How To Properly Store Cross Stitch Threads & Why Its Important

We’re going to tackle a topic that invites a lot of discussion today; storing cross stitch and embroidery threads.
This, in itself, doesn’t, seem that crazy, but a lot of people struggle to find a good way to store their cross stitch threads. Much like storage of cross stitch needles, it’s great to put something away, but there are two things to keep in mind. Firstly is appropriate storage, like finished cross stitch storage you need to make sure your threads won’t get damaged, but you also want to get at them easily. In addition, you might want to show them off (especially if you have a full set of DMC threads).
So we’re going to look through your options, but to start, we’re going through the reasons its important to think carefully about your options.

DMC Thread Color 318 Old and New (Source: Facebook)
DMC Thread Color 318 Old and New (Source: Facebook)

Why Is It Important?

In our post asking if DMC thread dye lots are an issue, we spoke at length about the rumors surrounding threads. In short, dye lot issues don’t exist. Instead, aging does. Or more specifically poor storage does. You see when storing finished cross stitch, and threads, the biggest killer is sunlight. It bleaches some dyes of out threads meaning you have odd colors forming, and it makes the threads far more fragile. In fact, we even posed the questions if its worth buying second hand threads or not.
Sun kills threads. It’s as simple as that. So we need to make sure whatever we use, that our threads are safe.

How To Store

So, with that in mind, what options are there out there to keep your threads at hand, but also nice and safe? Well, there are none. Yes, that’s correct, there are no ways that are both at hand, and going to keep your threads safe. Instead, you need to pick one a few options that are either less handy, or less caring for your needles.

On Display

The first up is the display method. With all those pretty threads, the instant thought is to display them. And you know what, they always look good on display. But just because they’re out, doesn’t mean they’ll be damaged by the sun in seconds. In fact, so long as you think carefully about placement, you can avoid direct sunlight. This will allow you to keep the threads up there longer, but you do need to keep in mind that your threads will get dusty, and should be used quickly, and not chucked up on the wall for years on end.

Cross Stitch Thread Hanging Board (Source: Reddit)
Cross Stitch Thread Hanging Board (Source: Reddit)

Loose In A Drawer

With that in mind, most people think about chucking threads in a drawer. In fact, this is how most people store threads until they look for a better alternative. But it might not have to be. The draw is protected from sunlight (and indoor lights), dust and dirt. It’s a great way to keep your threads all protected.
And just because they’re in a draw, doesn’t mean they have to be a mess; you can keep them in smaller draws (so long as they aren’t clear) in order or in color groups. Just make sure you don’t keep buying the same threads over and over (although we have a DMC thread inventory spreadsheet to help with that). But threads can get tangled.

Clear Draws for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: Pinterest)
Clear Draws for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: Pinterest)

On Bobbins In A Draw

So the draw might be a little problematic but let’s not throw it out yet. If you choose to bobbinate your threads (I know some people don’t like to), you can store the bobbins in a draw. I know you’re thinking they might be a mess too, but 1dogwoof has a great guide on storage using old cereal boxes which allow you to segment the threads up and keep them in order. They might be stuck in that drawer until you can get to them, but they’ll always be neat, tidy, protected from the sun, and dust-free.

Embroidery Thread In A Draw (Source: 1dogwoof)
Embroidery Thread In A Draw (Source: 1dogwoof)

On Bobbins In Boxes

The advantage of this style of storage is that you can put the boxes out and on display, if you want, or you can put them in a draw. You can pull out boxes at your pleasure and they’ll never be tangled. They’ll be in order so you can find them easily, and they pair great with a DMC color chart.
To me, this is the superior way to store threads and its how I’ve stored them since I got a full set of threads back in 2009.

Full set of DMC threads
My full set of DMC threads ordered by number

So what way do you prefer to store your threads?

In Ziplock Bags

This one actually came in thanks to a reader; ziplock bags, or if you prefer the branded thread-specific versions; Floss-A-Way bags. These bags are airtight plastic bags that no only hold the thread, but are great at holding the long ends of threads you have that are worth keeping. There are two big problems with this approach though; finding a place to store them away from light, but also being able to pick the color you want easily.



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13 thoughts on “How To Properly Store Cross Stitch Threads & Why Its Important

  1. Like Christine, I also use Floss A Way bags and/or small zip lock bags, (very inexpensive from Hobby Lobby and punch holes), and keep them on large snap rings in order by number. I fold a 3×5 index card in half, punch a hole to slip onto the snap ring, and label the tang of numbers on that ring. Then the snap rings are stored in 3 drawers of a plastic set of drawers with the number ranges also labeled in each drawer. The bags hold long pieces of thread left from earlier projects along with however many skeins of a color I have. I try to list floss numbers whenever I run out of a color on Xstitch, a great app to keep up with your stash, etc. I had mine all listed, but a phone issue lost the inventory. However, it is still worth getting and using to just colors needed for a project or for missing colors when you discover a sale on floss!

  2. I have the entire DMC collection and each color in a snack sized ziploc, floss away bags have holes and cost considerably more. I have 8 of the Akro Mills 64 drawer plastic cabinets and each solid color has it’s own drawer, in numerical order, except I put Blanc,Ecru,B5200 and Black and the beginning and the variegated colors have more than 1 color per drawer.

  3. I store my main collection on DMC StitchBows, which go in divided plastic pockets and into ring binders. I set them up years and years ago. It was an expensive undertaking at the time, but it means the floss doesn’t get the ‘kinks’ in it that it does on bobbins. I sometimes still use bobbins for short term storage in a box when I kit out a particular project.

  4. I am a “leave it in the skein” girl and store mine in the snack size zip bags, but I go a bit further to keep things organized. I use one bag per color, then I affix eight bags inside a manilla folder. Two of these folders then go into a hanging file holder and the whole thing is then stored in a file cabinet. I struck on this method after many, many years of dealing with bobbins, or divided storage boxes that were never large enough. Everything is in color number order and out of the light.

    1. Out of interest, how many drawers do you take up? I always thought this might be a very voluminous way to store thread, but wasn’t sure.

      Also, I’m madly in love with your 3D work 😀

      1. I have mine in a horizontal file cabinet and they all fit in one drawer with room to spare (and I have the full set of floss). If I could, I’d attach a photo so you could see my set up.

        Awww, thank you! I’ve been raving about your transformers for years now, they are AMAZING!

  5. I can’t be bothered to wind threads onto bobbins. I also don’t like the way that the thread gets kinked on bobbins. I use Floss-A-Way bags. I store them in a large bin, away from light. I keep them on snap rings, ordered by number so that I can find a given number fairly easily. It is easy to keep long ends (long enough to be usable) in the bag without worrying about tangling.

    1. I have to admit, the one thing about bobbins that annoys me is they just don’t take long ends easily.
      I’ll update the post to include Floss-A-Way bags though, thanks for reminding me!

  6. I have been stitching off and on over 50 years and while the thread, if protected from sun and dirt, lasts forever I find that you have to be very careful of winding it on the bobbins. If you wind too tight the thread can develop weak spots at the bend. I had wound a lot of thread on bobbins and started to find the weak spots so now I use small ziplock bags to store each color. It might have been me or my winding technique but….

    1. I’ve not seen that myself, however, you are far from the first person to mention it, so clearly it happens a lot. Do you find its the threads closest to the center of the bobbin that are most effected?

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