You can't do machine embroidery without having a generous selection of thread. But how do you keep thread protected, organized, and easy to find?
Starting out, I shopped for thread by picking out the colors that I loved. When I went home to play with my thread collection, or resource center as I like to call it (I don't call it a stash because that seems to have guilt associated with it), there were colors that I needed.
I wanted to embroider some flowers and I found out I didn't have any greens. Apparently green is not my color. It's not something I gravitate to, and you probably are the same way with some color out there.
Things have evolved over the years. Now I am a designer so I have settled on one thread collection and I have one color of every thread in that collection. I needed a way that I could find the threads and keep the numbers organized. I'm going to give you a couple of ideas. Feel free to change them up whatever way suits you.
I have pegboard on my walls. Thread spools hang on the pegs and I have a key tag placed on every peg with the number that matches the thread color. I removed the key ring from the tag and it slips right over the pegs for each spool. That way, I can keep track of what thread goes where to keep everything organized.
I also invested in an actual thread chart. This chart for Floriani has thread samples on it rather than a printout. Printers don't always print out exact color matches so it's not as precise. You can get these from your dealer or ask if they will special order it for you if they don't have one in stock.
The other thing I've seen ladies do, which I thought was very ingenious, is take their thread chart and put a little dot or something next to the color number to indicate that they had that color at home. Then they would simply take their color chart with them when they went shopping so they didn’t make duplicate purchases of the same color thread.
How many of you have bought colors you already have? I know I have. Because we gravitate toward certain colors, we have a tendency to pick them up because we like those colors the best.
Printed thread charts are pretty handy for keeping track of inventory as they can be folded and carried in your wallet or purse very easily.
I personally prefer the actual thread sample cards when I am matching up colors for designs. I organize the threads on my pegboard in the same color order that they appear on their thread chart or card. That makes them easy to find. I can pick a color from my thread card and know approximately what row to look in to find that thread. With each peg numbered with a key tag, it's very easy to get everything right back into place when I'm done sewing.
A lot of you might be concerned about having thread out in the open. You might be thinking, "What about sunlight?" Direct sunlight is the worst thing you can do to thread. My thread is not exposed to direct sunlight. Since I use my threads more frequently than a lot of people, I don’t have problems with dust accumulation.
Don’t store your thread near a heat vent or air return. Dust itself won’t harm your thread. The real concern is that dust on thread gets into your machine. A good way to clean dusty thread is with a Swiffer.
If you still like the idea of having thread open and accessible but are afraid of dust or sunlight, I recommend getting yourself some double-sided, sticky Velcro tape, mount it right above your pegboard, and make a fabric curtain to protect your threads when not in use.
Before I had the pegboard system, I used Matchbox car boxes. They hold 24 threads on each side (front and back = 48 threads total) in slots that are about one and a half inches wide. I will forewarn you that they will not hold all brands of embroidery thread. My Floriani thread, for example, will not fit.
I organized my tread by color and it worked great for many years and you know, at a glance, what is in each one. You may want to use vinyl self-stick labels. I like to use the little Bistro chalk markers to write whatever the contents are on the label. These are available at most craft stores. I found mine at Hobby Lobby and used a 40% off coupon.
These work particularly well for keeping threads together for each project. Just add a label and a sticky note stating where you left off. That way, you know exactly were to start up again.
One thing that I'm kind of anal about is that, when I put my thread away, I don’t leave thread tails hanging. Probably 95% of all thread spools have a little slit at one end. Others have collapsible bases that hold thread tails in place. Keeping thread tails secured avoids knots and tangles, plus it just makes my thread collection look pretty.
Lois wrote about her thread cabinet which I thought was very, very clever. Her husband took a kitchen cabinet and cut it down so that it wasn’t as deep as a normal kitchen cabinet. He added angled shelves with pegs to hold thread on the back of the cupboard as well as the inside of the door. That's almost identical to what my husband built for me to store all my hoops. He had pegboard on the front and inside of the door as well as the back of the cabinet.
I have also seen people put thread in a desk drawer. One lady glued golf tees on the inside of a sliding drawer and then put her thread on the tees, which I thought was really clever. I don't see why you still couldn't use the key tags with that method if you like.
Hopefully, this gives you some ideas. See the full video here. How do you organize your thread?
May your day be blessed with perfect stitches and GlitterFlex!