Superior's Blog Posts

  • Superior Spotlight: Linda Davis

    We love seeing the incredible work quilters do. We especially enjoy seeing completed projects that have used Superior Threads.  Linda Davis recently won a prestigious award with this beautiful quilt.

    Linda Davis Award Winning Quilt

    Linda Davis

    Linda Davis 

    Linda shared with us:

    “I have been using Superior Threads for about 8 years in my Handi Quilter Sixteen. This year, I won Best of Show at "Quilting in the Highlands" in Sebring, FL. The two threads I used  were Magnifico and Bottom Line. We had over 300 quilts at the show, so this was a wonderful win for me.

    I have been teaching free motion quilting for several years and always recommend Superior Threads. I like to use a finer thread in the bobbin than on top. I do a lot of quilting on the top, I don't want that build up on the back. I usually use Bottom Line in the bobbin. I also stitch in the ditch all seams before the main quilting which stabilizes my quilt.

    This second quilt won the National Certified Judges Award of Merit. The threads I used were King Tut and Bottom Line.”

    Linda Davis

    Congratulations Linda! Thank you for allowing us to share your award-winning quilts with our readers!

    Images care of Linda Davis

     

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  • Superior Spotlight: Karen Barrett

    This is a guest post from our friend, Karen.

    We made my great-nephews new drapes; six year-old Alex chose space fabric. The morning after we hung them Alex exclaimed, “I love my new drapes!”

    Drapes

    What could we do but promise a matching quilt for Christmas? We shopped for intergalactic fabrics. I began piecing, modifying the Big Block pattern from Black Cat Creations, to show off the fabrics.

    String Theory

    When it was time for quilting, I wondered how to make this quilt – ordinary by day – magical by bedtime. Since Alex is such terrific boy, I wanted his quilt to come alive. I wondered if there was such a thing as glow-in-the-dark thread.

    Sure enough, Superior Threads sells a glow-in-the-dark thread! I ordered a 500-yard cone. After quilting the first block, I couldn’t wait to see if it really worked.

    But we live in a well-lit house! The only place dark enough for a test was my bedroom closet. I dragged the quilt through the house and when I turned off the lights, I was astonished to see my quilting actually glow!

    I continued to stitch and stitch. Each new block required another trip to the closet. On the solid blocks, I wanted the appearance of exploding stars and comets racing by. In the corners I attempted a “matrix” look, to bend time and space - an Einsteinian concept I do not understand.

    When the blocks were finished, I used the thread on the sashing, each strip requiring yet another trip to the closet.

    String Theory

    One evening I turned out my studio light to head for bed, but had forgotten my phone. When I returned a moment later, the top of my thread bucket was glowing! I couldn’t let this go to waste, so the next day I trapped all that thread waste under tulle and quilted it down with invisible thread to make a pillow. You can almost read by its light.

    Glowing Pillow

    I needed a name for Alex’s new quilt. Proving that a little knowledge is dangerous, I chose another term from physics that I cannot begin to comprehend:  String Theory.

    Alex was thrilled when his Christmas gift finally arrived. He focused half the lights in the house on his new quilt while he waited for darkness to fall.

    And then it was dark and then his new quilt glowed!


    Postscript:  A week later I received a message my niece, “Lights on all day to get it ready for the night. Can I get a tax break for this kind of homemade solar project? :)”

    Oops!


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  • Helpful Craft Apps

    This is a guest blog post by our friend, Annabelle

    Apps for Crafts

    Crafts are not normally associated with apps and technology. When Pinterest exploded onto the scene, getting millions of housewives hooked on crafting and DIY, a whole new niche opened for technology and crafting to happily go hand in hand. 

    If you have not subscribed to a personal favourite yet, you may wonder why anyone would want to involve their hobbies and DIY projects with an app in the first place. Consider these compelling reasons:

    Get inspired!

    Even great artists look for inspiration. Whether you are crafting as a hobby or doing it for profit, we all run out of inspiration. Why not get yours on demand? Find and follow other crafters that do things beyond what you could have imagined, and follow in their footsteps. Get feedback on your own creations, give feedback and help someone to be inspired by your handiwork.

    Get Skilled!

    The days of finding classes for sewing, knitting and the likes are over. Not available in your community? No problem! The internet has opened its arms wide for this huge gap, and you benefit by getting access to great classes. Learning to sew, crochet and any other crafting skills is now within any person’s reach thanks to technology.

    Design it!

