Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tutorial: DIY Thread Spool & Bobbin Storage

Game changer.

Rachel on Stitched in Color pointed out this awesome thread spool and bobbin storage rack from The Creative Homemaker. I pinned it immediately.

My thread lived out of the sun in random organizers in my sewing desk drawers. I made this similar storage rack to fit perfectly on the end of my sewing desk out of direct sunlight. Drawer space reclaimed!

Three 1"x2"x8' smooth select pine boards
1.75 oz. package of #18 5/8" wire nails
E-6000 or wood glue
Four sets of medium 3M Command pictures hangers
reciprocating saw or hand saw
sandpaper - rough and fine grit
painter's tape or scotch tape

1) I bought three 1"x2"x8' smooth pine boards from the big box home improvement store (Home Depot). I knew I wanted to construct the rack like a ladder, so I cut two long pieces measuring 26 and 7/8"for my rails (the sides) and nine shorter pieces measuring 20 and 3/16"for my rungs (the shelves).

2) I used rough sandpaper to smooth out the cuts from the saw and fine sandpaper to barely smooth the edges of all pieces. I picked the smoothest edge of the board to be the front and marked the back with an X.

3) Mr. Pins jumped in with the math to determine how far apart to position the shelves for even spacing. Since the actual measurement of these 1"x2"s is .75"x1.5", the spaces between my shelves is about 2.5" - give or take 1/8" here and there.

4) I relocated to my sewing room for the assembly. With the backside of the rack facing up on my cutting table, I taped all of the shelves to the two long side pieces.

5) I flipped the whole rack over by squeezing tightly with my arms when I picked it up. I scooted one side past the edge of the table and used the tape as a hinge to expose the ends of the shelves where they touched the long side piece.

6) I dabbed E-6000 glue on the ends of the shelves before hinging the side back against the ends of the shelves. Then I scooted the whole rack back over to rest on the table again.

7) I taped each shelf to the long side piece on the front side of the rack to serve as a clamp while the glue dried. I wiggled the rack to make sure that it was in line with the edges of the table, that way I knew it would dry at right angles. I let the glue cure for an hour or so, then I repeated this on the other side of the rack to glue the shelves to the other side piece. Then I went to bed.

8) The glue was completely dry this morning, so I used one of my nails and a bobbin to decide how high up on the edge of the shelf each nail would need to be. I didn't want my bobbins to stick up over the edge of the shelves and make the spools of thread harder to remove.

9) I measured and marked a horizontal line on the front sides of the 8 shelves so I would know where to draw dots for the nail holes.

10) I used spools of thread to determine that I can fit 13 spools on a shelf. I wanted the spools on each end of the shelf to be 3/4" from the sides. I measured from those points to mark the spot for the middle nail. Then I kept dividing numbers to find middle points until I made marks for 13 nails. They're all about 1 and 9/16" apart.

11) I used a 24" acrylic ruler to help me mark nail spots on 8 shelves. (The 9th "shelf" pieces is the top of the rack, and I didn't want to put bobbins on it.)

12) Once I marked all of the nail spots with a pencil, I came back around with my hammer and tapped each of those holes with a nail to visibly indent the wood.

13) Then I erased my horizontal pencil lines.

14) I'm right handed, so I worked from right to left barely hammering in #18 5/8" wire nails for the bobbins. Once I had a row of nails set, I centered a bobbin on each nail and hammered the nail just deep enough so that the bobbin could rest on the nail with the head of the nail keeping the bobbin in place.

15) With 104 nails done, I pulled out 4 medium 3M Command strips and applied them to the back of the rack. Then I pressed the rack to the desk.

16)  Finally I loaded her up! Ahhhhhh! So exciting!!!

You can make one, too!

Here's the cost breakdown:

• Three 1"x2"x8' smooth select pine boards: $4.24 each = $12.75
• 1.75 oz. package of #18 5/8" wire nails: $1.30
• 4 sets of medium 3M Command pictures hangers: $5.47 for a value pack of 6 sets. I used a $50 coupon from 3M's website = $4.97
• E-6000 glue: already owned (runs about $6)
• sandpaper - rough and fine grit: already owned (you can get both for less than $8 total)
• scotch tape: already owned (runs about $2)

My budget was under $20!

It took me a few hours over two days to craft this up with many interruptions and an extra trip to Home Depot ;-) Mine measures 21 and 3/4"x 26 and 7/8" and holds 104 spools of thread and 104 bobbins. I thought the wood was super pretty as is, but I'd love to see one painted bright yellow!

Let me know if you craft one up for your sewing space. I'm glad to have this WIP off of my list!

Happy Wednesday!

I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced, Sew Much Ado, Someday CraftsRae Gun Ramblings, and Under the Table and Dreaming.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced  
UndertheTableandDreaming Sew Happy Geek


  1. I love your tutorial! I almost never have more than 5 or 6 spools of thread on hand at a time but I'm still tempted to make one. And paint it aqua!

  2. Wow who needs ikea!
    I admit to not having much in the way of thread, still sticking with the neutrals!
    Looks very pretty loaded up though. xx

  3. LOVE this...I know a couple of cats & children that would love it too, in the destructive sort of way :)

  4. What a great idea! My bobbins are driving me nuts at the moment as they continually tangle- I might have to give this a go!

  5. Love it! I use a drawer that is far to big so this might be just the ticket. Hmmm, but my house is sooo dusty ....l

  6. A brilliant tutorial and a fab idea! I will have to rustle up one of these when I get to my new house in Sweden, so its bookmarked! Thanks!

  7. Stellar! I love the compactness, and appreciate the tutorial.

  8. Great idea and great instructions too.

  9. Love it!!! What a great idea, storing the bobbin in front of the spool. Genius!

  10. What a cool idea! I'll admit, all mine are in a drawer and it's a bit of a PITA to see what I have, maybe I need to make one of these...

  11. Great idea and it is super cute! I love how you include the cost breakdown!

  12. This is such a great idea! I love how organized you are! Thanks for sharing your tutorial!

  13. Great idea... but I'm not sure I could wait for the glue to dry
    ...I'd be torqin' screws in there with the power driver!

  14. This is great, I'll be making this as soon as I get my next sewing desk. I'm thinking I might not put the nails in for the bobbins though because I have handy bobbin cases.. but... wouldn't it be great to pair them up with the thread the match with.... so maybe I will! Thank you!
    Emmaline Bags & Sewing Patterns

  15. I made one similar to yours a few years ago. Since that time, I have moved twice and had to adapt it to the new space each time. Here is a link to the photo of mine as it originally was:

  16. Do you sell these? I'm not handy, but this is exactly what I'm looking for!

  17. Do you sell these? I'm not handy, but this is exactly what I'm looking for!

  18. Thank you for a wonderful tutorial. Are the "shelves" wide enough to hold machine embroidery and serger thread cones?

    1. Thanks so much!

      Your comment came through showing that you were a no reply blogger, but I wanted to answer such a good question :-) Yes, machine embroidery and serger cones will sit on the shelves fine without falling off. They do stick out past the shelf a little bit, but you could definitely use this width of wood if it's readily available in your neck of the woods, too.

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