Saving Spools: For the Record

It all started at the beginning of 2012 when I read a blog post by Karen Griska on The Selvage Blog. She had saved her empty thread spools during 2011.

 Saving Spools: For the Record

Karen Griska’s spools from 2011 saved in a pretty bowl from The Container Store.

It had been a 31-spool year. I thought the idea of saving your spools during a year to see how many you actually used was a really clever idea!

I saved all of my spools from 2012 and blogged about it early in 2013.

spools1 Saving Spools: For the Record

Diane’s spools from 2012 totalled 37.

It had been a 37-spool year for me.

Then I invited readers of Quilty Pleasures to save their spools for 2013.

And now the time has come!
Get ready to count your spools.

When I counted mine, I was shocked.

2013spools Saving Spools: For the Record

My 10 spools from 2013. So sad.

Only 10.

Ten measly spools. What a depressing thought!

I don’t think I missed a bunch of spools. I could have lost one or two but certainly not many. Was I busier in 2013 than in 2012? Hard to say. One thing’s for certain: I’ll do my darnedest to use more spools in 2014!

Karen asked readers of The Selvage Blog for their 2013 results. Answers ranged from 11 spools to 189 spools. Now that is some serious sewing going on!

 Saving Spools: For the Record

Karen’s 2013 spools numbered 38.

Karen herself used 38 spools. It seems like most people use between 20 and 40 spools. I want to be up there with the lady who used 189 spools!

How about you? Did you save spools in 2013? How many did you use? Please let us know in the comments below.

And if you’re new to this spool-saving business, start now and we’ll chat again at the end of this year. Enjoy every inch!

*     *     *     *     *

Another thread-related post you might enjoy: Learning From My Thread

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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65 Responses to Saving Spools: For the Record

  1. Barb Johnson says:

    I checked the bin where I’ve been saving spools. Only 5 spools were used up this year! :-( Note to self – -GET BUSY!!

  2. Gazynia says:

    I great idea! I save mine and for the year 2013 there was 63!

  3. Marie says:

    I read this challenge in January last year and I took the challenge. I emptied 13 spools this year!

  4. patty says:

    I posted pictures on my blog for the last three years of my empty spools. This year I emptied 43 spools. It was funny that a couple of years ago Karen and I were emailing about this and we both keep our spools in a large blue mason jar and we had emptied the exact same number of spools – freaky!

  5. Virginia says:

    I used to have a clothing alteration business and I would save thread spools in a box for my customers’ kids to play with.

  6. Allen Lawrence says:

    I don’t know how many I used this past year, but I always pick up and save the different size spools and use them for different projects when not quilting.
    I make thread holders for the elderly ladies here at the retirement center to paint and sell. They make great legs for them. You can paint them, carve them into faces, wrap them into ribbons and just about anything. I just like having them around. I have even bought them at garage sales.

  7. Hannele says:

    I use large cones of neutral colours for majority of piecing and all kinds of sewing, so I get quite few small spools emptied with my sewing. Depending on the cone size (and spool size) one corresponds 10-15 small spools. Coming to think about it now: it is environmentally friendly to use the cones :)

  8. Norma says:

    Kept all my spools since I started embroidering in 2011. Don’t forget to RECYCLE those plastic goodiegats when you’ve finished counting them ;)

  9. Mary says:

    What a great idea! I’m in, and maybe it will get me posting on my blog again. Thanks!

  10. Maryellen says:

    I finished 8 spools of Aurifil thread, the 1400 yard ones. I did finish a few other brand spools, just to get rid of them, but probably threw them out. I wanted to see how many Aurifil, so saved them. It’s fun to see this!

  11. Janet says:

    so now that we have all these empty spools just sitting around what can we do with them?

  12. Audrey says:

    I have always saved my empty thread spools. As an elementary school teacher, those that didn’t get used to store ribbons and trims, got used as pulleys and wheels for students’ creations and inventions. Now retired I gather an ice cream pail of spools and then drop them off at the school for design projects. Spools also make cool print blocks. I am not sure how many spools I emptied this year as I didn’t count but I do know it is less and less as I convert from spools to cones. This quilting has become an obsession.

  13. Lorraine says:

    I have always saved my empty spools and reused them for ric rac, ribbons and pipings and any other thing that can get mislaid really easily in my sewing room. I have used 23 in 2013 will have to try for more in 2014.

  14. Joey says:

    At the end of 2012 I saw a blog/post of sewers that kept track of spools of thread used, thought it could be kinda fun to keep track for a year. This is only sewing thread, no quilting/long arm thread. 88 spools of thread which equals 18,443 yards of thread. 10.48 miles.. Was fun, this year I think I’ll keep track of fabric used….

