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The Secret in Your Thread Spool

The Secret in Your Thread Spool

Did you know that most of the quality threads available on the market today have a secret? Or rather their spools have a secret?

I’ve been sewing since I was a young girl when I started making Barbie doll clothes and I didn’t know this secret. Back then in the early 70s, you could still get thread on wooden spools!

Now you may be one of those who has known about this all along. Maybe your grandmother or mother or a sewing friend taught it to you.

But when I learned about this a few days ago, it was the first I’d heard that thread spools have a secret!

Immediately after I read about it, I went to each of the thread drawers in my sewing cabinets and checked every brand of thread I have. 🙂

Here’s the thread drawer in my Art Deco sewing cabinet:

Drawer full of thread spools on brass spindles.

And here’s one of two thread drawers in the Kenmore sewing cabinet that Dave retrofitted to hold my modern Singer:

Second drawer full of thread spools and bobbins.

I picked out one spool of each of the most common thread brands available in my part of the world:

6 different brands of thread

You would never know just by looking at those spools that they each have a secret, would you?

I’ll give you a hint… have you ever tried to find the thread end on a new spool of thread and couldn’t find it no matter how hard you looked?

Once I show you this secret, you’ll always know where the manufacturer has hidden that thread end. Each brand of spool has a slightly different way of doing it and one brand even has a hidden compartment!

First up, a King Tut thread spool. On this spool you can easily see where the thread end is as indicated by the arrow.

King Tut spool of thread with arrow indicating where thread end is

But if you couldn’t find the thread end, simply pry up the top of the spool with your fingers:

King Tut spool of thread with arrow showing how the top of the spool pops up

I had no idea the top of the spools popped up like that!

In fact, on King Tut spools, the whole top comes off, if you pull hard enough.

King Tut spool with the top removed

I’m not sure why you’d ever need to take the top off, because then you wouldn’t have a handy place to secure the thread end once you finished using it. But if you do, now you know that you can. 🙂

On Sulky thread spools both the top and bottom pop up:

Sulky thread spool with top and bottom popped open

The same thing with YLI thread.

The top of this spool came off just like the King Tut spool did but I’m not sure if it was really supposed to or if I pulled so hard that I broke the top.

YLI thread spool with top and bottom popped

The top and bottom of Coats Cotton pops up too.

Coats Cotton with top and bottom of spool popped

The bottom of Auriful thread comes right off:

Auriful Thread spool with bottom of spool taken off

Gütermann thread spools are different yet again. See the bottom with the little ruffly edge?

Gutermann thread spool with arrow indicating bottom teeth for securing the thread endRemember me telling you that the spools of one brand of thread even has a hidden compartment?

If you twist that end of a Gütermann spool not only does it pop up so you can find the thread end… the bottom comes off to reveal the hidden compartment!

Gutermann thread spool with bottom removed to reveal hidden compartment

I read about that hidden compartment in a post on the blog, Quiltessa: Patchwork palette. It’s that post that prompted me to go check to see if any other thread brands did the same.

In her post, she shows how she inserts a pencil eraser into the spool end to make a pin cushion.

And then when I posted the link to Quiltessa’s post on facebook @1SuperMomNoCape, one reader commented that her grandmother kept a needle in every spool she had.

So obviously the hidden compartment in Gütermann threads has been there for a while and perhaps it’s only been a secret from me.

Did you know about this secret in your thread spools?

Other thread posts you might like:

How to Make a Thread Storage Stool



Want to pin this post for future reference? Simply click on the Pinterest button underneath this post.

And of course, I’d love it if you shared in on Twitter and Facebook too. Maybe there are others out there who would love to know the secret their thread spools have been keeping too. 🙂


Photo of spool of white Gutermann thread with text title asking What Secret is This Spool Hiding?



I would be so pleased if you chose to share by clicking on one of the buttons below!


  • Aimee
    April 25, 2020 9:12 pm

    THANK YOU! I have ben searching the internet for what to do with a spool of thread with no tail and finally found your post. Popped up the top of this spool of Coats and pulled the tail right out! I had no idea that the tops popped up. I love learning new things about sewing! I’m self-taught and have been sewing for about 6 years thanks to people like you with useful tips and tricks. Thanks again!

  • Suzanne
    March 4, 2020 9:20 pm

    I feel like an idiot. I’ve been sewing for 60+ years and just figured this out last year! (Duh!) I remember the old wooden spools that had a little gash in them and I’ve often made my own little gash in plastic spools using a utility knife. But the new spools like Gutermann with the “slot” around the circumference are just great. And I love the little ‘secret’ compartments; they’re fun!

