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Leftover thread, those odds and ends that we clip and discard while sewing, probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase “materia magica”. As a crafty witch who tries to practice sustainable, zero waste magick, however, I have discovered many uses for materials that I would have thrown away in the past. Doing so makes even more sense when I consider historical witches (and ancestors) for whom frugality was a way of survival. Items were made, mended, and used until they were truly decrepit. Incorporating the thread left over from a project then connects me to that past, forging a stronger relationship with those witches who came before me.


In my book, Sew Witchy, I write that thread is associated with the direction North and the element Earth because it holds things together. Further, depending on the fibers that make up the thread it can have the following correspondences as well:

  • Cotton = Earth
  • Silk = Air
  • Wool = Fire

Thread is often linked in religion, myth, legend and folklore with fate and one’s life expectancy. Goddesses such as the Moirai, the Norns, Frigg, and Mokosh all spin out the thread of a person’s life.

Several examples of folk magick involve tying thread to cattle, babies and even corpses to protect them from evil; and there is a well-established practice of tying thread around an afflicted body part to heal or treat symptoms. Thus, thread’s protective and healing properties. 

Use thread in protection, healing, binding and divination spells and rituals.

Using Leftover Thread in Spells

Thread can be used in witch bottles to tangle up any baneful magick directed at you or your home. Fill empty fingernail polish or perfume bottles with thread to snare any negative or body-shaming thoughts or energies. Keep the bottle in a corner of your medicine cabinet or in the storage space beneath the sink in the bathroom. 

A fast spell for banishing can be done with a clump of leftover thread. Hold the thread in your hands. Visualize any negative energy being caught and held fast in the tangle of thread. Once it is full, burn the clump in a fire or in a heat-proof container to destroy it and the negativity. 

Keep longer pieces on hand to be used in witch stitches–small cross stitches worked into clothing, bedding or other fabric for protection–or to be used as knots in a witch ladder. You can keep the pieces wound around a bit of cardboard. Use color correspondences to match the thread to the intention in your stitches.


Leftover thread can be a useful and cheap source of stuffing, hair and embroidered features for a poppet. Especially if you use thread from a project that has a similar function to what you are using the poppet for. If the thread came from a blanket you made for a loved one and now you are making a healing poppet for them, the leftover thread will already have a connection to the person. 

Thread can be made into a poppet just by itself. Roll two clumps of thread out into two coils (this is done just like you would if you were working with clay). Arrange the coils, one on top of the other, and then fold in half. Wrap a piece of thread around the bend to make the shape of the head. You can use more thread to further shape the body of the poppet. Use it for spells focused on toxic people, or people who have caused or are causing you harm, and in binding spells.

Altar Decorations

Use leftover thread to make bird nests for your altar to bring in fertility energies. You can also use the nest for prosperity rituals–”feathering your nest”–by filling them with coins, crystals, gemstones (real or costume), images of wealth and riches.

Speaking of birds, don’t set out thread for birds to use. This is something I suggested in Sew Witchy but I have since learned that thread can tangle in birds’ feet causing injury and perhaps even death. 

Materia magica aren’t just limited to herbs, crystals and candles. There is a host of traditional folkcraft practices that make use of everyday items for magick. I hope this little look at something as simple as thread inspires you to look around your own house for unusual magickal tools. If you are interested in more sewing and crafty witchcraft you can check out the Sewing Tin Oracle I made last year.

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