  15. Billie Jean Shelton says:

    Barb-I do this, too. My dh fixed a drill bit for me to use to wind yarn or rickrack onto the spools:)

  16. DARLA DISHMAN says:

    I save mine and for the year 2013 there was 37. I save them for crafts for the kids to do. Make little ornaments for tree, Spool like people and ect.

  17. Carol F. says:

    Hmmmm if my pace keeps up all year…. Yesterday I emptied 6 spools! I’ve always saved my spools, just not in an organized manner/by year. Maybe this is the year to start. :)

  18. Barb N says:

    I was recycling spools, and then it dawned on me I could put them to some good use. I now use them to wind ribbon and rick-rack around and it works marvelously! No more messy drawers. And I still have a bunch left over.


    14 for me!

  20. Lindy Kay says:

    I have been collecting spools for years mainly to recycle for my embroidery threads when buying in shanks and for loose bits that are still usable. I even have some wooden Sylco spools they must be antiques by now. I have used 22 spools this last year.

  21. Linda Becker says:

    I had 23 spools and 11 were the large Auriful spools. I still donate to the church where my guild meets and they get used in the Sunday school classes.

  22. Katie Wilson says:

    I emptied 20 spools in 2013. I thought it would be more! I’ll count again in 2014.

  23. Birgit Schramm says:

    In 2013 I have saved 56 spools :-)

  24. Mary says:

    i started when you blogged about it last year, just counted and I have 23

  25. Jo Ann Harkins says:

    I save my spools, then reuse them to wind my bias on for my quilts. I had 31 this yr

  26. Kathy S. says:

    I only used 19 spools this year. I’m shocked that is all. I blogged about it today at:

  27. Starr Babbey says:

    I have 38, plus a few that the little girls next door needed for a Mother’s Day project at school (and knew that I would have spools!)! I didn’t expect there to be that many. Ranging in size from the little ones to the 1000 yard ones! Guess it was a busy year!

  28. Leanne says:

    I emptied 27 spools in 2013. Of course some of those were almost empty to begin with so I might have a hard time beating that total in 2014! Then again, I have two spools almost empty already, so I’m getting started!

  29. Louise Sutara says:

    I save all spools and turn them into tree ornaments.

  30. Maria Nogueira says:

    Eu não sabia. Vou começar a guardar todos.
    Ótima idéia

  31. Paula Hensel says:

    What a great challenge. I can’t wait to start it for this year. I am really into recycling so I hope that there is someplace that they can be of use.

  32. tiffany winchester says:

    I have an old book called “Spoolcraft” by Arden Newsome….it’s a bit dated but has lots of ideas for kids to make toys from the spools…I used to save mine and give them to my granddaughter…never thought of saving them to see how much thread I went through for the year….
    I had been saving all the tags from my fabric purchases….that was definitely an eye opener of how much I was spending on fabric only!!

  33. DIGNA WILSON says:

    I have save my spools I had like 50.When i babysat my neighbors little boy ,i gave to him to play and he loves it .He uses his imagination .When he goes home i put them back in the box until his next visit.You can do a lots of fun ideas with empty spools.

  34. Diana says:

    I have saved spools and the prewound bobbins for years. 38 spools this year and 32 bobbins from embroidery. Give the kids (4+) bobbins, tooth picks and mini marshmallows and watch their creativity. Such fun.

  35. Diana says:

    I have used 37 spools and 1 cone of thread this year quilting and also doing machine embroidery. 32 disposable bobbins emptied. Would be interesting to know how many bobbins were filled during the year for all the quilt making. Give the kids (4 and up) some bobbins, tooth picks and mini marshmallows and watch the creativity.

  36. PAM BRICHER says:

    I have been saving my spools for a number of years now and have more than I want to count. a LARGE bag full. Wish we could come up with a fun project for them …..

  37. great idea ,i’llsave more more for kids projects,thanks

  38. Lorraine says:

    I save spools and give them to the local artist-in-the-classroom program. They use them for children’s art projects. I didn’t count the last batch, but I’m sure there were over a 100. I do a lot of machine quilting on my home machine.

  39. Bev Gunn says:

    Thought I was the only “weird” person saving the empty spools! Have for the past 2 years and haven’t counted-but my spool holder has many empty spots as I finished off all those partials from years ago! I am getting down to the basic colors with a few odd color darks left over-will use them when piecing half square triangles and keep the dark fabric on top! Kind of fun to look down at the box and realize how much I sewing I have done!

  40. Sandy Q says:

    just heard about this, I’m going to save mine starting now. I have high hopes for 2014!

  41. Kim says:

    I have saved my spools for a few years which I keep in a zipped bag, for my 3 year old granddaughter to play with. I estimate I must have around 130, which isn’t much, but she stacks them up to make “towers” and then rolls a large marble towards them to knock them down – a game she loves! Just goes to prove that you don’t need to spend a lot (or any!) money to make a game that kids love. I have seen wreaths made with empty spools – quite striking – I would enjoy reading about other projects that sewers make with their leftover spools.

