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In Defense of my Thread Stash

I was working on a class sample a little while ago and I was at that must-get-it-quilted stage. In a post in March, I included a picture of a beginning paper piecing sample in *gulp* pink. When it came time to quilt it, I searched my thread stash for pink thread. I had low expectations when I began rooting through boxes and the thread racks on the wall. Pink. PINK. I don’t mean to slam pink. It’s a great color, but it doesn’t generally appeal to me. I’m guessing you have similar relationships with a color or two…orange, perhaps? For the record, I have LOTS of orange, but that’s for another day…PinkPaperPiecing

For this quiltlet, I wanted pink thread to match the four different values of pink, so that the quilting would blend rather than stand out. So, I wasn’t just looking for pink; I was looking for FOUR specific pinks.

Imagine my shock when I found exactly what I needed right there in my existing thread stash! Pink Thread from my Stash I have a budding collection of rayon and poly thread for the tiny bit of machine embroidery I do on my BERNINA 730QE. This is where I found the pink. It was all purchased for specific embroidery projects, but it worked nicely for this quilting. As I pulled the thread, the quilting designs for these flying geese came fully formed into my brain. Look for the arrows. It should always be that simple.

If I ever wondered why I’ve given up shelf space for thread that I don’t use on a regular basis, this was it. You are welcome in my studio, spools of cotton, rayon, poly, and monofilament! Someday, you each may be a key player in one of my projects.

Here’s the finished class sample! Do I have more pink in my future? You’ll just have to wait and see! At least I have the thread for it.

SouderPaperPiecingforBeginners

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ThreadDrawerDividers

Thread in wall-mounted drawer dividers. No, this isn’t all of it.

To buy or not to buy…
To keep or not to keep…
To use or not to use…

These are pretty existential questions to apply to my humble thread stash, but this is what’s on my mind this week.

To buy or not to buy: yes, by all means, buy. But also choose carefully. I don’t have a huge thread stash, but it’s filled with quality threads. I’m partial to Aurifil, Superior, and Isacord, but there are other brands that I like and that work well. I also buy cones of threads I use all of the time, like Aurifil cotton 50wt in black and an incredibly useful neutral khaki #2370.

To keep or not to keep: keep the thread that’s good quality and not so old that it breaks easily. Don’t give away colors just because you don’t think you’ll use them. You’ll want them when you least expect it. I’ll admit that I have a haphazardly curated collection of old thread from my mom and my sister that I will never use. It may be time to purge that.

To use or not to use: the answer is “use.” Why do we buy yummy hand dyed and variegated threads and then save them for something special?! Your work is special! Use the thread; they’ll make more. Do you need to justify using your “good” thread? Here’s how: if you don’t use your thread, it will eventually age out of its usefulness and then you’ve paid for decorations rather than useful spools of thread.

Based on experience, there are brands I will not buy, will not keep, and will not use. Once a thread proves itself inconsistent, fragile, excessively lint-producing, or harmful to my machine, I kick it out of my studio. And I can’t say this forcefully enough: if you bought thread 5 spools for $1, you got exactly what you paid for.  I get that thread can be expensive. Balance that against the time you spend ripping, restitching, rethreading your machine, troubleshooting when your machine rebels, and possible sewing machine repair bills. Finally, thread from a grocery store is meant for emergencies, not for use on your sewing machine. Possible exceptions might be those general stores in rural areas that cater to fabric and sewing needs as well as groceries.

My thread stash is not huge, but it serves me well. I tend to buy thread for specific projects and I keep threads that are given to me regardless of the color as long as they are new enough to be in good shape. I store much of it in clear boxes, sealing out the dust. In a perfect world, your thread should be protected from dust and from direct sun. Do the best you can. And please, please, have fun using your thread.

In the interest of full disclosure, these pictures represent only some of the thread in my studio. I also have more in my storage room (aka The Black Hole of Quilting Supplies), but there’s no way I’m showing you that! So, you may use your imagination. ContainersOnShelf

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