Ashley Lotecki is a surface pattern designer, with an impressive cosplay portfolio. (Click on Pattern and Costume at this link for examples.) Ashley was also one of our Super Online Sewing Match contestants!
Organize your work space with Ashley’s Spool Organizer, a project that utilizes inexpensive and easy-to-find items from your local hardware store. Think about how efficient you’ll be with all of your thread on display!
As an avid sewist, one of the big issues I’ve always found is organizing the sewing space for optimal usability but in a way that still looks fun. Spools of thread come in an astounding array of colors and types and I frequently require multiples of the same hues depending on the project. There is nothing worse than going through your sewing box mid-project and finding you have completely run out of a core color, but have an excess of a completely random color you can’t image ever using again. For me, the best way to avoid this is to have everything on display in the same place!
This was the inspiration for a project I did recently, and for the tutorial I’ve put together for the lovely Sew Mama Sew readers. I was looking for a solution to organizing my copious amounts of thread (both spools and cones), and after doing some research I decided the best solution was to make my own spool holder. This spool holder is designed to be wall mounted, can be customized to any dimensions you would like (provided you can find pegboard to accommodate your measurements), and is made from inexpensive materials you can find at a local hardware store.
- 1/4” Pegboard (in color of your choosing) cut to fit your frame
- 1/4” x 1-1/4” hardwood dowel pins (amount will depend on size of spool holder)
- 1/4” x 48” wooden dowels (amount will depend on size of spool holder)
- Picture frame that pegboard will fit inside (nothing expensive, even a second hand frame would work great!)
- Wood glue (I used LePage brand wood glue, Pro Carpenter’s Glue)
- Transparent silicone caulk + caulk gun
- Paper towels (for cleaning up)
- Fine sandpaper
- Pruning shears
- Painter’s tape
- 4x large Command Picture Hanging Strips (large accommodates the most weight and the largest surface space)
Note: At the local hardware store the smallest piece of pegboard they had was 24” x 48” but they were able to cut it to the size that I wanted onsite, so I didn’t need to worry about getting access to any power tools.
Note: The frame should have a gutter on the inside so that the pegboard will fit nicely inside without falling through. You also want to make sure the pegboard is not flush with the top of the frame back because you will need a bit of space to use the caulk and wood glue.
*While sanding and using the caulking and glue, it is good to protect your work area in the case there may be dust, dripping or spills. Please read the directions on the products you use to find out any other safety precautions you may need to take.
1. Before doing anything, make sure that your pegboard fits inside the back of the picture frame nicely. I took my picture frame to the hardware store along with my measurements, just to be able to double check the pegboard would fit once they cut it.
2. In your prepared work area, place the pegboard inside the frame and set them down flat with the back of the board/frame facing you. Using the silicone caulk, seal the frame to the pegboard the entire way around the inside of the frame. With a paper towel, smooth the caulk into the space and wipe any smears away.
3. Wrap the painter’s tape from the back to the front of the pegboard, making sure it is far enough from the caulk that you don’t make contact. (Note: if you do make contact, it isn’t the end of the world as this is the back of the board, luckily.) Use a few strips on every side and make sure they are tight because this is what is holding your frame to the board while it dries.
4. If you are afraid you may have gotten some caulking on the front of the board, you can carefully lift up each side and wipe any smears off the board. Let your project dry for the recommended time (it will depend on the brand you’ve used).
5. After your project has fully dried, you can remove the tape and flip the board around to face you.
6. Although you can do it earlier on, I found this is the best stage to start planning the placement of your pegs because you’ll be able to see how much the frame might obscure the peg holes near the edges of the board. You need to decide how many rows you want for cones and how many for spools of thread. You also need to consider the sizes of your spools: larger spools will require more space between each peg, so testing out with some actual spools to see how much room you have is a good idea.
With my boards, I found that that the dowels for the thread cones were best spaced with three holes between each dowel horizontally, and to stagger the following row by centering the empty holes below a dowel. For the dowel pins, I left one space between each pin and on the following row shifted them over by one. You may be working with larger or smaller spools and may find that a different pattern will work better for you.
7. Based on your dowel placement planning, determine the number of longer dowels you will need to fit the cones. On the long wooden dowels, measure out sections 4” in length (this may vary depending on your cone size) with a ruler and mark them with a pencil. Mark out as many sections as you’ve determined you will need.
Note: if you cannot find dowel pins, or you run out of them, you can always cut up the longer dowels to make dowel pins as well.
8. Using the pruning shears, cut each section out using the pencil mark as a guide. Make sure you don’t mix up any leftover sections that aren’t the correct length with the ones you will be using.
9. With the sandpaper, sand down both ends of the dowel flat. Round out the edges on one side. This will make them smooth so you don’t need to worry about slivers on the visible side! And it looks way nicer too.
10. Once you’ve finished sanding all the dowels you will need, you can start placing them and the dowel pins into the holes on the pegboard.
11. Next, we get ready for gluing. Find two boxes or something of even height that you can suspend your board over so there is still enough space to reach under and adjust the dowels. I found two sneaker boxes and weighed them down with some random objects inside to stop them from shifting around. Front side facing down, balance your board between the two boxes.
12. At this point, it can be helpful to look underneath at how the dowels and pins are pointing and make any adjustments necessary to have them pointing down straighter. This is going to be something you’ll have to be careful of while gluing as they can shift and point diagonally, so you’ll need to check underneath during the gluing process and make any corrections needed.
13. Starting with the dowels first. With dowels sticking out slightly above the back of the pegboard, squirt the wood glue all the way around the dowel and then on the top. Pull it down from the underside so the back of the dowel/pin is just a bit over flush with the board. This will help create a better seal with the board than just squirting glue over the back of the dowel.
14. Once all dowels are glued, check underneath and make any adjustments necessary to straighten them out.
15. Wait until the glue on the dowels has dried slightly so they don’t get moved around by accident, then repeat Steps 13 + 14 with the dowel pins. Wait for everything to dry completely as per the directions on the glue you’ve used.
16. Your spool holder is completed! The only step left is to pick where you’d like to hang it and do so! I recommend using 4x Large Command Picture Hanging Strips on the frame back to mount it. This will allow you to hang the spool holder on your wall very securely but not permanently, with no nail holes!
Now you are ready to organize all your lovely threads!