Monday, July 20, 2009

DMC Embroidery Thread - Organized to the Nth Degree

Have you gathered yet that I LOVE DMC embroidery thread? If not, then let me tell you....I LOVE DMC embroidery thread and have for many, many years. I've pretty much used hundreds of skeins of it over the years....and own hundreds of skeins now.
It's so beautiful.

It's even more precious to me now because "all of a sudden" it's no longer available in this town. How horrible is that? I'm just insulted by the whole idea. There were only two places to buy it here...Walmart and Hancocks. Well, we know about Walmart...all things "sewing" have left their stores. And, overnight, Hancocks went from having nearly all colors of DMC to all the colors of a replacement brand. I'm not sold on it.

Consequently, I decided that after all the trial and error of organizing my DMC floss in an efficient way had to stop and a better way of storing and finding the color I wanted had to happen. Up to this point, after trying many unsuccessful organizing methods, all my skeins, and I DO mean just about every color there is, some in mulitples, just had to be accounted for and appreciated to the utmost. After all, now when I go out of town to shop or go online, I can know instantly what color I might need.

So, the first thing I did was sort them - you know all #866's together, etc. Then, I purchased six boxes of Ziploc Snack Bags. There's one hundred bags in each box. I may have fifty or so empty bags leftover. I then cut card stock into the proper size to fit into the bags. If you don't do that, then the bags just sink down into each other and I needed them to stand up.

Next, I wrote the number of the floss I was putting into the bag on little sticky labels you can get at the office supply place.
I also wrote the number directly on the bag with a permanent marker "just in case" the sticker came off.....and the thread had lost it's label. Into a bag went each color.

I "made available" three drawers (which means I cleaned them out and moved stuff somewhere else). They are the top three drawers across in this photo. Next, I put that mesh rubber shelf liner in the bottom of each so the bags would not slide around. With foam core, I then cut drawer dividers to further stop the sliding around problem.

It works perfectly. I have a DMC color card to find the perfect color for whatever project I am doing....all I have to do is go to my "thread file", find the number and am set! I since have found that the bags have an extra advantage...I can just slip all the extra threads I've cut from the skein, but didn't use, right back into the bag, thereby helping keep things organized.

Oh my....I love it when a plan comes together!!! Yes, it's work to get it done...but so worth the effort. (Then, too, it's easier to get the job when you are confined to bed with pneumonia and can't get out to the studio. A bed looks glorious when it's completely covered with DMC floss!!!)

Yes, I know it's obsessive, but isn't it efficient in the end? Take care, pat

PS. My color card has actual floss samples of each color. I've had it a very long time. Nowadays you can purchase a color brochure (no actual thread) of all the floss, pearl cotton, etc., wherever DMC is sold. It's $9.95 or so. You can also go to and print out a version of it.

Update! For my friend, Christine, and others who are concerned, I'm sorry I wasn't clear...I don't have pneumonia now....that was months ago and I am just now posting about it. A person just has to save some subjects for future posts...right? At the time, I truly did have cardboard boxes of DMC, plastic bags, markers, etc., piled up on the bed...and sorted them out right there. And, the bed did look glorious with all that color! Later, when I was better, I cleaned out the drawers and "filed" my embroidery thread. Thanks to all who were concerned. Gosh, isn't that one of the nice things about bloggers!

Update #2. To answer a reader's question....Yes, the plastic drawers came from my local Walmart store. I have noticed that the same drawers are not always available, so I would suggest that if you are interested in setting up much of a storage system, you measure your space, plan it out on paper, and, if possible, buy all the drawers you need at the same (or close to the same) time, so they stack properly. I didn't do that and so could not get enough matching drawers. To solve that issue, I have two banks of drawers across the room from each other and it works out fine. There are also some really nice ones that fit on shelves...I'll show you those one day.

27 comments: said...

How am I so lucky to have an organized friend? It is a wonderful organizing idea and really works. Thanks.

My name is Riet said...

That is such a great idea. I have all my DMC and silks lying around in different boxes, baskets and pllastig bags. I try to get it neat now and then but that is only for a short time.

