Learning from My Thread; Giveaway!

sorting17 Learning from My Thread; Giveaway!Not long ago I dumped all my thread into one box in preparation for moving. Yesterday I decided to put it away again, and that meant sorting it by type and color.

sorting1 Learning from My Thread; Giveaway!

All the solid colors of cotton thread go on wall thread racks because they’re used the most; the rest is used less often and goes in drawers.

As I sorted the cottons by color, I realized there was a lot to learn from this exercise.

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• When all the tints, tones and shades of one color are together, you can see how they relate to each other. You can see that pink is just red watered down by adding white,

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and that Williamsburg blue has been altered from basic blue by the addition of gray.

sorting3 Learning from My Thread; Giveaway!What I call salmon is somewhere between red and orange, and it’s had white added in, too. So much becomes clear!

sorting 5 Learning from My Thread; Giveaway!

• When the spools are grouped by color, it’s a good reminder of how many variations there are. Look at the greens—it’s like a whole forest right there! Don’t get stuck on one variation. Use many.

sorting8 Learning from My Thread; Giveaway!

• It’s interesting that generally, all the spools of one color look great together. This tells me that if you threw all your purple fabrics (yes, the pinkish ones and the blue-ish ones, too) together in one quilt, they’d be smashing.

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• Surely each of us would have varying amounts of each color. I can’t help but wonder why I have five times more reds than yellows. Note to self: buy more yellow thread.

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• Neutrals are a whole species unto themselves. Remember when you were a kid and you mixed too many colors from your paintbox? You’d always get brown. Brown is a moosh of lots of colors, black is the absence of color and white is all the colors mixed together equally. I do have a few colors in my neutral pile too, because I’ve learned that flesh tones and some golds will disappear on almost any fabric.

Try sorting your threads by color and see what you can learn. Then leave a comment here and tell us about it by midnight Monday, August 8 and we’ll pick a random winner to receive a sampler of threads compliments of Quiltmaker. The winner of a sampler of threads is Myra Sattler from Herndon, Kansas. Congratulations to Myra, and many thanks for all of your great comments! Look for more great giveaways here on Quilty Pleasures.

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You might enjoy our recent post on the 3-in-1 Color Tool.

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email: editor@quiltmaker.com.
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179 Responses to Learning from My Thread; Giveaway!

  1. racheal robinson says:

    I have a small stash of threads, but they were all purchased for a reason! I can look at them and remember the special projects that they went into. It is like a walk down memory lane:)

  2. I group my thread by color into small plastic containers with lids. It makes it so much easier to find when I’m searching for a particular tint instead of rummaging through the 50+ spools I have. Also noticed it looks like you use Gutermann thread like I do too!

  3. Greta Beach says:

    You are such an education! I am only now learning about thread. I didn’t know there was so much too it. Seems I need to scrap most of my thread and start buying a little more wisely…

  4. Rae Craig says:

    I’m as addicted to thread colors as I am to fabric!! What a blessing it would be to have that many colors of thread (and a place to keep them)!!

  5. Linda Vitzthum says:

    I’d love to play with thread!

  6. Dotti Elgart says:

    That “aha” moment. Your having dropped then reassembled the various types and colors of the threads, showed me two things, 1) don’t separate different threads by content and wt. And 2) don’t be so exclusive in the color mixes of the colors I use in quilts . No longer will I be so exclusive in my color choices. Seeing the threads with such a wide berth of hues and tints withn a color will free me to be more open with my choices. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, now I see the light!

  7. I love all the colors! But am partial to blues and purples and don’t even get me started on metallics. :-)

  8. Bonnie says:

    I have found (by looking at your stash) that I don’t have NEAR enough colors of thread!!

  9. dortha clayton says:

    I almost always have to go buy another spool of thread for button replacement, repairs, etc. It’s getting harder to find places near my home to even find thread.

  10. Judy Johnson says:

    I have learned that I like to use pale green or lavender as a neutral.

  11. Karee says:

    I have more threads of colors I seldom use and almost none of the colors I use all the time. Better go shopping!

