Keeping Thread Colors in Order

Have you ever stitched out the wrong thread color while embroidering? We've probably all done that at least once. Hopefully, this tip will help prevent that from happening again!

Each Sew Inspired by Bonnie design comes with a stitch chart, similar to this one from the Merry Mermaids set. In addition to the design measurements and stitch count, it also shows the sequence of thread colors used.

Anytime I'm setting up for a machine embroidery project, I like to get all my threads organized next to my machine in the order that I'm going to sew them out. This helps to keep me from accidentally getting green hair on a design or some other color that I didn't intend on stitching. I also like to leave a gap if a color repeats so that I know something's missing. Then, I know that I need to look and see what color it is and get it in order.

In this example, the first two colors were the placement and tack-down stitches for the Merry Mermaids applique. Since any color can be used for those first two steps, I happened to use Color 4 (on the machine) since it had a little higher contrast. When I finish a color, I either put it back in line where it goes, or completely out of the way in a "finished" group so my line stays in order with the next color always in front. Color 3 is the Flesh Pink, 4 is Purple (on the machine which will be put back in its proper spot line once finished), 5 is Lavender, 6 is Flesh Pink (because it is a repeat, there is a space left for it), and 7 through 10, etc., are the remaining colors in the design.

You can see how the Merry Mermaid design stitches out using GlitterFlex in this video.

This method works well for me. How do you arrange your threads when you embroider?

Share this post...
Previous post Next post


  • Marie Davis - February 24, 2020

    I do the same as Gail. Makes it a lot easier for me.

  • Bonnie Welsh - June 01, 2018

    Jeanette—Love your egg carton idea! Very clever and a great way to use what we already have. Thank you for the kind words about the blog. As are most things, it’s a work in progress.

  • Jeanette Mazzella - May 31, 2018

    I save the plastic egg carton carriers and just label the inside from 1 to 12 and is a holder for the threads in order and an inexpensive way to keep me on track. And if you need more egg cartons, just save them. Love your blog

  • Bonnie Welsh - May 31, 2018

    Dee—Clever use of the thread stand! I do use the 2-spool thread stand a lot with the first two colors ready to go in the “mix” and the rest lined up I demonstrated. But I don’t have a helpful kitty like you! The 10-spool thread stand is a life saver for sure! =)

  • Bonnie Welsh - May 31, 2018

    Gail—That’s making great use of an empty spool of thread and post it note. I like it! Very clever. =)

  • Dee - May 30, 2018

    I have a 10 spool thread stand that attaches securely onto my machine. See a photo here:
    I select the colours I want to use and place them on the spool pins in the proper order according to the colour charts provided with each design. If I need to use a repeated colour, I place a post-it-note on the empty spool pin with the thread colour number written on it. Each thread has its own guide. You don’t have to move any spools around as the next one you need is already on its spool waiting to be threaded into the machine.
    Before I bought the thread stand I used to do it your way Bonnie but my cat thought it was a game for him to play and knock them off my sewing desk.

  • Joanne - May 30, 2018

    I lay out a grid of post it notes and put the spoils on top. If it is a repeat I put the order # on the post it.

  • Gail - May 30, 2018

    Where colors repeat I place a empty spool thus signaling a repeat color. Sometimes I even put a tiny post it note on top with the color number on it.

  • Sandra - May 30, 2018

    Thank you for this great information

  • Darla - May 30, 2018

    Thank you so much, for all of your wonderful information.

Leave a comment