Updated January 5, 2024.
As beads and embellishments become more popular, stitchers look for ways to store and organize beads, sequins, and other small embellishments.
Whatever you pick, look for these features.
- Clear – A label may not be enough to tell color. Your containers should be clear, not translucent.
- Small – Many bead containers are too big for the small amount of beads we use. Look for the smallest ones you can find.
- Separate Tops – This can be hard to find in the beading world, but you want to open one color at a time. If several containers open at once, you can end up with huge messes to clean up.
- Labeling – Everything should have space for a label where you can see the writing but still see the beads. There are companies that make beading labels made for these small containers.
Here are some ideas, listed from least to most expensive.
Use the containers they came in. They don’t cost a thing, are resealable, and have a label on them. Store them in cigar boxes, baskets, or whatever you have on hand. The flatter your container, the better, so you can see more.
Store them in small zipper bags. These can come as small as 1″ square, but you’ll have an easier time writing on 2″ square bags. If possible, buy the ones with white labels on them for writing. If you can’t find them, label each bag using transparent tape and a Sharpie. Store as above.
Containers with tops If you have a nice deep tray, these short containers can be perfect for permanent storage. I’ve found rounds, rectangles, and tubes. Some have attached tops; some do not. The big disadvantage with these is that they do not have a large place for labels or maps. but they are inexpensive and store a large amount (for a stitcher).
Small drawer sets are not as pretty and are translucent, not clear, but they are easily found in hardware stores where they are used to store nuts and bolts. They are great if you have larger quantities of fewer colors and vertical storage space.
Small round bead containers (pictured above) which are found at bead stores. These have several small clear containers that are attached to the tray in the bottom. The clear tops make it easy to see the colors, but labels would obscure this. Instead, make a map and store it inside the lid. If you need multiples, try to store like with like so you can label the top things such as “blue & green beads” or “bugles.” Then you’ll pick the correct box.
Portable bead storage systems are made in different sizes that fit snap-in trays. These systems are designed to go with you. Some can hold several dozen different colors of beads, although the locking mechanism for the trays can be tricky.
You might travel slightly further afield and look for containers to hold small scrapbooking supplies.
Whatever you use, look for the features in the list, and you’ll love how easy it is to find your beads!