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Superior's Blog Posts

  • SewGlow Upholstery Thread

    SewGlow™ is the first-of-its-kind, patent-pending glow-in-the-dark thread for heavy-duty sewing applications, such as upholstery, outdoor gear, sports equipment, and more. 

    Made from a proprietary blend of bonded polyester and secret sauce, SewGlow is very strong and can be stitched through heavy fabrics, vinyl, and leather with ease. What looks like standard white thread when exposed to light, becomes a radiant, glowing green when there is an absence of light (darkness). Because SewGlow is solution-dyed, the glow-in-the-dark pigment is impregnated into the fiber, which eliminates the risk of having the glowing agent flake off when sewing. SewGlow is a size #138 (Tex 135) thread which is ideal for bold stitches that stand out and offer fantastic contrast.

    Check out our newest video highlighting SewGlow!

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  • Superior Winners: Gail Stepanek and Jan Hutchison

    We are pleased to showcase the amazing Stars on Mars by the dazzling duo Gail Stepanek and Jan Hutchison!  These two are amazingly in-sync for living hundreds of miles apart.  Gail and Jan met on the internet and collaborated for years before actually meeting in person.  When working on a quilt together, they plan out all the details of the quilt before starting and share work frequently as they progress.  Jan recommends if you work with a partner to get in writing details such as who submits the quilts and which partner pays for what.  Luckily, Jan and Gail work so well together they have never needed that.

    Stars on Mars

    Stars on Mars

    Stars on Mars

    Gail designed the paper pieced pattern and spent almost two years making the top and Jan spent three months working full-time to finish the quilting.

    Gail used Kimono Silk for the applique and found that it was stronger and didn’t fray as much as other silk threads she had used.  Jan used inspiration from the quilt’s name, Stars on Mars, to quilt this master piece.  Jan used Superior Metallic Silver on the top and in the bobbin (to make the back pretty) to mimic Martian plant life.  For the background quilting she used MasterPiece #155.  The border was quilted with So Fine! #50 color #409 and the stars were quilted with various MasterPiece colors.

    Gail and Jan’s beautiful Stars on Mars won Best of Show 2015 at AQS-Albuquerque, Best of Show AQS-Lancaster, and IQA Master Award for Machine Artistry 2014.


    Images courtesy of Jan and Gail

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  • Superior Stars: Lea McComas

    Lea was practically born using a sewing machine, sewing her first garment at age 6.  By 16, she completed her first hand-pieced and hand-quilted quilt (and never did that again!).  After years of experimenting with quilting techniques and styles, Lea had a moment of clarity in her studio.  She felt like she’d never be a painter, but that she would strive to achieve a similar level of artistry using thread in the place of paint.

    We are grateful for Lea’s talent and are pleased to show off her fantastic 1st place 2014 IQA Superior Threads Master Award winning piece, Bike Boys.

    Bike Boys

    Bike Boys

    Look at the detailed shading with the thread.

    Lea and Bike Boys

    This beautiful piece of art was inspired by a photo from a 1896 Denver bike race.  This ambitious piece took 8 months and 13 miles of 144 different threads to create.  Lea loved using OMNI (172 color choices) because of the variety of color and value (light vs dark).  To keep her piece from looking flat and cartoonish she used variegated colors of King Tut (136 color choices). 

    Lea has recently published her book, Thread-Painted Portraits:  Turning Your Photos into Fiber Art and teaches nationally and soon to be internationally.  To see more of Lea’s breath taking work, check out her gallery at LeaMcComas.com.

    Images courtesy of Lea McComas

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  • Questions about Silk (Part 2 of 2)

    Superior Silk

    Silk is a fiber which connotes luxurious sheets, deep colors, and finesse. In the thread world, Silk is treated as the ultimate delicacy for applique, clothing construction, and quilting. Silk offers durability and long-lasting strength combined with lint-free luxury.  This gorgeous fiber may be intimidating for first time users, which is why today we are answering several of the most common questions we receive about our silk threads.

