DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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4 June 2014

Organising embroidery threads

I recently found these photos of a Jane Brocket quilt, made with vintage embroidery pieces,  and it sparked my desire to embroider again. I love hand sewing. Now that these stitched pieces are popular again, it's become very difficult to find enough old embroidery to make a large project such as a quilt or tablecloth. I thought it might be a worthwhile exercise to make up a few pieces, modelled on these old patterns. But first I had to organise myself and my sewing threads.

So yesterday I did a job I've been putting off for months. I sorted through my embroidery threads and organised them in boxes, according to colour. I've been a stitcher for many years and have quite a large collection of threads, mainly DMC. These threads are quite expensive and it's worth my while to look after those I have. The last time I looked, these skeins of thread were between 99 cents and $1.25 so my collection, and maybe yours too, would cost a lot to replace.

A lot of us have a tin full of threads like this.  I decided to organise mine into these little boxes.
I already had a couple of boxes full of my threads, but I needed more space and a couple of new boxes.
 Start by sorting it all into colours and then wind all your skeins onto a little plastic spool.
Threads are easier to keep without getting tangled if they sit on a spool rather than held together with their little labels.
 Don't forget to write the colour code on the spool with permanent marker.

If you're starting out and only have a few colours, I still think it's a good idea to buy one of these little organising caddies. I used the Birch Midi Organiser Box available at Spotlight. It keeps the threads clean, dust-free and ready to use. You'll soon fill a box as threads are the type of product you tend pick up a few at a time when you buy other craft items or start a new project. It doesn't take long to fill a box. You can use an empty compartment to store your needles.

Start off by winding all your threads on a plastic spool onto which you've written the number code of the thread. You'll need that to buy an exact colour replacement in the future. I've found the best way to store them is to colour sort them, but if you've like another way better then do that.

If you want to try this craft, I've written this post about how to get started with embroidery and if you feel guilty about sitting down during the day with your crafts, read this post I wrote many years ago. It might ease your mind.


- - - ♥︎- -♥︎ - - -

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Thanks for your help.

34 comments:

  1. I love to embroider as well and am planning to do some kitchen towels soon. I have done some for my daughter and daughter in law but now it is my turn. I have my threads organized as you have them except I put them in number order. I like having them in boxes and organized -- makes it so much easier and a lot less rummaging around looking for things!

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  2. Well done Rhonda, that would have taken so much time....I have recently done some sorting of my threads and before I knew it, the morning had gone. It gives a great sense of satisfaction to compete such a task doesn't it? I tackled the pantry yesterday with thoughts of doing the kitchen afterwards.....I have a fantastic looking mouse free?? pantry now but my kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it...I will start on that this morning before going to my stitching group....

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  3. That quilt is just lovely. I think that one day when I have to clean out the tons and tons of stuff in my parents house that there are enough embroidered pieces in the linen closet to do something the same. I know that many are stained or have holes and this would be a great way to preserve them as I know they were made by women from generations past in my family.

    You have made me think of my threads. They are long untouched. Twenty plus years ago I wound them all on cards and filed them all in a large fishing tackle box because I and all of my friends at the time never went anywhere without our stitching. The box fits the threads and a few projects. I am thinking that there are some unfinished pieces in the box too. I think I will have to get it down from my closet shelf and investigate.

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  4. Well done, Rhonda a job well done.
    May I ask where did you get the spools from?
    My threads are stored in an old stocking box! Remember them?! It is looking a bit battered at the moment.
    It has been years since I have done any proper embroidery apart from the face on a knitted doll.
    I think something else to add to the crafting list.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mary Jo. I use the Birch plastic floss cards - a packet of 50, but I think there is a smaller pack as well. I got them at Spotlight.

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    2. Thanks, that answers my question too! Thanks also for the vintage transfer links, very cute project ideas

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  5. I love the look of threads in their colours, nestled into those boxes. I'm glad you mentioned writing the number on the spool, the last lot I did I forgot to do it.....luckily I only had a few so not a great disaster. My latest blog post has pictures of an embroidered quilt I'm currently working on if you're interested......stitched centres with log cabin type borders. Exciting news that Sunny and Jamie are on their way home, good news for you but it must also mean Sunny's mother is better now, so that's good news too.

