A change for the better

There was talk on the Stitching Fingers Ning Group recently about using Gütermann polyester Sew-It-All thread as a fine thread in embroidery, and splitting it into two plies.

Now, I’ve got a fair few spools of Sew-It-All in my box, and I knew for certain that they are a three-ply twist. The plies were very fragile spun threads which you’d be hard put to use for embroidery – they would simply break apart. Excellent sewing thread, but not something to break up and play around with for embroidery. (I’d already tried, of course – I am a terror for taking threads and yarns to pieces to see what happens.) I commented that this was a three-ply thread you could not use split, on a Stitching Fingers forum.  ‘No, no, it really is a 2-ply thread!’ people replied.

Puzzled, I tried Gütermann’s website and yes, it is listed as a two-ply thread, d tex 300/2 to be precise. So today I popped into our lovely local sewing shop, Watson & Thornton, and bought a couple of reels. Sew-It-All has changed dramatically since I last bought any.

Sew-It-All thread detail

The green thread here is the old one – three fine, very fragile, spun plies. The navy blue is brand new: two plies (there’s a visible difference in the twist) and those plies are made of long filaments – much less fragile. Stitching with a single ply is perfectly possible, although it still needs fairly gentle handling.

Two things come out of this discovery. Firstly, if you didn’t know that it has changed either, you wouldn’t realise that it’s now usable divided, as a very fine thread. (I’m not big fan of the feel and handle of polyester thread, but if you need to do teeny-tiny details, this thread is a useful option. It’s widely available, very good quality and comes in a very large range of repeatable colours.) Secondly, if you want to split the thread for embroidery, you do need to make sure you’ve got the new kind not the old. I imagine that there are still shops with old stock around, particularly in less-popular colours, and you may – like me- have old spools knocking around the house. Don’t assume you can split those or you’ll be disappointed.

Sew-It-All spools compared

Sew-It-All new top

Telling the old from the new is fairly easy. Old spools have the thread-winder at the top, new ones at the bottom. Old spools also have the colour number and place of manufacture at the bottom, new spools have these on the paper label at the top of the spool, with a bar code.

One last clue, if it says ‘W. Germany’, like this one, it’s definitely been around for a few years!

Sew-It-All old end

Before I go, a big hello and welcome to the new readers who have started following Tortoise Loft recently. I hope you’ll find my posts interesting. Don’t be afraid to make comments, ask questions and let me know if there’s any particular topic you’d like me to talk about.


7 Responses to “A change for the better”

  1. Cool! I read about splitting threads on Trish Burr’s blog, but had never tried it. It is good to see this up close!

  2. suetortoise Says:

    Nice when something improves rather than going out of production! If you look at the second photo, where the green and navy threads cross, you can see the difference in the construction. The new has a bumpy ‘pearl cotton’ look, the old is rounder and smoother.

  3. Sue; don’t throw the old spool away…who knows, that old ‘W.Germany’ logo may be worth something (someday) lol

  4. Elmsley Rose Says:

    “W. Germany” is rather a dead give away, isn’t it! Am I in Spam?

  5. suetortoise Says:

    The trouble with maturing is that things I think of as ‘a little while ago’ now often turn out to be around twenty years ago. That particular thread was bought to reattach buttons on a green jacket I had in the 1980s, now I think about it. Nothing wrong with the thread as sewing thread, so it will be kept until it’s needed for something. Much of the silk thread that I am using on The Curiosity dates to 1973. (And was old stock being sold off cheap, then!) I knew it would come in for something sooner or later…

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