As we’re chatting about organizing your sewing room, let’s talk thread storage ideas.
Thread is one of my favorite sewing notions. All the colors hanging out together whether they’re new, vintage, serger or embroidery threads are plain beautiful.
But if you have a cat or kids who have ever rolled out your thread all around your house, you know that all that thread needs it’s own special spot so that it’s ready to go and free of tangles.
We’ll talk about different storage solutions for your thread and bobbins from cheap, and DIY, to some vintage solutions.
What do you need in good thread storage?
Thread gets dusty, and the colors can fade in direct light.
Any kind of closed storage will keep your thread in good condition for longer.
That being said, any old box is not necessarily better.
I grew up with my Gram’s threads being an old cookie tin. The threads were always loose inside the box. If you wanted to find something, you had to dump everything out.
It was fun for me then, but not practical in the long run.
Does thread go bad? How can you tell?
Thread doesn’t keep forever. That said, if you keep your thread out of light and blowing vents, it will keep for years. One estimate I came across for modern polyester threads was 100 years!!
It is true though that once in a while you come across thread that has that long in the tooth look.
How to check old thread
If you want to test out whether an older thread is still good to use, here’s what to do:
- Roll off about 12“: hold it between your hands as if you’re going to use it like dental floss
- Pull on the thread: if it snaps, it’s no good. If it doesn’t, use it!
The beauty of vintage threads
Some vintage threads are beautiful. I have a vintage spool of waxed, mercerized cotton tailor’s thread that I use for hand basting. It’s as smooth as silk and as strong today as when it came off the spindle.
Keep an eye out for vintage threads in antique shops and thrift stores. While you may not be able to sew with them, they make beautiful art displays!
On to the thread storage ideas!
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Thread storage boxes
Gutermann thread boxes
Can you call this one free if you have to buy the thread to get the box? Probably not.
But that aside, the boxes that Gutermann houses their thread assortment collections in are really nice. The lids pop off if they get bumped, so they’re not the best solution for travel, but on a shelf, they do very well.
The interior spindles keep the threads from bumping into each other, and they’re maximized for space.
When I’m finished with all the thread, I’m definitely keeping the box!
ArtBin Thread storage box
The Gutermann boxes are a nice bonus to the thread assortment, but this ArtBin thread box is a nice upgrade for a more sturdy box.
I like that this one holds a lot of thread, and that it latches securely.
Plastic tackle boxes for thread storage
This is my current thread storage, and I love it.
Though it’s not a thread storage solution per se, I love the portability and that I can customize it.
I have smaller boxes made from cardstock that hold one color family of thread. My second box holds my weird threads like elastic and silk as well as my neutral colors since I use them less frequently.
A couple months ago I saw an aqua Caboodles, and I had a nostalgic meltdown in the middle of HomeGoods remembering my own obnoxiously neon Caboodle filled with my childhood art supplies.
Thread storage racks
Another way to display and organize you thread is with racks. Whether they hang on the wall or they’re out on your desk, racks can hold a lot of thread in very little space.
If you like racks, make sure that you keep it away from air vents and windows to keep your thread in good condition. If worse comes to worse, you can always dust your thread when need be!
Hardwood thread storage rack
This hardwood thread rack holds 120 spools! That’s a ton of thread!
I really like that you can decide whether to use this rack as an easel on top of your desk or hang it on the wall.
ArtBin Cone Thread tray
Another one from ArtBin, this Cone Thread tray is a nice solution for storing your serger threads. Most thread racks are too small for big chunky serger cones.
The only downside I can see to this tray is that you can’t mount it on the wall.
I do think that the wire spools would do a great job of keeping the cones from bumping into each other inside a plastic box.
DIY thread storage ideas
Pegboards for thread storage
Pegboards are an easy way to store your thread! They’re sturdy, easy to customize and cheap.
