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Thread: Project Rewind: back to the 60s - Reuse your wooden spools!

  1. #1
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Project Rewind: back to the 60s - Reuse your wooden spools!

    I put this on my blog, but I think there are some people here who might like to see it as well.

    (I made a video of this too that I will try to put up to YouTube, but it will take me time, because the old video camera's not compatible with my current computer.)

    In the early 1970s, thread manufacturers stopped using the wooden spools for their thread. This was strictly due to cost. A wood spool cost them between 2.5 and 4.5 cents per, where as a plastic spool cost half that. Financially, it made sense.

    Unfortunately, the sewing experience doesn’t seem to be the same. Plastic spools hop all over the place, they’re loud, and let’s face it, they’re ugly too. I really think the older machines like the wood spools better too. They're heavier and harder to "spin around" and mess with the tension.

    In another thread, we were discussing why you couldn’t rewind some of these old spools. The easy answer is “there’s no product on the market that will do it”.

    Yesterday, I came across a photo of a Two Spools machine that was winding a wood spool, and I decided it had to be possible for “the rest of us”.

    Note: This process will work better with a top mounted bobbin winder. It may work with a side mounted winder, but it may limit the size of the spool you can use. It should work with a Side Winder too. I can’t see a way it would work with a Self-winding bobbin. Also, for pretty obvious reasons, it won’t work with the long bobbins.

    I spent a little time with Google, and came up with a couple of hits that were interesting, including this one:
    She does it to save a little cash on serger thread, which is a great idea.

    Down the road, I will build myself a stand alone one, based on some ideas I formulated today while working on this.

    So, I thought about it, there’s no reason it wouldn’t work with wood spools, except that I didn’t want to hot glue anything to them, it sort of ruins the "authentic" look to have a bobbin glued to the top.

    Enter the “Hook and Loop” tape. Or Velcro for those who like the brand names.
    I have these little circular H&L disks, and they’re self sticking. That’s important here. Normally with a sewing machine, self-stick is the last thing you want. Yuck, I did that once, what a mess that made.

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    Step 1: Stick a little H&L disk onto the top of the bobbin, then the matching disk onto the wooden spool. Try to get it centered, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll have to hold the spool when winding it anyway. (Any self sticking H&L tape will work, just cut it to the approximate size of the bobbin)

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    Now put the two pieces together.

    Step 2: Install the bobbin where it belongs on your machine.
    Step 3: Set your machine up to wind a bobbin, per the manufacturer’s instruction manual. If there’s a guide just before the bobbin, like the one you see below that helps the bobbin fill evenly, you may need to skip it. It won’t help it in this case, so we’ll be manually making sure the thread is wound on evenly.

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    Step 4: Wind a few rotations on. Make sure you wind in the right direction, or when you start to wind for real, it will just come undone. The bobbin winder on the Singer 411G winds clockwise, so I wind the thread that counter clockwise before I start the wind.

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    The other thing you can do is tape the thread to the spool. Make sure that you tape it in the right direction though, or the wind will take it off again.

    Step 5: Let ‘er rip. In the photo below, you’ll notice that I’m not holding the spool. This is for the photo only. I found that when I got it moving fairly fast that the spool came off the bobbin and flew across the room. It’s best to gently put a finger on top of the spool to stop it from lift off.

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    Step 6: Once the wind is complete (either your wood spool is full, or you’ve run out of thread on the donor spool), you can remove the spools, and place the wood one on the spool pin, thread up your machine and start sewing with it.
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    That’s it! Happy Authentic-Looking Vintage Sewing
    Last edited by ArchaicArcane; 11-10-2012 at 02:04 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member BeckyB's Avatar
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    LOVE IT! Thank you sew much for sharing this wonderful idea! I have a HUGE amount of serger thread I would love to try this with!
    It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

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    I'm going to have to try that. Thanks for sharing!

  4. #4
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    I just thought of something.... OK,.. version 2.0!

    If you had the not scratchy side of the H&L tape on the wooden spool and cut it to the size of the spool, then poked a hole in it for the spool pin,....

    It could double as a spool pin felt.

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    Thanks for posting! Great idea!

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    What a clever idea! I have several wooden reels I would love to use again. Thank you for sharing.

    Clare

  7. #7
    Super Member nygal's Avatar
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    Yes, thank you for posting this. I have several wooden spools my Mother gave me. Many still have thread on them. I'll have to see if any of my machines will wind thread on the spools the way you show in the pictures.
    When it seems like the world is falling to pieces remember that the pieces are falling into place. We are nearing closer to the End Times.

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    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    My pleasure everyone! If anyone tries it on a "side mounted" bobbin winder, I'd love to hear about it. I may try with one of the 15s, or the 401 later, but if someone else gets to it first, I'm all ears.

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    Great idea! I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

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    Super Member chips88's Avatar
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    oh. i am so glad to see that this can be done .. thank you very much to have pics of how it is done.
    ​debra

  11. #11
    Junior Member Kittywolf13's Avatar
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    love this! will be great for my W&G and my 66... both of which i think would appreciate older wooden spools vs plastic.
    Proud owner of: Eleanor, a 1896 Willcox & Gibbs Chain Stitch Treadle; Tucci, a 1952 Singer Featherweight; my mothers Singer Touch & Sew 758; Brother XR 6060
    1910 Singer 66; Singer 99K Shadow, 1929 Singer 128 (currently w/hand crank)

  12. #12
    Dee
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    Thanks for sharing this fantastic idea. Where there is a will there is a way. Will try this.

