You’ve found the perfect machine embroidery design for your project. Now all you need are the perfect thread colors to make it a success.
You rifle through your thread drawers, baskets, and containers. In your mind, you know you have all the colors you’re looking for but the right spools seem to escape you.
Baskets and bins get knocked over. Cabinets, drawers, and cubbies empty as you frantically search for your chosen thread. You’re pulse rises, panic sets in, and your calm project has just become…
Maybe you finally found the perfect color hidden in a corner of your thread stash. But it constantly breaks as you embroider.
Or maybe — you never found all the right colors. You became frustrated and now your project’s on hold.
Or worse you’re running out of time and you choose colors that are good enough, but in your heart not what you wanted at all.
Don’t panic… There’s an easy solution for organizing your thread.
Discover what’s hidden in your thread stash
It’s true — you don’ know what you don’t know. And if you’ve been collecting machine embroidery thread for any period of time…
There’s a good chance you don’t know what thread types or colors you already own.
The first thing you need to do is empty and organize all your thread in one location. You can use a table top, the floor, a counter. Any place where you can see all of your thread colors at once without moving anything.
Begin sorting your thread in the following order: material type, color, and manufacturer. Keep all sizes of one thread type color and manufacturer together.
The order of your thread colors doesn’t need to look like a thread chart. Just something that makes sense to you.
If you need more information on types of thread visit our comprehensive thread guide.
Once you’ve sorted your thread you’ll notice the following:
- Different manufacturers will have similar shades, but with different names.
- Not every spool of identical thread color from the same manufacturer is the exact same shade. There can be color variations between different dye lots of the same color.
- Different manufacturers may have different amounts of thread on their spools.
- Your spools will have different ways of securing the end thread if one at all.
If the spool doesn’t provide a way to secure thread tail ends, put a piece of tape over the end connecting it to the rest of the spool. By securing the tail thread to the spool you won’t have tangled ends and unraveled thread anymore.
Make Your Threads Easy to See and Easy to Access
Before purchasing new storage for your thread look at how you’ve been storing it. There isn’t one way to organize and store your embroidery thread, but keep in mind the following:
Machine embroidery thread dries out and gets old over time. There is NOT “a use” by date on your thread spool and it’s impossible to know how old is too old for usable thread. If your thread runs smoothly through your embroidery machine and looks great — it’s good. If the thread color is off or the thread constantly breaks or frays during use, you’ll need to decide to keep it or not.
Weather, dust, and temperature affect your thread health in the following ways.
- Hot dry weather causes your thread to dry out and become brittle.
- Lots of light from either light bulbs or sun can cause drying out and fading. If you’re using polyester thread your thread won’t fade in the sunlight, but it can still dry out.
- Extreme cold where your thread freezes and unfreezes causes it to become brittle and useless.
- Dust on your thread adds dirt and lint into your embroidery machine. This causes more machine maintenance and more thread breakage while embroidering.
Keeping your thread in a dark, cool area is best for thread health.
You want to be able to see all spools at once. Or at least all of one color and have easy access to the others. Plus, someplace that can accommodate your different spool sizes.
This may sound like a tall order to fill but it doesn’t have to be.
Any solution that makes it easy for you to see and use your thread will work.
If you’ve stored your thread in open baskets or containers, cover them with clear fabric or other cloth. Avoid stacking and hiding your thread spools.
If it’s always warm in your embroidery area use non-plastic covers. If you’ve been storing your thread on the wall and want to keep them there, keep them covered when not in use.
When using shelves, drawers, and cupboard make sure you can see your colors all the way back. Adding pull out drawers to enclosed shelves and cupboard adds easy access to your thread.
If your thread breaks often it could be old or dried out. Before tossing the entire spool try revitalizing it in your crisper drawer. Put the thread in a zip-able plastic bag. Push all air out of the bag before sealing. Then place the bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer, leaving it overnight. Leaving the thread in the refrigerator for a few days won’t hurt it.
Don’t store thread bags near high odor food such as onion. Your thread can take the smell on even in a bag.
This adds moisture back into your thread. Do not put your thread into the freezer it will make it dry out and become more brittle.
Reorder Your Threads for Ease and Efficiency
Once you have your thread area set up, it’s time to organize your threads so you can easily pick the right thread every time.
Place your newest spool of thread to the back of that specific color. This makes you use the older thread first, keeping your thread fresher. For similar shades of thread keep them next to each other. Then only reorder the exact shade you use most often.
For your staple or go to colors keep several spools on hand at all times. When you run out of a spool reorder it, but you still have another spool or two to use.
Keep a thread chart for each type of thread and manufacturer you use often. Make sure it is an actual chart with threads on it, not a printed off chart. Printed chart colors vary from printer to printer and monitor to monitor.
Quick Tip Save Money:
For your staple colors buy them in large spools. You’ll save time and money on reordering. You’ll still want to keep at least 2 large spools for constant use and easy ordering.
With your thread organized, it’s time to set up your project with ease.
Look at your project and design. If you’re matching colors to a fabric in your project have your fabric on hand.
Place the design image and any fabric you are planning to use on the table. Make sure you have your thread chart on hand as well. You can either use the thread chart to match colors then look in your stash or grab different spools of thread and begin matching your color.
Use the thread chart to make sure you have the exact colors you want. This is handy when you don’t have the correct thread color in your stash. Instead of thinking a color might be good, you can match it and be sure.
Line up all colors, color chart if needed, any fabric you’re using, and the design so you can see them all at once.
If you’re missing thread buy or order online immediately. Within a few short days or a trip to your favorite thread shop, you’ll have everything you need to begin.
By having all your items for a project together at once it’s easier to go from idea to being finished. You don’t have to worry about missing something and there’s no frustration looking for a thread color in the middle of your project.
Organized Thread Makes Crafting with Embroidery Even More Enjoyable
You’re done — Congratulation!
Your machine embroidery thread stash is easy to navigate. Your thread is fresh and you know exactly what colors you need for your next project.
So what are you going to do with all the time you’re saving?
After all, there’s no more hunting for the perfect thread color. No more frustration from old thread breaking. And you know exactly what colors you need before you start your next project.
What am I thinking?
You now have more time to create and enjoy!
Happy organized thread!