  12. I just recently sorted out all my threads, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I had colors I didn’t realize I had. I also realized which colors I need to stock up on again.

  13. Great pictures!! I’m always surprised by the way the color of the thread reacts to the fabric colors when I machine quilt a quilt.

  14. Joyce Jensen says:

    I have lots of creams and tans, now when I see all of your colors I will have to branch out more and experiment with more colors!

  15. Joyce Jensen says:

    I have lots of creams and tans, now when I see all of your colors I will have to branch out more and experiment with more colors!

  16. Kate says:

    I have tons of thread and never the right color when topstitching… sigh.

  17. Laurie says:

    I have learned that I love blues and purples and are very shy on whites and browns. I loved how some colors looked so good together and decided that my next project is going to have to be a quilt in shades of purples or blues to use all the wonderful shades of threads I have collected.

  18. Myra Sattler says:

    I always seem not to have the right color for what I want to sew and end up getting more thread all the time. I have a small chest that I keep my thread in and try to keep it in order but not always.

  19. Nancy Myers says:

    I think I have too many threads–mostly in greens, grays and blacks–which means I should probably sew more quilts to use them up!

  20. Becky. A says:

    I need more thread tooo. :)

  21. Ullis says:

    I got a lot of green threads (as well as fabric) Thats my favourite color. And quite much of neutrals but hardly no blue thread. I prefer warm colors. And I think 80 % of my threads are cotton!

  22. Karen says:

    Wow…I would love to have all that variation in my threads…:)

  23. Patti Finelli says:

    I am addicted to thread in every type. I sort by weight, color, and use. I can’t mix thread types: example poly with rayon. My husband says I need help, and I just laugh. We never have enough fabric or thread. Seems like we are always missing a certain color especially when we are sewing late at night. Why is that, we don’t have enough in our stash.

  24. Pearl Mackey says:

    I would love the opportunity to go shopping without paying!!! lol

  25. michele sanderson says:

    love all the colors threads, i wish i had that many i saw a bunch of different kinds what is your favorite?

  26. Leanne says:

    I have more shades of blue than anything. I could use more of any other color!

  27. Jeannine says:

    When I sorted my thread I learned that I needed more colors. I have several spools of neutral colors. The thread that I do have tends to blend with different colors of fabrics so I can use it when I quilt. I want to learn applique and it looks like I will need to start a “stash” of thread as well. Thanks for the opportunity to “WIN!”

  28. Val says:

    I love my threads – the variations in green alone are enough to transfix me!

  29. Michelle says:

    You’ve convinced me that I need more thread! Or at least more colors of thread.

  30. Linda says:

    Like most of the quilters I know…we never have just the right shade of a particular thread, even though we certainly lots of variety in the shades of colours. I have all mine sorted and organized by colour families, same holds true for my fabric stash!

  31. jil says:

    Your collection looks uncannily like mine, its taken a while to get that many threads together. When things started to be a wee bit to much for just one box I went to Ikea and bought some opaque plastic boxes with adjustable portions and my threads never looked more organised and much more comfortable to work with. And guess what I discovered through that exercise…my favorite colours are the ones I have most of and just about every shade posssible which makes sewing so much simpler when you can just reach up and take the right shade. There were plenty of gaps in my colour range I discovered as well, so I try to fill them when threads are discounted.

  32. Judi R says:

    Like you, I seem to buy too many of the same shades of one color, but my color is pink. I must have almosst every pink, EXCEPT the one called for in a particular embroidery. And of course, that pink will not be in my store!

    I did take the time to organize my embroidery thread this summer. I bought those neat plastic boxes so I can take my treads with me. Now I need to get my “regular” sewing and quilting threas organized!

    I love your yellows and blues and certainly will be more than delighted to take your surplus off your hands. Afterall, I have never met a fiber I didn’t like. (Or need to add to my stash)

  33. Wanda says:

    I have a very small stash of fabric and it is primarily neutrals with a few colors, like two blues, two greens, one red, maybe a pink or a purple, that is about it. Winning this thread would really help me to increase my thread stash and give me more options to experiment with and thus greatly benefit me.

