.
I organize the threads by colors – dark blues, medium blues, light blues, etc. So each drawer actually has several different ‘numbers’ of floss in them. The drawers are clear (more or less) so from the outside, you can see which color group is in which drawer.
There is, really, a drawback (there’s always a but!). The backs of these cabinets are open. This doesn’t pose a problem when the cabinets are on a shelf, but in transporting the cabinets, it does. While the drawers don’t fall out (although they will open if you tip the cabinet forward), the stuff inside could fall out the back. So I’ve found a solution. I’ve covered the backs with matte board for now.
Obviously, when working on a particular project, you don’t want to tote a cabinet of floss around. I select my colors and put them in individual zip lock bags. I’ve found that sometimes I like them on a ring, and sometimes I don’t. Once I’m in the middle of stitching, I use a tray from my sewing basket to set the threads that I’m working with in.
And, last but not least, when I’m finished with an embroidery session, I put the individual threads back in the bags with the rest of their particular colors. This way, I avoid those unruly balls of floss that just have to be thrown away after a while.
Read Part I, which
covers other thread systems, here.
That’s what I do. What do YOU do? Please share your storage tips and tricks with the rest of us!