Sharon Tomlinson said...

This post is so timely. I must have put my need to organize my threads out into the universe. I have been freting about how to do it. You see, I misplace a stash and when I went to get more at Walmart, imagine my shock at finding none. I finally bought some at Michaels which is not in my town and then well of course, I found the misplaced tin. So this last week or two I have been trying to figure out just how to organize them. Thanks so much, I can see this really works. And on top of that, it is a on-the-couch job.

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

I'd like to know, were you born with this organizational skill, or is can you get it in the form of a pill? I'm looking at my closet's top shelf as i write this where all my embroidery thread is piled willy nilly in an old tin lunch pail. I like your way much better!


Caron at Michigan Quilts said...

LOL Good for you! I like to be organized, but never quite get there. It frustrates my husband to the Nth Degree!

Hey - somebody has to do it, right?

Cindy P said...

First off, let me say how much I enjoy your blog. Your talent is amazing and I love the way you see the beauty in everything.

I, like you, own almost every color of DMC. I started out doing cross stitch many years ago and now I mostly quilt and do embroidery.


I have also tried every single organizational technique out there and I have found the ziplock bags to be my best option to date. I loved the way my floss looked when wound on the plastic bobbins, but I never knew what to do with leftovers. And I always had lots. So the bags work the best for me

I tried storing them in boxes, but I'm not always so good about putting them back in order.

Right now, I have the floss all in bags and I have them in order by number. I punched a hole in one edge of the top and I put them together by 100's. The 200's are together, the 300's are together, etc.

At Walmart, I found these metal racks that hang on the wall. I have mounted 5 of them about 18" apart on the wall behind the door in my sewing room. Each rack has, I think, 6 or 7 hooks that I hang the bags on by the rings. A few of the rings are holding too many bags - I need to split them in half, they would hang better. But this has worked out pretty well for me. They don't take up much space and I just grab the whole set and put them back when I need another color.

Thanks for bringing up this topic. I know other people struggle with organizing and I can always use great tips.

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine said...

OK second attempt to comment.
Pat, my sincere best wishes that e you are soon on the mend, pneumonia is awful !!
Everyday when I see my little green box and beautiful pin cushion in my sewing room I think about your kindness. Glad you enjoyed re-organising your threads though, and do you do house calls, LOL???
Hooroo from Christine in mild, wintery Sydney Australia

Cindy said...

DMC was one of the first things that I began to "collect" it was cheap, pretty and left lots to the imagination. LOL. That was many, many years ago. I don't have quite as many as you, but I do have several bins in the top of the closet. I still love to go over and look at all the pretty colors. Hobby Lobby carries, if there is ever any new color you need, just give me a shout, I'll be glad to pick it up for ya.

yapping cat

Anonymous said...

Pat, your system is just the absolute best one I've ever seen! I love that I can put full and partial skeins and leftovers as well as the floss that I've already got wound onto the plastic bobbins. You are so smart!!! I can't wait to get my floss organized like yours. I've already bought the bags and cardstock. Now, I need to find an old style chart like yours that has actual floss samples. Thanks for the inspiration!

Sherry in Little Rock

Willa said...

Your site and your work is exquisite.

Denise said...

I had to laugh and read your post to my husband. I have been saying the same thing about not being able to find floss in my town in Oregon. So now when I shop in the town 45 minutes away where they have such things as floss I pick up various colors just because. I'm getting quite the stash, so this could really work for me! Thanks!

Bear said...

goodness me what an organised lady you are - but this is a terrific system- and I may have to resort to copying it-later on
Thanks for showing and the excellent description of your step by step method
love n hugs bear xoxoxoxo

suzanneMI said...

Lovely organization! What is the brand/type of white and frosty drawer organizers you've got there? Are they available from Walmart, Target, etc.? Thanks for sharing.

StitchinByTheLake said...

I love the idea Pat - I use the little plastic cards and I'm not happy with the. Have you tried Valdani Pearl cotton thread - I'm in love with it! It's probably too thick for a lot of the fine work you do but it works beautifully on my wool stuff. blessings, marlene

Perry said...

