Organization Tips

Simple Trick to Label Plastic Thread Bobbins

In my thread organization post I mentioned I’d write up a tutorial on how I label a plastic bobbin. So here we are.

My thread collection has been amassed over many years. Some are inherited, others were picked up at thrift stores. Previously I used hand cut-out bobbins, then purchased cardboard bobbins, and finally I’ve started using plastic bobbins.

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Embracing the Inconsistent Nature of My Stash

You can tell how old my thread is based on what kind of bobbin it’s on. Not to mention who’s handwriting it is!

DMC brand thread skein and an example of thread wound on both cardboard and plastic bobbins.

If it’s my mother’s or grandmother’s handwriting, chances are it’s a gold label. Or it’s simply not a color I use often enough to have had to replace. If it’s my handwriting in pencil, I’ve had it since high school. Off-brand cardboard bobbins were probably college era. DMC branded cardboard bobbins and purple pen put me in Was probably ~10 years ago. Black pen is sometime in the last 8 years or so. And plastic bobbins means that color has been replaced in the last 2 years.

If I don’t recognize the handwriting, it’s been picked up from a thrift store. Who knows how old it might be. Check a current skein for dye lot changes before using or stick to small projects.

It’s awesome being able to see the timeline of my threads. I can determine which colors I use the most just by looking at them! I switched to plastic because my cardboard bobbins would occasionally ‘lose a leg’. I’m sure many of you understand this struggle. With plastic bobbins though, this simply doesn’t happen. As such, I can reuse the bobbins time and time again as the color needs ‘refilling’.

The Downside to Plastic Bobbins

Regardless, one thing I quickly found out when switching to plastic is that it can be tough to label them. Writing on them, even using permanent marker, tends to rub off over time. I bought some of those packs of floss number stickers. but they kept falling off. Eventually I got fed off and gave them to someone else to deal with!

Cutting the number off of a DMC thread Skein.

You can use this same method to tape down the numbered stickers. Instead, I decided to do it using the number from the skein itself. I still get some older DMC thread on occasion at thrift stores. This way, I know just by looking at it! It reminds me dye lots could be an issue if I need it for a large project. Or that I should at least compare it to a newer skein when designing a pattern. Especially if I plan to sell to people who may be buying new thread to make it!

This is also useful if you use different brands of thread. You may not have to write ‘Anchor’ and ‘Cosmo’ if you can recognize the label.

Securing Your Label

Cutting tape to wrap around the side of a thread bobbin.

I’ve seen others who tape the entire skein wrapper on by folding it over the top of the bobbin. Or those that simply tuck it in between the thread and the bobbin. I actually do use the hole on occasion, so I found a way to get around that.

Basically, I just cut out the number from the label and tape it to the bobbin. I needed a way to make sure it’s securely on there and that it doesn’t cover the hole. So I use a long strip and have it half on the side of the bobbin. I then clut a slit into the tape just below the curve.

Folding the tape around the side of a thread bobbin to secure it.

I then fold that piece of tape around the side bobbin onto the back of it. Then I fold the top half of the tape down to match it.

Cutting off the excess tape from the thread bobbin

Lastly, I carefully cut off the extra bit of tape around the curve and get to winding!

I like to wind mine by hand out of sheer habit, but if that’s something you hate doing, you may want to look into a cheap plastic winder. Or possibly a power drill. No, I’m not kidding!

Update 2021: I’ve since completely redone my threadboxes! They’re all labeled with custom printed DMC stickers and on plastic bobbins! These stickers stay put much better than the official ones, and have a nice large font making it easier for me to find the color I’m looking for.

I love the uniformity and the vibrant colors, though I do kinda miss being able to eyeball age of a bobbin depending on the handwriting.

The skein label trick is quite useful though, and I’ve still been using it for the random other brands I have on hand like the Cosmo Seasons line.