Spooled Threads and Deterioration

Spooled Threads and Deterioration
Various spooled threads neatly organized on a traditional wooden thread rack holder provides not only convenient storage but an esthetically pleasing multi-color arrangement that seems to announce – a sewer lives here! Only problem is that the sun’s UV rays - even contained within ambient or diffused natural room light, or fluctuation in room humidity and temperature can over time dull, fade or yellow spooled threads and structurally weaken the fibers.

Sunlight Exposure – mostly UV radiation contained in visible light is the cause of thread deterioration particularly when threads contain exclusively organic fibers like cotton or silk as the colors can fade (threads deemed fade-resistant color do eventually fade over time) and can become brittle depending on the amount of sunlight exposure. This damage is not reversible.

Excessive Humidity – over time can cause mold or mildew to form on thread spools making the threads feel sticky. Damage is not reversible.

Temperature Fluctuations – if thread spools are continually stored near direct active heat sources (like a heat register or vent) or subject to freezing temperatures (do not store in the freezer!) these conditions can severely weaken the thread over time. Damage may be mild to severe depending on length of exposure.

Shelf Life – vintage 100% cotton threads and some silk threads fabricated without modern techniques are best if displayed and appreciated for their vintage beauty and authenticity rather than used in sewing projects. With that caveat, it is entirely possible to use vintage threads to repair vintage or sew new garments if the spooled thread has had preferably some protected storage.

Those threads made of the highest quality natural fibers (made within the past 20 years) are expected to be usable for sewing, quilting, embroidery even 50 years from now. Modern synthetic threads, namely those made of 100% polyester and polyester wrapped blends may fade over many years but will retain their original strength and usability far longer. Up-to-date manufacturing techniques in spinning, dyeing, and twisting of thread fibers have made contemporary threads of all types very durable and reliable for many decades to come.

Sew happy, sew inspired.

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