  34. Debbie Tarangul says:

    I recently experienced a flood in my basement after a bad storm. This is where my studio is and thankfully the side where it is didn’t get very much water. (note to friends…store your fabrics and threads in drawers, shelves or plastic bins to avoid damage lol) Anyways in preparation for the restoration crew to finish up the clean up…I packed my whole basement and most of it is sitting in a storage unit currently parked in my driveway. I couldn’t bring myself to put my fabrics out there so my living room looks like a “hoarder’s” house with 30 blue bags of fabric sitting behind my couch. This doesn’t include the fabric in boxes and bins in the storage unit. When I realized just how much I have…I have been telling all of my friends that I am not allowed to step foot into a fabric store for a year. I did put a caveat to that however…I still need to get thread to be able to make use of all this fabric. So someone would have to go with me to make sure I stay with my resolution. lol…..sooooo if the “quilting fairies” would allow me to win this thread….I would have a great start to reduce my stash…..quilty hugs to all….

  35. Lyn says:

    I have my threads sorted by color and also by thread type. All of my rayon/poly embroidery spools are sorted into stacking plastic drawer units. The drawers are just deep enough to hold the spools upright. Serger thread is in another unit with two deeper drawers. My sewing thread is stored in two of those clear plastic, double-sided “toy car carrier” boxes. Oh, and I have a third carrier with spools of cotton embroidery thread. Now if only I could keep the rest of my sewing items as organized as my thread! :)

  36. Leslie says:

    I have my small thread collection sorted by colour and type of thread. As one person remarked above I have a lot of purple (my favourite) then shades of green (mostly lime) but I mostly have neutrals as I use them the most.

  37. Judy K Clements says:

    Oooooh, look at all of that thread! I need some colors to add to my selection – hope I win!

  38. sharO says:

    Your collection is interesting that you put all varieties of thread together. I tend to group according to brand. I guess I’ll relook at my threads.

  39. Judith Hogan says:

    All my thread is in one box, but I like the idea of sorting it into shades in separate containers. That way, I’ll know what colours I use most and what colours I need more of. Most of the time, I tend to use a light beige for everything.

  40. Judy Oswald says:

    I have most of my threads in a box and must go through them and put them in order. My newer ones are in a plastic divied case. I don’t have many good threads and could really use more.

  41. Anna McD says:

    You can never have too much thread! Thanks for a chance to win

  42. Nancy Green says:

    Loved looking at the eye candy pictures of the threads in their color groups. What a great inspiration. Those of us who work with fiber of any kind are drawn to “color” it seems. And who could have too much thread??

  43. Linda says:

    I’ve learned you can never have enough thread and I do not have enough thread! this did show me that I tend to use the same colors and need to introduce some new life in my sewing.

  44. Linda Woodley says:

    I never knew there were so many different kinds of thread until I started quilting and got an embroidery machine. There is always a need for more thread, you can never have too much.

  45. Patricia Meredith says:

    I had to make a quick move when my 85 yr old mother became worse. As I was packing I smugly said “Oh, thread, I will put them all in a tote where I can at least find them” Big mistake because I had very old thread and inexpensive thread mixed with better quality thread many of which no longer had the descriptive sticker on. Since I had just started quilting and didn’t realize the value of a decent quality I now have to either throw it all away or use any/all of it.
    I can’t get out often and I have a limited income so I will use it and hope for the best. Just a word to the newbies…

  46. I never knew how important thread was to a project until I actually started sewing! Sure, picking out fabrics is fun (buying neutrals isn’ t so fun, but I’m sure we’ve all found it necessary), buying interfacing also isn’t fun, but necessary….but thread….that opens up a whole new hoarding door! Of course…you NEVER have the right shade, no matter how much you have!

    Thanks for the pictures, that really puts the post in perspective.

