Is your thread old? How can you check?

I found some cute vintage spools of thread at a flea market a while ago and thought they would be cute for a craft project. Looking at the pretty colours I wondered- could the thread still be used for sewing? So I did another of my weird deep dives to find out!

throwing out old thread when does it expire

 (I love these old wooden spools!)


Did you know thread expires?! Well I didn’t. It’s not good for as long as we’d like either. Thread lasts for about 5 years before it starts to lose strength and degrade. How can you tell if it’s still ok to use? Here are some tips.

How to tell if your thread is old:

1. Is it fuzzy looking?

Interestingly, thread breaks down as it ages and fluff is a sign. Then when you use it in your machine that fluff is deposited throughout your sewing machine 🙁 This breaks the thread down more and leaves lint and dirt in your machine. No one wants to clean out their machine more than necessary!

Nesting, skipped stitches, and other sewing problems are going to be the result. Sewing machines put a lot of stress on thread as it goes through the tension discs and needle especially.

2. Can you break it easily with a tug?

If so, that thread has got to go! It won’t stand up to the wear and tear of use on your gorgeous sewing projects.

How to prolong your thread’s life:


1. Store in a cool, dry place.

Keep it nice, crisp & dry! I know in Canada our temperatures really fluctuate from the lows of winter to the highs of summer, so try to do the best you can.

2. Keep it away from sunlight!

 The sun can cause the colour to fade and we know what sun damage can do to lots of delicate things.

thread rack with spools

Now, do I expect to toss a bunch of thread out of my regular sewing stash? No, but I am going to double check and do a stress test before using something that hasn’t seen action in a while.

And those cute vintage spools will definitely see some crafty activity- maybe I’ll collect enough to make a cute wreath! 

thread wreath
Until next time, happy stitching! 


Michelle Brassens

Hi, I’m Michelle! I’ve never met a craft I didn’t like. Sewing however was where I really found my groove! So I left behind life as a pastry chef and concentrated on making things with fabric instead of food. I work at Dinkydoo Fabrics now and get to write about sewing and quilting for work. Stick with me and I’ll show you all kinds of tips and tricks, from beginner to expert maker level. Can’t wait!