4 Ways to Use Up Leftover Spools of Thread - Sustainable Sewing

If you’re into sewing you’ve most likely purchased thread to specifically match a fabric for a project. I do it all the time! Gutterman thread comes in a dazzling rainbow of colors and hues and you’re almost always likely to come close to perfectly matching your fabric.

A lot of online fabric stores offer the option to pair a spool of matching thread with your fabric. Perfect to avoid an extra trip to the fabric or craft store!

After you finish a few projects, you may find that you have spools of half used thread piling up in your stash. I am not an advocate for tossing perfectly good thread just because the intended project is finished.

Here are FOUR great ways to use up those leftover spools of thread!

1.Zigzag Stitch Fabric Before Prewashing


If you are going to sew something you will wash (clothes, small bags, etc) it is important that you wash the fabric before you sew with it. Fabric often will shrink during the first or second wash. What a pity it would be to sew a shirt and only have it shrink awkwardly the first time you wash it!

When you wash fabric with raw edges the friction and tumbling of the washer and dryer can cause those edges to fray. If you want to avoid pulling string balls out of your dryer and saving some length on your fabric, try zig zag stitching the raw edges before you prewash.

2. Finishing seams

finishing seams

When sewing garments, directions typically tell you to finish the seams. (Check out my blog post on four different ways to finish seams without a serger.) Finishing the seams prevents the fabric from fraying during wearing and washing and will extend the life of the garment.

Finishing seams isn’t just for garments. I highly suggest finishing seams on all projects. It extends the life of the pillows, headbands, bags, or whatever you are sewing!

My favorite way to finish seams is with a contrasting thread and overcast stitch. I think it’s a fun way to add a bit of interest to the garment and it’s almost like a little secret detail.

3. Gathering Stitches

gathering stitches

If you’re ever sewing a garment with gathers, like a gathered skirt or a Wiksten Smock you will be instructed to add gathering stitches.

Gathering stitches are long loose stitches with the thread tails left long in order to scrunch together the fabric and hold it while sewing a seam. You want to use a contrasting thread when sewing gathering stitches. The stitches are pulled out after you sew the seam, which makes them a perfect use for leftover thread!

4. Display

display spools of thread

This is the least practical way to utilize leftover thread, but it is one of my favorites. I’ve been given vintage thread from my grandmothers. I love the wooden spools and thinking about what projects the half used spools were used on.

Unfortunately, as thread ages it becomes weak and can easily break, which doesn’t make it ideal for sewing with. So instead I display it on a shelf.

Even if you don’t have vintage thread, you can display your half used spools in a glass jar as a way to remember the previous projects you’ve worked on. This is also a great storage method as well, you can always pull out spools as you use them!

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