Friday, 31 January 2020


My threads, that is.

As promised in my last post, I'm going to let you into the secret that has TRANSFORMED how I work in my studio.

It's so simple, but it's fantastic. No apologies for the shouty caps-lock - I'm excited about this one!

So when I'm stitching something, I use lots of different threads. I swap between them often. There is no point putting the threads away mid-project. And sometimes I'm stitching more than one project at a time. So that's a lot of threads.

Traditionally, these threads are scattered all over my work surface. Sometimes I corral them all into a rather marvelous fabric bowl that I made a few years ago (thanks Di for showing me how):

BUT. When I finished a project, did I put the threads away? No, of course I didn't.

For years I used these double-sided thread storage boxes*. Fantastic to be able to sort threads into colour families in the different compartments, and you can get SO MUCH into one box! Except they have one major drawback - they're only fantastic if you actually PUT THE THREADS BACK IN!

Which I didn't. Because, let's face it, tidying is boring. But I like tidy, and having a mess on my desk each day was depressing, and made it hard for me to get started on new things, resulting in massive amounts of procrastination. And I tried all sorts of systems for making myself tidy up at the end of the day, but nothing worked. When I moved into my room and had new shelves with different dimensions, I had to dump the double-sided boxes and started using these boxes - but still with the dividers, and still organised by colour. Here they are on their shelf:

(you've got to admit, this is a riveting post so far!)

So I was noodling around on the interwebs, avoiding the task of filing all my sewing threads away, and I came across this lady. I did the test and it turns out I'm a "LadyBug" sort of organiser: I like things to look tidy on the surface, but underneath and in drawers and cupboards - woah, disaster area.

I need systems, I like systems, but they must be QUICK and EASY. According to the test results, I need a MACRO organising system - whereas my tendency has always been to devise complicated MICRO systems - the antithesis of quick and easy!!

I need tidying up my threads to be EASY. And sorting into little storage compartments is DIFFICULT because you need to make the threads fit into the spaces - and what if you have too much of one colour???!! etc etc.

So I've come up with this - and it bloomin' WORKS! Tidy threads, tidy desk.

All the cops and cones (i.e. ones without tops) in one box:

All the reels (i.e. ones with tops and bottoms):

All the "everyday" metallic in a basket:

I have kept two boxes with compartments, but to be honest, I forget they're there. I mostly use the top two boxes and the metallics.

Then the miscellaneous...

One box (still with its compartments) has "special" threads that I just stroke from time to time, plus my Indian rayons that I forget about and they only really work in the bobbin (they shred easily):

And this last compartment box has the ends of some threads a friend was selling cheaply yonks ago that I forget I have, some really cheapo metallics that I should either use up in the bobbin or chuck out, and some "spare" duplicate metallics (sometimes I forget to take a list when I go shopping at the shows...):

It always tickles me when people say to me "Oh, you must have masses of different threads"! No, not really! I have one desk drawer that holds my all-purpose polyester threads, bobbinfil, invisible thread (I'm always losing that one....) and some cheapo threads from the charity shop that I use in the bobbin - but this really is it!

So try it! Do the test, see what works for you. It might just revolutionise how you tidy up!

Why the pink boxes? Well the shelves where my threads live are on the sunny side of my studio (on summer afternoons), and I'm paranoid about UV damage - yes, it's a thing for threads - and putting thread boxes in drawers falls back into the DIFFICULT zone of tidying; they'd be a mess again! The pink boxes were the only coloured ones I could find (at Hobbycraft, if you're interested). 

* this is an affiliate link - I earn a few pennies from purchases made through this link


  1. That sounds wonderfully organised!

    1. I am feeling very smug about it! Best decision I’ve made for ages. It’s so much easier to just chuck threads in a box rather then sort them tediously into colour, compartments etc - I recommend it!

  2. Ha Iz, I recognize that bit about lying around when you're busy (... and NOT putting them back where they belong afterwards ... :-D !)

    (Goodbye .... you're almost out of Europe :-( .....)

    1. Not good bye, au revoir - we'll be back!

  3. I feel bad that I have been organising my threads pretty much like that for years after finding that arranging them by colour never worked... feel I perhaps should have told you 😉

    1. It’s ok, I was kicking myself for not thinking of it sooner - so simple and so obvious, once I’d done it! I’ve been trying too hard to be a good girl and tidy up "properly" - stuff that! It’s liberating!
      PS in return, my tip for you - I chucked my ironing board (for clothes) in the tip years ago - I gave up ironing in about 2008. I just fold carefully and use gravity to press the creases out!


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