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Time Warp with Silk Thread

April 21, 2011

I just had the most wonderfully eye-opening experience because of a tiny, hand-me-down, little spool of silk thread. Thinking back to the conversation I had earlier today with my Mom about this experience inspired me to relate it to you as well. I unwound a length of thread from a spool of 100% silk thread last night during a desperate moment with a dress I was finishing for a friend and opened the door to a new world in sewing. Not only did it save the dress, it altered how I think about the materials I choose and the importance of QUALITY. What a unique and wonderful treat this little spool of silk thread from the 40’s has provided me.

How did I come to have this thread? My Mom, a textile artist, had a friend who offered up a small box of assorted silk threads she no longer wanted. I had just given my Mom a sheer top with hand sewn top stitching in silk so she thought of me immediately and accepted this little treasure and passed it to me. I have had it in my stash and in the front of my mind since receiving it as a gift.

What drew me to it now? As I struggled with hemming this tissue thin dupioni dress, ripping out every attempt, I recalled a recommendation to use silk thread for basting because of its unique qualities. As I thought back I remembered that silk thread helps resolve problems such as leaving marks, indentation, and tension issues. As I continued ripping out yet another disappointing hem I did a mental inventory on those threads in the gift from my Mom. Worth the lateness to give it a try. Ripping of hem complete. Time to dig out the silk thread stash.

How did that work? I felt some hope in saving the dress as I sunk my fingers into that surprisingly luxurious little stash of silk spools and bundles of threads. Oooh – nice. Voila! A nice color match to the dress in a spool of the finest thread I have ever seen. I rolled out a length and was surprised at the smoothness of one single strand of thread – and oh, so fine. I could hardly see it. Thread has never caught my attention before. This one made me pause and really feel it’s fine, smooth texture.

I cut a length, skipped the beeswax, and threaded a small sharp on the first attempt. Smooth. I loved running this thread through my fingers. I recalled my Mom saying the thread was purchased in Japan a generation ago so I gave it a couple of firm tugs to see if it was going to break. No problems, and no obvious flaws. I began to sew the hem yet again.


That’s all I can say. Sewing felt like nothing. No tension, no friction, no snags. The thread ran through the fabric like it wasn’t there — like a hot knife through butter is what I told my Mom. I quickly sewed the hem for the last time relishing every stitch and the feel of the thread. I’ve never had this experience. This 100% silk fine weight thread is a little treasure that I am honored to have. I don’t know if my friend will know how the hem of her dress changed my sewing world, but it did. I can’t wait to identify the next hand sewing task that calls for this most beautiful thread. I have 100 yards of it on the tiniest of wooden spools. There’s a part of me that wants to put it in a little glass case on a golden stand. It’s that special. I never thought about thread before. As long as the color matched, I was off and running. This special little spool of silk thread from Japan brought here in the 40’s by some person unknown to me is a treasure.

P.s. Hemming: For this lightweight dupioni, pencil skirt dress I chose a 3″ hem. After finishing the edge with a very narrow serge stitch, I hand sewed it with a catch stitch, catching only two or three threads of the fabric. Here is a link to Threads Magazine’s example of this stitch for hemming:

Be sure to take a look at my most favorite spool of thread as well!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2011 9:31 pm

    Update: Belding Corticelli Silk Threads on Wooden Spools are still available and I’m hooked! I will certainly be shopping for additions to my silk thread locker. 😉

  2. Darlene Sperber permalink
    April 21, 2011 10:41 pm

    Little things like an antique spool of thread makes us appreciate the lack of quality in our lives now. We have replaced it with quantity. I’m so glad I gave the box of thread to you. I know you will enjoy it more each time you use it .

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