A Mess of Thread

A Mess of Thread

Is your thread making your sewing life miserable?

Collecting thread is almost as fun as collecting fabric (at least that’s what my wife tells me) but that thread could be the source of most of your sewing woes.

Thread, like many other products has a usable shelf life which is affected by the environment.


The Thread Shred

Have you ever been sewing and your thread keeps breaking, no matter what settings your machine is on, the fabric you're sewing on or the speed you are sewing at, your thread continues to break. 

You probably think there is a problem with your machine but can’t figure it out, although you change the thread you are using for one reason or another and the problem mysteriously disappears.

You were a victim of the thread shred, a spool of rotting thread that is weak, deteriorating and coming apart.

I have several customers a month asking me to fix their machines, stating they are continuously breaking thread and can’t figure out the problem. After going over their machines the only problem I find is old thread handed down by a family member, bought at an estate sale  or thread they bought new years ago which is rotten and coming apart.

The main contributors to thread shred are sunlight and dust. Sunlight is brutal on most things and thread is no exception. Storing your thread where sunlight can hit it a couple hours a day will destroy a spool in a few months. 

Dust, while not as brutal as the sun will yield the same results. The time it takes depends on the amount of dust allowed to accumulate on your thread, but the effects on your machine are more harsh.


Identifying Thread Shred

There is an easy way to tell if you have thread shred. Pull a few inches inches off the spool you suspect, take it in both hands and pull firmly until the thread breaks. Do this eight to ten times, the thread should break uniformly every time. Every break should take the same amount of pressure and each one should be a clean break.

If each break takes different pressures, the thread rips or shreds when it breaks or you get a puff of dust and thread particles like a mini explosion, your spool has thread shred. Using rotting thread in your machine will dramatically increase the build up of lint and dirt in your machine. If the rotten thread is due to dust, it is equivalent to opening your machine and dumping dust in it.


 Preventing Thread Shred 

Do not use old thread bought at estate sales, yard sales or handed down from family members. Rotten thread is hard on machines, increases lint build up and can increase maintenance/repair costs.

To protect your thread keep it out of direct sunlight and keep it covered to prevent dust from settling on it. 

My wife has the most of her thread on thread racks mounted on the wall, covered with clear plastic. This is an affordable and effective way to protect thread from dust, we have blinds on our windows which blocks the sun. If using blinds is not a good option your thread can be covered with a black or colored cloth, protecting it from both dust and sunlight.

If you only have a few spools of thread Artbin and Dritz boxes work great for storing thread and placing them out of the sunlight in drawers or under a desk. If you have larger amounts of thread, and a wall rack is not a good option there are a number of different storage towers that work well for preserving your thread.

Regardless of what tools or system you use, preserving your thread is vital to the health of your machine and protecting your thread investment.

Do you already use a system to protect your thread? If so tell me in the comments how or what system you use.




Making purchases through any links helps to support my content with direct or affiliate sales. If you have questions you can leave a comment below or send me an email richard@odessasewingmachine.com  

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