Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Organization Requirements I

Thank you for all the emails and comments about organizing. I've been searching all the links, studying every single one for any possible sources of inspiration.

There are four major organization themes to adress: 1. Embroidery Threads; 2. Sewing Threads; 3. Fabric (oh, my head hurts thinking about this one, it includes lace); and 4. Tools. First, we'll tackle Number 1 on the list, Embroidery Threads. Above you see my major challenge, DMC floss.  Right now I have them in the little baggies that DMC sells with prepunched holes and a white space for writing the numbers on them. I have them on the metal rings, but as you can see, there is a lot of wasted space in the drawer of the plastic bin. I don't like wasted space.

In the next drawer down from the floss there is the complete collection of DMC floche, along with a fairly complete collection of DMC coton a broder. And more wasted space.

Don't forget the Anchor floss, of which I'm building a nice collection.

And of course, the woolen embroidery threads. most of which are Appleton with a bit of Paternayan. I also have the collection for the Royal Persian Blossom, but they are packed away somewhere that I can't reach just now. We won't even mention the wasted space in this bin!

I bought this collection of Appleton Wool to try to make a pillow for a wing chair/ottoman combo that I have in my living room. Not bad, although that purple in the middle of the lower left group has got to go.

Don't forget all the silk threads I've amassed, mostly Au Ver a Soie, Soie d'Alger, with some other types mixed in. They, too are safely sitting in a box somewhere, away from the paint and dust of remodeling.  

The big question is how to organize all these threads. I like organizing them by number, as I tend to use color cards to guide me to the right colors. I'm just not sure I like stringing the little baggies on rings as I've been doing for some. I've been searching the internet (Pinterest) for ideas, and by far the most common way to organize floss (DMC, anyway) is to wind it around the little bobbins and store them in boxes. Sorry, I won't do that. First of all, I just plain don't want to spend the time doing it, and second, many people who have done this have regretted it as it creases the floss. It seems to be popular with cross stitchers, who tend to take very small stitches and so won't notice any resulting kinky-ness in their threads.

I like this idea from Mary Corbet of Needle N' Thread, but it uses a fairly expensive drawer system from The Container Store. While I live about 1/2 hour from the store and wouldn't have to spend the money on shipping, I already have quite a few of the inexpensive plastic drawer units that are available practically everywhere. If you happen to have Trish Burr's DVD, The Long and Short of It, you can see she uses these for her floss. She organizes by color, while Mary organizes by number.

Then I found this idea from CraftStylish blog, which organizes floss by number and keeping them in the little bags so they seem to stand up better and not get too jumbled.

I've also been considering hanging the baggies on hooks suspended on pegboard, as you see in some shops. My sewing room faces north, so very little sun streams in. I'm not sure I can maintain this, with several brands of floss to sort (DMC, Anchor, Appleton, Paternayan, and the silk). It may just get way too complicated for me to maintain easily.

There are lots of choices, so I need to think about this a bit. It's worth spending the time and effort on this, as it will make my embroidery like much easier to have a system that's easy to use and maintain. Of course, any suggestions you may have are certainly welcome.


  1. I see what you mean about wasted space. Some of these bag etc systems are the typical 'seemed a good idea at the time, but was very sub-optimal in practice.

    I personally have the whole Anchor collection and I organise them in simple press top bags (I've forgotten what they're called, but you probably know the ones, resealable, loads of stuff sold in them) according to colour number. There are no.s 1-50 in the first, 52-100 in the second and so on all the way to 9757 (or something) as, after the first few hundred, there's neither sense nor reason to the system!!=)

    Anyway, once they're safely in those bags, I get as much air as possible out of them and put them, in order, in the central section of my main workbox. Balls of pearl cotton fill the drawer and one cantilever section, with the whole Marlitt collection and some Pipers silks in the other. Tools are in one top side and white/black threads in the other. Other stuff goes in the six boxes of a storage box and metallics in their own drawer - the reels loose and the skeins in more protective bags by thread type. You can see more in my 'Organization' label (although the first one that'll some up isn't of much interest):

    Maybe there's something of use or at least passing interest there! Good hunting! It's both an exciting and a daunting task.

  2. Well, you have a lot more thread than I do! But I still think the bags and rings are the right path. I use grocery snack bags for cotton threads, which are about 3" x 6", and I think they hold more than those DMC bags. For the wool yarn you could even go up to the 6" x 6" sandwich bags.

    I was thinking that the main reason this works for me, is because I always "kit up" each project before I start. I'll go to my stash, pull everything I need, and put it in a separate "kit box" with just the one project that I am working on. When the project's done, all the leftovers get sorted back into the "general population," as I fondly think of my stash. ;)

  3. You are right about the floss bobbins, they don't work for me either. I can't do nice looking bullion roses with a kink in it. I'm sure whatever system you decide on will be great!

  4. I found that plastic bags got really annoying after a while, but as you say, the bobbins are really a non-starter unless you want the thread to have creases!

  5. Well, I don't agree. I wind my threads on card "bobbins", done carefully, no kinks. I then store them by colour in Artbin "satchels". My DH built me a "cube" for them, so they are in fact draws.
    That way the threads are not exposed to light or dust. Of course you can use Artbins and leave the threads as they are.

    I am there with Monica, I also use "project" boxes, to which I put everything I need for a particular project, when finished, it goes back to Artbins. I use small "Really Useful" boxes for that (I use large sizes for my fabric stash).

    This probably doesn't help much ,but plastic bags would drive me mad :-))

  6. At Kmart I have found a tackle box in the fishing department that has divisions the exact same length as floss skeins. The floss is easily organized in these boxes. They are good size and I have three to handle all the DMC flosses out there. My more specialty flosses are in antique glass canning jars out in view to inspire me. My woolen threads, Paternayan mostly unfortunately are just tossed in one great big tote and it is filled to the brim. I really need to find a better way to handle those but the tackle boxes are great for the DMC.


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