There has been some discussion recently about substitutions for Silk & Ivory when the piece needs to stand up to some wear. Substituting threads is a common problem, especially when you are working on an older piece. Often the thread called for no longer exists, or you can’t get it easily. There are many ways to find a substitute thread and sometimes, if the thread is still made you might be able to find a way you can use it.
When you are looking to substitute threads first you need to understand the original thread. What type of thread is it (ribbon single-strand, or stranded)? What fibers is it made from? How thick is it? In this case Silk & Ivory is a thick, single-strand silk & wool blend.
Blended thread get characteristics from all the threads present so when looking for a substitute, consider single fiber threads from each fiber in the blend. In this case that would be silk and wool.
The first would be to use, as many have suggested, a wool thread. Wool has the advantage of being very sturdy. One great thing about wool is that you can use single-strand (i.e. Tapestry wool) or strand (i.e. Persian and crewel wool) interchangeably for almost all wools there is no difference to the eye.
Wool has the disadvantage of being somewhat difficult to find as it’s less popular these days. The result would be more matte than using Silk & Ivory.
Another possibility would be to use a single strand all silk thread such as Vineyard Silk or Planet Earth. Silk, as a fiber, is stronger than wool and traditionally has lasted a long time but wasn’t because it was stranded silk used for hard-wearing items because of the possibility of snagging. These thicker single strand silks are too new for us to know much about this but I would almost certainly do it in silk. This will give you a less matte look, and, I think would be the closest to Silk & Ivory.
Another way to substitute is to look for a different thread that will meet the criteria of the finished product. Her something that wears well is needed. Going outside the box you could use perle cotton. It is very hard-wearing for cotton and I know people who stitch belts or dog collars and use nothing else. However the look will be much shinier.
But can Silk & Ivory (and Trio) be used so that the problems are minimized? In fact it can but you need to be extremely careful to thread your needle so that pilling is reduced. This makes all the difference. Thread wrong and there are many pills. Thread right and it wears well.