Kim's blog entries on goodies from her mom made me think about threads. I've been reading about all this hype regarding aging thread and how one must discard it or use it for basting a quilt, which I do not do! Why is it that all of a sudden, old thread is no longer good anymore? I guess everything has a expiry date, so why not thread! Well, I beg to differ.
If you think about this logically, which is something I tend to do too often, it really doesn't make sense! If thread aged and became brittle, wouldn't antique quilts be falling apart by now? What of the clothing? The quality of thread today is much better than what our fore mothers had. Have you noticed that antique quilts are still holding up despite the abuse some have been subjected too! You see, I too have inherited some old spools of threads from my grandmother, Coat and Clark's to be precise, on wooden spools.
Now, my grandmother took good care of her things. Like most people of her generation, she kept the spools in a little cardboard box, away from dust and light. Keeping in the frame of mind of my grandmother's generation, waste not want not, I began using it for hand sewing. I use these cute little spools of thread for the binding. For me, they work better than the 100% cotton I use for machine piecing. I can use a long strand of thread and don't have to worry about fraying from the friction of the continuous in and out that occurs with hand sewing the binding.
A while back I had the opportunity to visit a Gammil dealer to check those babies out! They are sweet but not what I needed at the moment. I also had the pleasure of talking about thread quality with the owner and the importance of sewing with a good quality thread, Egyptian cotton - long staple being the best. I was informed that the quality of thread can be measured by the amount of thread fuzz in your bobbin case. Thread fuzz is created by the unevenness of the cotton used, those little uneven spins that can be seen under a microscope.
Now, I have always considered fuzz a normal byproduct of sewing. On Carolyn's quilt I had used a Coats & Clark 100% cotton thread for machine quilting. When it came time to cleaning out the bobbing case for another project, I noticed there was a lot of fuzz. On the Welcome quilt, I used monofilament on top and Metler Silk finish thread in the bobbin. After machine quilting I cleaned out my bobbin case and found almost no fuzz. Grant it, there was not as much machine quilting on this quilt but still, I would have expected a bit of fuzz. I also remember doing larger projects using Metler and didn't have as much fuzz.
From this, I can safely say that "higher" quality thread give off less thread fuzz than "lower" quality thread. When I say lower, I do not mean those cheap 10 cent a spool threads. I consider Coat & Clarks to be a good quality thread. They've been around for a long time. What next?
If I choose to spend money on a "higher" quality thread, to whom or what am I doing the favour? Is it my machine, because it won't have to deal with so much fuzz. If I clean it often, which one should do, does it really matter? If I use the "higher" quality, am I doing the Bernina Service technician a favour because my machine won't be a fuzzy mess? What of my treadle machine? It's been around for ages and has had "lower" quality thread and amazingly it still works beautifully!
The point I'm trying to make is, does it really matter what thread you use if you're diligent about cleaning and maintaining your machine? Doesn't it all boil down to what you like and can afford? For some, Coat and Clark works not only because of quality but also because of affordability. I just bought a cone of Alex Anderson's new Master Piecing thread to test. I paid $26.00 for 3,000 yards. That's not cheap! We won't go into the "it never goes on sale and I can't use a Joann's coupon either!"
I'm curious to read what your thoughts are on thread. What do you use and are you concerned with aging thread!
Oh, just in case my sister is reading my blog, which I doubt, let it be known that I'm keeping a close eye on my mother's thread collection too!
Gosh, this is a long thread! Thanks for reading that far!