How Much Thread??? | Inside Quilters Newsletter

A couple of weeks ago, I was proofreading an article in which the author said she had 220 spools of thread. It got me to wondering.  How many spools of thread does the average quilter have? But there are different types of quilters so it is hard to figure out just exactly who the average quilter is. The quilter who prefers piecing only, who sends her tops out to be quilted, will not have nearly as many spools as the quilter who embroiders or appliques and then quilts her own tops. The quilter who is also a garment seamstress will also have more spools of thread.

This weekend at my real home I checked out how much thread I have.

I worked for a number of years as a traveling consultant for Pfaff. I got to make clothes and quilts to show off new techniques, new notions and new embroidery designs. The thread companies loved to give me thread so I would mention them by name when I was telling about my samples. I remember coming home from one trip to the main office with 100 spools of thread from one company.

Then there are my perfectionist tendencies (thread HAS to match the project exactly). And I love to embroider on garments. Fashion colors change from year to year so the thread I used in 2003 wasn’t the same color as the thread I wanted in 2004. Does this sound like I’m trying to make excuses? Maybe I am. In fact, I’m pretty sure I am. Are you ready for my thread count in my real home? (Drum roll …) (Pause for drama.) 658. Yes, 658. And I have another 50 or so spools in my apartment!

How do I store all that thread? It was a problem to be sure. I had a couple of commercial thread racks but they weren’t enough to even begin to make a difference. My husband is a magician with sheet metal. So I asked him to build me a thread rack. I gave him three spools of thread; a regular-sized spool (the 110 yard size), a king-sized spool (1100 yards) and a cone of serger thread so he could determine the distance between the shelves.

He made me a thread rack out of paintable sheet metal,  brought it home, hung it on the wall and I filled it. I told him I still had lots of thread and I needed another rack. He built it and brought it home. I filled it. I still had lots of thread. I asked him for another thread rack. He just smiled and shook his head. But that week, he and one of my sons built a third rack. This time, the thread I had left was mostly serger thread so they built all the shelves for serger thread.

Finally, all of my thread was stored neatly. I have it sorted by thread type. Rayon is on the rack to the far right. Polyester and cotton threads are on the middle rack and serger thread and specialty threads are on the rack to the left.


658 spools of thread

I have to point out one more thing in this photo just because it makes me smile. The heat run on the ceiling is a little low and because we have tall sons, my husband didn’t want to enclose it. The ceiling would have just been that much lower. So it is exposed. There is a small crack between the ceiling and the heat run (expansion and contraction space for the heat run) and I thought it was ugly. I have been gluing empty spools to the ceiling to hide the crack ever since we finished the room. The row of empty spools goes clear down one side and about three-fourths of the way back on the other side.

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Serger thread

A couple of notes: my thread is in the basement. I don’t have to worry about exposure to light, but it does get dusty. If I use a spool with noticeable dust, I simple blow it off with canned air. Oh, and see Tigger by the purple thread? Tigger lives there because someone (one of my kids or grandkids) put him there. I thought it was fun so I left him there.

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Construction thread

My construction thread is color sorted but not sorted by cotton vs. polyester. That seems a little too picky. I won’t allow myself to sort it by shade from light to dark. That is way too picky. I do have to admit I’ve considered it. And notice the bottom shelf where white and gray threads belong. It’s the only shelf that is starting to get empty because I use white or gray thread for piecing.

I am working on using up thread. For example, the quilting on the red quilt is nearly done and so far has three different colors of thread. The colors are similar but you can see the difference if you look closely. I decided since it is a “for use” quilt as opposed to a “for show” quilt, I could live with the slight variations in color.

That’s the story of my thread collection. I know I’m not the average quilter, so I’m still wondering how much thread the average quilter has.

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