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I love embroidery floss! It’s definitely one of my favorite craft supplies. I think it’s so fun to spread out a rainbow of floss skeins and play with pretty color palettes.
If you like cross-stitch, embroidery, or making friendship bracelets, you likely have a large collection of embroidery floss!
As beautiful as it is, it can be hard to store embroidery floss in an organized way. So, I set out to find a floss organization system where all of my threads would be organized, easy to find, and easy to grab when I’m ready to start a new project.
How to Organize Embroidery Floss
You can sort and store embroidery floss in various ways. Before you commit to a particular method, take a bit of time to consider your needs, your time, and your space.
Here are some things to consider:
- How many skeins of floss do you have?
- How much room do you have to store your threads?
- How much money do you want to spend on organizational materials?
- How many different projects do you work on at once?
- Do you want to be able to carry your projects around, or will you always stitch in the same spot?
- Do you need to reference the color numbers, or do you choose colors by eye?
For me, it was also important to find a way to store my floss where I could easily add more colors to my collection without having to re-do my whole organization system.
Ways to Store and Organize Floss
Here are some of the best ways to keep your embroidery floss collection organized. Some of these methods are better suited to long-term storage of your whole collection. And some of these methods are great ways to organize a smaller sub-set of threads for your current project. Enjoy!
Drawers or Cabinet
I like to store full skeins of embroidery floss in transparent drawers. Here is the link to the cabinet I purchased, though you may be able to find something similar at your local hardware store.
You could even purchase a set of drawers that are meant to hang on the wall to save desk space.
When you are shopping for drawers, make sure that they are deep enough for the skein to fit without folding. The skeins I have, for reference, measure between 6″ and 6.25″ in length.
- It’s quick and easy to organize your floss in a set of drawers. Just put groups of like-colored floss in each of the drawers and you’re good to go!
- If you have clear drawers, you can easily see what thread is in each drawer. If you have wooden drawers, think about how you’ll label them.
- Cabinets and sets of drawers can be expensive.
- Multiple cabinets will take up more room on your desk or shelves – though you can hang these drawers on a wall to save space.
- Most likely, you’ll have more than one color in each drawer – so you’ll still have to search to find a specific color.
Of course, you can always store embroidery floss in standard plastic organization boxes. This is how I stored my thread when I first got interested in embroidery — and it’s still a great way to store thread.
First, wind the skein of floss around cardboard or plastic bobbins, and then arrange them in the storage boxes.
Transparent boxes are popular because they allow you to see the whole rainbow of color without opening the box.
- It’s easy to see all of the available colors at once.
- You can add new threads to your collection without reconfiguring the whole box.
- You can pull out a small selection of bobbins to use for a current project
- The box won’t take up too much shelf space
- Bobbin boxes are usually inexpensive.
- It takes a long time to wind each skein of floss onto a bobbin, especially if you have a large stash!
- The embroidery floss can become creased with long-term storage on the bobbins. The threads will be wrinkled and more prone to knots. To fix that, you can steam or iron the thread straight again — but this will take even more time.
Project Cards In a Binder
You’ll love this organization system if you like to stitch in a lot of different places in your home, or if you like to bring your embroidery supplies with you when you travel.
To use it, loop your skeins of thread though the holes in the acrylic organizer bars. The bars are designed to fit a standard three-ring binder.
If you want, you can use small stickers to label each skein with its color number.
After you set it up, you can just open the binder and grab the group of threads you need very easily.
Potential drawback? You do have to cut the threads in order to loop them through the holes in the bars.
Hanging File Folder Method
This method is very similar to the binder method, in a slightly different format.
To use it, you’ll hang your threads from wooden or acrylic organizer bars, which are designed to fit in a standard size file box or filing cabinet.
The downside? This system is not as portable as the binder method.
Thread Drops on a Key Ring
Thread drops are pieces of stiff cardstock that have large holes to hold skeins of floss. Most thread drops also have a small hole that you can use to store them on a key ring.
To keep the threads organized, you can write the color number on each tag.
If you want to organize a huge stash, this method would get messy quickly. But, it’s definitely a good way to organize a smaller selection of colors for a single project.
This is a true low-cost DIY solution. Store thread in small snack-size plastic bags. Place an index card inside each bag to use as a label. Then, store the bags in boxes, baskets, or drawers.
This is a very flexible system. You can store full skeins and leftover bits of thread in the same bag. You can arrange them in number order, or in groups of similar color.
It’s easy to add new colors of thread. And, it’s just as easy to remove a small selection of colors to work on a project.
Bonus Idea: Clothespins
Wrap your floss around cute mini clothespins and hang them from a pegboard. The floss will be easy to see and use, plus it creates a colorful display to hang on your wall. Be careful storing your embroidery floss in direct light, though. Colors can fade in the sun!
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Sarah Stearns has helped thousands of makers find their next craft project with free patterns and step-by-step tutorials on her blog, sarahmaker.com. Read more.
Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, Good Housekeeping, Vox, Apartment Therapy, Lifehacker, and more.
Saturday 4th of March 2023
how can you store drop floss which are on binder rings? What do you do with the binder rings after you have finished putting the floss drops on them?
Wednesday 23rd of February 2022
I have to agree about the plastic waste. I'm not a huge anti-plastic person since it has a place. But with embroidery floss? No thanks. I recently picked up a huge set of floss-away bags on large binder rings at my local thrift, because bargain DMC floss. But the sheer volume of plastic and obscene weight - never mind how unwieldy a set of these are on rings - is just too much. I am now looking for better options and I fear I may have to build my own wooden cabinet as a solution. Plastic drawers like the one in the first suggestion are extremely overpriced (and btw, those drawers are not 6" deep internally), and even if you share drawers between 5 colors you'd still need a second one. Forget about it if you tend to stock up larger quantities of certain colors.
I should also warn folks, that my mother stored her floss in a similar cabinet. After decades it's really obvious how little protection you get for the floss when there is a gap around the drawer. Something to pay attention to when purchasing if you do go with a similar system. These were originally intended for nuts and bolts and such, where one doesn't care if light or dust gather.
Thursday 24th of February 2022
Thanks for your thoughts on the cabinet. Please do share if you find an accessible wooden cabinet option.
Friday 28th of January 2022
Nice article with great ideas but my issue with many of these storage solutions is PLASTIC. I have been collecting good old wooden bobbins and transferring my floss to those. Plastic is a necessary evil in many facets of our modern lives, such as medical services and food service. Crafting is an area where I can happily eliminate the purchase and usage of plastic. If we don’t buy it, they won’t make it, and it won’t end up in our landfills, oceans, and food. Best wishes and happy stitching!
Saturday 2nd of October 2021
I store my leftover floss pieces right on the original skein. I move the longer label up a bit and wrap the piece around the skein. Then I move the label back over the wrapped piece and it stays there safely till I need it.
Tuesday 23rd of March 2021
Love your ideas but I use a tackle box for one set of floss, a set of four binders with stitch bows and their binder pages for my second set of floss and a bread box with zip lock bags separated into the numbers ie: 100, 200, 300 etc for my third set of floss. The tackle box is for my projects, biders are to replace in tackle box and bread box for keeping track of what I need to replace. And yeas I have 3 complete sets of DMC cotton flosses.