Saving Spools in 2013

A year ago I saw a post by Karen Griska of Selvage Blog about saving her empty thread spools in 2011. She emptied 31 spools that year. Since it was the first year she had saved spools, she didn’t really know if that was a good year or not. (Sounds pretty good to me!!)

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I liked the idea and started saving spools right away. At the end of 2012, I took some photos and did a count.

spools1 Saving Spools in 2013

For me, 2012 was a 37-spool year.

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My machine isn’t picky about its thread so I use many different brands. I mostly use cotton but I’m not opposed to other fibers.

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See the big greenish-gray and tan cardboard spools? Doesn’t it seem like I should get extra credit for those?


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I will confess: toward the end of the year, I purposely used up spools with less than a full load on them. I couldn’t help myself. I was feeling competitive. I guess when you figure those against the big cardboard spools, it all evens out.

A few days ago, Karen posted about her saved spools for 2012. She used fewer than last year but I know for a fact that she is a prolific quilter. (I bought a small quilt from her etsy site that I just couldn’t live without, pictured below. You can buy the pattern Karen wrote: Plaid Weave; she also has many wonderful quilts for sale at reasonable prices. Karen’s designs are powerful and her pattern/tutorials are chock-full of ideas. A steal at $5! Her quilts always have BIG impact.)

il 570xN.370592643 pxgl Saving Spools in 2013


From Karen’s blog comments, I learned about Shirley at The World According to Me. Shirley used 160 spools last year. Another great post is by Patty The Quilt Lady who used 63 spools.

Would you like to save spools with me in 2013? At this time next year, I’ll write a blog post and we can share our spool counts. It’s not a competition but it’s really going to be fun!

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email:
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29 Responses to Saving Spools in 2013

  1. Pingback: Saving Spools: For the Record | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  2. Ele W. says:

    I have lived here for 10 years now, and the quilt shop closest to me, about 25 miles one way, takes empty spools of any kind to their school, so that is where I take my spools, which I collect in a small cardboard box close to my machine. I sometimes have to take them over more than once a year. :)

  3. Susan Paxton says:

    I save my spools…have never thought of counting how many I used each year…I have a large glass cylinder that I put the unique ones in to display in my sewing area…I am sure our local school could use them…


    I have some spools of thread that belonged to my mother, (The house was sold 20 years ago ,so they’re older then that, I hesitate to use them on my quilts ,Do you think they have lost strength so should I just use them for basting? Saving the empty spools sounds like fun. Where to put them ?Hum???

  5. Jerry Beavers says:

    I will save mine this year. Will be interesting to see how much thread I go through. I will donate them to a school or a church for children’s art projects.

  6. L. Edwards says:

    If any spools were empited at my home, I sure one of my cat would truely enjoy playing with it.

  7. Shirley Weaverling says:

    I’ve been saving spools for years. I wish someone would let me know where to send them. Thanks, SW

  8. Bev Gunn says:

    A couple of months ago I decided to clean out partial spools of thread by using them to wind bobbins. Since then I have emptied 19 of these spools! And, they were only for use in bobbins! I am OUT of light to medium color thread now and either have to resort to using the darker threads or buy thread for bobbins. But, at least, I have used up stuff that was just sitting around and taking up space and given purpose to their existence. So, I am making progress on “use it up or find another home for it” mantra! Now to figure out how to do the same with all the fabric I have! But that is another story.

  9. Barbara Keese says:

    I have been saving my spools for years and have a drawer full! Would love to find a good home for them.

  10. Barbara says:

    Here’s a little bit of fun spool trivia: the small spools from Mettler thread will whistle if you blow through the spool end! My son discovered this feature about 20 years ago. I don’t remember if the large ones whistle. FYI to moms, it is not a terribly annoying whistle in the big scheme of things. ;^)

  11. Trudy Lindemann says:

    I already threw out several as well this year, but I know what you mean, it is an interesting idea! Also, since I do a LOT of machine quilting I save the spools with only small amounts of thread on them for piecing quilts… they sure do empty fast! I know I used a lot last year because I had a very full thread rack (over 112 spools) and then some and well over a third of the rack is now empty.

  12. Cheryl Gunderson says:

    I’d love to save spools with you! Sounds like fun.

  13. Stacey says:

    I’m in! This will be my first full year as a bona fide quilter so I probably will have few spools – but what fun to see. (I started last year in July).

    Thanks for sharing with us – I am going to head over to Karen’s etsy shop too!

  14. Nancy McFall says:

    I’ll save them this year. I hate throwing anything like that away, I’m always sure I can use it for something! Donating to a preschool or elementary school is always an option (I’m a former preschool teacher, we use anything for counting and sorting games!)

  15. I do save them and have quite a collection, but don’t know what to do with them!?!

  16. Sharon says:

    I save my spools every year – it helps with inventory for ordering for the next year. I hate to run out of thread. Of course the staples just have to be complimented with fun colors and verigated.

  17. Claudia says:

    My machine loves the tread that comes on those big cardboard spools. As far as keeping a count of empty spools, dah’lin, I’m a big enough pack rat. The spools gotta go.

  18. Julie says:

    I have thought of saving mine and now I will! This will be fun.

  19. Brenda says:

    Instead of counting the spools used up, we should be counting the number of yards, some may be using up lots of smaller spools, I would have fewer spools, because most of my thread is purchased on cardboard spools, more yardage for the buck.

  20. Barb Johnson says:

    I used to save spools when they were wooden….. I made knitting spools out of a couple of them. Somehow, the plastic ones never seemed worth saving. But I think I will start this year, just to see how many I use up. Hmmm, now I have to figure out where I can hide them so DH doesn’t think they are garbage and throw them away….

  21. Starr Babbey says:

    Neat idea – I think I will try to save them and see! But, do I really want to know how much money I have spent in one year on just thread alone??? Of course, I do take advantage of the half price thread sales! And to start – I just dug one out of the garbage can in my sewing room! Happy sewing everyone!

  22. Joanne harris says:

    I have been saving the empty spools for a few years. First year I think I did count them after that when you two jars were full I bagged them up and donated them to my grandson’s school. Younger kids can use them for sorting or for art activities. Slightly older kids can use them in Science class as pulleys.

  23. Amy says:

    Have always saved my spools … I thought everyone did.

  24. Becky says:

    forgot to add that i’ve seen some ideas for using your empty thread spools – one lady i know keeps ribbons and trims wrapped on them, while another uses them for a base for binding so when she pulls the binding from a free-standing thread holder it goes right to the machine and not coiling up on the floor or getting in the way…i’ve used some for christmas ornaments..

  25. Becky says:

    sounds like an intriguing idea! i’ve oft wondered how many i go thru… so the count begins!

  26. Linda says:

    The church where my quilt guild meets has a child care center. The teacher takes the spools to use for crafts for the kids. Maybe a church in your area will do or does the same.

  27. Jan says:

    What to do with them after you have saved them??? I have saved them for years….

  28. Katie Wilson says:

    I’m going to save spools this year. Haven’t emptied one yet, but it will happen, and I will put them in a special place (hope I can remember where that is).

  29. PennyDog says:

    I would, but I’ve already thrown out one, maybe two and I don’t think they’re in my bin anymore!

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