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Organize: Embroidery Floss

Organize: Embroidery Floss | Red-Handled Scissors

It’s almost the New Year, and I’m hard at work tidying up my studio and getting everything in order for a fresh, organized start in 2012! My first big project in this year’s clean-up: finally tackling my Massive Embroidery Floss Problem.

Organize: Embroidery Floss | Red-Handled Scissors

If you embroider or cross-stitch, then you’re familiar with the drill: You’re out at a craft store and you suddenly find yourself surrounded by skeins of beautiful embroidery floss. (How’d that happen?!) You just can’t help yourself—you’re sure that you’re out of some of these colors, and if not, you’ll definitely use them up someday anyway, right? (Sure you will!) Then, when you get home, you unceremoniously dump all of those lovely skeins into the floss drawer, only to have them reemerge in one giant multi-colored ball at the precise moment when you’re on a deadline and need that color NOW.

Organize: Embroidery Floss | Red-Handled Scissors

Sound familair? Here’s what you need to fix it:

Embroidery floss bobbin winder (I used the DMC Plastic Bobbin Winder.)
Plastic embroidery floss bobbins (Get enough for your entire stash—guess high, then round up even more!)
Glass jar with something heavy in the bottom to hold it in place
A full season of your favorite mindless television show (I watched a ton of Law & Order: SVU.)

Step 1:
Gather the floss, bobbins, jar, and winder.

Step 2:
Turn on mindless TV.

Step 3:
Set up the glass jar feeder.

To make the winding go faster, I used a glass jar to feed the floss to the bobbin, which kept it from knotting and tangling. To use the jar feeding method, find the center of each skein (most skeins are wound in a circle then folded in half), then wrap it around the jar before you start winding the bobbin.

Step 3:
Start winding the floss onto bobbins, and keep going until you’re completely finished. (If you’ve got a serious stash, you should also remember to take breaks to eat, go to the bathroom, and walk around the block!)

• I initially tried to wrap my bobbins by hand, but quickly realized that a bobbin winder was the way to go. The time saved is more than worth the couple of bucks that you’ll spend.

• To keep track of your floss colors, tape the tag with the color number to your bobbin before you start winding.

• Do all of your winding in one fell swoop, because you probably won’t come back to it!

Organize: Embroidery Floss | Red-Handled Scissors

Ah, the zen of having everything in its place!

How do you organize your floss?


  1. I organize mine in a similar way.  I don't need the
    numbers, so I don't keep those.  I put them in color order, but not too precise.  The yellows are together, but not in perfect order.  I tend to keep them in better shape when I don't expect too much out of myself.

  2. Pam says:

    My eyes love this post!  My organized genes love this post!

    Although my embroidery floss stash is waaaaaaaaay smaller than yours, I love having it organized and the colors filed together.  You are absolutely right – organizing your floss is sooo satisfying.  Doing it – tedious!  Finished – fabulous!

  3. Patricianuk says:

    Thank you soooo much!! I’ve had the bobbins & box for ages and hand loaded them, then saw & ordered a bobbin winder! Then it arrived with NO instructions – at 9am! So I Googled it & there you were – first up & one photo tells it all – bliss! No more tangles – & no more ‘blue’ language!!

  4. Virginia says:

    How did you get the colors so nice? I have tried to get them to go in color order, but I haven’t been able to get it that perfect! I have a large box and a half size box of floss. I tried using the dmc color chart, but the colors don’t entirely go in order. Actually, less order than I can do on my own. I would love to find a chart that lists the numbers in color order.

    I have always wound my bobbins by hand using my arm as the “jar”. I like to use a sharpie to write the numbers on the bobbins.

    Thank you for posting!

    • For the video, I organized the colors by eye until it looked right. But, for my actual floss organization, I store my bobbins in DMC color order, so it’s easy to pick out a color on the floss color card and find it in my bobbin box.

      I haven’t come across a list with the colors in true color order, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s one out there!

  5. mom2pekes2 says:

    Like another stitcher said I also use my arm as the jar. Love the winder though. However, using the storage box as a base was not solid enough for me. I solved that problem by buying a vise/clamp which holds the winder very solidly. My winding by this method is much faster! One box? I have about eight for storage from huge to smaller sizes – plus a few other containers of unopened packages and unwound floss! Buying floss for me is similar to having a newborn needing diapers – just cannot buy enough!

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