Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Thread Organization for Whole Sets of Embroidery Threads


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In my workroom, I now have six eight- and ten-drawer cabinets that I use to store all my embroidery threads in.

The cabinets are not quite tall enough to support a table top at normal sitting height, so they are lifted on plinths so that they can support my work table. Three cabinets fit tidily at one end of the table, facing outward, and three fit at the other end, facing outward. Right now, the table is slightly smaller in depth than three cabinets side-by-side, but eventually, once the budget allows it, I’ll be-take myself to the lumberyard, where I’ll have a custom 6 foot long tabletop made to fit the depth of the cabinets.

At that point, my workroom thread storage and worktable set-up will be complete. The set-up didn’t happen overnight – it took me three years to acquire the cabinets, buying a couple each year from The Container Store, when they have their yearly sale (which made a difference of $70 per cabinet).

I’ve found the cabinets a great way to store my whole thread sets. But I still need to finish my inventory system! And that takes a little time!

But for those who don’t have space for cabinets, here’s a great way to organize and store a complete line of threads with a built in inventory system, so that you can easily see what you have and what you’re missing.

DMC StitchBow Insert for Embroidery Thread Organization

This is not my idea! And I didn’t even do the work! Wendy at The Silk Mill did it for me, and I think it is a clever, handy, and compact way to organize an at-a-glance system for embroidery thread sets.

It does require a little bit of an investment if the thread set is a large one, but not as much of an investment as a whole piece of furniture.

Wendy used the DMC StitchBow Binder Inserts to organize my full thread set from The Silk Mill.

She did this as a favor – thank you, Wendy! – so if you order silk thread from The Silk Mill, please don’t expect it to show up in the binder inserts. It’s such a good idea for organizing and inventorying large thread sets, though, that I thought I should share it with you in case you’re going through a bout of stash organization.

DMC StitchBow Insert for Embroidery Thread Organization

So, what are these binder inserts?

Made and marketed by DMC and available in craft stores, fabric stores, and perhaps even some stitching shops, they’re clear plastic pages that fold in half, with 15 slots to each page to store 15 skeins of embroidery thread.

DMC StitchBow Insert for Embroidery Thread Organization

The slots on each page are off-set, so that when the page is folded in half, the page with the skeins inserted is as compact as possible.

DMC StitchBow Insert for Embroidery Thread Organization

At the edge of one side of each page, there is a series of binder holes, so that the page can be inserted into practically any type of 3-ring (or otherwise) binder. DMC makes a variety of project bags that include a binder area for these StitchBow inserts, but any binder will work.

For a whole thread range, you could purchase several large 3″ (or larger) office binders to hold the threads. Another idea? Photo album binders – and to find them, look at thrift stores. I found a group of several new, never opened leather photo albums recently for a whopping $3 (for all of them). Take the photo pages out, and the thread inserts fit right in. The binders can then be labeled and placed on a shelf.

DMC StitchBow Insert for Embroidery Thread Organization

To make the system an at-a-glance organizational thread system, Wendy labeled each thread slot with the color number and name.

So, if a skein is ever missing from a slot, I know exactly which color I need to order.

DMC StitchBow Insert for Embroidery Thread Organization

And to make the whole system completely hassle-free, the dear girl even labeled both sides of each thread slot. So no matter what side of the page I’m looking at – and regardless of whether the page is folded in half or flat – I can see what threads are missing.

So there you have it! With a relatively small investment in the binder inserts (you can usually pick up two for $3 – $4 in many craft stores, so that’s space for 30 skeins of thread) and in labels and binders, you can organize a whole range of embroidery threads (in skeins), into an at-a-glance inventory system.

Mathwise, if you are organizing a range of threads 450 colors strong, you can figure about $60 for the binder inserts and about $10 for small labels. Additionally, you’ll need binders. Large capacity binders can be expensive, though – so look at thrift shops or shop on sale. You can easily have a compact, at-a-glance thread organizational system for 450 skeins of thread, for less than $100.

It still sounds steep, but if you do invest in whole sets of threads in order to have them for design purposes, you’ll understand the value of such an easy system to keep track of the threads you have.

