Tutorial: Small thread spool holder for under $5.00

In my pre-blogging days I uploaded a couple of tutorials and patterns via BurdaStyle to share. In the next week or two I want to re-post these to my blog, because I can. I just sort of want them on my blog, you know? Then I can link to them more easily and they are here, under my control.

So first up is my tutorial for a thread spool holder I (mostly Nerdy Husband – but I did all the planning and supervising!) made while living in Perth, it cost less than AUD$5.00

From December 2009: OK so this isn’t technically sewing but I thought I might share anyway. I am lucky enough to have a small dedicated sewing room and I’m a bit of an organising geek but since we rent I can’t really put up permanent shelving or hang things off of the wall so I have to get imaginative. I also like to display my sewing items and keep them within easy reach so I’ve had this little project in mind for a while and thought I would document as I go to see if I can inspire someone else. I wanted to display my sewing threads in a nice manner and since I already have a pin board up I wanted to piggy back off of it some way…


  • Length/s of dowel small enough to fit through a spool
    • Mine are 6mm in diameter – $0.87 each x 2 (0.6cm or 1/4″)
  • Length of timber to fit dowel to
    • I used a piece 30 x 12 x 900mm long – $3.07 (3 x 1.2x 90cm long or 1-3/16″ x 1/2″ x  35-1/2″)
  • PVA Glue
  • Drill and drill bit
  • Pencil and ruler
  • Helpful fiancé or similar

Method (to the madness):

Step 1

First mark a center line down your timber and mark the spacing for the dowels. I measured 4cm between centers; this allows my largest spools to sit side by side without touching.

Step 2

Now pre-punch your marked holes. We didn’t have a punch so we used an old screwdriver, and because my helpful fiancé is a geologist, a rockpick for a hammer.

Step 3

Now drill your dowel holes, mine are on a slight angle, about 45 degrees. Try and keep the angle and depth consistent.

Step 4

All holes drilled. Now clean up the mess and gently sand away any rough parts on the surface and inside the holes.

Step 5

Now cut your dowels. I cut mine 5cm long which allows enough to go into the base and still leaves enough for a spool to sit on without it showing. Clean up any rough ends.

Step 6

Now fill your drilled holes with a little PVA glue and begin to fit your dowels. Mine needed a little gentle persuasion. Clean up any glue that squirts out with a damp rag.

Step 7

I attached my spool holder to my pin board but you could make a larger stand alone one, or attach it to a shelf edge. I’m sure there are plenty more possibilities.

Totting Up:

Dowel: $0.87 x 2 = $1.74
Timber: $3.07
PVA Glue: from my stash – seriously, who doesn’t have some PVA at home?!
Husband’s Fee: Home-made Banana & Walnut Loaf

Total: $4.81

Since writing this I have added another row of spools below this one:

And on the weekend I added some small hooks underneath the bottom row, upside down, so that I can hang some of my current favourite patterns underneath using small bulldog clips. In the picture above I have them hooked over the dowel, underneath a spool of thread but every time I go to move them I keep dropping the spool of thread down behind my fabric shelving, haha. The hooks work much better!

And that’s it, I hope you have been inspired into a little bit of nerdy organisation 😉

The Official Sewing Studio Tour!

Right, it must be time for a tour, yes? Hold on tight then, here we go!

First up, a couple of panoramas to give you an idea of the space overall.

I mentioned previously (without trying to sound spoilt) that this is the biggest space I have had for sewing. It is also the fourth iteration of my room, so I am now quite settled in my working methods and know how I like things set up. Here is the plan I drew previously if you missed it.

If you are interested in my previous sewing rooms I have photos here of my second room in Perth. I consider this my first “proper” sewing room and I sewed in here for almost 2 years. The third version of my room was in our rental back here in NZ. It was a tiny room with no space for my layout board. We were there for just under a year and the last 3 months resulted in pretty much no sewing due to it being on the market and the numerous open homes. Thank goodness that is all behind us!

Now please step inside and follow me as we cruise around in a generally clockwise direction.

