Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Etsy and old thread

I don't know much about Etsy, having neither bought nor sold there, but Leigh's comment on my last post seems to ring true.  She wrote: "In some ways, that stack of thread is symbolic of exactly what Etsy has come to be.  Some guy who doesn't know jack about handcrafts trying to exploit the "warm fuzzy handmade" image to make a quick buck..."  If you either buy or sell on Etsy I recommend you read that NYTimes article.

But what I want to talk about is the thread.  Several people left comments on that post about finding old wooden spools and sewing with the thread.  Conventional wisdom holds this to be a no-no, because thread does get old and lose its strength.  If you pull a length of thread off an old wooden spool and give it even a half-hearted yank, it will break.  Obviously that is not a good quality if you are sewing a pair of pants or a hammock, or even a functional quilt that you think will be tugged and folded and occasionally washed. 

But if your thread is only used for things that will not be handled, or only for decorative purposes, who cares if it's weak?  I realized this several years ago when I was sewing a lot of "postage stamp" quilts, where each little bit is densely quilted before they're all sewed together in a grid.  I started  using up my old thread for the quilting, which was great because I needed lots and lots of it and didn't really care what color.

I don't sew the thread off my hundreds of wooden spools because I love to display them with the colors intact, but I certainly use anything on plastic.  Really cheap thread makes a mess as a top thread, because multiple trips through the needle hole pull off a lot of lint, but it works fine in the bobbin.

So if you find yourself with a lot of old thread on hand, whether by inheriting it from your mother's sewing box or because you don't turn over your own stash very quickly, do not feel compelled to throw it out.  Use it!  Except for hammocks and pants.


  1. Thread on wooden spools seems sacred, somehow...

  2. One of our Sewing Guild member's daughter was doing a jewelry project with old thread. It was with silver, and multiple colors of thread. She was doing it for her MFA project I think. The thread was somehow enclosed with the silver and was sortof like a tassel. Hard to explain, and I was unable to find a picture of her work. This photo was reminiscent.

    I have purchased on Etsy, but never sold. I have read and heard about others' experiences though. You have to really watch it. There are people who steal other's work, essentially making copies and passing it off as their own work, sometimes even to the point of having the design manufactured in ginormous quantities overseas, and then lowballing the original seller. Depending on what sort of item you are buying, a whole store may be selling "handmade" goods all manufactured overseas. You receive what you thought was a handmade basket from VT, and it has a Made in China sticker on the back. As I understand it, there were MANY complaints, but Etsy did no fact checking on this, even though it was a clear violation of their rules. They just kept on allowing people to sell basically whatever they wanted. There were many sellers who were very irate. While I am assuredly NOT for the Amazonification of the whole world, perhaps Amazon jumping in will give Etsy some motivation to improve service to sellers. Honestly though, some things are not meant to be monetized and go public.