Friday, August 23, 2019

Old Thread, Bargain or Not?

Old Thread, Bargain or Not?

Old thread can come from many sources: gifted from someone, estate sales, thrifted, our own stash, etc..  Coming across a big stash of sewing thread can feel like finding a treasure.  But is it a good idea to pick up and use old thread?

I learned how old thread can be a problem from my sewing machine dealer/repair shop.  The owner told me that people often bring their machines in because the machine is "breaking the thread".  The first thing he does is put new thread in the bobbin and through the top - why?  Because a good percentage of the time it is not the machine at all, it is brittle old thread. 

Exactly how old does thread have to be to qualify as "old"? Wooden spool, yes. If it is older than 4 years it should be suspect.  Stored in sunlight?  Even less time. 

Just because it is old, is it bad?  How can you tell? The SNAP test is the best way to tell.  Grab the end of the thread securely (like using dental floss) with about 8" of thread between hands. Bring your hands together and then quickly pull them apart bringing the thread taut in a snap. If it breaks, it is brittle and likely to break in the machine or during use. Consider limiting it to hand basting functions or other non-stress applications.

Once I learned that old thread posed a risk to use I went through every bit of my thread stash.  I had 28 year old neon thread from the early 90's (made florescent M.C. Hammer pants for my toddler), brittle, along with virtually all my serger thread and a hefty percentage of my stash thread.  Tossed it all. 

Now I make sure I purchase good quality thread to begin with and store it carefully, out of sunlight. When someone offers me old thread, I politely say no thank you and share the reason why.

See a demo of how to do the snap test in this Paganoonoo video tip.

In summary:

There are notions that are great thrifting - find out more in this video tip, also featuring Michelle Paganini, courtesy of It's Sew Easy TV.

Love thrifting and upcycling clothing?  You will want to visit and find out more about Paganoonoo's upcycle sewing instructions!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Upcycled Embellished Children's Jean Jackets

Jean jackets are such a classic.  And tiny jean jackets are irresistible.  

I've been collecting children's overalls and jean jackets and am starting to experiment with embellishing them.

I volunteer at a wonderful thrift store in Los Gatos, CA called the Happy Dragon.  

The ladies doing the sorting know I upcycle.  One of them saved a very well loved baby blanket destined for the rag bag thinking I could do something with it.

She was right!  Although the blanket itself was not in good shape it had chenille like motifs that were still looking good.  I fussy cut the motifs off of the blanket.  Difficult to sew on because of thickness I actually glued it on with fabric glue (still machine washable).  It is secure but I will anchor it on with some thread tacks just in case. 

With this next child's jacket I used parts from a pair of cargo shorts for a more rugged look.  The challenging part was editing the number, size, and placement of the accents.  The jacket itself has so many design details and seams that my focus was accenting rather than altering the garment.
 It was tempting to want to add more!  I'm glad I stopped and let it rest for a bit.  I like it just as is.

I offer upcycling instructions for home sewers through my company, Paganoonoo.
One of the designs is a kimono style jean jacket made from parts of jeans using a waffle style robe as a base.
The instructions walk you through design decisions about placements of light, medium, darks, the size and shape of the pieces used, etc.

Once the planning is done, the instructions cover construction techniques.  You create  your own an art-to-wear garment!  These are customer interpretations of the design:
Paganoonoo Boro Jacket
designed by Evan

Paganoonoo Boro Jacket
designed by Trudy Smith
Make your own version!
Visit our Etsy Shop.
       Happy upcycling!  Michelle