Sewing Secret: Belding Corticelli Silk Thread

Belding Corticelli Silk Thread

Yes, this silk thread is just as beautiful and shimmering as it looks. It’s also a dream to work with when hand basting because it’s so slippery, making it really easy to remove.

But the company who produced it don’t make it any more.

There’s an interesting insight into Belding Corticelli and the thread here. I first used this thread when studying with Sunny Gal Studios and I’ve recently been reintroduced to it via my Susan Khalje Couture Dress course. I decided I just had to have some of my own Corticelli silk thread.

Even though this thread is no longer manufactured, you can still get hold of it. My impression is that if you live in the States, this can be picked up for a dime at any garage sale. (Though my impression of America is that ANYTHING can be picked up for a dime at a garage sale. Wrong or right?)

Not so here in the UK. But fear ye not, readers! I tracked down some thread.

Pink Silk Thread

First off, a quick Ebay UK search turned up several options. But they were all being shipped from the States at fairly hefty prices and I didn’t need 20-odd spools of questionable quality thread. Just a couple of spools of excellent quality thread.

So, I turned to Etsy and found Fahrenheit Vintage. This vendor has lots and lots of really lovely silk thread. Don’t click on the link unless you want to part with some money! But I really recommend that you part with some money. Not only is this thread useful, it’s a piece of history and an object of beauty. William Morris would approve:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

This thread is both.

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46 Responses to Sewing Secret: Belding Corticelli Silk Thread

  1. kristiellkay says:

    The problem with getting beautiful, fine things is that then I don’t use them, for fear that I’ll use it all up and not have it anymore. Stupid, I know. =p

  2. Love the quote! And your attention to detail. Marvellous.

  3. Taja says:

    Garage sales around here (metro Phoenix, AZ area) tend to be mostly junk. Very rarely anything worth stopping to see.

    I used Corticelli thread in my first overlocker–close to 30 years ago! *eek!* Loved it! Very smooth–no breakage, even with this inexperienced (at the time) overlocker!

  4. debs2748 says:

    OK been seduced 10 reels in I checked out, looks so wonderful I must have some.

  5. I suppose this would be the place to (somewhat shamefully) admit that about a week after finishing my Sew for Victory jacket and having such enjoyment out of using Belding Corticelli silk buttonhole twist, I found an Etsy seller who had lots of colors of it and bought all she had, with visions of gorgeous handworked buttonholes dancing in my head.

    I had bought the thread I used on the jacket online, too. Now, most of my thread is new stuff, except a few random spools from when I did beadwork in my earlier days. Wasn’t I was surprised when I went through my thread that I actually had a spool of Belding Corticelli in black! I could only surmise that I must have nicked it from my mom as a teen. She had done beadwork 20 or so years before I was interested in it, which at this point was another 20 years ago. (Sorry, mom! 😉

  6. Rosie says:

    Lucky me, Mom had quite a bit of Belding Corticelli silk thread which I got.

  7. maddie says:

    Silk thread for basting? I never would have thought about that but it makes sense. Thanks for the tip.

    The shop is on the pricey side but I feel that it’s worth it – I’d buy their products and not fret too much over it.

  8. MarrieB says:

    Silk thread for basting is wonderful. It just has this smooth spongy feel that I can’t properly describe. The bonus is that if you press it, it won’t leave marks on the fabric!

  9. Miss Celie says:

    So, after a few years of blogging I also started to think that in the states everything in the US could be found at a garage sale for a song. Totally not true! And, where my parents live, garage sales are for ebay resellers. Every vintage machine I’ve bought in Florida is from a garage sale poacher. I will say though, I have had several friends in the US find Singer Featherweights out in and by the trash. Craziness.

    • Clio says:

      Apparently, all those vintage sewing machines in the windows of All Saints were DONATED! And yet, I have never seen one at a yard sale. Sigh.

  10. Marie says:

    Oh, Karen…I clicked on the link! What have you made me do!?! I have an important question though – is this beautiful silk thread only suitable for hand basting/sewing, or can it be used for regular machine sewing too?

  11. Gjeometry says:

    Thanks for letting us know of that shop! The thread is so pretty, it almost glows from within.

  12. CGCouture says:

    I live in Mennonite country, and if you plan to get anything for a dime at a garage sale, it probably should have been in the recycling. If it’s halfway decent and less than 2 decades old, you can buy it for similar money at Walmart. 😉 The only exceptions to this rule are used kids clothes and anything from one of those tacky decorate-your-house parties.

    • LinB says:

      Yep. Yard sales (you call them garage sales, somewhere else they’re tag sales) around here usually have prices bottomed out at 25 cents. I rarely stop at them but my mother finds them delightful. I’d rather poke around the shelves of our local thrift stores: you can gape and gawp and not hurt anyone’s feelings if you find something ridiculous about the items displayed there. It’s like going to a small, local museum, and being encouraged to pick up the artifacts and play with them.

  13. After following Susan’s course on Craftsy I also bought some…I was so intrigued. I got mine from the States. However I started wondering if they are really vintage…there seems to be an awful lot of Belding corticelli thread out there for a company that closed down so long ago

  14. Karen says:

    Yes, Belding Corticelli silk thread is indeed all you said it is! But, believe me, going to an Etsy store is much easier than going to garage sales here in the USA – although maybe not as cheap!