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  6. I just love the quilt, Rhonda. My mum had lots of embroidered doileys and I inherited a few. The survey only takes about five minutes to do so that is done. Have a lovely day. It looks like it will be a nice one after the rain yesterday which was most welcome here as it has become very dry inland.

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  7. Now that gives complete satisfaction to the organiser in me, gosh I wish I had some threads to organise. :)

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  8. I love to embroider but haven't had the time of late. Two of my friends, Maricor and Maricar (twins), do the most amazing embroideries! They're designers and their work is very contemporary http://maricormaricar.com/#tactiles.html (please delete link if not appropriate). I have the Corn Cobbed and the Donut vs Banana prints in my kitchen. They bring a smile to my face every time I look at them. It's amazing to think that just a few years ago they had never picked up a needle and thread.

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  9. Whilst $1 isn't a lot of money, when you think about paying for each skein, it certainly adds up!

    I have a beautiful wooden box to store all my threads in - it was made specially for storing embroidery threads by the men at the Men's Shed in Albury, I think. It wasn't cheap, but it was a special treat for me, I like the idea of it being hand-made here in Australia, and I'm a HUGE fan of the Men's Shed concept, so it was all good!

    By the way, I organise by number, so when a pattern or chart calls for a particular number, I can easily find it. Also, I have both DMC and Anchor, so if I don't have one in the brand the chart calls for, I may well have the corresponding colour in the other brand, and by number works better for this.

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  10. My, Rhonda that is a job well done.. I love to be organized but alas... smile.. I pinned the quilt it is awesome.. I have put it on my to do list for Summer as I do have a lot of collected pieces that have holes and such.. Thanks again for inspiring me.. xo

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  11. Rhonda, a serious embroiderer like yourself would know which particular colors of floss you want, but others who just want an assortment might do well on ebay - I bought a "lot" on ebay a few years ago for a good price.

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  12. Years ago, I was able to buy DMC for 25c each with a weekly newspaper coupon, so I printed out a list and collected all of them at the time. When my nursing duties were in a lull, I would wind a few onto flat bobbins. Mine are all filed in similar plastic boxes but I file by number so I can find what a project calls for easily. I've recently done a post about silk ribbon embroidery, which is a pleasant past time too. Happy Stitching! xx debbie

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  13. This is a timely post for me as I, too, dug out my floss boxes (stored exactly the same as you on little cards) last week and took to cross-stitching again, which I haven't done for over 10 years. It has been fun designing my own projects and fills my 'resting' hour in the afternoon.

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  14. I took that survey - it got me thinking about the correlation between simplicity and self sufficiently being the possible catalyst to feeling fulfilled - interesting.
    Since I commented a while back my family is really getting on board with simplifying life. My BH has figured out how much every product we have in the pantry costs per cup, per gram, per litre etc and is now actively stockpiling. We have also had home cooked meals for several weeks now without fail - we are so very much enjoying the changes. We are currently figuring out how to manage on one wage.....a challenge but so interesting to discuss together. Thanks so much Rhonda. cheers Phil

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  15. Rhonda,
    Since I read your books and have been following your blog I have felt a certain tugging in my life. I am working on a plan to live simply. My blog was orginally started to keep track of my reading (I love to read). But I am having the desire to put down my books (at least for a season) and start doing these other things that I also love (or want to learn), embroidery being one of them. Think I am going to ponder the direction of my blog, maybe eventually start a different one. Thanks for being my inspiration!

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  16. It must be the season as I did exactly the same. I had old cardboard spools. A lot of these were the worse for wear. I've used this system of storing for over twenty years, but some spools had been put into on going projects, so lots of sorting was done. I even found a free dmc app to add all my spools to. Now if I want to start a project, I can check what I have and if necessary create a shopping list without having to get my threads out. Helps too if I'm ever anywhere where there's a sale of threads. I know what I've currently got.

