Is my sewing thread too old to use?

Even though you may think that buying a large box of vintage thread on sale sounds like a like your saving money, it may turn out to be quite the opposite. We see a lot of machines come into service on the daily, one of the number one factors that can affect how your machine runs is the needle and the thread. 

Thread can go bad over time, and old thread may not be up to pressure of sewing on a machine. Sometimes, even though the thread you have might look just fine, it can turn out to be too old to do the job. As a result, it will lead to uneven coloring and breakage. Although the expiration date isn’t that visible on the thread, there are still some tricks on how to determine whether your thread is going to fail you or not.

Thread won't last forever, sadly. Older thread can effect how weak your sewing seams are. So if your thread is shredding in your needle its for the best to switch to a new spool. 

  • Light: Being exposed to light will eventually cause the thread to weaken and fade. Therefore, if you can notice that your thread color has changed and that it’s visibly faded, you might want to say goodbye to that one and go shopping for a new thread.
  • Humidity: Another factor to consider is humidity. Humidity can be a powerful enemy to your favorite spool. In fact, if you’re living in an area with an extremely dry climate, your thread might become brittle. And, in a more humid area, a thread will inevitably become rather sticky. In addition to that, it can even mold. So, if you notice a sign of your thread becoming too brittle or too sticky, you might want to get rid of it.
  • Dust: We all hate dust - it’s annoying, filthy and it’s everywhere! Well, dust can settle on your spools. And, that means that while you thread the machine, it will get pulled right into the tension discs. As a result, that might bring your stitching to a screeching halt.

Storing your thread in containers away for direct sunlight can help prolong the life of your favorite spools. 

Here’s one trick to determine if your thread is too old:

You can take a piece of that thread, and make sure that piece is as long as your forearm. Then, go ahead and tie a sturdy knot in the middle of it. After that, start pulling gently from both ends. By doing that, you will be testing both the knot and the thread itself. You might not be aware of this, but the strength of a thread or a rope is reduced by half once you put a knot in it. Well, there’s another useful fact you’ve learned today!
Going back to our experiment here. If your thread breaks when you pull it, consider this day as its retirement day. If it resists your efforts, you can go ahead and start your new project without worrying about the thread! Or keep these threads for hand sewing projects only, you would not want to jam up your sewing machine with old thread.

When it comes to the shelf-life of sewing thread, it’s safe to say that a good-quality thread manufactured today will probably last for about 50 years. That might sound weird since we’ve just told you not to use threads manufactured 20 years ago. However, you have to take the technology advancements into consideration, too. Just think about the dying, spinning, and twisting technology. And, add the evolution and improvement of genetic engineering of cotton plants! Cotton is a natural fiber, right? Well, that means it will naturally degrade and deteriorate over time