    There is much fun to be had by playing around and coming up with your own designs. Brand your T-shirt business, get a logo for your home knits for sale and create ads to attract the attention of customers. Marketing with DIY flair!

    Set goals!

    Move your projects forward by planning stages and getting reminders. Like any important project, you can plan and measure progress to keep motivated and active.

    There are apps with stitch counters, fabric estimators and even thread calculators. It becomes clear that rather than being strangers, crafting and technology is a match made in heaven! And you don’t even have to look too further to find your perfect app. In this infographic, we have done the searching to find the best apps for your benefit. Have fun! 

    With Love,
    Annabelle


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  • Superior Spotlight: Kim Lapacek

    Congratulations to Kim, winner of Modern Quilts Unlimited’s Everything Old is New Again challenge.

    Everything Old Is New Winner

    Kim was inspired by a friend to use a panel as a normal piece of fabric. 

    Kim said, “In every block I made I used pieces of the panel and mixed them with a variety of cotton couture solids.  You will also find flanges of fabrics incorporated into many of my blocks to add dimension.”

    “Coming up with a method to blend all twelve blocks that didn't relate into a cohesive quilt top was quite a task. I loved how my Drunkard's Path block interpretation had come about, so I decided to use the same circle applique idea, but spread it out across the quilt.  Once the circles were on the top, I knew I had made the right decision. I also knew that I'd have to do a circle quilting design.  I used a walking foot to get the best results I could doing this type of quilting on my Bernina 750.”

    Kim used Bottom Line in the bobbin, “I use Bottom Line whenever I can!  I love both Gray and Taupe colors, since it goes with everything.”

    Thank you Kim for creating this beautiful quilt and letting us share it!  See more of Kim's creations on her Facebook page.

    Image used with permission

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  • Guest Blog Post: Prevent Thread Shredding

    This is a guest post from our friend, MaryAnn, at MakingQuilts.

    Prevent Thread Shedding

    By Making Quilts

    Nothing is more beautiful than a colorful quilt, right? And variegated thread such as King Tut or Fantastico can add so much color and dimension. I know, inwardly you groan because you may have had problems with this type of thread breaking and/or shredding. As you know there is nothing worse than sewing along and the thread keeps breaking! We’ve all been there and it’s a huge waste of time not to mention the frustration! Many people shy away from variegated thread because of its frailty and tendency to shred. So let’s see if we can do to solve some of these problems.

    Problems with shreadding thread

    Problems With Inferior Thread

    There are a couple of problems that will result from using an inferior thread. First, most cheaply made thread will be too thick which leaves the quilt looking thready and uneven. Secondly, cheap thread is too fibrous leaving lint every where, which we all know is a longarm quilters nightmare and well...the list of problems just continues to grow. Believe me when I say that I have tried a myriad of brands having been told that theirs was by far the best thing since sliced bread; guaranteed not to break or shred. Needless to say they stretched the truth. So in my search for top quality variegated thread I found Superior Threads to have the highest quality thread for a fair price. Both King Tut and Fantastico have been exactly what I was looking for and I have been exclusively with Superior Threads for all my thread needs (along with other sewing needs as well).

    Tricks of the Trade

    In working with variegated thread and having gone through the same frustrations, we at Making Quilts have found a few tricks that have helped us. None of these suggestions are fool proof but at least they can be a place to start.

    The correct way to thread
    • On most, if not all, longarm machines there are thread guides that have three or more holes that you normally weave the thread down, up and then down again. Try only threading through the middle hole. This takes some of the tension off the thread.
    • The tension on both the top and bobbin thread should be quite a bit looser than with other threads. Even if you are not using the variegated thread in the bobbin, the tension still has to be looser so it doesn’t break (or cut) the top thread.
    • Start with a new needle and check your machine for any barbs that may cause shredding and/or breaking.
    • I have also found that backing off the tension of the quilt so there’s a shallow drape helps to keep this type of thread from breaking and/or shredding.

    Once you get used to working with these threads you’ll open up a whole new world for your quilting! I know you will love the look that variegated threads can bring to any quilt.

    MaryAnn

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  • Superior Spotlight: Linda Brown

    We’re highlighting two quilts today quilted by Linda Brown.  Linda is a favorite quilter of ours.   Mother Superior often has Linda quilt her quilt tops. 

    The first quilt, Dresden Plate, was designed by Cindy Davey.  This king size quilt was finished using Rainbows and OMNI with Bottom Line in the bobbin.