  47. Lorri Ackland says:

    My honey made me a thread rack, last fall, and its great. Having those colors displayed, and handy. But, ofcourse, not all of them fit, so I sure could use another one. lol

  48. I am making a wedding quilt for my daughter. I have a border of “crazy quilt squares” that I wanted to embellish. I found a lovely heavy thread with metallic strands running through it. I used a variety of colors to zig zag it (willy nilly) around the border. It blends and highlights the various colors in the squares wonderfully. My daughter saw the (incomplete) quilt top and said this was her favorite part of the quilt (so far). I was so excited. I love the freedom of creativity that comes from having resources on hand.

  49. Linda says:

    I have big plans – great article on making your own thread storage in a Studios magazine – just need a whole whack of 1/2 size baking trays. Oh well, for now, thread is on stands and in containers. I like the idea of all in one container – protected from dust.

  50. Katie Wilson says:

    I love looking at all your threads grouped by color family. So pretty!
    I keep my threads for piecing on a thread rack. In plastic divided containers from Hobby Lobby I have my rayon threads, bobbin threads, and metallics, and the beautiful variegated threads are out in the open so I can see the lovely combinations. Hand quilting threads are stashed away in a cupboard – easy to get to on the rate occasion that I need them. (I often use quilting thread for tacking down the binding on the back of a quilt.)

  51. Marjorie says:

    Threads are like candy. It is hard to have just one–color, spool, type.

  52. Marge Kumaki says:

    You can never have too much thread, especially when you’re particularly picky about matching colors exactly, as I am!

  53. Tracy says:

    I totally understand how you feel, I have moved 4 times in the last 5 years and sorting thread and fabric is not fun. I finally bought plastic shoe boxes and have my thread sorted by type. My every day cotton thread for sewing is on a wooden spool rack on my sewing table. I keep a wide variety of thread colors for sewing, machine quilting and applique.

  54. Heather Rourke says:

    Diane, this was such a fun blog post to read! I loved the photographs as well. Thread, to me, is like a 64-box of Crayola crayons for adults! (My mother never did buy me the big fancy box, and yes, my age is showing!) I loved your comment “Note to self: buy more yellow thread.” That made me laugh. Thread is even more addictive than fabric these days! I moved- and downsized – in the past couple of months, and I just rediscovered my thread stash. What a treat that was yesterday! Like you, when you see all the colours together, they all ‘work’, just like driving around the countryside in summertime, and seeing all the shades of green out there, all waving in the wind together. Makes one realize that one can be far more creative – and brave – when putting fabrics and threads together. Thanks again for a wonderful read!

  55. Betty says:

    I love looking at thread – just think of the possibilities! I have moved my thread from little bins to bigger bins to little totes to racks and I still can’t seem to find the right place. However, I still keep buying thread and so whatever place I put them, just seems to get smaller!!! I love to group all the spools together and then see all my options. Of course this doesn’t include all the floss too, which is overflowing in a little tote!

  56. Carla Brown says:

    I have lots of thread but it seems I never have the color I need when I start a new project. I love thread and all the different shades you can get.

  57. Amanda Stelmach says:

    I have 25 colors of thread in a plastic container that is made to hold thread. I separate them by who makes them for example Gutterman etc. I don’t have to many colors because I buy what colors I need for the quilting project I am working on at that time. I have a lot of pink and green because I made purses for my bridesmaids and those were the colors of the fabric. I would love to add yo my collection and would be so thrilled to win. Hopefully I would have to purchase a new container to hold the thread. Good luck everyone and thanks for a great opportunity to win.

  58. Sayward says:

    Since I am just starting out, my threads are really boring. I need to live a little! =)

  59. What a great learning exercise! I sort mine by color with thread racks that I hang on the wall … makes for easy pickins when needing a special color to match :) I’d LOVE to win your thread giveaway!

  60. Amy Jackson says:

    I love to sort through all my colors and am always amazed at them all when I group them like this, I always have tons of blues! My son loves to take them all off the rack or out of the bins and sort through them too.

  61. Judy D in WA says:

    I love thread!!! I love thread of all colors, shapes and sizes! I just love thread!

  62. Ramona says:

    I like the idea of a one color quilt. I’ll have to add that to my ‘to do’ list. I store my thread by color in clear plastic shoe boxes. I always check the thread for strength before sewing and purge out any old thread. Wooden spools, with and without thread, are displayed in old fruit jars in my ‘playroom’.

