Store embroidery thread: a pretty, functional way

Once you get hooked on embroidery, you tend to find yourself collecting (read: hoarding) embroidery thread. It can be a challenge to keep it organized! Besides, the colours are so lovely, seems a shame to tuck it away in a drawer. I came up with my own way to store embroidery thread, in a way that keeps it organized and useful, yet also brightens up my studio wall and makes me smile whenever I look at it. 

Today I'm sharing a tutorial in case you'd like to store your thread this way, too!Whether you use embroidery floss or pearl cotton, this is a great way to keep them tangle-free and accessible, while also showing off their gorgeousness to the fullest. I am working with pearl cotton here because it is my favourite. But this would work equally well with floss. 

Like it? Want to make one? Good! Here's what you'll need:

  • A frame (I used one I had - the inner dimensions are 16 x 20")
  • Paint and a sanding block if you want to give your frame a distressed look (I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White -  because I had it on hand).
  • A piece of fabric - quilting cotton works well - cut a few inches larger than your frame
  • A length of chicken wire a few inches larger than your frame
  • Wire snips to tame your chicken wire if need be
  • Packing tape or similar
  • A staple gun
  • A beautiful thread collection - I am working with my beloved DMC pearl cotton .

To begin, I removed the glass from my frame and set it aside. Next I painted my frame - it started out as a dark bronze, which was nice but didn't go with my studio decor. I applied two quick coats of paint, then distressed it with a sanding block to bring out the details in the border. 

Next, I removed the frame's backing piece and wrapped my fabric around it. I chose a neutral grey/green with tiny white polka dots, because I knew the thread would be colourful and busy. I wrapped the fabric tightly and secured it on the back using clear packing tape - highly technical, I know

Next, I placed my frame face-down, layered my chicken wire overtop, and then added my fabric-covered backing piece, pressing down to fit it into place. I was left with a halo of pointy chicken wire ends; to reduce bulk, I pressed these flat against the back of the frame, then secured them in several places using a staple gun. As a final step, I used packing tape to cover the wire bits - this secures the pointy edges. Here are some photos to clarify that process: 

DIY embroidery thread display: secure chicken wire into frame.

As you can see, in my frame there is a gap between the chicken wire and the fabric; they don't fit perfectly flat. But that is actually helpful for what comes next. And yes, my fabric is wrinkly. I decided not to worry about that since it is going to be covered with thread anyway.  Also, the back isn't very pretty; you could easily cover the back with paper to make it look nicer, but I didn't bother, since it's going to be facing the wall anyway, and my preschooler's nap-time was coming to a close. 

DIY embroidery thread display: start attaching thread!

With the frame all set, next came the fun part: making a thread rainbow! I like to store my thread in  rainbow order and according to value - lightest tones at the top, deepest at the bottom.  I attach the thread by simply looping it through the chicken wire grid.

*Note: my thread is cut to an even length, which works well here. I always pre-cut my thread into 18" lengths because I find it much easier to work with this way. Pearl cotton skeins are perfectly arranged so that you can easily snip them in two strategic places and end up with 50 strands, each 18" long. I will show you this soon! Floss isn't skeined (it's a word!) in the same way, but you could trim it to shorter lengths. You can decide what length works for you.

DIY embroidery thread display: laying out the colours

In the photo above, you can see that I had attached the pink, purple, and blue threads, and laid out the other colours to see how things would fit - with room at the far left for black, grey, and white). Let's take a moment to drool over these gorgeous colours... 

DIY embroidery thread storage: ready to hang up

With all the colours attached, this is what my frame looked like. The deeper shades of thread hang down below the bottom of the frame, but this works for me because I hang my frame on the wall; if I wanted to lean it on a shelf, I would hang them on higher wires to avoid this. There is plenty of room for more thread - there are really a lot of slots to maximize on the wire.

After I took all these pictures, I hung my thread frame on the wall in my studio. I love how pretty it looks, and how I can easily compare tones and select just the colour I want. When I want to access the thread, it is easy to pull out one length at a time, or just remove one hank of colour. It's pretty much perfect!

DIY embroidery thread display: pretty and functional!

What do you think? Would you try this method? Or do you have another way you like to display/store your thread? I'd love to hear about it!