Great system!

Maggie Ann said... sweet it is as you said, when successful! Every so often I take another swipe at it...grin.

qwerty said...

LOVE this. Thanks for mentioning the cardstock in each baggie! This is exactly the system that will work in my tiny space - I'm also going to use this for trims, lace, buttons, etc. Awesome pictures, too!! Thank you :D

Wendy said...

Your organizing idea is wonderful! I too have lots of DMC thread that needs to be organized. Thanks for sharing a wonderful idea.

Tammy T. said...

I am drunk with envy and lust for your stash! Gosh, wish you had taken pictures of all the colors when they were out. Teasing us with leaving something to the imagination huh? lol
Love your organizing and storage.

Maggie Ann said...

I'm back to wish you a Happy Saturday!

NickiLee said...

Dear lady - you simply amaze me!!!!!!!!!!! I'm in awe of everything you do.

Unknown said...

What a fabulous organization system you have there! Love it. Thanks for sharing! :)

Amy Munson said...

Amazing, I love it and am going to have to try it. Maybe it will get my creative juices flowing as I sort through all my thread.

anna said...

Thank you for this post! I just started embroidering and was getting annoyed at how quickly the skeins were getting disorganized. This is a great idea, and I'm going to be using it myself. :)

oSoFine said...

Wow, you are really organized! I, too, love DMC floss, though my favorite floss that I've worked with is Sajou Retours De Nord (sp?), which is far too expensive for my budget. There are other brands that I've heard good things about such as Precencia and Cosmo, but I don't think any company has as many colors, are lightfast, and highly standardized as DMC.

Since a Michael's store opened in my town with a full range of DMC, I have been somewhat obsessively been trying to buy at least one skien of each color.It is so inspiring to see all of those different colors and shades! It's like looking at Pantone books, paint chips, or art supplies (paint, colored pencils, pens) but affordable and useful! Michael's sells the regular floss at $0.42 a skien and I downloaded their app for my iPhone and signed up for their text alerts. so I can shop on days with coupons for 20%-50% off my whole purchase. I now have about 45% of the colors (and a number of duplicates). I purchased a bag of 1000 plastic bobbins from Amazon for around $17 (they are amazingly good quality, with no burrs that could snag the floss). I have one of those winders that fit on the edge of a compartment box, but it is still very slow going! I even tried hooking up a little motor from my daughter's electricity kit but it didn't work. All I ended up with was, "Mommy, why did you use your glue gun on my motor?" lol!
I have often thoght that putting the skeins in little plastic bags would be much easier, but I love seeing the colors side by side in the boxes. At first I was coating each skein with Thread Heaven before winding it, but I lost patience with that and I know i'll use it when I cut pieces to work with. As long as i keep the boxes out of direct sunlight, it should be fine. One of the best tools for this endeavor has been an app I found for my iPhone that lists all of the colors and numbers and color names and allows one to mark each Own, On Bobbin, Don't Own, and Need to Buy, as well as specify how many skeins one owns.It's not perfect - I hope they upgrade it soon - but it is so handy when I go into the store and shop for colors I don't have or ned more of! I wish I had the old DMC chart that had the actual floss samples! I had the number sticker fall off of a couple of wound bobbins and when I tried to find them on the printed chart it was impossible. I then compared other colors that I knew the number of and they were way off! I think I may glue my own samples into the chart, though I've also tried to think of a better system... something like paint chips, maybe.

I'm so glad you recovered from pneumonia. Coincidentally, I am very sick myself right now. I've had a fever ranging from 99.9 - 104.2 for two days. I never get fevers, and I haven't had one over 103 in over 20 years! If I'm not better tomorrow, I'm going to try to get an appointment with my doctor. My mother thought I should go to the E.R. last night when I was at 104, but since I didn't have chest pains or was bleeding I knew I'd have to wait around for hours and all I wanted was to be in my own bed! Wish me luck! Thank you for a great post! You are a terrific writer!

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A Bit of Heaven

A Bit of Heaven
An original designed wall quilt with my vision of heaven on earth.