Organizing Your Sewing Room Part 1: Thread & Bobbins

Organizing Your Sewing Room

There I stood in front of my very-unorganized sewing room, staring off into a churning sea of fabric and threads. If I didn’t do something quickly I was going to lose it – I was already having problems finding what I was looking for and my sanity could only hold out so long!

I’m sure many of you have had this same feeling when your sewing room is not as tidy as you’d like it to be (or in my case, chaotic!). You’ve probably wondered, “How do I even begin to organize this mess?” Well, have no fear. We’re kicking off an article series all about tips for organizing your sewing room. We’ll start first with one of the toughest contenders in the search for organization: thread.

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My first step on my path to thread organization was first realizing I had a problem. I looked at the countertops in my sewing room and new immediately that thread was the obvious place to start. I had loads of ideas, but I wanted to wait and see what worked for the look I was going for. I spent a great deal of time on Pinterest and searching in magazines for ideas. These are always good places to start when getting the creative juices flowing and I recommend you try the same when looking for new ideas.

Sewing Room Organization: Bobbin Storage

I knew right away that I needed to do something with my bobbins; the tails were always flying and I was having constant trouble detangling. So here are a few ideas I came up with in the bobbin category. There are generally bobbin storage areas built into your sewing tables, so don’t miss out on this storage opportunity if it’s available to you.

bobbin scrunchies - resizedIdea #1: Place tiny scrunchies from the dollar store around the bobbins to keep stray tails from tangling.

bobbin ice trays - resizedIdea #2: Use ice cube trays to organize your bobbins. They are stackable and fit easily into a shelving space or drawer.

thread container retake resizedIdea #3: Purchase a ready-made bobbin holder. You can purchase these at most craft stores or look for them at rummage and estate sales.

Many manufacturers are now selling bobbins in already in containers for organization. The bobbins come in jars or trays that are already color-organized and on pre-wound bobbins to boot. Just be careful that the bobbins you order will fit your machine.

Sewing Room Organization: Thread Spool Storage

wall rack - resized

Moving on to my thread spools now. I really wanted to utilize the space that I had, looking for ways to use drawers or empty wall space for thread storage. There are lots of gadgets available in craft shops for this sort of thing. I found these thread holders that mount to the wall on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics, and I even got to use a 40% off coupon on them.

While this is a great option to store threads in a small area, I was just not impressed with the way it looked hanging on my wall. I still wanted something more aesthetically pleasing but equally functional.

Another easy option is using bookshelves. Lots of my friends store them in neat rows on bookshelves just like the quilt stores do. This wasn’t the best option for me though as I find it hard to keep tidy.

thread rack retake resized The option that has worked best for me is using a thread display rack that I actually got from a quilt shop that was going out of business. It helps keep my threads organized by color and I always know when I need to order more. Because I also do long arm quilting, I tend to go through quite a few spools of thread on any given quilt so it helps to have a visual indicator – I can quickly see when I’m getting low.

I really love this particular rack. While not all of them fit in the display, I find it really handy to keep them organized and tidy. It’s a standard size rack so most of your standard size thread spools will fit on it, though some sizes do not.

wire rack resized Here’s another makeshift rack option for you. To make them, I simply went to my local hardware store and picked up some inexpensive wire shelves used for spices and such. Just install them on a wall or anywhere you have space, and ta dah! Instant thread storage.

This spice rack option has worked well for me – up until I began my thread addiction. I am currently having a carpenter rework my long arm room with wooden shelving units that will hold two cones deep and wrap around my room that houses the long arm machine. I’m very excited about this work – it’s every girl’s dream come true to have custom shelving built in the sewing room!

thread pyramid

Speaking of custom, you can always get creative with shelving units if you have the woodworking/carpentry resources available to you. Here is a photo of Karen McTavish’s quilting thread organization system. Her father built the shelves along a staircase and her mother organized it into the rainbow color coding. It’s really beautiful isn’t it? A great way to showcase your supplies in an aesthetically pleasing way.

thread straws One final idea for you: Attach your bobbins to its spool pair with straws and store in a drawer or container. They have to be one of the larger-sized straws though, as regular straws will not hold. Blogger Maria Elkins shared this idea and many others on her blog.

So now that you’re armed with ideas, it’s time to tackle your thread organization. Do you have different ideas that have worked for you? Share your techniques in the comments!

Happy quilting!

More in this Series:
Organizing Your Sewing Room Part 2: Fabric Organizing Your Sewing Room Part 3: Quilting Tools Organizing Your Sewing Room Part 4: Kits & Projects

Related Videos:

Choosing the Right Quilting Thread

How to Store Quilting Supplies

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41 Responses to “Organizing Your Sewing Room Part 1: Thread & Bobbins”

  1. Diane

    Is there some way to mark the color name and number on the robison-anton threads? The older spools had the information on paper but when you put your thread on machine in poked a hole and tore it off. I have cut them in half and stuck them inside the edge of the spool but then are coming unstuck and falling off.

  2. glong1530

    how can i watch this series?

  3. Zmessap

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  4. Marge

    I use the sponge things they put between your toes when getting a pedicure. They work perfect and you can see the thread. I then place them in a container with thread color up.

  5. Glenys Donaldson

    I haven't got many bobbins but a lot of reels of thread... I keep my everyday ones in a plastic tool/fishing tackle box. As well as the bottom of it, there's two trays that you swing out. Both have wee cubby holes, ideal for all the odd sized reels I have. I also have a quantity of older ones that I keep in two plastic cutlery trays from the days before kitset kitchens.

  6. Jo

    I bought some of the larger "Ball" canning jars and organized my spools by color; I think I have 10 or 12 of them. I put my "fancy" threads in there. My "daily" threads are organized in painted wooden boxes I got from Target and sit right in front of the corresponding fancy threads in the jars. If you like to display in a cute way this is for you,

  7. Karen

    Using golf tees to keep bobbins and thread spools together works well for me.

  8. Karen

    My mom, an avid quilter, passed away in 2019. She left behind two 15.5x15.5 unbacked squares with her name embroidered on them in the corner of her piece. How can I hang them without going broke. I want to display them in my sewing area.

  9. Lisa Cameron

    I use clear tubing that I cut a slit in and then the width of my bobbins to hold my thread ends in and store them in lipstick trays. Similar to ice cube trays but smaller. I like this better than the baby pony tail holders now I can see the color without having to remove the holder. I purchased a set of draws from IKEA that are shallow and cut dividers and use that for my thread.

  10. Carol Beardmore

    I live in a dusty part of Australia so I'm conscious of keeping my threads clean. I use a multiple drawer desk organiser for threads. I have cottons, polys and embroidery threads in separate drawers. I put all of my cutting things in their own drawer too (all scissors, rotary cutting blades, seam rippers, etc). My bobbins are in a clear lidded bobbin box. I have some of the bobbins marked with a "C" to indicate cotton threads. the others will be poly or poly cotton. To check if they are cotton, burn a short length of thread. Cotton will turn to ash. Polyesters or blends will form a melted bead. Watch your fingers!