Thread Matters: Aurifil Spools

Welcome back to Thread Matters with Aggy Burczyk!


In this issue of Thread Matters I would like to give you my preferred tips and tricks to using Aurifil spools.

Don’t you sometimes really (!) feel frustrated when unwrapping a wonderful new large spool of Aurifil thread and you turn the spool in your hand to enjoy the color and to get to the beginning of the thread … and turn and turn … and you cannot find it?


What now?

Be honest: Have you ever tried to ‘wring’ the spool to find the loose end? Are you ever so desperate that you actually take your embroidery scissors out and try to cut into some thread?

No, no, no – it’s so much easier than that!
Simply wiggle the base of the spool a bit (whether 50wt, 40wt, 28wt or 12wt) and it will actually come off.

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Et voilà, here is the beginning of the thread. Easy as that!

First tip: I even use the reverse to secure the loose end of the thread when storing the spool. I just wiggle the base off, wrap the loose thread end once around the spool core and snap the base on again. Et voilà again, no more loose thread ends getting all tangled up.

Second tip: Since we survived the challenge of actually having a thread end that we can use to thread the machine, now we have to decide where to put it on our machine.
Horizontal or vertical spool pin…  that is the question as most machines will offer both!

Let’s have a look at the Aurifil spools.


You can see from the picture, that the thread crosses itself in a regular pattern around the spool. Aurifil’s Mako, Lana Wool and Poly spools, whether cone size, large or small spool, are cross wound. For best sewing and embroidery results the thread should come off the top of the spool.


The best way to use a cross wound thread is actually in a horizontal spool holder, but it is absolutely crucial to sorrow free sewing to hold the spool in place between a spool cap and a sponge base. Usually they come in two or three different sizes with the sewing machine.


Third tip: The spool cap should not be larger than the diameter of the spool itself, as otherwise it may lead to the thread getting entangled. Upper thread tension might change due to added friction. Or even worse, the thread could even break.

Since the small and large Aurifil spools have such a small diameter, I really prefer the little button spool cap on my Bernina, which actually fits just right into the tip of the large spool itself. No interference whatsoever with the thread coming off the spool.


Some of us love or would love to use the big cones. These are certainly worthwhile, especially in neutral colors which are used more often for piecing. Some of you might not buy cones as they cannot be placed on the horizontal nor on most of the vertical (upright) spool pins as they are just too big. Many sewing machines offer optional add-on or even built in spool holders with a vertical telescope thread guide. These are just perfect for these large spools.

Your machine does not have a telescope thread guide and you do not want to invest in one for your machine? Well, there is a way!

Last tip for today: Place the cone in a big glass or plastic container at the back of your machine and have the thread come up to the first guide, which ideally should be a hook as you can see in the picture. This method works well under two conditions: the cone should be steady and not fall over and the thread must not catch on any edges of the machine, otherwise it will break.


What if you have a parallel-wound (straight-wound or also called ‘stacked’) thread? This spool should definitely be placed on a vertical (upright) spool pin. The spool needs to turn to unwind the thread. Therefore the Aurifil invisible monofilament thread on the small spools for sewing machines are on a vertical spool pin.



I hope you enjoyed these little tips all around the Aurifil spools. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have other problems or need to know anything else.

I’ll be with you again in around a month. And remember:  Thread Counts!

Con un caro “Ciao”



    1. Our Joann’s doesn’t carry this thread, other than internet not sure we can buy it local.

  1. Thank you so much! I finally understand something very basic: cross-wound spools lay down horizontally and then the spool does not turn at all to unwind the thread–the unwinding is done as a result of how the thread is stacked on the spool. I have tried so many ways to remember which way to put the spools–little rhymes, arrows, etc–but knowing “why” I’m doing something is the surest way of remembering. Thank you, for this and for your wonderful thread, one of my favorite indulgences–on my “wish list” every year when my birthday rolls around. Two more months!

  2. That is good to know, I have that problem a lot. I think I have more trouble finding the beginning on pre-wound bobbins. Do you have any tips for that?

  3. Thanks for the info. Here’s what I’m never sure about though – when you’re using a spool on the horizontal pin, which way should the thread come off the spool? From the top or the bottom? (just like the never ending debate of the toilet paper roll) Or does it not matter?

  4. Thanks for the tips. I have had trouble with finding the ends of the thread so I will definitely be using these tips.

  5. Interesting and helpful. What do you do if you don’t have a horizontal pin???

  6. I’m a little confused. I thought if the thread came off the top, it meant that the spool had to be turned around – top of the spool to the right, seated inside one of the foam spool holders. So that means that I have been removing the base of the spool so that it does not snag the base as it comes off. I’ve never had a problem once I was told to remove the base of the spool.

  7. Great tips! One question: Do you have a suggestion as to where to buy a sponge base? My sewing machine did not come with one.. Thanks!

  8. I just purchased some Aurifil thread (4 orange spools). However, the orange spool seems to be one solid piece/cylinder and simply cannot be separated. In other words, the ends cannot be twisted off and separated. Any suggestions? I’m a novice at this! I actually broke off the end of the spool and am using the thread on my machine that way. It does wobble a bit on the vertical spool though. I have the other 3 spools I’ve not touched yet and am not keen on breaking off the ends of those! Help!

  9. Thanks for your explanation, it certainly makes sense, except – in one regard.

    The unwinding of the cone thread – which is cross wound – does not fit your theory for placing the small thread cones in the horizontal position – a horizontal unwind.

    Can you please explain this?


  10. If I have the spool horizontally on my machine.. which way should the thread be pulled off the spool… from over the top or from under the bottom of the spool as it is sitting horzontally? Is it different for just piece work vs. Free Motion Quilting?

  11. Thanks for the tip. I knew it had to be something to be by the way they wind up the thread(they way it is manufactured. As I noticed it is quite different to another thread(Gutermann)that I use.

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