    Dresden Plate with Superior Threads

    Dresden Plate with Superior Threads

    This second stunning quilt is by Susan Recknagel and quilted with So Fine! #50 on top and Bottom Line in the bobbin (available in prewound bobbins).  

    Linda Brown and Superior Threads

    Thanks Linda for sharing your talents with us today!


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  • How is thread measured?

    How is thread measured?

    It can be confusing trying to understand thread measurements.  Commonly quilters use weight, embroiderers denier, and seamstresses tex to describe thread thickness.

    We’re here to clear that all up for you!  Well, sort of.

    Weight:  the larger the weight, the thinner the thread

    Tex:  the larger the tex, the thicker the thread.

    Denier:  the larger the denier, the thicker the thread.

    Composition:  the larger the number (#), the thinner the thread.

    Confused yet?  Let’s get an expert’s help.  In this video, Dr. Bob explains how threads are measured.

     

    Long story short?

    You don’t have to know the exact weight or thickness of a thread.  These numbers are ball-park range guesses any way.  Decide if you want the thread to blend or show.  If you want a thread to blend, look for a 50-100 wt thread.  If you’d like the thread to show, look for a 10-40 wt thread.  Remember, like Dr. Bob explained, not all thread types and thicknesses are the same.  Look for a general thread description that will fit your project.

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  • Should I match thread and fabric fiber type?

     Should I match thread and fiber type?

    Have you heard that you should always match fibers?  There are many in the quilting world that feel if you’re using cotton fabrics you should ONLY use cotton threads.

    This is one of the most common myths we hear.  Most likely, this rumor has sprung up from when our mothers and grandmothers only had cotton threads and fabric.   They were taught to sew with cotton and so were we. 

    Let’s think about how many fabric patterns are in our stash.  We wouldn’t want to limit ourselves to only one print or color scheme!  Let’s open the possibilities to all that polyester and silk thread offer.

    Polyester thread comes in a variety of forms.  It can mimic cotton or be smooth and lint free;  high-sheen or matte finish; thick or thin; and is available in hundreds of variegated or solid colors!  Its high strength and longevity make it a great option for quilting.

    Silk is a luxurious thread type to sew with.  The gorgeous sheen adds a special touch to any quilt.

    What type of thread do you like to stitch with?

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  • Why is needle size important?

    Why is needle size important

    It’s tempting when you buy a new machine to use whatever needles are provided.  You put one in and stitch with the first thread you grab out of the stash.  It sews wonderfully!  You are happy with your new machine and the marvelous things you are stitching.

    Then, you switch threads and suddenly everything is going wrong!  Shredding, loads of lint, and thread breakage.  Boo!   This isn’t supposed to happen!

    Part of owning a new machine is simply playing with the tension, feet, and fun stitches.  Making adjustments and experimenting will help you learn your machine and take advantage of all its offerings.  One very small feature that will keep your stitches lovely and your sewing fun is your needle. 

    The needle is meant to protect the thread as it moves through the fabric and creates a stitch.  If the thread is forced through the eye of a needle that is a little too snug, it is like Garfield trying to get through the kitty door.  Not good.  The solution?  Get a bigger door, or in the case of your sewing woes—use a larger needle.

    nEEDLE SIZE INFOGRAPHIC


    Most of Superior’s threads have the needle size recommendation on the label so you won’t need to remember what size to change to.  You may also choose to print and refer to our Home Machine Thread Reference Guide which includes needle size recommendations based on the thread you’re using. 

    Next follow up question:  When is it time to change the needle?

    We recommend changing the needle when you hear a light “thud” when stitching or if you see stitch quality decrease.

    Do you have further questions about needles?  Let us know in the comments.  We are happy to share what we know.


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  • Where can I buy Superior Threads locally?

    Magnifico Thread by Superior Threads

    We know how fun it is to touch fabric before purchasing and the same works with thread.  We’d be happy to help you find a store in your area so you can touch all the luscious colors and find the best color matches.

    Try our Store Locator.

    If you can’t find a store nearby, be sure to visit us at one of the dozens of quilt shows we attend each year.  You can see where we’re headed next on our show schedule

    We make it easy to find perfect color matches.  Get the actual thread samples on one (or more!) of our Color Cards for your favorite thread lines.

    Brick and mortar, online, or at a show—we hope to have your favorite threads easily accessible!


