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 28 Comments

  1. adhaincroi

    I am lucky enough to have managed to get a DMC thread card. So keep mine on small (110 bond) card rings with 2 holes that I punched out myself (craft punches). I use the DMC number stickers on each in the space between the holes. I store them in the Column /color order from the DMC Thread card. On library snap rings of roughly 5 columns per ring. between each numbered column there is a larger card disc stating the column number (1 thru 25). The benefit for me is I do a variety of stitching so no kinks. I can cut them all to my preferred stitching length. I can see all the tones together for if I am trying to choose by color but I still have the number if I need to source that. The DMC Thread card has a look up by number page so nothing ever gets lost. I find that I can almost pick out the colors by sight now. One draw back I have found is if you get stupid and somehow don’t put them back in the right order you better be able to pick out the color by sight or you have to scroll through every library ring. Also you have to have somewhere to hang them dust free. I am contemplating making the rings their own clear hanging bag so I can leave them in sight, but for now they hang in my Craft room closet.

  2. Susan Cadawas

    I use zip lock bags for storage of skeins, but I was perplexed over how to store those short, but not too short ends of thread that can be still used. I decided to used the skein itself. I move up the longer paper sleeve over the skein a short bit. Then I wrap the leftover thread in whatever combination it already is – 2 threads at a time usually or more.- over the exposed skein, slip the sleeve back over the wrapped thread and there it stays until I have need of that particlar color again. The floss stays secure there and it sure saves on wasted thread.

  3. Mouselina

    The issue I have with storing in ziplock bags is that over time thread will develop a bad smell due to condensation. Old cross stitch kits often have that problem – they reek of damp and needles are rusty. It won’t be a problem if you use the thread regularly but if you have full set and some colours lay there unused for years it might be a problem.

  4. Nancy

    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!

    1. C. Martin

      I have used this method for over 40 years ! I just recently got back into counted cross stitch through a Christmas SAL ! I have always used the Floss AWay bags that were kept in a cardboard gingham box ! I have been using the old floss along with the new ! I have an Ott light that shows if there’s a faded color ! This is best method to keep floss safe !I only use DMC floss ! Great color palette!

      1. Kay Crawford

        I have a Lot of DMC skeins stored in floss away bags in a binder in a drawer. Your comment about using old floss is the only one I’ve seen. All my kits have been in a drawer away from sunlight and moisture. My projects are small. I do Not want to toss all this never opened floss, or buy new. Have you still been satisfied with using your old floss over the last year? Thank you !

      2. LordLibidan

        It all depends on time really. If you store them well in a draw without moisture or sunlight you can keep them for a decade with no issue.
        Longer than that and I would question them slightly. It doesn’t mean don’t use them; just check their color against a newer thread to make sure they haven’t changed.
        Longer than 20 years though, even if kept well, I wouldn’t use them.

  5. Andi Wright

    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.

    1. LordLibidan

      I’m with you there; I put 310 and the whites at the start too!