How-To: Modular Colorwork Yarn Holders

How-To: Modular Colorwork Yarn Holders

By Haley Pierson-Cox
When working on a knitting or crochet project that uses multiple colors, trying to keep the balls of yarn from tangling can be an absolute nightmare – especially if you’re crafting on the go or using a persnickety fiber. Modular yarn holders can help save your sanity (and your yarn) by keeping each color neatly contained and separated. Designed to be used together or alone, these handy little boxes can snap together or pull apart, so you only need to carry the colors you’re actually using. You can toss them in your project bag, go on about your day, and stop worrying about finding a knotted mess when you get home!
This tutorial makes a set of three yarn holders, and can be customized to fit balls of yarn in your usual weight.
For a PDF of this tutorial, visit the build page on Make: Projects.


Pen or pencil
Pattern paper
, you can also use newspaper or brown paper
Fabric scissors or a rotary cutter
1 1/2 yards of cotton fabric
1 1/2 yards of rayon lining fabric
Tailor’s chalk
Straight pins
3 magnetic or sew-on snaps
, you can also use snaps and pliers
Craft knife
Sewing machine
1/4″ braided elastic


Make the pattern:
Step 1: Select a ball of yarn that is the size that you will be using for your colorwork project, and measure its height and width.
Step 2: Use the largest measurement from step 1 to draw a centered square towards the bottom edge of your pattern paper. (Make sure to leave room for an additional square below it, and 3 squares on either side.) Your pattern paper should be large enough to fit at least 3 squares across and 5 squares tall, plus a 1/4″ seam allowance.
I used a ball of worsted-weight cotton yarn that was at my local yarn store. It’s about 4″ wide and 4″ tall, but I rounded up to 5″ x 5″ so my holders would fit other yarns that I usually use as well.
Step 3: Starting at the center square you drew in Step 2, draw one square on either side of the center, one square below, and 3 squares above. (You should have 7 total squares.)
Step 4:Add a 1/4″ seam allowance around the outside edges, then cut out the pattern.
Cut the fabric:
Step 5: Using fabric scissors or a rotary cutter and your pattern, cut out three pieces from the cotton fabric and three pieces from the rayon lining. You can make each box a different color, or use the same fabric for all three. In addition, cut out six 1″ squares of cotton fabric for the snap backing.
Step 6: Find and mark with chalk the center of each side box. Position and pin one of the 1″ fabric squares behind each mark on the wrong side of the fabric.
Step 7: On the right side of the fabric, position each side of a magnetic snap over the center, and mark the position.
Step 8: Cut the snap marks with the craft knife, cutting through both the fabric and fabric square layers. Connect the bottom of the snap to the left side and the top of the snap to the right side per the snap directions.
Important: Make sure you attach the snaps in the same order on each box.
Step 9: With right sides facing, pin cotton piece and interfacing together, lining up the edges.
Step 10: Stitch around the edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving the bottom edge of the longest side open.
Step 11: Turn the fabric right side out through the edge you left open in Step 10, cutting off the excess fabric at the points of each corner before doing so.
Step 12: Fold up the sides of the box and pin them in place. Cut a piece of elastic band that is slightly longer than the width of the box, and pin it in position at the center of the front square, tucking the ends into the side seams. Sew the side seams of the box.
Step 13: Fold the open end under, pinning it into place, and sew the seam. Measure 5″ down from the edge and stitch a second straight line where the flap will fold over the box. (If your squares are a different size, adjust this measurement accordingly.)
Step 14: Find the center of the top square and draw a 1″ horizontal line. Sew your buttonhole through both layers of fabric, down the line you just drew. Once the buttonhole is sewn, cut the opening with your craft knife.
You’re done! Set up your box, and make sure to trim any extra elastic length from the inside before adding yarn.
Repeat steps for all three yarn holders. Once you have your full set, snap them together, throw them in your project bag, and go!
About the Author:
Haley Pierson-Cox is a Brooklyn-based craft writer who loves granny glasses and loathes extraneous apostrophes. She blogs about crafts, cats, domestic bliss, and DIY goodness at The Zen of Making.

4 thoughts on “How-To: Modular Colorwork Yarn Holders

  1. Jeannette Pirkle says:

    This is such a cute idea. I need these for socks and lace items. I can see myself making a set. Thanks for posting this item.

  2. Janet Donnelly says:

    Good morning, wow this is really a fabulous idea with easy to follow instructions. I see gift boxes, yarn boxes, storage solutions and that is just the beginning. Thank you so much for sharing this and getting my day started with creativity!

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