  • Arlene Garcia
    January 28, 2020 9:19 pm

    Most of my spools do not have this, sadly. My mom had little plastic bits that fit into the end of the spool and she wrapped the end of the thread around them. I would love to get some if anyone knows where, or even what they are called, Thanks

  • TEMA
    January 21, 2019 6:54 pm

    Well, I’m blown away! I had a look at my spools and some of them do have this kind of feature. For sure Guttermann and Coates and my smaller spools too! Only the really old thread doesn’t have this feature!
    I’ve been sewing for decades and never knew this! Good grief! 🙂 I’m stunned!

    • Liane
      May 19, 2019 2:37 pm

      Me too. I’m 56 and have been sewing for years but I never knew this. There have been times that I got frustrated because I couldn’t find the end of the thread. If I had only know. Lol

  • Sadie Bauer
    December 31, 2018 11:28 am

    There is a surprising use for empty spools by Guiterman. Operation Christmas Child workers discovered that they could make Fishing Kits for children by winding the nylon fishing line on the medium to large spools & holding them on by putting the cut ends into those moveable end pieces. The spool itself can be the “bobber” as it floats nicely. A hook & a picture description of how to attach the works to a stick completes the fishing kit.

  • leona
    November 8, 2018 1:22 am

    Thanks for info Been sewing for 60 years and this is news to me

  • leona
    November 8, 2018 1:14 am

    I have been sewing for 60 years and never knew these things I have slways been frustrated by all the loose ends of threads. Now I know what to do. I have shsred this with friends Thanks for the info.

  • Mary Brott
    October 23, 2018 7:45 am

    I knew about all but the Gutermann. How interesting! I also had Home Ec in high school and the teacher never commented on where to find the end of the thread on a new spool. She didn’t know that there was a raised line of threads on a zipper that you could follow to get you stitching straight when putting one in.

  • Susan
    October 16, 2018 7:27 am

    I had heard about the Gutermann thread thing – but not the others – thanks so much.

  • Crystal
    October 10, 2018 8:51 pm

    I have been sewing for over 40 years and never knew this! So glad I read your post! Thank you for sharing

  • Donella
    October 10, 2018 7:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I’ve noticed this for a few years now, but it’s always nice to spread the word…I seam to always forget to post…I tell those close toe…but seem to forget about posting….thanks again.

  • Dawn
    October 5, 2018 11:08 am

    I knew some of it but not Guterman brand. I have to check that out. Great tutorial.

  • Janet
    August 22, 2018 3:55 pm

    Hi there Super Mom such great hints and tips
    The most amazing thing was the hidden bit in the Gutermann it’s just a thought come too mind once the Gutermann thread was used up then maybe one or both of the ends of them could possible too use on your sewing machine too stop the thread from flying off if you have lost this piece. just a silly thought lol lol

  • Vicki Webster
    May 19, 2018 8:24 am

    I have been so frustrated because my spools of thread would not and did not (I thought) have a place to lock the thread end like the wooden spools did so there was not a tangled mess. I finally bought the small hair wraps that my granddaughter used and they work great. Now I know a secret. Thank you.

  • Kris
    April 20, 2018 5:20 pm

    Thank you so much. I just started sewing again after about a 20 year hiatus and was mystified by the problem I was having getting the thread started on a new spool of thread. I decided to “Google It” and, sure enough, I found your post first thing. What did we do before the Internet? Thanks so much for taking the trouble to put it out there for us to find. You’re a real gem!

  • fitch
    February 15, 2018 2:12 pm

    I using thread on a cardboard tube that was too heavy to use vertically but pressed against the machine because it’s so full when used horizontally. I took the bottoms off 2 Gutermann’s and pushed them into the spool ends. Now I can embroider without the thread breaking

    • Evelyn
      October 7, 2021 7:35 am

      I was thinking the same thing about using the Gutermans cone shaped ends inserted into the the small & maybe even larger thread cones to be used on a regular sewing machine to keep them from spinning off the thread post while seeing. I’m going to look & see if I have any & give it a try. I’ve been using one of my very small spools of thread 🧵 on the thread post & then placing a cone on top of that to keep the cone from wobbling.

  • Sandra Healy
    December 27, 2017 4:51 pm

    I had no idea! I’m now looking at my sewing supplies with a new sense of intrigue, does my rotary cutter have a secret life? Does my seam ripper convert to something magical if I twist it in the right place? Thanks for sharing.