Let me show you my toys:

My machines: I sew on an Elna 2130 and I love it. I bought this machine after I graduated University as a congratulations gift to myself. I remember doing a lot of careful research before settling on this one and I “lay-buyed” it (gosh, does anyone actually do that anymore?!). It cost me NZD$495 back in late 2003 but I moved to Australia in January 2005 and it went into storage until my Mum brought it over (in her suitcase!!) in 2008. Needless to say it survived the trip intact and it still stitches perfectly.

In 2009 I decided to buy an overlocker and after more careful investigation I chose a Bernina 1150MDA which cost me AUD$995 – I’ll admit I was pretty lucky, the Australian government introduced their economic stimulus package earlier that year, which included giving all eligible Australian citizens (or in our case – registered tax paying residents) a one-off bonus payment of AUD$900 and they encouraged us to spend it, so, adding $95 to it, I did just that 😉 I’ve never looked back – Best. Purchase. Ever!

You can see my computer in this photo too and a couple of drawer sets holding various sewing and crafty items and on top is my Silkstone barbie who has yet to get some new clothes.

Some of you may have noticed the absence of my “fancy red chair” which I am currently sitting on at work, it’s really comfy! I considered keeping it at work but my Ikea chair really is stuffed. I’m actually just waiting to get a chair mat to protect the new carpet.

I also have a new long mirror, very important for fittings…and no, you cannot see inside the wardrobe 😉

My new bookshelf that you saw me building the other day is a bit messy right now, I kind of just shoved everything in there 😉 You can see all the jars that I keep all my little bits and bobs in, my sewing books, a crazy cat soft toy that just cracks me up (surprised kitty is very surprised), sewing magazines and then some junk I have to sort through at the bottom.

On the left of my shelves I keep rolled up paper that includes copied patterns and spare butter paper. I found huge stash of it from my University days, back when I could buy it for like 2 cents an A1 sheet, and it is perfect for tracing patterns and drafting.

This is my garment hanger. It is meant to be taller but I bought a cheap one and the plastic locking thingees on the telescopic bits (so technical!) don’t really work if you hang more than one garment on it, it just slides down to the stops.

Nerdy husband will be instructed to drill holes in it this weekend. I will fix it, I will fix it good!

This is meant for holding items in progress but right now it’s mostly things needing repairs and alterations. The skirt at the front you would not have seen before and it is waiting for a zipper repair.

Why are these things not in the wardrobe? Hah, you almost got me there, but I’m still not showing you inside. A girl’s got to have some secrets 😉 No, actually I just like having them out on display, so I don’t forget about them.

My layout board: This is a piece of pre-finished MDF board from Bunnings. I originally shared my first sewing room with the Guest Room and a queen sized bed. So that I could layout my patterns we bought this board and I used it on top of the bed. However this was way too low and really bad for my back so when we moved we sold the bed and I attached the board to the top of a drafting table frame.

It’s great because I still have room under for storage but it is still a tad too high. I have drawn up a replacement frame and one day I will convince Nerdy Husband and Mechanical Brother-in-Law (who owns a welding device) to make it up for me 🙂

For now I am very happy because this is the first time I can walk around three sides of my layout. I have found I can really only cut curves well in one direction, then to get the other way I need to contort my arm or rotate the fabric, which just messes everything up. I’m not the only one right?

I use a set of Ikea Gorm baskets to keep my scissors, pens and pattern weights etc close at hand. They can’t slide all the way on at the moment but they will with the new frame.

I can also slide my ironing board underneath when it’s not in use which is a big space saver and saves me from having to constantly fold it up. You can just spot my sleeve board underneath the table and in the photo below, hiding on the filing cabinet is my pressing board, if you are interested check out my post on how I made them. For the brave (and power tool happy) among you there is a bonus photo tutorial and patterns included 😉

I bought my filing cabinet from a recycling centre a couple of years ago. It cost me AUD$40 and it was a sad grey colour but I fixed that with a bit of paint. It’s perfect for holding my envelope patterns and magazine pattern inserts and takes up very little space.