  42. Tammy Gericke says:

    I started saving my used spools in June or July, 2013. I have 54 in the bag, mostly about 500+ yard spools. In December, I switched to 1400+ yard spools so I’m sure I’ll have less next year but not for lack of trying, LOL!

  43. Kathy Nyman says:

    Just heard about this, I will definitely keep mine in 2014.

  44. It was a 27-spool year for me. I will give 26 of them to my grandson. His kindergarten class loves it when he brings in things from his grandma for them to do craft projects with. The other one is wood, and I will keep that in my antique sewing supply collection. I have already started on my collection for 2014, so am looking forward to this time next year. Thanks for including me.

  45. Shelby Smith says:

    I hadn’t heard about spool saving until today (1/9/14) but I’ll start saving them now

  46. Robin PJL says:

    Neat idea! I am a coordinator for a Project Linus chapter. I think this would be a interesting tidbit of how many spools of thread are used throughout the year during scheduled MABD. I should add this to our annual “fact sheet”. As for wooden spoils, I have a friend who uses them as part of her YOYO dolls and often comes up short.

  47. Christie1111 says:

    I didn’t keep mine separate but will this year. I have been saving them to make a wreath after putting some scraps around them then attaching to a wreath form.

  48. Gay says:

    I used 14 spools. I think that’s not bad for a new quilter and started in April 2013. I started saving mine with the thought that maybe my granddaughter will come over some day and say they need them at school for something.

  49. Barb Wilson says:

    I wish we could find some recyle sources for these, I always feel like I shouldn’t be throwing them in the trash.

  50. I too have been saving spools for many years. I have used mostly 3000+ yard cones in the last 2 years. We ought to count up the yardages on the spools we have used, as well!

  51. Terri says:

    I’ve been saving my empty spools for years. I have quite a container-full. Years ago someone in one of the towns where we used to vacation was gathering the spools for a school or Girl Scout troop or something, but the last time I brought a bag-full there, she wasn’t doing it anymore. So, here’s my question for you and your readers: What can I do with all my empty spools? Surely someone, somewhere has clever ideas as to how to use them…??

    • SandraLee says:

      If you wish to Recycle your empty spools try Rec Centers (for kids) or your local YMCA for their After School Programs – Art Progject.

  52. Wanda Philbin says:

    I have saved spools for years now. I have never counted exactly how many I had used each year but I just had a telephone call from a school teacher wanting to know if I had about 30 spools for a project she was doing with her call. I put about 50 spools in a bag for her and it didn’t seem to make much of a different in my empty spool box.
    I think this year, I will keep the empties separate and keep count.

  53. Carol Gaskill says:

    I didn’t know about the challenge, so have no idea how many I emptied. I have been quilting since 1983, and I have been saving my empty spools since 1985. I have an empty batting bag full. I thought grandchildren would like to play with them if we ever have any!

    • Cindy Meyer says:

      Love this, I will start to save mine for future grandchildren!!! Thanks for the idea!!! I once, on a rainy day in California, had 15 children sort all of my buttons, I made teams and we sorted by size, color, wood, metal, shape, etc. It was the most fun!! One of the mothers in the neighborhood, 5 of her 6 kids were at my house that day asked me how I could stand to have all those kids in my house on a rainy day and not show one video? Having an education degree helped but I think I would have done this no matter what!! I can’t wait for the fun times ahead!!! God Bless.

  54. Charlotte Quiroz says:

    I only used 4….seems like it should have been more…they were 1400 yard spools…

  55. Sharon says:

    I always save my spools as a re-order quide. I had 6 cones (5,000 yd ea.), 9 spindle spools (1,200 yd ea), and 3 spools (500 yrd ea) Blogged about them here:

  56. Pingback: Saving Spools: For t | Quilting Image

  57. Nancy McFall says:

    I counted 23, although I admit I was making an effort to use up all the partial spools of white/off white that seem to just appear in my sewing room. I figure the socks I lose in the dryer reappear in the sewing room as partial spools.

  58. Joanne harris says:

    My total for the year was 33. I should perhaps have kept the prewound bobbins too. Not a bad total for a year that included three months with negligible time spent sewing. The grandson’s arranged the spools for the spools photo opportunity before splitting them up and taking them home with them. So my container is empty and waiting to be filled again. Joanne

  59. I used 38 from mid year. String piecing is a good way to use up those partial spools,by the way.

  60. Cindy says:

    I didn’t know about this challenge, but have been saving my spools for quite a while. When my 18 month old granddaughter came for a visit, she had fun moving them from one container to another. In future years, we’ll make necklaces, paint with them, stack them like blocks, and whatever she decides to do with them.

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