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  • Superior Spotlight: Betty Jo Tatum

    We are excited to show off Betty Jo Tatum’s moving quilt, Drawing Nigh.  This is the second quilt in her series based on the historic role of women who maintain the home while their husbands were at war or away from for long periods of time.

    Drawing Nigh

    Betty Jo explains her creative process: 

     “I made the woman and her daughter appliqué first, drawing the "pattern" in my drawing software and then placing it in the overall pattern and that was fun.  I had a really difficult time getting the sky and the sea to match my vision.  At first the pieced part of the sea and the pictorial water part of the sea did not merge colorwise together well.  So I overdyed it after piecing it together.  I hand painted the sky with fabric ink, and was so unhappy with it I did it four times.  I finally stopped because I couldn't seem to get enough color in the sky.  After about a month, I took out the sky piece I liked best and added more paint for color. 

    Finally I managed to get the top ready, after changing the clipper ship a couple of times and adding trapunto in layers for the clipper ship, the woman and girl, and even the cliffs behind them. When I started quilting it I realized the sky needed to be sculpted with different colors based on the painting to give it an appearance of a stormy, but clearing sky at sunset.  I used well over 30 different colors of thread in the quilting, all but three of which were Superior threads.  I had so much fun quilting this quilt that had given me such a difficult time making the top come out somewhat closer to the vision I had in my head. 

    I learned three things. 

    1) Sometimes you need to step away from a quilt for a little while to get it to work in the end. 

    2) Using a variety of thread colors while quilting can really assist in getting landscapes to come to life. 

    3) Using multiple layers of trapunto can make sails billow, the characters come forward, and cliffs look like rocky cliffs.”

     Drawing Nigh

    We appreciate Betty Jo allowing us to share her quilt.  She’s been a full-time fabric artist for three years and is currently writing a book about applique for art quilters.  You can see more of her beautiful quilts on her blog.

    Images courtesy of Betty Jo Tatum.

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  • Spotlight: Sandi Snow

    Improve on Red

    Today we share Sandi Snow’s modern quit, Improv on Red.  She explains a little about her quilting process:

    “When Kit Robinson, editor of Machine Quilting Unlimited, asked me to write an article featuring my interlocking-circle quilting, I made Improv on Red using that quilting style.  I do not have a longarm machine so it was important for me to design a quilting layout that did not look like it was done on a longarm machine.  These large circles were my way of differentiating my domestic sewing machine from a longarm.

    Improv on Red

    Just as you would disperse color across a quilt, I repeat quilting patterns within the various circles allowing the pattern to be on top in some circles and slide under other circles. I also leave room for some free-motion designs. I find Cindy Needham's Ultimate Backgrounds stencils extremely helpful because the packet provides the same stencil design in several sizes. 

    Improv on Red

    I first sew around all the design elements and appliqués that make up the quilt top. I use Superior’s clear MonoPoly and a size #60/8 needle so the stitching does not add anything to the visual impact of the quilt. The next step is to sew the large circles moving around the quilt evenly. I use Superior’s So Fine! #50 thread in a color close to the background fabric. Although quilting is a major design factor, I do not use a thicker thread because I frequently sew over my stitching and do not want the thread build up to show. As best I can, I try to reduce the number of starts and stops to minimize areas with locking stitches. I know I should pull my thread ends to the back, knot them and bury the tails but I am just not to that point in my quilting.”

    Have you tried sewing a large quilt on a home sewing machine?

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  • Determining Tension Problems

    Determining Sewing Tension Issues

    Sewing frustrations are the worst.  We don’t like it.  That’s why we use the best thread.  To avoid the frustration caused by using lower-quality threads.  Using quality thread should solve half the battle with a sewing machine and yet, we all experience moments and days when things just don’t go right.  What’s the most common culprit?  Tension.   Let’s talk about a few common issues that can be tension related.

    Issue:  The top thread frays.

    Probable cause:  When is the last time you changed your needle?  Old needles often cause fraying due to worn surfaces.  If you’re using a new needle which is the right size (see our Home Machine Thread Guide) and you see fraying, the bobbin may be too tight or the top too loose.


    Issue:  The bobbin thread shows through on the top.

    Probable cause:  The bobbin tension may be too loose or the top tension too tight.  If you have a metal bobbin case, there could be dust or lint trapped under the bobbin tension spring.

     

    Issue:  The bobbin thread does not show on the bottom

    Probable cause:  The bobbin tension may be too tight or the top tension too lose.