  • Elaine
    November 5, 2017 4:27 pm

    I wish I had t read this now that I tried taking the tops off. One is a “Sew-ology” tall thin spool like Gutermann and the top came off but it won’t go back on. Luckily I only own two of these. Most of theirs are Coats & Clark and I don’t have a problem finding the ends or securing them.

    • Super Mom No Cape
      November 5, 2017 5:35 pm

      I’m sorry that this happened to you, Elaine. I’ve never heard of Sew-ology spools before. As such, I can’t offer any suggestions for what to do to get it back on.

      I’ve never had a problem putting any of the tops back on my spools (of the ones that come off, but I can see how it would be frustrating to have that happen.

      • Emily
        October 5, 2018 2:59 am

        Sew-ology is a brand sold at Hobby Lobby stores.

  • Mary-Jeanine Jeanine Ibarguen
    September 24, 2017 5:28 am

    Just found this post. I will tell you that the King Tut thread allows you to take the entire top off because…it fits their thread stand better. I was having trouble with my KT thread turning freely on their pin. I called them and they said to take the top off. Voila. Its a bit of a pain because I then have to remember where I put the top when I’m done LOL

  • Jennifer Essad
    September 10, 2017 10:37 am

    this is what I love and appreciate about following fellow crafters. Thank you for sharing, I shared on my social media too

  • Beverly
    August 1, 2017 6:27 am

    Thank you for sharing this information, however, the bottom of my gutermann spool never came apart. It was just the small spool, so I was wondering if this was the problem?

  • Janette
    July 31, 2017 8:31 pm

    Yes, I knew these hidden spots! Isn’t sewing fun?! My grandmothers and mother were expert heirloom seamstresses and passed on their love (along with fun sewing secrets) of sewing to me ?
    As our craft is making a resurgence, your article is aptly timed! Thank you for sharing, Super Mom No Cape!

    Nanna’s Closet

  • Monica Sawyn
    July 24, 2017 4:33 pm

    Why on earth doesn’t anyone tell us these things? Well, someone just did, of course, but I’m 69 years old. Learning it a little earlier would have been a big help!

  • Gloria
    July 24, 2017 11:07 am
  • Louise Mills
    July 23, 2017 10:48 pm

    Did not know about the hidden compartment!! Thanks for sharing with all of us!!!

  • Dawn M Stevenson
    July 23, 2017 2:18 pm

    The hidden compartment allows you to keep a needle handy. Place needle in compartmentment and replace top, you are never without a needle, especially if you are in a hurry. I do this to take hand quilting with me when traveling.

  • Bertie Martin
    July 23, 2017 10:32 am

    Had no idea I still have several of my moms some mine wooden spools. Now I have to go buy guttermann to see th hidden compartment. Now I’d like to know what’s th best thread for quilting 1st one 2nd.

  • Pamela Graham
    July 23, 2017 6:35 am

    Yes…in the old days it was the round sticky paper tab on the end and the thread spool. Now most pop up but they become brittle over time and are not meant to be played with.

  • Dawne
    July 23, 2017 2:34 am

    Hi! I just twisted the end of my Gutermann, and it crumbled into a bunch of tiny pieces of plastic. ? Now I no longer have the bottom bit to wind my loose thread into! ???

    • Super Mom No Cape
      July 23, 2017 8:14 am

      Hello Dawne,

      I tried to reply via email but the email bounced back. So I’ll reply here.

      I’m sorry this happened to you. Was the spool an older spool of thread? Perhaps over time the plastic got brittle.

      What you could do is take the end off of an empty spool of thread and use it to replace the one that crumbled.

      Or you could wind the remaining thread from the spool that crumbled onto an empty spool.

  • Jean
    July 21, 2017 11:25 am

    Thank you for this information. I had no idea. My curiosity has peaked and I am going to be checking some of the spools I have. I am interested in the Gutteman reel and the secret compartment. Thank you for sharing.

  • Tammy
    July 20, 2017 8:34 am

    Some removable ends also allow you to use your thread in either direction, depending on the placement on your machine (kind of like the toilet paper rolls – either over the top or from the bottom). So you can actually take the end off one side of an Aurifil spool and put it on the other end and it will unwind in the opposite direction on your machine. Sometimes this can be very important, and can make the difference in whether or not your machine “likes” a certain brand of thread. Check out the photos that show how your thread should unwind on your machine; you might be surprised.