Right now, I have all 600 Silk Mill colors at my fingertips, ready to use for selecting colors for different embroidery projects. There are 50 more shades coming out in April. That’s a lot of color and a lot of thread! So thanks to Wendy for the brilliant organizational help!

Lord knows, I need All the Help I Can Get, when it comes to organization… !


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(33) Comments

  1. Mrs. Corbet,
    That’s a lot of thread! 🙂
    We were at a fabric store yesterday afternoon. They have a small rack of books on sewing and quilting and other stuff, and do you know what book I saw? Bead Embroidery Stitch Samples! I didn’t really have time to read anything out of it, but I did flip through it and had a peek at the pictures. What are the odds of running into the very book that your favourite blogger just reviewed that morning?! LOL


  2. I think I’m going to have a stroke! I can’t even imagine having so much thread! I have one giant ziplock bag full, and find it a bit overwhelming. Still, I will admit that I’m a little jealous.

  3. Looks great for being able to see the colours etc (and I’ve been drooling over The Silk Mill threads for a long time!!), but this system would eat up a lot of space.=( For me especially (and, I suspect, for most Europeans) space is at a premium, almost more so than money!=)

    Lovely to see all those glorious threads though. Do you have the whole collection of over 500? Really?? Wow!

  4. I have a sort of Pavlovian reaction to the things you recommend, and have to restrain myself from buying everything immediately.

    So far, when I have weakened I have been pleased with the results!

  5. All of your beautiful silks, just love them! I use the StitchBow system for my DMC. I have the entire line of threads and use three 5″ binders. They don’t take up very much room at all. Right now they are sitting on top of the little cabinet I use to store my cross stitch fabric. I’ve never thought about using the system without the bows for my silks and overdyed threads.

    1. I hadn’t thought of it either. If it wasn’t almost midnight, I’d go upstairs and put my overdied floss (by mfg. & by type) and my perl cotton (by size) in some empty folders.

  6. Wow! Love the idea of using the DMC bow pages to store the thread skeins! It looks like an awesome way to show the unopened skeins, but what do you do when you want to break into the skein? Do you break it open and then continue to store the skein in the binder?

    Mary, I always learn so much from your site! Thank you for what you do! 🙂

    1. By the way, I had a little jewelry cabinet fitted to hold bobbins of floss. It’s perfect and looks really pretty in my sewing room. I have 500+ bobbins plus beads and other stitching supplies. It keeps me organized.

    2. Hi, DeAnna – I linked to the storage cabinet article at the beginning of this post – you’ll find photos there. The table? Well, right now, it’s just a fold up 6-foot table, with the legs folded up, sitting on top of the cabinets. Some day, when I get a proper table top, I’m sure I’ll photograph it and write about it! 🙂

  7. I love this idea but I always seem to bulk at the price of the sleeves. It would add up for a full set of DMC pearl 3 & 5. Has any one tried to make them ? Was thinking a thick MM plastic. I have seen it at Wally World. Just sew with nylon thread. I am just afraid that sewing the plastic would be a disaster. lol.

  8. I’m not sure which is more drool-worthy – the whole set of threads organized, or having had it done by someone else. This is an awesome idea, I never thought of using the stitch bow inserts separately from stitch bows. The drawback I have is there’s no shelf space left, they’re already full of books!

  9. I’ve been using the floss bows and the inserts for a couple of years now. I love them! I do not have thread sets like you do, so I wind my thread on the floss bows and put in the inserts according to color family. Then they are put into three ring binders and the outside is labeled according to color family. So far, I have three 3 ring binders and am looking at a fourth.

  10. When you last mentioned The Silk Mill I was planning a new project. I took a look at their web site and decided to use their threads. I sent Wendy the picture that I used in creating the design and she put together a wonderful colour palette for me. My silks arrived yesterday and they are even lovelier than they appear on line. Of course, they were not in a DMC wallet but they were beautifully packaged. I can’t wait to get started now (but still have some prep to do).

