How To Properly Store Cross Stitch Threads & Why Its Important

We’re going to tackle a topic that invites a lot of discussions 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)

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 drawer 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 drawer, doesn’t mean they have to be a mess; you can keep them in smaller drawers (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 Drawers for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: Pinterest)

On Bobbins In A Drawer

So the drawer 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 drawer. 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 Drawer (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 drawer. 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 it’s how I’ve stored them since I got a full set of threads back in 2009.

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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This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. KatieO

    I use Floss-Away bags and group them by DMC color families – blues, greens, purples, reds/pinks, yellows/oranges, browns, neutrals, and specialty – bound by metal rings, with a knitting stitch holder to mark the beginning of the series. They all go in a sweater-size box so I can just pull the whole box out of the closet.

  2. cherney

    I keep my floss that has been used in baggies that are on a big ring with the number wrote on the bag so I know how many skeins of each color I have. Yes, it is a lot and it is bulky but I know what I have on hand and what I don’t. I keep this in a shoe box that doesn’t get exposed to sunlight. This keeps dust and any weveals out of my thread.

  3. Cindy Jo

    Hi. I use 3 by 5 bags and 1 inch labels I found on Amazon. I made custom boxes out of 7 count canvas and store them in a 7 drawer roll around cart. The 3 bottom drawers hold the boxes and bags. The upper 4 hold metallics, satins, variegated and spools.

  4. Paula

    I don’t suppose you’d consider editing your article to change all the places you wrote “draw” instead of “drawer”? (Unless you’re from Pennsylvania and thought they were one and the same?)

  5. Kay

    I also use plastic bags, but I was cheap and got some coin bags from a bank. 😀 I find that if you fold the skein in half, it fits snugly into the bottom of the bag, and then I fold the edge of the bag over and tuck it nicely into it’s place in the custom boxes I have made.