i have this antique coats and clarks spool cabinet that had been my mom's. its made from oak, consisting of two drawers, and has coats o.n.t. and spool cotton painted in black over what appears to be gold leafing on the two drawers -- sort of like the one in the photo. one of the drawers has a little square wooden tray and the other drawer has wooden dividers so that the spools of thread can be organized neatly. its really a neat little cabinet and i've used it for years, especially when i had my sewing business.
the problem with this cabinet is that the drawer with the dividers is really too small for today's spools of thread, unless u buy the guttermann thread -- of which i only have a few. you see, in the days when this cabinet was made, thread came on small wooden spools. i have a few of them from an old sewing box my grandma had -- and they fit quite nicely in the drawer. but the ones of today are huge and don't fit at all. so i ended up putting many of my spools into one of those plastic shoe box containers -- which, if u know anything about sewing and thread and fabric, is not good for them -- but that's where they are. and while cleaning out the kitchen to have them rip apart my wall -- i found that box of thread under the cedar hope chest of my mom's. i guess i had forgotten where i put it.
a couple of weeks ago i was looking for a particular color of thread to fix something and i couldn't find what i was looking for and yet, i knew that i had at one time owned that color of thread. it was frustrating. but this is what happens when u live in a tiny apartment and come to it complete with all ur belongings, and some belongings of those who have come and gone before u. its just the nature of the beast. u don't have room for everything, yet u have a hard time parting with things and so u find whatever nook or cranny where it will fit that u think u might remember where it is when u need it. which, of course, doesn't happen. and thus it was with the thread when i needed it.
but back to the thread cabinet. i got to thinking about the fact that if the spools of thread of today were the same size as the ones of yesterday that i wouldn't have had an issue finding the color i wanted because i would have known exactly where it was in the first place. so i'm blaming the thread companies. i mean truly -- who needs that much of one color of thread. 250 or 300 yards of it. even if ur sewing a complete garment u probably won't use all of it. then ur stuck with this huge spool with a little thread on it and u don't want to throw it out because what if u get a rip in the thing u just created and need to fix it?
so now u have this dilemma about where to store this huge spool of thread and granted, not everybody has a spool cabinet like i do, and they will resort to putting the spool somewhere where they hope they will be able to find it (like i did), when they need it.
so when did the need for larger spools of thread come into play. i mean truly, think about the size of the garments that ladies used to wear -- yards and yards and yards of fabric and intricately sewn bodices and sleeves with delicate lace or elaborate beads attached to them -- all needing to be sewn on by hand. surely they must have gone through a lot of spools of thread for one garment when u consider the size of the spools. as dresses got shorter and less intricate handwork was involved, surely the size of the spool of thread should have gotten smaller -- not larger.
i don't have an answer for this. i haven't researched it enough to know the answer. i just find it frustrating that my lovely antique oak spool cabinet is practically going to waste because the drawer that is meant to house my spools, doesn't accommodate the size of today's spools...