A couple of months ago, when I had to make some sample braids for an article, I decided to try a waxed cotton cord I had seen online.
I wanted to use something stiffer than embroidery floss, something that would really show the structure of the braids.
And also something I could set down partially done to take an in-progress photo. Not a good idea with bonded nylon beading cord, my only stiff-yet-smooth braiding material. It’s too slippery and wild. Sprongs all over the place when you let go of it. I was hoping that waxed cotton would be more well-behaved.
The waxed cotton was just right! I really like how the braids turned out, too. They have a nice rugged look. And they feel good—supple and firm, but not harsh. Firm yet cotton-y. I want to use more of this thread. Though I don’t know yet how it wears, or gets dirty, or washes up…I’ll update this post when I find that out. If you’ve used this or any type of waxed thread before, please leave a note! Any info/ insights appreciated…
Maine Thread Co. calls the thread “polished” cotton. The spools say Blue Bird waxed cord, and I think it’s made in China. It’s fairly lightly waxed. The cord itself is braided, not twisted or plied. Very smooth. To see it closer, click once on a photo, then click on it a second time. This type of cord probably can’t take being twisted a lot in one direction—starts to kink up—so certain braids might not work well with this thread. The two-loop braid, for example, and certain twined braids. [update: The two-loop braid isn't a problem after all, at least for short lengths. I often finish a larger braid by dividing the end into thinner mini-braids to form a braided tassel, and the two-loop braid worked fine in this cord. Btw, a 2-loop braid always curls and twists a bit in any braiding material, won't lie flat!]
It comes in several nice colors, a little on the muted side. The brown colors have a leather-like look, especially the medium and heavy weight thread. The larger spools in my first photo are the medium size—1mm. My braided samples are all in the lightest weight, the .5mm size.
The only thing I don’t like is that there are occasional grayish spots on the thread. But there aren’t a lot of them; I only once or twice had an instance where I had to discard a length of thread, or had a speck turn up visibly on the braid.
The braid on the left does show one of these—actually it’s a bad one, more of a streak than a speck. Half-way down the upper yellow strip, on the left (click on the photo to see it).
Above is a photo of one of Dominic’s bicolor loop braids in waxed linen—he originally shared this braid in a reader’s gallery post last year. (It was this photo that first got me interested in waxed thread.) His thread looks shinier than my Blue Bird brand waxed cotton.
[Dominic reports that his waxed linen is heavily waxed, and meant for sewing leather. He says the type of waxed cotton I have is pretty hardy---he's worn a bracelet made of this type of cord for "6 months of hard work" before it looked worn-out. It may be meant for sewing leather as well, Maine Thread Co seems to carry a lot of leatherworking equipment as well as threads.]
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