    Q. What is the difference between filament and spun silk?
    A.  Filament silk thread is made from a continuous strand of silk which is twisted together to create the final sewing thread. The silk cocoon is unwound to form one long continuous fiber and then tightly wound around itself to create a multi-filament silk thread.  Spun silk thread consists of "tails" or sections of the silk fiber which were broken from the single continuous filament fiber and then spun together.  Filament silk is the premium silk. (All of our silk lines are filament silk)

    Q. Are Superior's Silk Threads machine washable?
    A. Yes! Our Silk threads are colorfast. They will retain their color and not bleed when washed with proper care.

    Q. Because #100 Silk is a very fine thread, will it break in my sewing machine?
    A.  If you are using the proper needle (we recommend our Topstitch #70/10) needle and have adjusted your tension accordingly, it will work wonderfully. We are able to successfully sew with our Kimono Silk thread in our large collection of home sewing machines and all major longarm machines. For a guide on tension settings and proper needle sizes, please view our Reference Guides.

    Q.  Can I use silk threads on my long arm?
    A.  Absolutely!  Many quilters love to use our #100 Kimono Silk.  This extremely fine thread blends incredibly with fabric, adding texture to any design.  You can see a beautiful example of this in On This Winter Day.

    Q.  When I use silk, should I use it on the top and bottom?
    A.  Choosing top and bobbin thread is determined by your project, the desired end look, and user preference.  If you prefer to have silk on top and bottom, go for it!  Otherwise you can mix fiber types and use either a cotton thread, like MasterPiece or a polyester thread, like Bottom Line.

    If you haven’t used silk on a project yet, we encourage you to try it!

    Do you have other questions about silk?  Please let us know, we’re happy to answer!

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  • Questions about Silk (Part 1 of 2)

    Silk

    Silk is a fiber which connotes luxurious sheets, deep colors, and finesse. In the thread world, Silk is treated as the ultimate delicacy for applique, clothing construction, and quilting. Silk offers durability and long-lasting strength combined with lint-free luxury.  This gorgeous fiber may be intimidating for first time users, which is why today we are answering several of the most common questions we receive about our silk threads.

    Q. I was told that Silk is really strong and it can tear through my cotton fabric.  Is this true?
    A.
    Nope! Silk is the strongest natural fiber which is spun into a thread however, this is all relative. If you are using a flimsy, cheap, loosely woven fabric, any strong thread has the possibility of tearing through this type of fabric. As long as you’re using quality fabric and thread, there is no risk of tearing.

    Q. Do I have to match the fiber of my thread to the fiber of my fabric?  For example, a silk thread with silk fabric, cotton thread with cotton fabric?
    A. There is no official rule that states you must use the same fiber. In fact, most of my quilts are made with cotton fabric and quilted with polyester thread. Something to keep in mind is the need to use the proper needle size based on the thickness of your thread. (See our Thread Reference Guide for this information)

    Q. Why would I use Superior's Silk threads instead of a fine polyester or cotton thread?
    A.  It comes down to personal choice. I really like a few of my quilts that are quilted with our Kimono Silk. They tend to be more intricate and detail quilted.  Here are a few properties of silk:

    • Smooth and lint-free
    • Strong
    • Colorfast
    • Washable
    • Vibrant colors
    Return tomorrow for more answers to your questions about silk thread!
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  • King Tut Giveaway Winners

    Win King Tut

    Thank you to all who participated in in King Tut Giveaway!  Our 10 winners of King Tut Egyptian-grown extra-long staple cotton thread are Denise Z, Janice R, Sharon A, Cyndee D, Linda W, Nancy E, Ceil J, Kathleen B, @mrs_sew_sew, and @ajmonger28!

    We loved the jokes submitted and will share a few of our favorites!

    - What do you call a boomer rang that won't return??? wait for it ......... a stick

    - What do you call a camel without a hump? Humphrey

    - On the other hand, you have different fingers

    - Did you hear about the hungry clock? It went back 4 seconds!

    - Ole and Sven are at a funeral. Suddenly it occurs to Ole that he doesn't remember the name of the dearly departed. Ole turns to Sven and asks: "Sven, could you remind me again who died?" Sven thinks for a moment and says, "I'm not sure," Sven points at the casket, "...but I think it was de guy in de box."

    - Did you hear Willie Nelson died?  He was playing on the road again!