  11. G’day Mary,
    “Lord knows, I need All the Help I Can Get, when it comes to organization… !” You sure do Mary if you’re going to keep keeping us lot in line like you do! Hugs to that Wendy Lady for kindly seeing to that thread organisation. I’m pleased for you.
    Thanks for the hints on all this.
    Cheers, Kath

  12. Dear Mary

    How kind of Wendy to organise your threads for you and very nicely done I must say. What a great, great way to store thread when room is an issue I love it. I’ve just researched this product in the UK and Sewandso sell them so thats great that I can purchase them in the UK. I’m going to order these wallets which will keep me and my thread organised and I like the way you can label the thread colour and number and store used thread as well. Great idea and thanks so much for sharing this with us I’m so excited.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  13. Thanks for sharing this great idea. Just yesterday, I saw those binder inserts at JoAnn’s and wondered if they would work for holding thread. Now I know the answer! What a timely post for me as I have a 20% off coupon at JoAnn’s.

  14. Well, I’ve taken the first step into true thread storage. Although nothing like the paradise of organization. I went to Michaels looking for Twill tape to bind my new hoop, but *they don’t carry it*! This annoyed me of course, but my mother helped me find something to store my meager thread collection.

    It’s a plastic case that holds forty small boxes, all clear and see through. Each little box will hold 32 bobbins of thread so it’s more than enough for what I have presently. I have a feeling that will change sooner than I expect.

    My plan is to fill my boxes with color groups based on the light spectrum. Hopefully it works.

    1. Hi kristina!

      I didnt find any twill tape either, so I used prewrap. Works great, stays on without any adheasive, and i can change the color anytime…. lol. My sisters in soccer and the girls use it all the time for keeping their hair out of their faces. Cheap too! You just need very little and youre set. Hope it helps

  15. Wow, I really like this system. I’m currently using baggies on rings, which work reasonable well, but this looks much more compact. Maybe I’ll try it out on my Anchor collection, which is jumbled in a drawer right now. It doesn’t look like wool skeins or floche will fit into the inserts. You can buy the inserts one at a time with the coupons, and buy the binders in July and August during the back to school sales. It was so nice of Wendy to make you this system!

  16. I use stitch bows but wanted to be able to put back the strands I cut offf. A friend suggested snack bags. They work great. I punched a hole on each bag and keep them in a large binder. Each bag is labelled with the thread number. I’m thinking a peg board would be nice to display them as I get more thread.

    I really like your cabinets Mary but they’re not in my budget.

    I think I need some silk mill thread.

  17. Here’s a money-saving tip: Get the StitchBow binder inserts from Amazon. Depending on the seller, you can get them as low as $2.12 for a pack plus shipping. Or there’s a seller than has them for $3.89 per pack with free shipping.

    If you want to get the actual StitchBows as well, if your order is over $25, you can usually pick up StitchBows for $1.88 per 10-pack.

  18. What a great idea for thread organization. For those looking fore binders, consider looking at the office section on your next run to a large warehouse (Costco or Sam’s Club). This past summer I needed lots of binders and Costco had3 or 4 packs of binders for about the price of one binder at an office store. They were a nice quality with the clear outer cover to insert a binder cover and spine label.

    Now I’m anxious to get to the craft store to look for those pages. Thanks as always for another wonderful organizational tip!

  19. I am organizing all my DMC on bobbins and storing them in labeled Super Slim Satchels from Artbin. I have skiens of hand dyes stored in the same containers but by color and not on bobbins. I use the larger satchels for projects to keep all my supplies together and handy. I might be weird but I love organizing stash. I could spend way too much time winding bobbins while watching Netflix. Love all those silks, the colors are so rich.

  20. For some reason, I keep imagining the silk shading version of the Secret Garden project to be on a fabric of black silk.

    1. You certainly could do that, CC. I have an aversion to stitching on black – I generally don’t, if I can avoid it. But the project would certainly look vivid on a black background! Definitely worth trying, if you like the idea! -MC

  21. This looks gorgeous but I’m afraid I will have to stick with my current system which is the old-fashioned cardboard floss winders. As soon as I get some new threads, I wind them onto these with the details of the thread on the front top, and the date and place of purchase on the back. I then store them according to colour in plastic divided boxes that I can buy in the local hardware shop. I use all sorts of threads in all sorts of sizes, types, colours, thicknesses etc and never have a complete set of any one of them. Although those silks do look yummy ….. think I might just mosey on over to have a look. Just looking though … see you later.

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