  63. Phyllis says:

    I love thread and sometimes just buy for the beautiful color. I almost always have in my stash the color I need to blend with what ever I am sewing or quilting on. There is always room for more, it might be a shade I don’t have and really, really need.

  64. Cathy says:

    I bought plastic carriers for toy car in the toy department. They are double sided and have approx. 20 compartments on each side. I have 4 of these containers and have my thread sorted by color. I love looking at these rainbows of thread. Hugs

  65. Kris says:

    I tend to buy almost all my colors for a specific project, so when I look in my stash, I remember why I purchased them or what project I used them in.

  66. Glenna says:

    you can never have too much thread and it seems you are always looking for just the right shade

  67. TheaM says:

    I’ve moved so many times over the past 20 or so years… my threads have really accumulated. A few years ago, my dh bought me thread cases – just for my embroidery threads – and all four of them are full – I also have three thread racks on the wall – and have room for one more, which I need, since these three are also full! I love thread – love playing with different fibers, colors and weights. I do a lot of free motion quilting and have an extensive thread collection already – but I’d be delighted to add to it!

  68. Ann says:

    <3 Threads hold my World Together <3

  69. Kathy Boeggeman says:

    I’m not sure how much thread I really have, I just know that I buy new thread for every project!!! LOL

  70. Evelyn says:

    I try not to over buy thread as thread has a shelf life and I have learned you are not supposed to have your thread out on those thread stands as they get dried out and the sun damages it. So I keep mine in shoe boxes to keep them out of the light.

  71. shavonna says:

    I just resently moved and as I was packing I couldn’t believe how much thread I had;and how old some of it was. My son said to toss it and start anew but I started telling him the stories behind some of the spools and he backed off. Not only are there stories in the colors but there are stories in the spools themselves.

  72. Linda Cartwright says:

    I don’t have that many threads, but I try to keep mine sorted by color and in plastic shoe boxes. Then I place that box in the larger plastic bins I use for my fabric of same colors.

  73. Janet Breunig says:

    As of right now my sewing room is a mess and I have all my threads in a big tote. Soon hope to have them color sorted and then I can see if I need to buy more. Never have enough thread.

  74. Usha says:

    I have been fascinated by the multitude of colours …each thread is pretty on its own and sometimes one seems to be prettier than the other…they are akin to the lovely blooms in the garden.


  75. Tracey says:

    I just recently bought a new sewing machine, which has me super excited. I never expected that thread could be such an issue, here I am, starting my collection from scratch :)

  76. Wyo Di says:

    I store my thread by colors and when I originally did so, I noticed that the majority of threads are in some shade of my favorite personal color – purple and the least amount of threads were in some shade orange, my least liked color. Is there a pattern here???

  77. Diane says:

    Is it possible to have too much thread?? I don’t think so. I love to applique and am always looking for just the right match.

  78. Rebecca J says:

    I can so empathize with you! after moving I ended up with two great BIG BINS of notions that I am still sorting through. DH came into the sewing room one afternoon while I was working. there I was: the little hen happily nested among all my ric-racks and binding embellishment sorted by color on the floor. I did notice that I need more thread especially since I’m getting started working on my fall and holiday gifts! can anything be more fun than this???

  79. Hi Diane! I’ve moved several times over the last 20+ years of marriage. Each time we’ve moved my sewing room takes up more space/boxes than I’d rather have to admit too! I was looking for a tool the other day, in my sewing room, and I opened up a drawer. OH my…I found thread stashed in there!! Hokey Smokes! How in the world did it get in there!! Directly above this set of drawers are my spool racks…they are full…oh! now I know how they got in there!! LOL I did it! I ran out of room on the spool racks…I think I might have to go buy or have someone make me a thread holder/rack. And I think that if you are going to make an all “red” quilt, or all “green” or even all “purple”…they say that all reds go together, well wouldn’t that hold the same truth for all the other colors? Can you imagine the dent you would put in your stash if you made several all 1 color quilts? Oh my, that sounds like a challenge!!! Happy sewing!

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