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Topic: Looking for fiber content of this old thread  (Read 1551 times)
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« on: March 31, 2012 08:35:36 AM »

Hello all,
In clearing out my mother's sewing box I found a lot of thread spools, including these three that are labeled "Coats and Clark's Button and Carpet Thread":

Here's a closeup of one of the spools:

Sewing is not one of the crafts I do but I thought I could use this thread for bead crafts because it's thick and looks strong, and the neutral colors would be good choices. I'd like to have a better idea of how it will wear, though, so I have two questions:

1) Is anyone familiar with this thread, and if so, do you know the fiber content? I have some upholstery thread that I bought a few years ago that worked well for bead crochet; it was nylon. But this thread is much older - probably from the 1950s or '60s (if it helps, I can say that all the spools are wood; I just don't know when they switched to plastic spools). It is a bit shiny and when I look at it closely I can see the twist in it.

2) Would this still be good to use? I'm wondering if thread deteriorates over time. I ask not just for my own crafts but because I found a lot of other thread too, including Dual Duty and a bunch of spools of silk, and it would help me decide what to do with it.

I was going to contact Coats & Clark and ask them about it but their contact form asks for a lot of personal information and the page isn't secure, so I'm reluctant to do that. I could call them but I thought I'd try here first because I can include pictures. If you know anything about this thread I would really appreciate any information you could provide.

Thank you!


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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2012 06:32:01 PM »

For fiber content, you could try doing a burn test (just google it).  Since it's thread and not fabric, it may not be as easy to tell, but you should be able to see if it's melting or burning, which will tell you if it's cotton or synthetic.

Thread definitely deteriorates.  Hold a length about a foot long between your hands and pull.  If it breaks easily, don't sew with it.  You may also find that it tangles more easily (at least, this is what I find with my grandma's old thread).

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« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2012 08:24:51 AM »

Thank you Claude Cat, that definitely helps. I did think about a burn test but have never done one and am kind of nervous about it so was hoping to avoid having to do it.

The thread on the other spools does break easily; some of it was tangled and the only way to deal with it was to break it. The thread on the wooden spools is mostly silk and it also breaks easily so I guess it's not usable either, but maybe the empty spools will be good for crafting; I'll do some research and if I can't find a way to use them that fits what I do I'll probably donate them. I hate to pitch things that could be repurposed. (Hmm - maybe the plastic spools could too... Smiley  )

The button and carpet thread doesn't break easily; in fact, I couldn't get it to break at all. I may have to try the burn test with it - *if* I can find a safe way to do it! I'll report back if I can pull that off.

Thank you again. I'm off to research burn tests.


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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2012 05:42:59 PM »

I too have a stash of "inherited thread" just like this in a couple of brands.  I imagine it was made of cotton "in the day" but I can't find any content on any of the spools either and googling the term didn't help with the content.  It seems very strong and I have used it without its breaking.  My new spools of b and c are cotton-covered polyester.  The shiny coating is to make it resistant to tangling.  Go ahead and use it for crafting/hand sewing - doubt it will break.
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012 06:25:53 PM »

What kind of craftster are you if you're afraid to torch a little thread?

Use an ashtray or old saucer, wad up about a foot of thread, and touch a match to it.  You aren't going to get a huge blaze. 

for thread or fabric:
If the result is ashy, with a burnt wood smell, you've got a plant-based fiber like cotton, linen, or rayon. 
If it's black and melty, with a chemical smell, it's petroleum-based synthetic like polyester
If it doesn't burn well and smells like burnt dog, it's animal-based, like wool or silk.

sometimes just the outer thread on a spool gets wrecked; you cold try unreeling several layers and strenght testing it again to see if there's anything salvageable.

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« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2012 08:25:40 AM »

What kind of craftster are you if you're afraid to torch a little thread?

A cautious one.

This is an old thread. As Aislynn suggested, I did research burn tests and found lots of information, but I've been busy with other (non-crafty) things so the B&C has been put away. If I do decide to test it I will report back here in case others who have the same thread would like to have that information.

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