My fabric stash is a bit messy right now, as I stacked it away I spread it out and kind of organised it by type. In the basket are fat quarters, I don’t know why I can’t stop buying those things, they are too darn cute.

I like having my fabric out where I can see it, it keeps the stash in check and allows me to be constantly inspired. Also, don’t worry, the filing cabinet shields it from the sun.

I have also realised that the reason I love having so much fabric (and I am aware that this is not a lot of fabric by some people’s standards) is because it is like having a personal fabric shop in my home. I love looking through fabric shops just like I love looking through my stash and re-discovering pieces I fell in love with at the shop and brought home, it’s great, don’t you agree? 😀

Birthday Dress pattern contenders hang in the background too, more on that in a later post.

Pride of place on top goes to my Singer 201K-3, gifted to me by The Amazing J, awaiting repairs, you can read her story here. My collection of miniature sewing machines will join her soon, I just need to find them all!

My thread holder is attached to the bottom of my pin board, you can see how I made it here. I have since added another row and I’ll be doing the same to pin board number two!

Also on top is a fairly major project I cut out last Winter, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on the blog yet. Can you have a guess what it is? I think the fabric selection will at least give away the type of garment. Also I went to the library last week, I LOVE the library!

Scarlett guards the doorway (you never know when someone might sneak in looking for some scissors!) and models the current WIP which was interrupted by the packing, Simplicity 2364.

Behind her are my pin boards, I hung them myself, thank you very much, and I am pretty sure they are level. A bit sparse of inspiration right now but I’ll fit that soon. Do you like my very special bunting?

And that’s it, we are back at the door, now, shoo, off you go, do some sewing or something! 😉

Phew! Sorry, that was a really long post. So as you can see I am 100% ready to go but I have to be honest, I am almost frozen by the overwhelming list of things I want and need to sew! Sigh! My plan for the minute is to just START SEWING! Hence the machines are threaded pink so first up, the WIP must be finished.

Sewing Studio Update

For the record, I’m not calling it a “sewing room” anymore, it is now my Sewing Studio – because I am a grown up, and because I can 😉

So just a couple of pics for you as an update: In order for the carpet men to do their carpety thing all the rooms had to be emptied. So this is what our dining room looked like for a couple of days:

Dining Room Mayhem

This photo was taken before the big set of drawers and our bed got moved in as well! I had our bedroom all set back up the night after the carpet went in but my studio had to wait until the weekend.

Here is a before photos as a reminder:


And a reminder of the after:

…after – SO MUCH BETTER!

The new carpet is super springy and lush and it looks (and smells) so good. It will be even better when the rest of the old carpet goes during summer and we get the floor boards sanded and sealed, it will be a gorgeous contrast.

So on Saturday morning Nerdy Husband announced he was sick of looking at Allied Pickfords boxes and today we were going to empty and flatten as many as we could.

We got to work and moved the rest of the furniture back. Nerdy husband cut off the damaged end of my layout board and we even got my table frame upstairs. As payback I did have to help build the huge nerdy computer desk but I quite like assembling furniture.

Don’t you guys worry about Nerdy Husband by the way, oh no, he has his own nerdy room plus his “workshop” downstairs that I have been instructed to call The Mannex.

Then I started on my sewing studio!

Here is a progress photo of me dealing to those pesky boxes at mid-day:

Despite my pathetic protests to the contrary, Nerdy Husband was correct, most of the boxes in the dining room were in fact mine 😉

Surprisingly I stuck 100% to my plan. This being the fourth iteration of my room I’ve learnt a thing or two about how I work and how I like things set up.

Space restrictions previously mean’t that I used to keep my fabric and books all together in my Ikea expedit shelving unit but now that I have more room I want to space my fabric out in the shelves and group it by content so it is easier to look through. This leaves no room for books so I decided I needed a new bookshelf. Cue up a trip to the shops on Sunday morning and then I was doing this:


Excluding hanging my pin boards, I was all done and very happy by Sunday evening, but it was a bit too late for photos so you’re going to have to wait for the official tour this weekend when there is better daylight 😉