Toolbox Heroes: Beeswax


We love our sewing machines at CNT Pattern Co., but some jobs, as you well know, are meant to be done by hand. Among the biggest issues with hand sewing, though, are the knots that will invariably appear – seemingly spontaneously – along your thread. Fear not, the hero that can come save the day is tailor’s beeswax.

When we first heard about using beeswax to sew, we laughed at the idea. How could a small gob of wax make such a significant difference in our hand sewing? Well, it does. Let us tell you how…


Why Use Beeswax

Tailor’s beeswax reduces tangling and static while sewing and turns your thread into super-thread - by far stronger than thread along. In addition to making hand-sewing much easier, it has been shown to make finished garments more durable. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb that any job needing a little extra strength from your thread will be enhanced by using beeswax. Silk and cotton thread should always be waxed before you begin hand-sewing. It is also helpful in keeping the polyester thread from tangling and adding a bit of stiffness to the product. When you need to baste a seam, and neatness counts, you will be grateful for the beeswax on your thread. If you’ve ever tried it before, give it a whirl. We think you will be pleasantly surprised when you see the difference this little trick can make.


How to Use Beeswax

Cut your thread to the desired length. The ideal length for hand-sewing is, generally, about 36 inches long [approximately from your shoulder to your wrist]. Longer lengths will more easily knot up. If you must use a longer piece of thread, you can minimize the risk of tangling by waxing the thread first, then working slowly until the remaining length is closer to three feet. Next, holding each end of the cut thread, run it through the wax two or three times. It is important to press it with an iron [set to moderate heat] between a folded piece of paper to blend the wax and the thread as well as remove excess wax. It is recommended that you iron through another piece of material if you don’t want to coat your iron [or ironing board] with wax.


A Word of Caution

One note of caution, if you are sewing with white fabrics, test a small area as beeswax can discolor the thread or fabric. If you see a problem on the test area, you must steer clear of beeswax for that particular job.

Remember, whenever sewing any of the following, you should add beeswax first: sewing on buttons, hand working buttonholes, hemming, adding in a zipper, beading, sewing on patch pockets, set in a sleeve, pad stitching, quilting and putting in a French seam (especially on fine fabrics).

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