8/20/12

how to organize embroidery thread

 As I was going through my drafts folder, I realize I have quite a few unposted posts from guest spots (I didn't want to say "post" again so I said spots) I've done over the past six months. Since the craft well has run dry over here, I figured now is a great time to share them. The content of this post might look familiar as I have already posted about it on my blog here. But guess what? I used the same idea for a contributing post on 30 days and now I am using it AGAIN here. Craft well = dry. Told you. To my credit, the pictures you are about to see are much better than the first time I posted this, and that makes sharing this post 3 times ok. I just made that rule. You can post whatever you want as many times as you want as long as your pictures get better. 

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I have quickly accumulated a collection of thread and I had to figure out a way to store it all in an organized, space efficient way. 

 
At most craft stores, you can buy plastic organizer boxes and small cardboard or plastic cards to wrap your thread around, but winding all that thread by hand is quite a job. My solution? An electric drill. Confused? Read on...


I found this bobbin winder by DMC at Micheal's (you can also find it on Amazon) with the intention of using this to wind all my thread. It clips to the side of the organizer box and you are meant to hand crank the thread onto the cards. After doing that a few times, I realized it was still going to take me too long to finish. 

I had to think of something that would do the cranking for me. Enter the power drill. 


I dismantled my bobbin winder and figured out that the card holder piece fit into the drill where a drill bit normally goes. Just tighten the plastic piece in there and you are almost ready to go.


Before you start winding your floss onto the card, you will want to write the color number onto the card and loosely unwind your thread. If you try to wind it without loosening it up, the drill pulls the thread so fast that you will end up with a big huge knot of floss. The kind of knot that ends up in the trash because it is just that bad. Trust me. 


Insert your card and secure it with the peg, and wrap your thread a few times to get it started. Now you are ready to fire up the drill. As the thread winds, guide it with your free hand so that it doesn't pool in one area. In about 10 seconds, your floss is wound and ready to be stored. 


Winding and organizing all your floss can still be a big job, but the drill winding method has saved me so much time. I hope this helps you in your embroidery organizing endeavors!
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26 comments:

  1. Your pictures of the finished bobbins would make beautiful studio art. :)

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  2. Pretty! Lucky for me I don't have a lot of embroidery thread (yet), because I don't even have time to THINK about winding it (even with a drill). Great tip, though! I'll keep it in mind for the day my collection and free time expand, hopefully significantly. :)

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  3. What a brilliant tip. I only wish I hadn't read it after I'd hand wound 3 boxes of embroidery thread.... I can't really blame you though, after all, I should have read the post the first 2 times!! Thanks for sharing, I aquire thread all the time and this is really useful.

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  4. Awesome idea! I did wind all my bobbins by hand...years ago. Then I made a list of the numbers of the thread colors which I taped to the inside of my storage boxes so I know at a glance if I have a particular color on hand.

    Debbie...(O:
    ><>

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  5. I have seen this post before, but it is so genius, I think it is definitely worth sharing again! I need to do this next time I get any floss. I usually just wind them by hand. (Oh, and I love your rule of if the pictures are better you can post it again. I might have to steal that one when I don't have time to post new content!) :)

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  6. The drill is a fantastic idea!

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  7. I'm using this concept for baker's twine onto wooden spoons!!!! Thanks!!!

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  8. Thank you, this makes it so much easier...all the floss I had sitting in bags are now being put on bobbins. Thank you again for a wonderful idea.

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  9. Just found you blog -- what a brilliant way to use a drill!! I have a question though - using the bobbins to store your thread, don't you find there are kinks in the thread after a while?

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    1. Thanks Mimi! Yes, there are kinks in the thread, however, they do not affect the quality of stitching. Once you get going with the thread, whether it be for cross stitch or embroidery, you can't see the kinks in your finished work.

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    2. I was going to ask that too. Although you can't see the stitches in the finished work, does it make it more difficult *as* you work at all? I read on another blog that winding thread up like this causes it to twist more as you're stitching; do you find that?