    - A man counted his cattle in the pasture, he had 196, after he rounded up there were 200.

    - Did you hear about the cross-eyed professor who had no control over his pupils?

    - What does the Easter Bunny get when he makes a basket?  Two points like everyone else.

    - What do you call a guy with a rubber toe?  Roberto!

    - Why did the TV cross the road?  He wanted to be a flat screen.

    - What do you call it when a blonde colors her hair?  Artificial intelligence.

    - How does King Tut's secretary answer his calls?  "He can't talk right now, he's all wrapped up."

    - Do Mummies enjoy being mummies?  Of corpse.

    - I told my dad to embrace his mistakes. He cried. Then he hugged my sister and me.


    Hope you got a chuckle like we did!

    #superiorkingtut

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  • Best in Show: On this Winter Day (part 2)

    Linda is an incredible quilter.  As you may remember, Linda won Houston Best in Show for her amazing work in 2009.  Last year, she made a powerful come back with Nancy Prince to win Houston’s Best in Show 2014. 

    Linda had never quilted realistic landscapes.  She and Nancy both wanted the thread do the work of creating the finished image as possible.  Linda spent a lot of time drawing and doodling before she actually began working on Winter’s Day.  She used Kimono Silk, changing the thread quite frequently, so it would create depth and detail in the scenery.  After two months of quilting, the masterpiece was complete!

    On This Winter Day

    On This Winter Day

    On This Winter Day

    Her talent is inspiring, and her story even more so.  

    “After winning with Circles of Life, I was diagnosed with a degenerative bone condition.  In 2013, my spinal column in my neck collapsed, and trapped my C5 nerve.  After spinal cord surgery, I awoke with paralysis on my left side.  I spent the next year in a lot of physical therapy regaining the use of my left side.  During this time, I was not allowed to go near any sewing machine.  No one expected me to be able to quilt again or at least at the level that I was before surgery. 

    I had been back to quilting only a couple months when I started this project with Nancy.  The excitement for me was that I didn’t lose any of my skill, only my stamina.  I am unable to work for long periods at a time, so I stop and start a lot. 

    The excitement of winning was beyond my wildest dreams.  This meant so much to me to prove to myself and to others that I can accomplish such high recognition with two different quilts.  Especially since the surgery and paralysis was between the two and no one expected me to quilt again (at least at the level I had been).”

    We are so grateful for Nancy and Linda's quilting talent and for giving us permission to showcase their piece!  To see more of Linda’s work, visit lindafrench.com

    Images courtesy of Nancy Prince and Linda French

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  • Best in Show: On this Winter Day (part 1)

    Congratulations to Nancy Prince and Linda French on their incredible Best of Show Quilt, On This Winter Day, at the International Quilt Festival at Houston 2014.  This nostalgic and romantic winter collaborative piece enchanted attendees and judges.   On This Winter Day took almost 7 years, over 2,000 hours, 75,000 yards of thread and over 7 million stitches to create (whew!).  The large horse and sleigh took over 300 hours and 6 months of work!

    On This Winters Day

    On This Winter Day

    On This Winter Day

    We asked Nancy a few questions regarding her Best of Show quilt:

    What was the inspiration for your project?  Years ago I made another winter quilt and it was successful not only at the shows but more importantly with the attendees at the shows.  There is something about the bright colors on the figures’ clothing against the white background that made all the thread stand out.  I based the design of On This Winter’s Day from some of the memories I had as a child growing up in the mountains of North Carolina and my love of period clothing. 

    How did you choose a fabric?  The background fabric was painted in Photoshop and then commercially printed on fabric.  The background was designed such that I had three natural breaks in the drawing, so it could be printed on three 90” long pieces which I used MonoPoly to applique the pieces together.

    How did you choose thread?  I bought at least 50 spools of Kimono Silk colors because I didn’t know what colors I would need.  I wanted the silk color to change every time the background color changed.  I use Superior Threads because of their quality and reliability of the threads, the education they provide, and I really enjoy working with great people.

    What did you learn from this quilt?  Any time I start a new competitive quilt I always want to try some new techniques.  I incorporated punch needle for the fur on the ladies coats.  I used Kumihimo (a fun braiding system) to hand make the horse’s reins.  I tried some new thread painting techniques to give the garments a “tweedy” look.  I don’t like repetition and trying something new keeps the fun in a new project.