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    1. Hi Margaret, would you please share the app with us? Many thanks.

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  17. I never use dmc numbers. :) My great grandmother and grandmother left a lot of embroidery threads and
    I have no clue if they match any of dmc numbers. I just use the closest hue I have and I have over 100 of them. I store every hue in a tiny plastic bag, which I have recycled from my PhD project at university, I used to store frozen plant samples in those bags. Once I up to my new cross stitch project, I just drop all 100 bags on the carpet and select the ones I need. If I do not have a particular hue, then I invest couple of $ to buy them, but mostly I have been using the inherited material. Feels good knowing it has such a family history.

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    1. I'm very similar, Anastasija. I save the numbers so I can match something if I've started with that colour, but patterns do my head in and I use them only as a guide. I choose my own colours.

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  18. It is such a great idea to organize your threads. I finally did mine last year too after many years. It was worth the effort!

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  19. So inspired I was that I went to Michaels and came home with spools and two boxes to start my reorganization project. Currently mine are in shoe boxes.... what a pain... and too many! Can't wait to start a little at the time!

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  20. Such a hectic time you have had of late and I am glad to hear you are back to your "normal" simple routine Rhonda - this shows by having time to wind your DMC floss - I love this job and find it very relaxing to do.
    Blinky

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  21. You are a woman to be admired. Thank you for helping me renew my interest in blogging and communicating through the written word. We are the same age and if you can do it, so can I! (So I tell myself.)

    I did the survey and I spent less than 10 minutes to complete it. I also see a correlation with simple living and happiness. It opened my eyes. Simple living is the reason I can be content each day.

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  22. I store my floss in the little boxes but in numerical order - this way if I am doing a cross stitch and it requires a certain number I can easily find it.

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  23. Interesting reading to see how everyone stores their threads. I have nearly all the DMC colours and keep them in recycled plastic takeaway food containers (I had hundreds given to me once). My threads are in numerical order and each box contains a range from (for example) 001 - 099, then 100 - 199, and so on. I don't wind them onto those spools though - it would take me forever, as I also have a tin full of Semco threads and another tin full of Anchor threads - most of which I have inherited or been given.
    Even if I'm not sewing anything, occasionally if I'm looking in the cupboard for something else, I get my threads out just to gaze at, it's like looking at silk rainbows.

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  24. Oh boy, can I relate to this. I did a major overhaul of my embroidery threads last month too. I don't have floss organizer boxes but I might get one for the silk threads that are all lumped into a tall box and hard to sort through. My cotton threads I keep in a plastic organizer for nails and hardware bits which works fine.

    Now I need to find out how to make my own boxes and put an embroidered insert on the top. All the good books are out of print. I have some illustration board and instructions for paper-covered boxes though so I'll try and adapt them. As well as handbags, I need an embroidery project.
    Judy

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  25. Well I always wondered what those little cards are for! I was able to pick up two organizers with cards for $2.50 usd each. I never learned to embroider but usually have a bit of thread around....messy stuff until now. I bought a few colors of thread. 30-40 cents each.

    You have inspired me to try something my grandmother used to do......chicken scratch embroidery. She made aprons doing the stitching along the bottom and pocket edges--either selling them at church bazaars or girting them. I believe I have her stitch book.

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    1. You got your supplies for very good prices, mdoe, much cheaper than here. I'm really pleased you've been inspired to do something that your grandma did and I'm glad you told me too. I love knowing things like that. I hope you enjoy it and can let us now how you go.

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  26. Great job. I did this many years ago and my same containers are still in use. This method makes it so easy to find what I want quickly.

    I haven't been able to bring myself to do this with my Grandmothers thread, I just love the tangles in her old cookie tins. This is where and how they have always been.... :)

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  27. Wonderful post. Thanks for the tip re Birch Midi Organiser - will check that out next time in S/L. Currently my embroidery threads are in a box which has been covered with lovely material and I use it like a filing cabinet with threads being in numerical order (DMC) - works very well but is getting a little out of hand! I have another smaller container for the Anchor threads.

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