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    Love it! thank you! i like the look and feel of the wooden spools too, and i have a bunch of them. i'll try it.

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    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    Clever, clever. I use a late 40's early 50's Pinnock (Aussie brand so may be unknown to you). It has a side winding bobbin fill.....due to the different configuration it won't work for me, but will work a treat on my top winding machines. Thanks for posting.

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    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    I have a sneaking suspicion that the FWs won't need the spool springs as much anymore too... money saver!

    BTW, if anyone's interested in the articles I found to tell me when the wood spools were discontinued, they're below. One article written fairly recently, and 2 newspaper articles. The newspaper articles are fun too, because of the other articles, and the "funnies".

    http://www.interweave.com/needle/pro...n-Spools-1.pdf
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...rontpage&hl=en - Page 6 by the funnies.
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...rontpage&hl=en - Page 20

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    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Hey Earthwalker,

    I'd have to see it, but there's a chance the smaller spools would work. I think a 15 for instance should be able to do it, but haven't had a chance to try yet.

    That said, you just need one machine that can do it and you're golden.

    Now that I think about it, I should have put the word out that I was looking for spools before I published this. I suspect it's going to get harder to find them now.

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    The bobbin winder on my 15-91 is very close to the body once you push the bobbin winder in place. The only spool that wasn't too long was an very old spool of Belding Corticelli silk buttonhole and button thread. The spool is 5/8" tall x 1'wide and holds 10 yards. It's a really tight fit without any hook & loop tape.

    They still make wood spools. I've seen them in the wood findings section of craft stores and websites. Pet stores also have bird toys with colored spools.

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    Super Member chips88's Avatar
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    you bet they the wood spools are hard to find and a fair price ebay has some but there shipping is not fair, where would you find them . and what to look for hope to get real wood and not plastic when dealing on internet.
    ​debra

  19. #19
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pennycandy View Post
    The bobbin winder on my 15-91 is very close to the body once you push the bobbin winder in place. The only spool that wasn't too long was an very old spool of Belding Corticelli silk buttonhole and button thread. The spool is 5/8" tall x 1'wide and holds 10 yards. It's a really tight fit without any hook & loop tape.

    They still make wood spools. I've seen them in the wood findings section of craft stores and websites. Pet stores also have bird toys with colored spools.
    Darn! I was hoping that some of the black machines could do it. I'll try to come up wit a list of the machines that I have here that can squeeze a spool into the bobbin area. I guess that makes a case for a SideWinder for some people. I was hoping to avoid that.

    The lovely lady at our favorite antique shop yesterday goes, "of course! I used to rewind the spools all the time on my Bernina..." I looked at her and thought: "You need to be posting on the Interwebs!!"

    I was at Michaels yesterday too, and it didn't occur to me to look there.

    Quote Originally Posted by chips88 View Post
    you bet they the wood spools are hard to find and a fair price ebay has some but there shipping is not fair, where would you find them . and what to look for hope to get real wood and not plastic when dealing on internet.
    It's even worse once you start to shop out of country too. There are a lot of times the product is worth the price, but they want 2 -3 times the price of the item for shipping. Ebay's been really bad for that lately, but Amazon is too.
    The Antiques lady yesterday said go to the antiques shows. They're "cheap" there. The problem is, the next one is in a town 100 miles away, and then there's admission on top. I'd have to bring back a truckload full to make that worth it. ... On second thought. I'm OK with it.

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    I use an electric drill with a chopstick through the spool and rewind mine. There are wooden spools available from craft places, and I got some brand new ones in a batch of "seconds" for making parrot toys.
    Carol V___Pa.

  21. #21
    Super Member LoisM's Avatar
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    Fantastic! I'll have to give it a try (if I haven't thrown all my empty wooden spools away).

  22. #22
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cvthedragonlady View Post
    I use an electric drill with a chopstick through the spool and rewind mine. There are wooden spools available from craft places, and I got some brand new ones in a batch of "seconds" for making parrot toys.
    Carol V___Pa.
    See,.. Parrot toys wouldn't have ever occurred to me, but you're the second person I've seen mention them.

    One of the links that I found mentioned a drill as well. I was thinking I'd make a "stand alone", using something like that, or a shaft on a SM motor,... It's not like I don't have enough of those here.. it would be like the Long Arm Bobbin Winder setups.

  23. #23
    Senior Member MrsBoats's Avatar
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    That's a brilliant idea! I have several dozen of the things-seems like every old machine case/table/box of stuff has a few in it.

    If you put a straw over the spool pin, would that help prevent lift-off when you're winding?
    -Karen
    There's no such thing as too many sewing machines!

  24. #24
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    I'm sort of in the same boat. The problem is that most of mine still have thread on them, and I can't bring myself to unwind them. Those ones I display. The empty ones (Or the ones I can see wood through the thread, so there's barely any thread on them) I rewind, but the first picture is the sum total of the spools I have to rewind.

    It's not the spool side that launches, it's the one with the H&L Tape. Technically, I need stronger H&L, or a more balanced spool / bobbin combo. Otherwise, the straw would be a great idea.

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    Super Member carolaug's Avatar
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    So glad I found this again...I was just telling a friend about this...

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