    Issue:  The top thread snaps and leaves a small hook at the point of the break

    Probable cause:  The top tension may be too tight.


    Issue:  The thread gathers under the needle plate

    Probable cause:  There are a few reasons why thread gathers under the needle plate.  The top tension is too loose or your machine is threaded incorrectly, bypassing the take-up lever. 


    Issue:  Thread loops

    Probable cause:  What side are you seeing loops?  This side is winning the tension tug-of-war.  Loosen the tension on the loopy side and/or tighten the tension of the opposite side.


    Have you been experiencing tension issues?  Let us know if the comments below—we’d love to help answer your questions!

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  • Thread Trivia

    Thread Trivia FUN

    The other day we had lunch at a quaint diner that had fun trivia facts on the table—which we thoroughly enjoyed!  Today we thought we would spread the fun and share some thread trivia!


    1. Kevlar thread is fire-resistant and used to stitch suits for firefighters and motor racing drivers

    2. One dye machine can dye about 6.6 tons of thread each day; this equals 66 million yards of thread; enough to circle the equator five times!

    3. Mercerizing is a process of treating cotton with an alkali solution.  This allows dies to better penetrate the fibers and increases the luster and strength of cotton thread.

    4. Most rayon threads are not colorfast

    5. The best Metallic threads have a layer of rice paper pasted over the nylon core.  This adheres the nylon core to the metal, resulting in stronger thread.

    6. Prewound bobbins have 30-50% more thread content and a tighter, more even wind than winding bobbins yourself.

    7. Egypt is 1.4 times larger than Texas, but produces less than a tenth of the amount of cotton

    8. Tinkertoys were invented when Charles Pajeau was watching some kids play with pencils, sticks, and empty spools of thread.

    9. There are only three basic types of thread:  animal, plant, or synthetic.

    10. Most thread (other than monofilament thread) consists of 2+ tightly twisted strands.

    11. Egyptians were one of the first to use berries and plants to create colorful and long lasting dyes for threads

    12. Tex is a standard for measuring threads using 1,000 meters of thread.  If 1,000 meters of thread weights one gram, it is Tex 1.  If 1,000 meters of thread weighs 25 grams, it is Tex 25.

    13. Most digitized designs are created for a 40 weight thread.  If a 30 weight thread is used, the increased diameter of the thread can present a lumpy appearance.  To prevent this, reduce the field density by one-third or increase the design size to 125% of the original.

    14. We have threads that glow under a black light!  Why do they glow?  A black light gives off ultraviolet light that the human eye can't see.  Threads dyed with fluorescent pigments or which are bright white will absorb the black light and reflect it back in a wonderful glowing sheen.

    15. Sewing thread is designed by engineers called seam engineers.


    We bet you know some trivia not listed here—share your fun pieces of knowledge in the comments below!


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  • Topstitch Needles

    Why use Topstitch Needles

    Our Topstitch needles are the best, most coveted sewing tool.  We use them exclusively for all piecing, quilting, embroidery, applique, and free motion quilting.  What makes these needles so special?  Stay tuned and we’ll tell you.

    FIRST:  The elongated eye.  Superior’s Topstitch needles have an eye twice as long as a Universal needle.  For those of us who still hand thread our needles—awesome!  It’s so much easier to thread.  The elongated eye reduces friction on the thread which means less fraying and breaking and happier stitching.


    Topsttich VS Universal Needle 

    SECOND:  The short eye-to-point length (see photo above).  Again, this means less friction on the thread and needle.  Will this shorter distance and larger eye weaken the needle?  Nope.  We just stitched through layers of denim with a Topstitch needle this past weekend while hemming jeans—it was a dream!

    THIRD:  The titanium-nitride coating.  A thin layer of titanium-nitride is plated on the needle in the final manufacturing step.  This coating doesn’t make the needle stronger, in terms of tensile strength; it keeps the point sharper, longer.  This tough coating has excellent abrasion resistance.  We love being able to stitch for hours without changing the needle!

    Titanium Coated Topstitch Needles

    FOURTH:  While there are several styles of needles that work for your home sewing machine such as: topstitch, embroidery, universal, leather, double eye, sharp, ball, etc. the topstitch needle can be used for quilting, sewing, and embroidery since it encompasses the best traits of the other needle styles into one!

    Now for the most exciting news:  our Titanium-coated Topstitch Needles fit ALL home machines.  Woohoo!  So what are you waiting for?  If you haven’t been converted to Superior’s Topstitch Needles, try them today!


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