We’re big fans of collecting threads here, and on our journey to ever DMC thread we’ve had to work out a few things, like making an inventory spreadsheet for tracking threads and looking at the best way to store threads. But one thing has always bugged us, regardless of what way you store your threads; identification.
Threads on their own do have a set order, numbers, but these numbers jump around all over the place, they aren’t in color order, and they aren’t even sequential. Therefore, if you choose to put your threads on bobbins, in bags, boxes, or any other means, you need a way to label them. But we’ve all heard about the pitfalls of trying to write numbers on those DMC bobbins, so what is the best way?
The examples we give below use bobbins as that’s the most popular way of storing threads, but all examples apply to all ways of storage.
The first method of labeling, is actually the one you’re meant to use. We say meant here as this is the solution supplied by brands like DMC. However it isn’t perfect.
You can buy DMC labels for attaching to their bobbins. Thankfully these do contain the 35 new DMC threads (but you need to be sure to pick up a new set) but they don’t include some threads thought disconunted, etc. Not only that, but the stickers aren’t the best quality and often come off the bobbins.
The upside of these stickers though is the speed and uniformity. They are quick to place, easy to read, and every single bobbin is nicely uniform. No miss reading of numbers or messy writing to deal with.
If you choose not to get the stickers, pen is an option, and for most, is where they start. However, this is also slightly problematic.
Whilst the pen does work so long as it’s permanent, the writing is often messy, too large (don’t do the same as us and use a normal sharpie, use a thin one instead), and it can sometimes come off. We’ve never actually seen it come off onto the threads, but the regular picking up of the bobbins can rub it off.
There is nothing wrong with this method, but considering how pretty all those threads look, it would be a shame to mess it up with uneven handwriting.
Now we’ve spoken about the obvious methods, we move onto the less obvious, but actually rather genious. Use the label the threads come with. Not only does this look nice and neat, but it cuts down on all the rubbish cross stitchers make, so is a win from us.
With this method, you keep the nice neatness of the stickers, but it requires effort. In fact, quite a bit. The idea here is you cut the number off the label, and tape it down onto the bobbin. You then have to cut away the excess tape.
This is a blessing and a curse though. The tape edges aren’t always perfectly cut (the image above shows the best one we have), and can sometimes stick to the threads, or gain fluff and discolor. At first, it looks great, but the stickers would be a far faster solution here. In addition, we’re aware that all brands of threads, but particularly DMC, have varied styles of numbers on their labels, so they might not be uniform either.
Under Tuck Technique
But there is a solution similar to the tuck method.
The exact method here changes slightly depending on what cross stitch thread brand you’re using, but as a standard, the numbers are on the bottom of the label. This means you can simply slot the label into the space between the thread and the bobbin. If you want a more permanent fix, tape it down. It really is as simple as that.
Not only does this method have all the advantages of the standard tuck method, but it also requires a whole lot less work to put together. But there is also a downside; the numbers are on the bottom. For some, this won’t be a problem, however, anyone storing threads in a box (in either orientation) will struggle to read the numbers. So maybe this is a solution for some, but not all.
Which Method Is Best?
This is hard to tell and is mostly up to your personal situation. However, we can say that we use the stickers, and those without stickers get numbers (like number 01 in the image below). They’re quick, they all match, and they’re easy to read. For us, it’s a win.
We should also say that if you display your threads, it might be worth labeling the back of the threads. The number will still be there, but the fronts will look a lot nicer without the numbers on them.