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How long does thread last?
JudieL
JudieL  Friend of PR
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Date: 7/18/13 6:49 PM

I've been going through my late Mum's sewing supplies and found a lot of thread. There's some that I know is so old that I wouldn't use it, but I'm wondering about some Gutermann that's probably 10-15 years old. Thanks.

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Kwaaked
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Date: 7/18/13 8:02 PM

Do a stress test. If it breaks easily with a tug, it's too old.

Storage is a big thing: no sun, no dirt and no dust. It can break it down. Having said that, I use thread that is 10-15 years old all the time and it's fine. I also use thread that is from the 30s and 40s and it's fine, too.

Some people will have different answers. I do have a quilt that is, at this point, over 125 years old, and the thread is strong and fine in that.

A textile expert I know that works in a museum said as long as it's stored properly wouldn't hesitate at 80 years of age, since it's like any other textile and some have lasted for hundreds of years, but this is not the accepted practice of thread.

Mostly, do the stress test, lol.


PattiAnnJ
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PattiAnnJ
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Date: 7/19/13 0:01 AM

I think King Tut was still clothed when unearthed. Just kidding.

Do the snap test and if the thread passes the test use it. If not and is still colorful, store in a clear container and use to decorate your sewing area.

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"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

"Isnít it a shame in todayís world you canít tell the truth. If you tell the truth youíre abrasive. If you lie youíre charming." - Bob Huggins/College Basketball Coach

Kwaaked
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Date: 7/19/13 0:12 AM

There are mummies with scraps of linen that is recognizable as to what the garment was. Granted, there is a lot of degradation, but some of it is in good enough shape to be shown in exhibits.

I have seen leather clothing from the 700s. It was gross, since it had been around skeletons, but one dress was a good 70% there. The pants were as perfect as can be considering, and the linen shirt was the worst, but you could still see the stitching, yoke and how it should have gone together.

I also was very lucky to see some of Catherine the Great's clothing up close when it toured the US. At the time it was what? 225 years or so, and I could have put it on and worn it out and would never have given a thought to it of falling off (being freaked out with how much the thing would of cost, notwithstanding). Some of it was so well made, it was hard to really put it in hundreds of years old categories.

People routinely wear secondhand garments from the 30s and 40s, and they hold up better then modern clothing. (So is it the thread, or is it the fabric?)

Off topic, sorry.

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Date: 7/19/13 9:07 AM

There's a difference between newly purchased thread lasting for years in a completed quilt or garment and old thread being used to sew a new garment by machine. new thread can stand up to the stress of being pulled repeatedly through needles and fabrics, old threads may not. Old polyester thread has a better chance of still being usable in a machine today than either olf cotton or old polyester core cotton. I've had old spools of poly core, cotton covered Dual Duty Plus where the cotton fell right off of the poly core and the core held up fine.

Remember that Egypt and parts of Peru are two places with extraordinary climates that preserved textiles. Clothing exhibited in museums has been carefully conserved and evaluated for display. The garments might look like you could wear them but, if you're able to examine them closely you will find that there's lots of repair and added support that isn't readily visible. Textiles of all types are the most fragile objects in museum collections.

Bottom line: If you're making something you want to last for years or for future generations, use new thread (the best you can get). If you're making things that will only be used briefly, you might get away with old thread. If you occasionally hand baste, use some of the old thread for that.

I've seen spools of old thread strung to make a lei in Hawaii. Sometimes that's the best way to go, If you've got thread on wooden spools or on other old spools use it to decorate your sewing space and to remember your mom. If you're like many of us here, you probably got your love of sewing from her.

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