    How did you feel after you found out you had won?  I can’t speak for Linda, but I was shocked.  I had so expected to win Superiors’ Thread Artistry award because no on puts as much thread into a quilt as I do.   I didn’t know which awards followed Superior’s award because I had zoned in on that one so much.  Winning at Houston, in my perspective, is the highest award that anyone can win in the quilting ward.  We are very fortunate to be one of only 39 others that have won this prestigious award.  Houston was a very special week and one that I will remember forever.  Since Houston, On This Winter Day, has won the Masterpiece Award at Road to California, 2014.

    Nancy is a fantastic quilter and great friend. To see more of Nancy’s quilts, please visit her website,  nancyprince.com.

    Visit us tomorrow for Part 2 of On This Winter Day, for our interview with the quilter, Linda French.

    images courtesy of Nancy Prince

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  • King Tut Giveaway!

    Win King Tut

    Have you been looking for that low-lint, strong, and all-around gorgeous cotton thread to finish your quilt with? Search no more! Learn what makes King Tut cotton quilting thread so good and enter for a chance to win some of nature's finest thread. Once you experience the smooth stitching that King Tut offers, your quilting will never be the same. Jennifer used King Tut, and you can see some of her beautiful work here

    We know that you will LOVE quilting with King Tut and to jump start your new quilting addiction, we're giving away 10 spools!

    To win one a spool of this beautiful thread, visit our King Tut page and view our 136 variegated, tone-on-tone, and solid color choices. Then post a comment using the hashtag #superiorkingtut on our Blog, Facebook Page, or Instagram consisting of the name of the King Tut spool you would like to win along with a funny joke. We will announce the winners next Friday, February 20th.  Good Luck!

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  • How do I differentiate between quality cotton threads?

    Superior Cotton Threads

    Sewing a perfect seam is the goal of every project. Many factors must work together in harmony to obtain the desired result. The machine and needle must be in good condition, the thread must be able to lie smoothly and evenly in the fabric, and the tension must be set properly to accommodate the thread type, size, and any differences in the top and bottom threads. We will assume the machine, needle, and tension setting are all OK and therefore focus on the thread. 

    The finer and smoother the thread, the better the seam will appear. Some piece with polyester because it is so smooth and free of lint. The risk of using poly is ironing the seam and melting the polyester thread.  Cotton is a safer choice for piecing. Hold up some cotton piecing thread to the light and examine a few yards of it. If the thread is very fuzzy or has "slubs" which are clumps of excess lint spun into the thread, it is not a high quality thread. The amount of fuzz will affect the quality of your seam. On the other hand, if the cotton thread is extremely smooth with absolutely no fuzz, that is NOT a good thing. The only way a cotton thread can be free of fuzz is if it is waxed or glazed with a coating to cover the fuzz. Some such threads are labeled "glazed" but unfortunately, many others are not. Glazed threads are OK for hand work but are not good for any type of machine sewing. The glazed coating will rub off in the tension disk area and everywhere the thread makes contact and will gum up the machine. If you can see some fuzz on the cotton thread, it most likely is not a glazed thread.

    The higher grade the cotton, the smoother the thread and the lower the fuzz. Cotton is classified by the length of the staple, or fiber. Labels on most cotton threads do not specify the staple classification because the majority of cotton thread is regular, or short staple cotton and that is nothing to brag about on the label. Long staple cotton and Extra Long Staple (ELS) cotton thread will be prominently labeled as such because they are premium threads. You will be much happier using the highest grade cotton. Although it costs more, it is well worth it. An extra long staple cotton will have very low lint and will be a much stronger thread. This means a cleaner sewing machine and less breakage, frustration, and down time. 

    A low grade cotton thread that is not consistently smooth and has excess lint will not create the best seam. The "slubs" and excess fuzz in the thread will create lumps in the seam. They also get caught in the tension disk and the eye of the needle and cause breakage. On the other hand, a high grade extra long staple cotton thread will create a very smooth and even seam. A fine, smooth thread does not add bulk to the seams. It creates a much flatter seam which is especially important when sewing blocks which contain a lot of points. It is easier to use, will keep your machine much cleaner, and your finished project will look much better. We spend thousands of dollars on the machine, hundreds on the fabric, and it will be well worth it to spend an extra dollar or two to get the best quality piecing thread. You and your machine will notice the difference.

