By: Jenny Yearous
One of the most overlooked, yet potentially important, aspects of any sewn item is the thread with which it is sewn. The number of plies, the construction method, and the materials used all point to when a type of thread was made. Sewing thread has undergone many changes through time as a result of technological advances, including the invention of the sewing machine, mercerization of cotton, and the introduction of synthetic fibers. While documentation for these changes is often sketchy, there are means by which the changes can be traced, including examination of thread in extant and dated textiles and analysis of advertisements for sewing thread. Consequently, changes in manufactured sewing thread can provide clues to the manufacture date for sewn textiles such as quilts.