    • TheAlbinoRaven
      August 30, 2018 6:55 pm

      TYVM, Tammy, for this info… I had no idea about changing the end the little pop – top is on, nor that the direction in which the thread unwinds could affect a machine’s performace. Awesome! 😀

  • Amber Harrop
    July 11, 2017 3:09 pm

    I never realised this about my spools _ I know what I am doing after reading this 🙂

  • Hope
    July 10, 2017 4:46 am

    I knew about the gutteman reel. I thought it was to enable you to use them on an overlocker! The bigger hole would allow for that.

  • mary
    July 7, 2017 8:18 pm

    Just another reason why they should not have taken Home Ec out of schools! That’s where I learned this. 58 years ago !

    • Super Mom No Cape
      July 8, 2017 12:30 pm

      Hello Mary,

      That’s cool that you learned about it in Home Ec class. I took Home Ec classes in the 70s and wasn’t taught this. I guess not even all Home Ec teachers knew the secret. 🙂

    • Carolyn Lewis
      November 27, 2017 9:51 am

      Me too. Mom made me take Home Ec. so glad I did.

    • Beverly
      October 11, 2018 10:19 pm

      Excellent idea. Thanks for sharing. I also knew about the pop up end on some spools. When I put my thread away I pop the top and stick the thread under it.

  • Debrashoppeno5
    July 5, 2017 6:33 pm

    I knew about the little slit in the wooden spool or the end of the thread is tucked under the paper. I never realized some spools have secret compartments. Now I will be checking my thread.

  • Karen
    July 2, 2017 5:41 pm

    All of this was new to me – I never realized those tops or bottoms came off!!

  • Jeanne
    July 1, 2017 10:00 pm

    When I bought my Babylock a couple of years ago, no one at the store told me how to get the new spools ready to sew. I suppose they figured that I had sewn recently, which I had not! I looked and looked and could not figure out how to find the tail, so I tried just cutting a piece loose which did not go well! When I did finally did figure it out, I laughed and looked at my moms picture and told her she would be shocked to see what happened to thread spools and the new prices!!

  • Martina
    June 28, 2017 11:58 am

    Hi, my name is Martina and I live in Germany. I have some thread spools from Gutermann thread as well and it looked exactly the same as yours… but no hidden thing in the german Gutermann spool. Strange thing – funny so! Thanks for sharing and making me curious!

  • Leanna
    June 28, 2017 1:05 am

    Too funny. I always buy Gutterman thread and knew about the end for the thread but have never seen the compartment. I always stick a needle in the thread on the side. Not any more. Too funny, thank you for the knowledge.

  • Wendy
    June 27, 2017 8:57 pm

    Mind blown! ?
    Thanks for the tip!

  • Mary Anne
    June 27, 2017 4:53 pm

    Well I’ll be darned!!! I did not know any of this and have always been annoyed by that ‘extra’ bit on the spools, thinking they were there just to catch the thread (usually when I don’t want it to). I had to get some spools and check it out and sure enough. The most amazing thing was the hidden bit in the Gutermann thread! Who knew.

  • Raewyn
    June 26, 2017 2:02 pm

    Interesting! I’m off to check my spools now!

  • Rachel
    June 26, 2017 1:27 pm

    I’m about to go looking for a Gutermann spool so I can find the secret compartment!

  • Trudy
    June 26, 2017 11:32 am

    I was aware of it with a couple of the brands but not all of them. I accidentally discovered YLIs cover popping up. I knew you could slide the thread tail through it to hold it but that was it.

  • Angela Short
    June 26, 2017 9:07 am

    I knew about a couple tricks but not nearly all of them! Thank you for sharing!! Have a wonderful day!!

  • Libby
    June 26, 2017 8:35 am

    This is a very interesting article. Thanks for sharing. I always have a problem with finding the end on the Aurifil spool……now I know!

  • Susan
    June 26, 2017 8:32 am

    Well, I didn’t know about Superior Threads, YLI or Aurifil threads as I don’t have any of those. Guterman I do now about. With most of the other threads I have, there is a small slit into the edge of the spool that holds the thread in place when not in use. Many of my old wooden spools also have that slit.

    • Coletta
      June 30, 2017 5:27 am

      I also knew about the slit in the spool. My mother showed me another one, los of the spools have a small paper label on the ends. Under one of these labels is usually found an end to start with.

  • Lori Smanski
    June 26, 2017 7:36 am

    wow I had no idea. thanks for shairing

    • Sue Dague
      July 19, 2017 8:39 pm

      A lot of the older spools have a gash in the top to grasp your thread. Can’t find it? Color that gash with a black marker. Simple.

      • Marilyn
        July 24, 2017 9:52 pm

        Or create your own gash with a razor blade; I do this on the bottom of my serger thread cones, less tangles in the thread drawer!

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