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    3. I've never had a problem with the thread twisting. I've always stored my thread like this, so maybe it's just that I just can't see a difference from wound and unwound thread. I think there is also a difference in which way you wind the thread - clockwise or counter clockwise, but since I've never been bothered by it I've never looked into it too much. I'd be interested to read the other blog you are talking about. Would you share the link?

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    4. Sure (found it after some digging around!), it was at http://www.zombieswearinghelmets.com/2012/03/diy-embroidery-floss-storage.html, in the comments for that post. I certainly think your method of storing floss is neater & prettier, but even though I've only just completed my first embroidery project, twisting has become a real pet peeve for me already. I was always having to stop & separate the strands. I'm amazed you've never had a problem with the thread twisting, mine did it constantly; do you use Threadheaven? Perhaps I'm doing something wrong in how I'm stitching.

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    5. I do use ThreadHeaven, and I also stop every couple minutes and let my thread correct itself by letting the needle and thread hang down from my work and straighten out. I also stitch with shorter lengths of thread. A good rule of thumb is no longer than the length of your palm to your elbow. I do still get a tangle every now and then, but not too often. Hope this helps you out a bit!

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    6. Ah ok, well I don't do any of those things (I'm especially naughty about using long lengths of floss!) I definitely going to try your storage method too; it just looks too neat & beautiful to resist & hopefully with your tips I can avoid twisting.

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    7. Allison, also notice that some embroidery flosses have a sheen that is very pretty. Not the metallics or rayon threads, just the regular floss. If your working floss is too long, it gets pulled through the fabric so many times that it can wear that lovely sheen away.

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  10. I'll add that thread also is mfg. with a "nap"(??). In other words the way it is wound when being mfg. leaves the little cotton fibers all going in the same direction. If you thread the wrong end of the thread into your needle there will be more resistance against the thread and cause the thread to knot those little fibers together. If you're feeling the resistance or having problems with knotting, simply un-thread your needle and re-thread with the opposite end of the thread. See if the thread doesn't pull through the fabric more smoothly then. The same is true of yarns etc. Good luck!

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  12. I have been storing mine this way for over 30 years. I is an excellent way to keep your threads neat and organized. I do have mine in numerical order and find that the easiest for me as cross stitch patterns list colors by number. I have a DMC chart that helps me to easily substitute color. I never used any of the winders as it only takes me minutes to add a few new colors when I add then. If I had never done any and needed to wind my 3 boxes of thread--the drill would be handy! I agree with Rose on the nap and can usually tell if I threaded against it and just move the needle to the opposite end of the thread.

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  13. My mum did this years ago but did hers all by hand. I inherited her box of thread and its fantastic. She also wrote the number on each card and had them in numerical order which makes it very useful for me now as I'm always using them and if I run out of a colour I know which number to replace it with.

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  14. I use a Plano tackle box to hold my collection of DMC. It has 3 removable boxes and a large storage area in the top. I have had mine for 30 years now. I also use a few of the removable boxes for other threads. I have some variegated threads (Needle Necesities) that I don't think are made anymore. I also have a larger box full of misc threads. I use the plastic bobbins when the thread does not come on bobbins or little balls like pearl cotton. I know there is a new tackle box that holds 4 trays and is soft sided. Mine is hard plastic. I love it.

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  15. For my full strands of floss i use the stitch bow system, but when i work on projects i cut a length of thread and then separate each strand and then wind it onto these little cards. using painters tape I label them. then i put them in one of the cubby bins you have in the pics. lol. that way when i go to work with them i have cut lengths ready to go. your pictures are really well done. :D

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  17. I will have to get a drill for myself. This looks and sounds much easier than that bobbin winder (hand crank), I have been winding these cards for 24 years this way. I only have about 1,500 more to go out of 2,700 skeins. Thank you so much for the tip!!

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  18. How do you dismantle the winder? I want to try this but can't figure out how to get that circular piece off.

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