What Is The History Of Thread For Quilters?

I just had the thought that you might find the following historical information regarding thread interesting:

In order to make thread, multiple strands are doubled and twisted in a frame. The yarn is then wet with a paste of starch, which is then passed through flannel in order to absorb any excess moisture.

After the yarns have been pushed closer together by rollers, they are somewhat squeezed and twisted together before the thread is built up in hanks, skeins, balls, or wound on reels.

A yard measure of cotton Sewing Thread, contains 54 inches; of the real Linen Thread, 90 inches; of Worsted, 35 inches. Silk Sewing Thread is usually twisted in lengths of from 50 to 100 feet, with hand reels, somewhat similar to those employed in rope making.

When flax is spun for weaving, it is termed Yarn, and when two of these strands are twisted together for sewing, it is called Sewing Thread or Twist.

Ounce Thread was originally called Nuns’ Thread or Sisters’ Thread because it was spun by the Nuns of Flanders and Italy. In the fifteenth century thread was mentioned in connection with Paris, Cologne, Bruges and Lisle. During the seventeenth century, there was mention of thread in Coventry. And by the nineteenth century, the largest quantity of thread was made in Scotland.

Even then, there was a variety of thread for different purposes:

  • Carpet thread – heavy-made three cord thread that was made in unbleached, black, drab, yellow, red, brown and green with a soft and satin finish.
  • Cotton thread – the better class of sewing cotton was known as “six cords,” of which there was a large variety of makes – glazed and unglazed – and sold in lengths running 200, 300 or 400 yards. This thread was available in a variety of colors.
  • Ordinary Linen thread – unbleached, black or drab in color with a soft satin finish. It was sold by the dozen pounds, done up in half-ounce knots, and also small skeins. It was also sold in smaller quantities by the skein.
  • Flourishing thread – was used for repairing table linen. It was also used for embroidery on linen and flannel. It was considered excellent for these purposes because it had a flossy appearance and did not shrink when it was washed.

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