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Make Your Own Bobbins for Embroidery or Crochet Thread With Only What You Have Around the House

I embroider and crochet a lot. I make and sell kippot (Jewish head-coverings) and belts and wall hangings... and so I have a million different colors of thread around. But they get tangled if I try to cut off a piece from the way they're packaged when I buy them. Also, I live in Israel, am a grad student here for just one year, and subletting a furnished apartment, so I'm trying not to (a) spend any more money than necessary or (b) buy anything I don't really need so I don't have to get rid of it when I leave the country.

So here's how you can keep your threads untangled -- only using supplies that I would be very surprised if you don't have around your house.


You only need a few things:

1. Some posterboard-weight cardboard.
I used the wrapping from a blanket I bought. You want it to be sturdy; an index card is too light (believe me, I've tried -- they just end up buckling!) and you can go as heavy as you want, so long as the thread can wrap around it well without being caught on anything.

2. Scissors

3. The thread you want to wrap
I'm wrapping some DMC embroidery floss in this tutorial, but I've also used this method for wrapping regular crochet thread.

4. Optional: Hole punch
I like the option of being able to put my bobbins on a ring. But if you don't care, you can skip this one.

5. Optional: Pen or pencil
I like labeling the bobbins with the color code so I can replace it with the same one when I finish that bobbin.

Step 1: Strip the Cardboard

Cut the cardboard or whatever you're using into strips. I'd suggest about 1.5" (~3.5 cm), but as narrow as 1" (2.5 cm) is okay too.

Step 2: Cut the Cardboard

Look at the picture for the pattern you want to cut. There's absolutely no need to be exact unless your final product is the wrapped thread bobbin. (Which is possible, if you make your own thread... but for most of us, this is about practicality, not aesthetics.)

I'd suggest drawing it on the first time, then cut along the lines. I don't usually draw anything on anymore since I've done these often enough. If you're comfortable with such, just cut the right shape out.

So pencil in your lines, then cut along them. Be sure not to forget the little angled slits -- they're the part that keeps the thread in place even in a craft bag that gets jostled around. They do need to be on an angle, but how much of an angle is pretty flexible. You don't necessarily need all 4 slits -- 2 should be enough -- I just like to have all 4 so I can secure the thread no matter where the wrapping ends.

Step 3: Punch the Cardboard

This step is optional. I like to do this because I often put my bobbins on a ring.

Just punch a hole in the cardboard. Make sure the hole is aligned in the center of the angled slits, but doesn't hit them.

The hole shouldn't go below where the straight edge begins -- that will be covered by thread eventually.

I don't have a hand hole-punch, so I used the binder punch I found in the apartment when I moved in. That's harder to align. I messed up one already before I got these pictures done. Ha.

But if you're lucky and have a hand-held hole-punch, this part should be pretty easy for you.

Step 4: Prepare the Thread

Now you get to put your thread on the bobbin!

Take the embroidery thread/floss and take off the paper tubes wrapping it. Put them aside -- you'll need them later.

After you take off the wrappers, separate the floss so it’s a circle instead of a line. Be careful – if it’s a delicate thread, it can snag anytime from this point forward. If you want to be super-cautious, trim and file your nails. I’ve ruined several expensive delicate threads on an errant fingernail. This DMC thread is pretty run-of-the-mill so I'm not worried about this one, but I have some silver-leaf threads that are a bit more finicky.

Find one end of the floss and tuck it into one of the angled slits. I usually prefer to start from the hole-punched side, but it's up to you.

Step 5: Wrap It!

Wrap the thread around the narrow part of the bobbin. Direction doesn't matter -- just be sure to "catch" the end under the first few rounds so it stays in place and doesn't lead to tangling.

If you want to wrap quickly and it’s not too delicate of a thread, wrap the circle around your wrist. It keeps it from getting tangled. Pull some slack from the circle, wrap that then pull more slack from the cir

Warning: It will almost certainly get tangled at *some* point. Most threads are made so they catch on other threads. That’s how they stay in place once you sew/crochet/knit/whatever them. It's part of what makes thread work, so don't freak out about it. Just be patient and take out the tangles as they happen.

TIP: Wrap back and forth regularly, instead of wrapping one section, then moving to the next. It'll keep the bobbin neater as you use the thread on it. So cover the white with one layer of thread, then go back over it, then back again... you get the idea, I hope.

Once you reach the end of the thread, you have a wrapped bobbin! Just a few optional things to do now.

Step 6: Label and Use It

Remember those things you put aside that were holding the thread before? Yeah, grab those again. Look for the color code. (DMC uses a 3–4 digit number, VOG uses 1–2 digits, some other brands use names or letters...)

I'll usually write the brand and the code on the bobbin. That way, when I get to the end of that bobbin, I can replace it with the exact same color I had instead of having to guess.

Now use the rest of the cardboard and repeat until you have all of your thread wrapped.

Happy crafting!


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