  15. There was a Belding Corticelli factory in the town where I grew up (which isn’t far from where I live now in Western NC). Not sure if they made the silk thread there, but I think so. Sigh. Sad that it’s gone. But thanks for the link! I have not seen any of this thread at a yard sale, and I visit quite a few.

  16. Jen (NY) says:

    I’ve just been using Clover brand silk thread, which I think is fairly nice. In a pinch I sometimes use rayon thread for basting too. I don’t think I’ve used Belding Corticielli, but I did inherit a number of wooden spools of thread from my grandmothers. I’ll have to take a look through them.

  17. poppykettle says:

    Well this couldn’t be better timed… I had just watched that lesson last night and went to bed wondering about it. Thank you!

  18. meggameuf says:

    What a great shop. I could look at those colour combinations all day. If, as you say some of it can be brittle, are you planning to use it for any other purposes than basting?

    • LinB says:

      You can string them together on rattail cord and use them for a Christmas tree garland. I’ve glued fabric scraps around plain old empty plastic spools and strung them up like that, to quite delightful results. Silken threads would be much classier.

  19. Rachel says:

    you can get anything for a dime at a yard sale in the states… until you start looking for it.

    • photosarah says:

      I’ve been hitting up garage sales and thrift stores for awhile (and blog about all my finds!). I’ve found some great things along the way (fabric, etc.), but it’s definitely easier if you aren’t looking for something specific. And I’ve never seen any silk thread. 🙂

  20. What timing. I just blogged about my first foray into garage sales here:
    http://miasews.blogspot.com/2013/05/garage-sale-ing.html
    I find them hit or miss, but the one I stopped at today was golden.

  21. Colleen says:

    I never find anything good at garage sales here, although I know a lot of my Maine friends do. However, your post spurred me to check Etsy (where I ALWAYS find tons of good stuff) and one purchase later:
    https://www.etsy.com/transaction/131064363
    Is that totally adorable or what? turquoise leather, silk thread, and a little red gumby thimble, all for ten bucks? YES!

  22. Helen says:

    I think I might buy some to use as an ornament! It’s a beautiful object just to look at!

  23. Robynn says:

    My grandfather was a vice president at Belding Corticelli. I have his business card tucked on my bulletin board. Sadly, I learned to sew long after he retired so I never had the pleasure of using the thread. Thanks for the memories of Gramps.

    • Nancy says:

      Robynn, I inherited several spools of Corticelli thread from my grandmother. I am moving & downsizing. This thread needs to go to a good home. I like the idea of it going to someone who has roots in the history of this company and I am willing to mail it to you. Please contact me by email if interested (and if you live in the US, as I do not want to pay for overseas shipping!).

      • Robynn C says:

        Hi Nancy, I would love that! I live in Seattle. I can’t figure out how to email you directly from this form, but my email address is robynnc at comcast dot net and I could send you my physical address that way. Thank you so much! Robynn

  24. Ann Chafin says:

    My DM used the cotton Belding-Corticelli thread for general sewing back in the 50’s and also the B-C silk buttonhole twist. It was beautiful thread – very smooth and came in such beautiful colors. Back when knit fabric became the rage (before sergers and the knowledge of using a narrow zig-zag stitch), I used the Belding-Corticelli Nymo nylon thread to sew knits. It had a lot of stretch and seams didn’t pop. This was back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I still have several spools of it. I figured that when DM died and I inherited all her sewing stuff, that I would find some of her old B-C cotton thread spools, but she had evidently used them all up. I remember the cotton thread coming on the very large spools.

  25. Anthony says:

    I agree ..the Belding Corticelli thread is beutiful..I found a box of 30 spools of vintage thread at the thrift store for $4 so your theory about a spool for 10 cents is spot on ; )…the two that pooped out at me werevthe shade 1034 pink and color 1419 turquoise Corticellib thread …wonderful : )

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  27. anna m brown says:

    Ok i’m lost here the thread is old and brakes but yess very pretty…….I Just cut up a baby blue one was silky but it was old and broke….so i am lost……I do find allot of them here in maine…. Was looking the brand name up on internet and iseen your page….

  28. Patricia says:

    I have a spool of Belding Corticelli Mercerized Cotton thread, hunter green, that is older than I am and I am 69. It belonged to my grandmother. I’m about to use a bit of it to sew a button back on a shirt I add under my winter jacket for extra warmth. I’ve been able to find tons of information about BC’s silk thread, but nothing about their mercerized cotton threads. If anyone has any information on that, I’d like to hear about it.

  29. Miss V says:

    I literally just inherited a Belding Corticelli cabinet with hundreds of spools of the silk buttonhole twist and the traditional silk thread spools in perfect condition. Our family friend who passed away and his wife had an antique doll business. There’s so much of it that you’d think I’d be able to use it without guilt, but there’s something special about silk thread that makes me hesitate to sew with it.

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  31. Ms. V says:

    I to have belding corticelli :-). Wasn’t sure of history, but it sews beautiful. (thrift store) I have cones & spools. I was using it in my overlock to teach myself to serge. I will be more protective now that I no it’s silk…..Thanks

  32. nuriaarana@Hotmail says:

    I have a few of the thread I want to sell it

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