Why Bother Putting Cross Stitch Threads on Bobbins?

Putting your cross stitch threads on bobbins always feels like a massive and daunting task, so its no surprise people try to avoid doing it. But I’m of the belief that you should always put your threads on bobbins. I know, some of you are in horror at this statement, but proper thread storage is one of the most important things a cross stitcher can do. And hopefully, I’m going to convince you of the benefits of bobbinating your threads.

Printable bobbins (Source: Pinterest)
Printable bobbins (Source: Pinterest)

The Rumors

I’m going to start with the issues, or rather, the issues people believe that aren’t true.

It Takes Forever!

And we start with a big one. This is the number one reason people use to not bobbin their threads. They might not be forthcoming about it, but let’s face it, we’d all prefer to be stitching than sorting threads (although there is a weird sense of accomplishment after you’ve done it). And I’m not going to argue with you either, it does take time. Especially if you have a full set of DMC threads.
But you only have to do it once.
OK, that was a lie, you have to do it every time you get a new/replacement thread too. But when you do one or two at a time, its no issue, so the big bobbin-athon when you start is the big turn off. But honestly, once done, it’s barely any work at all, and you get all the benefits from nicely ordered, stored threads.

It Creases The Threads!

This is a divisive point. I’ve personally never had issues with threads creasing, however, I loosely wind them, they aren’t forced into a box tightly, and I tend to use every thread once a year so they don’t last too long.
But I’ve seen creasing. It was on a second-hand embroidery thread which is already suggestive of something, but it does happen. That said, once cross stitched, it’s no longer an issue.

Bobbins Cost A Lot!

No! They don’t! You can pick up 500 plastic ones for about $15, or paper/card ones for $5. In fact, you can print some yourself, or I’ve even seen 3D printed ones.
If you’re struggling to find them at a good price, I suggest checking out Etsy.

The Tools Suck!

Uh…yeh. I’m in agreement here; the tools suck. I, like most people, got one of those stupid bobbin thread tools that sit on the side of the boxes. Yeh, they suck.
But there are different ways to put thread on a bobbin. I personally love the ‘tin can’ method, but people swear by the drill technique on facebook groups and cross stitch forums too. And if you’re getting the drill out there is a good chance you could get the owner to do all the winding for you (double win!).

The Advantages

OK, enough of the bad things, what about the good?

Easy To Store

Storing cross stitch thread has always been a big problem, especially as you might have upwards of 600 threads (or at least I do), but by putting them on bobbins you’re giving yourself the most space-efficient way of storing threads.

Easy To Find The Thread You Need

In addition to making storage easier, it also makes finding threads easier. You can pull open a box, draw or even bag, and find your thread much quicker. If you’ve chosen to order them by number, even more so.
And trust me, there is nothing worse than having to dig through a bag trying to find a thread that turns out not to be there, so you order a new one and then you find a stash of 5 skeins hiding in a different bag as soon as the new ones come. Talking from experience here.

Looks Super Pretty

I mean, look at those things:

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

Doesn’t Get Damaged

Storing threads, however pretty, has one really big selling point; it stops the threads being damaged. I won’t go into too much detail here as you can find more on my post about embroidery thread storage, but light damaged threads. Not just sunlight either, even indoor bulbs (daylight bulbs in particular), and storing them correctly will help keep your threads tip top.

Doesn’t Knot As Much

However, the biggest reason to bobbin your threads (specifically bobbin, not just store correctly) is that they don’t knot. I’ve covered how to pull a skein of thread without it knotting before, but it stands to reason that threads just love tying themselves in knots. But when you put them on bobbins, your cross stitch threads will never knot. Yes, you heard me, I promised they would NEVER knot.

Are There Alternatives?

If you’ve read this far you’re either super convinced, or still think I’m crazy, and you know what? That’s OK. Because bobbinating isn’t the only way to store threads. In fact, despite what I said at the start of this post; you don’t have to put your threads on a bobbin.
But you do need to do something.
You might want to put threads on a bow, store them in color specific bags, or put them on display. Do whatever works for you; so long as its not a mixed gallon bag full of threads *shudders*.

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

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Diane

    It’s been 1.5 years since that comment. I searched but cannot find the “tin can” method. Could someone explain it?

    1. LordLibidan

      Hi Diane,
      You can see someone hand winding on our post about different ways to thread on a bobbin, but essentially, you take the wraps off a skein, and you’ll notice the thread becomes a circle. Drop this over a tin can and you can hand-wind the thread without any knotting happening!

  2. Diana

    „ different ways to put thread on a bobbin” link does not work.
    „‘tin can’ method” never heard about it. What is that? 🙂

    1. LordLibidan

      Hey Diana,
      Due to the recent global climate, we’ve changed the order of some of the upcoming posts. We’ll be explaining the tin can method and other ways to wind a bobbin shortly!