Storing Your Embroidery Supplies
It’s a shame, therefore, to risk spoiling or loosing your stash to moths, or other nasties, because it’s been incorrectly stored.
My favourite thing to keep my stash stored is tins lined with acid-free tissue paper. In fact, I have tins that are over 50 years old, inherited from my late grandmother, with traced linen, silk and cotton floss, stored in them that are as fresh and bright as the day they were bought. These tins are old biscuit and chocolate tins – which can be hard to find, but usually, around Christmas, you will find them in stores. Butter cookies, in particular, come in tins.
Once the tin is empty, wash and dry it carefully – in fact, leave it upside down for a couple of days to ensure all the moisture is gone.
Line the tin with acid-free tissue paper (which you should also use to wrap clothing or heirloom linens in) and then pop your embroidery supplies in there!
Embroidery Floss, Cotton, Wool, etc
The range of options for keeping these neat and tidy is endless – but what do you do with the skeins that you haven’t touched yet?
I’m a big fan of the DMC Stitch Bows – however I’ve also found that they are really only suitable for DMC thread, as they are manufactured to the size of the DMC skein of floss. Other skeins are slightly smaller, and don’t fit unless you re-wind them onto the stitch bow – and they often aren’t as neat when you do that.
The one thing I dislike about stitch bows is the tab on them supposedly to slide the paper wrapper with the colour number on it. I’ve found that this is, in most cases, not the same size as the paper wrapper!
My other favourite is plastic bobbins, that are then stored in small, compartmentalised boxes.
I usually wind one skein of each colour onto these bobbins, and then store the rest unwound.
To keep wool neat, I do one of three things.
I either use the plastic bobbins for fine wool, or use a broken ruler to wind the skein onto (lengthwise). For larger hanks of wool, wind it into a ball, like you would a hank of knitting wool.
For threads that are still in their skeins, either store them in a tin (as above), or line a shoe box with acid free paper and keep them there. Clear plastic containers are also great as you can see the threads through them.
I try to keep colour groupings together: e.g. all reds, or yellows, or browns together.
I always put a label on the box showing the brand and colour numbers that I have in there, to help me when I’m looking for a particular colour.
Silk & Rayon Threads
By their nature, Silk and Rayon threads don’t take well to being wrapped onto flat bobbins. They tend to crease, and it can also stretch the threads.
For these, I re-use cotton bobbins – especially the nice big ones. The threads wrap nicely onto them, and they don’t crease. You can also then keep them in a bobbin box, with poles to go up the middle of the bobbins.
On the top of the bobbin, stick a label giving the brand and number, as well as whether it is silk or rayon.
Unskeined threads, I keep in the same way as cotton threads, in labelled boxes.
With all threads, make sure that you keep them in a cool, dry, dark place to prevent fading and to stop moisture getting near them.
Fabric & Kits
This is probably the one item in your stash that can be most ruined by incorrect storage.
Most fabric, when bought, is folded and in a plastic bag, provided by the maker. If this is the case, then it can be kept in there without any harm, provided the plastic is intact. If it’s ripped, then the fabric should be stored as if it came without that container.
If fabric is not purchased in a plastic bag, then you should store it folded, wrapped in acid-free tissue and in a plastic storage box, or in a cardboard box designed for storing linen & clothing in.
Regularly check your fabric to ensure that it is free of water stains, mould or moth damage. All you need to do is to unfold it, give it a good shake, and then re-fold and store it. This should be done every month or so.
I also like to hem or overlock the edges of all my fabric so that they don’t fray – and it also means that when I come to use it, this is already done and I can start stitching immediately!
It’s not recommended to wash the fabric you intend to work on, until the embroidery is finished.
The “fill” in the fabric helps to stabilise it for your embroidery, and, in the cases of kits with printed designs on them, the designs are often water soluble and you run the risk of washing away the design.
Even if you spill something on your work, spot clean, or wait until the embroidery is complete before you wash it.
When I wash my embroidered pieces, I put them in a lingerie bag or pillow case, and then wash on a gentle cycle only.
Lay the piece out flat to dry it, and iron it on the back only whilst it is still slightly damp. This will have the effect of helping to steam out any creases. Ironing the back only means you won’t crush any of the stitching, and helps the embroidery stand out from the fabric.
Is there anything that you would particularly like to see an article on? If so, please contact me with your suggestions.
© 2008 Megan McConnell
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