When I’m piecing a new quilt, attaching binding or quilting a top I have found the thread I use matters not only for the final look but for durability.
I’m not a specific brand advocate when it comes to thread as I have found some very nice threads that were inexpensive and did a fabulous job and I love some of the name brand thread colors and texture. What I find is the type of thread you use influences how it’s going to come out. For instance with my quilts, I choose the quilting thread depending on the fabric and desired look I want to achieve. Sometimes a more solid sturdy polyester thread to stand out more firmly is preferred over a more delicate cotton thread on a quilt. Sometimes I will even use a polyester thread on the bobbin and cotton in the top to mix the result and give the quilt a sturdy foundation with a softened imprint on the top. This works very well on baby and children’s quilts that you know are going to get a lot of washing.
The age of the thread can have little effect on it’s usability as long as it has been generally taken care of and stored correctly. I agree with the author of this blog http://thedreamstress.com/2012/10/does-thread-have-a-shelf-life/She’s used very old threads for numerous things without an issue. I too have found this to be mostly true in my own sewing. She even said she noticed vintage threads often leave less lint on her machine.
I recently received a nice box from a dear friend containing a bunch of old threads. Among them I was really delighted to find old wooden spools of thread and some threads still had original price tags of 25 and 50 cents. Wooden spools are just super cool finds in this day of cardboard and plastic.
Thread can go bad.
All thread, whether new, old or vintage can go bad. If it’s breaking in your machine, snagging, separating or other undesirable outcomes and you’ve checked your tension, threading and bobbin it may just be a bad spot in the thread. When I find this happens, I unwind a very long piece of it and start in a new section to see if it’s just a weakness in one part of the thread. I will change bobbins and needles as well to ensure it’s not those things causing the problems. I don’t think I have ever had to throw out a spool of thread because I found it completely unusable.
There are some who will say you should never use old threads. I say, when in doubt, test it on some scrap material before using it on your project. If the thread holds up and you like the outcome then sew away! Why waste thread?
Even if the thread is discolored it can still be used for piecing that no one will ever see. As long as it’s holding up, why not?
Based on the age of some vintage quilts I’ve seen it appears the threads used at the time the quilt was made have held up just fine so why wouldn’t I want my quilts to also last that long if possible?
I like to buy threads when I find them on sale and I will buy several colors at a time. Usually I will pick up several white, off-white and a few colors. Since most of my sewing is quilting I tend to stick with cotton and polyester threads. A couple times I’ve applied a shiny thread for the quilting design to have a silky effect.
This chart has been one of my sewing resources for years. I still refer to it when I start a new project to check thread recommendations for the fabric I’ll be using.
Happy sewing and quilting! Share pictures of what’s on your machine and let me know the threads you use!
Interested in more?
Reach out to me with any questions. I’d love to hear how you use thread and decide what to thread to use for your quilts and projects. firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of my quilts and sewn items are listed for sale at dragonspitapothecary.com