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  • Superior Spotlight: Jennifer T.

    Jennifer from Curlicue Creations

    Jennifer is the mom of three young boys and finds time to be an amazing quilter, businesswoman, and blogger!  This year, Jennifer has focused on magazine projects and will soon have one of her quilts featured in an upcoming Fons and Porter issue and is currently working on a spread for McCall’s.  Today, we share a few of Jennifer’s quilts which have been completed with Superior’s King Tut quilting thread.

    Jennifer from Curlicue Creations

    Jennifer from Curlicue Creations

    Jennifer from Curlicue Creations

    In Jennifer’s words, “I’ve tried nearly every thread available for piecing, applique, and quilting.  I’ve simply found nothing that compares to the quality of Superior Threads.  I really believe Superior has the best thread out there.  I fell in love with Superior Threads through trial and error.  Low lint every time, no breakage, and beautiful stitching equals no frustrations while creating each one of my unique quilt designs.  Stitching with Superior is a good experience every time and I know I can count on the quality of the thread to stay strong and beautiful.  From the forty year old thrift store finds, to the high dollar competitors, no other thread has performed as well for me.

    Do you love Jennifer’s work as much as we do?  Follow her blog, Curlicue Creations, to see more of her fantastic work!

    Images courtesy of Jennifer, curlicuecreations.blogspot.com

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  • Superior Stars: Linda F

    Linda is an amazing and inspiring quilter. Her detailed work is incredible in photos and jaw dropping in person.  We are thrilled to share with you one of Linda's quilts today.

    When Linda entered “Circles of Life” into AQS Knoxville 2009, it was the first time she had entered a quilt into a show.  You can imagine her surprise when she was informed that she had won Best of Show!   Fellow quilters encouraged her to enter this beautiful quilt in other trade shows.   Since her first show, Linda’s “Circles of Life” has won 5 Best of Show Awards, several first place ribbons (including 1st place at Houston), and Best Longarm Quilting Award at NQA.

    Linda French Cirlces of Life

    Linda French Circles of Life

    Linda French Circles of Life

    Linda French Circles of Life

    Linda explains her creative process:  “I designed Circles of Life after seeing a picture of a window in an architectural historical reference.  I was intrigued by the way several arcs came together to make a circle.  I drafted the outline of the central part of the quilt, and then slowly created the rest.  I use a design-as-you-go process.  I do not know what the quilt will look like when it is finished.  I complete a section, evaluate, and then design the next area.  It is a lot of fun watching the quilt slowly develop.”

    Just how long did it take to complete? She told us, “It took me about two years to complete.  This is the first large quilt I quilted on the longarm.  I have been using Superior Threads (the best threads, of course!) for many years, long before machine quilting with a longarm.  I used Superior Threads for machine embroidery and sewing, and So Fine! #50 is my favorite for quilting.  I choose to use So Fine! #50 to quilt with because the work I do creates a lot of texture with an heirloom look.  My belief is that the quilt top should be what catches the eye first and then the quilting is noticed.  I like the quilting to enhance the quilt without overpowering it. ”

    Linda’s quilts are absolutely stunning!  You can view more of her incredible work on her site, lindafrench.com.   Thank you Linda for sharing your beautiful work with us!

    Photos courtesy of Linda French

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  • Superior Staff Spotlight: Celeste B

    Celeste @ Superior Threads

    Today we spotlight a project from one of our very own Superior family members, Celeste!  She describes her project in her own words.

    “Two things inspired my project.  First, I often have questions from customers asking about sewing on denim.  Two common questions are what type of needle and what type of thread to use.  Second, I love the fit and feel of these jeans, and don’t want to retire these jeans for another decade until flare-fit jeans come back in style.

    Flare Pants

    I chose to use So Fine! #50 to take in the seams.  I knew it would be strong enough to hold my jeans together for many, many washings.  I love (of course!) using Superior’s Titanium-Coated Topstitch Needles on denim.  Not only are these needles easy to thread, they are incredibly durable and last (for what feels like) forever! 