A 4’x2′ section will run you under $10 and you can paint it to match your sewing space. I got my own pegboard for free at Home Depot in a scrap bin.
Here’s a basic set of hooks to add to your board.
Vos Visions Thread Cabinet Pattern
I had to throw this one in there in case you have a handy bone in you or if you know someone who does.
Vos Visions has woodworking plans for this thread storage cabinet. It holds 160 spools and looks to be something you can pass on to the next generation!
How to store bobbins
Storing bobbins is also a bit of a problem. Thread spools have either little notches or removable ends that can hold thread ends in place.
Bobbins, sadly do not have any of those things. Left unchecked, the thread ends can go all over the place. Here’s a couple of options for storing your bobbins that’ll keep the thread ends from going wild on you.
Bobbin storage boxes
I fell in love with these at the last sewing retreat I was on. My good friend Viv had her bobbins in one of these bobbin boxes, and I think they’re so ingenious.
The bobbins sit nestled inside little cutouts in the foam, so there’s no way for the threads to get loose. Add that to the compact size, and this is pretty much a perfect bobbin storage option.
Clover Bobbin Tower
This Clover Bobbin Tower is a fun way to store your bobbins.
It stores up to 30 bobbins vertically in a tiny space.
Taylor Seville Originals Bobbin Topper: A good solution for keeping bobbins and matching thread together
It’s not always easy to find your matching bobbin to go with your thread. You really need something that will keep your bobbins together with the matching thread AND keep your bobbins from unwinding at the same time.
The best option I’ve found for just that problem is the Taylor Seville Originals Bobbin Topper. There’s a little shank that pops into the top of a thread spool with a piece to click your bobbin into place. The thing I like about this option is that the shank doesn’t go all the way through the center of the thread, so you can still store your thread on traditional thread racks.
There’s also a thread lock on each topper to keep your threads from unwinding in storage. Zero people like to pull out their thread and have to deal with a hot mess of tangled threads.
Another choice are Bobbin Buddies. They look a bit like large flexible hairpins that fit through bobbin and thread to keep them in place. They may not fit all bobbins, but at their low price, they’re worth experimenting with.
DIY option for bobbin storage
My favorite DIY solution for bobbins is aquarium tubing.
It’s something stupid cheap like $5 for 10 feet at Home Depot. All you need to do is cut off a little piece as tall as the interior of a bobbin. Use paper scissors!
Then, cut down one side, and you can wrap it around any bobbin.
Read on for some fun vintage solutions to your thread storage problem…
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.
6 thoughts on “Thread storage ideas that won’t leave you tangled up”
I store my threads in hot car plastic garage they are 2 sided and someone was throwing them out so I grabbed them and washed and sterilized them and now I am very happy that I did just perfect for my thread.
Glad you could save them.
I am still looking for a thread solution that will allow me to keep the bobbin thread with the spool of thread. I have an old rack I bought years ago (wire) where the pins are long enough to slide the bobbin on and then put the spool on top. This is a GREAT system for me, but my thread collection has grown, and the only wire system I can find now is built for serger/ embroidery spools, not the wee Gutermann/ Mettler ones!
I just updated the post with some ideas for keeping the matching bobbin and thread together. I think the Taylor Seville Bobbin Toppers are worth a look. The thread lock (no unwinding threads!) on them and the shorter shanks that’ll allow you to still store your thread on racks looks promising.
Keeping the bobbin with the thread spool saves me time. I love HandiBobs. Available on Amazon and not all that pricy when you buy a larger quantity. They have a slot to slide the bobbin thread end in; nice and neat. I line these up in a shallow, sturdy cardboard box (2 layers to a drawer) and separate by color family.
As to the serger thread nets: I bought some a few years ago. Cut a 3-5 yd piece and thread it thru the top hole in a toothbrush travel holder. Stuff the rest in the case, keeping it from catching on itself. Then you can pull out and cut off as much as you want & the rest is neat for future use. It’s worked well for me.