    So Fine! #50 and Topstitch Needles

    I turned my jeans inside out, and tailored one leg first.  Once I had the fit right, I matched up the other leg.

    Tailoring Pants

    Halfway tailored jeans

    Tailored Jeans

    I have fallen in LOVE with my jeans for the second time.   This was so fast and easy, I plan to tailor several more pairs of pants like this.”

    Celeste answers your phone calls and emails and is always smiling. Next time you call in or email her,  be sure to mention you read this post. 

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  • Adjusting Tensions on a Home Sewing Machine

    Kitchenaid

    What is your favorite kitchen appliance?  Truth be told, I have a secret love for kitchen appliances.  I can go to the store and easily spend 45 minutes just looking at the mixers, emulsifiers, and electric can openers.  I enjoy collecting and using the best of the best.  I love all my kitchen appliances, but my all-time favorite is my 6-Quart Bowl-Lift Professional KitchenAid Stand Mixer.

    I LOVE THAT THING!   Mixing up cookies, bread dough, salsa, you name it, is an absolute breeze!  My mixer has 10 speed settings.  When I’m making cookies and mixing the butter and sugar, I like to crank it up to an 8 or 9 (but I make sure to keep the cover on so I don’t spray cookie dough all over the kitchen).  If I’m mixing something that could explode a huge mess all over my kitchen like liquids or dry ingredients, I always use speed one.  It wasn’t always this way.  In the beginning, I didn’t know which speed to mix my liquids and ended up experiencing several messes.  Why?  Because I was sure anything and everything could be mixed and turn out splendidly on the middle speed, 5. 

    Kitchenaid

    Just like my mixer, a home sewing machine comes with different tension settings.  Some machines even come with an automatic tension setting, but does a machine know the difference between a 50 wt cotton and a sensitive, but beautiful 40 wt. Metallic?
    Answer:  it doesn’t.  

    For example, if your tension has a scale of 0-9, with 0 being the loosest and 9 the tightest, most machines are pre-set at a 5.  This works well for standard 50 wt polyester, but would be too tight for a 40 wt Metallic thread. Because Metallic threads are more sensitive to higher-tensions, a 5 would most likely result in broken thread or poor stitches.  The most common tension range we recommend with our threads is a 3.0-4.0, which requires us to adjust our top tension a bit.

    If you experience thread breakage, the bobbin thread being pulled to the top of your fabric, untwisting of the thread, or feel your blood pressure rising due to any other thread issue, the first step is to lower that top tension!  Do it.  You have permission.  I promise it will not ruin your machine. The best part about tensions on home machines is the tension setting is numbered. You can always go back to a previous setting.

    It took me a little practice with my mixer to get over wanting to blend everything at a 5, but I now know what mixes best on what speed setting.  Similarly, once you practice loosening your top tension based on your thread type and see how easy it is to achieve the perfect stitch, you’ll find joy in sewing with a variety of beautiful stitch-worthy threads.

    Our Thread Reference Guide offers the recommended top tension setting along with the needle size for each of our Superior Threads.

    Questions about thread tensions or mixing?  I’d be happy to answer.

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  • Superior Spotlight: Cindy Needham

    Cindy Needham Educator

    After years in the medical field, Cindy chose to follow her dreams and make quilting not only her hobby, but also her driving force and career.  Cindy has been a Superior Educator for 8 years and received the Machine Quilting Teacher of the Year Award at MQX in 2011.   She teaches machine quilting at quilt shows and guilds across the globe.  Published in several quilting magazines, we are proud to highlight some of the amazing work by one of our favorite quilters!

    Cindy Needham Educator

    Cindy Needham Educator

    Cindy Needham Educator

    Most recently, Cindy has released a product that will change your quilting world!  The Ultimate Stencil allows you to create hundreds of designs with just two stencils.  Cindy explains how this amazing tool will simplify and beautify your quilting in this video:

    We are grateful Cindy chose to dedicate her time and energy to the quilting world.  She is a remarkable teacher with clear explanations and 45+ years of experience.  If you haven’t taken a class from her, add it to your bucket list!

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