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Superior's Blog Posts

  • Superior Stars: Joanne Baeth

    Joanne Baeth is an incredible quilt-painting artist!  Today Joanne has graciously allowed us to share one of her beautiful prize-winning quilts and tell us a little about it.

    Here is Feathers and Farms.

    Feathers and Farms

    "To me, this quilt represents old farms all over the United States.  The barbed wire proved to be very challenging. After many tries, I finally covered a thin cotton cording with glue and paint. Tiny barbs were added to the long wire and let dry. I had several pictures of pheasants but was having trouble getting my drawings just right. Then while out bird hunting one day, my husband actually shot a pheasant and brought him home. That poor pheasant spent the next several weeks in the freezer at night and on my sewing room floor during the day. By the time I had constructed all of the feathers on the pheasants, he smelled pretty ripe."

    Joanne's hard work and diligence paid off.  We are amazed by the life-like quality of her quilting.

    Awards won: IQA Houston 2013 Pictorial – first place; Road to California 2014 Pictorial -first place; AQS Lancaster 2014 Best Wall Quilt Viewers Choice; AQS Paducah 2014 Small Wall Quilt – second place Viewers Choice; AQS Des Moines 2014 Wall Quilts – second place.

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  • Superior Stars: Alicia Sterna

    Arizona Starry NIght

    Arizona Starry Night is Alicia’s interpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night (one of her favorite paintings).  Alicia’s piece is not meant to copy his work, but capture the feeling, making it instantly recognizable, but different. 

    This project took roughly three months to complete.  Placing the pieces took about a month.  Alicia glued each piece of the sky lightly to a background, then added mountains and cacti.  The entire piece was covered with tulle before quilting.  Using Bottom Line polyester thread on the bobbin and Highlights in the top, Alicia used quilting to add texture to her naturescape.

    Her beautiful quilt earned Alicia an Honorable Mention in Art-Naturescapes at the Houston show last year.  We appreciate Alicia for letting us to share her work with you and hope you’ve felt inspired as we have!

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  • Superior Stars: Cathy Wiggins

    Cathy Wiggins

    Today we are spotlighting Cathy Wiggins’ beautiful quilt, Oscar.  Oscar won 2nd place in the Art-Painted Surface category at Houston 2014.


    This fun quilt tells a story, which Cathy describes here:

    “Oscar the dragon has been with me for a long, long time.  I knew he would show up on a quilt and this was the perfect chance to bring him to life.    He is the 12th quilt in my ‘Just for Fun’ series of quilts.  These quilts are designed to make people smile.  With Oscar, I wanted to create a book cover, complete with a leather binding and bookmark.  I wanted to supply images of Oscar’s life on the cover and let the viewer make up their own story.  This is my first venture into using leather in a show quilt.  The silver “book binding” is upholstery leather and Oscar is painted white muslin.  I knew the leather and muslin would shrink differently so I had to quilt each section separately and then join them together.


    I have about 250 hours of design and painting, 300 hours of quilting and 50 hours of hand embroidery in this quilt.  I wanted to have a story where the dragon lives happily ever after with the princess and her knight in shining armor.

    prince and princess

    One of the biggest takeaways from this project is that I can use the same needle and thread combinations for quilting leather that I use on any other quilt top.  Oscar is quilted using Magnifico polyester thread.  The blue background and silver leather is quilted with silk.”

    quilted leather

    Oscar is amazing and we are thankful Cathy allowed us to share him with you today.  To view more of Cathy’s amazing work and follower her creative process, visit her Facebook page.

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  • Superior Spotlight: Sandi Nehlsen-Cannarella

    Sandi Nehsen

    Sandi’s first Girl Scout badge was for sewing.  After an exciting career in medicine, with a focus on transplants and immunology, Sandi retired at age 69. Her husband surprised her with a beautiful 500-square foot studio above her garage.  She then joined her local Busy Bears Quilt Guild, produced their annual quilt show for three years and has spent time teaching quilting and applique in local shops.

    Come Walk Through My Garden

    Sandi loves to follow the work of quilt artists and after reading many books and receiving a Superior Threads starter pack, she was hooked.  Sandi says, “I have consistently worked with Superior Threads and joined their thread clubs.  I discovered that Bottom Line was fabulous for my early work in applique, but soon found Kimono Silk through their Thread Sampler Club that has changed my life!”


    What has she done with the 80+ quilts that she’s made in the last 4 years?  Given them as gifts, sold them at quilt shows, and donated them to charity auctions.  Thank you Sandi for sharing your beautiful work with us! 

    Kittys Magical Garden

    Spiral Galaxy

    Story Book

    Images courtesy of Sandi Nehlsen-Cannarella

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  • Superior Spotlight: Carol Ann Waugh

    Carol Ann Waugh

    Carol Ann Waugh is an amazing fiber artist and educator.  We are thrilled to have Carol Ann as a guest blogger today.  We know you’ll enjoy Carol Ann’s beautiful pieces and inspiring words.

    "My inspiration often comes from the endless question: “What can I do to take this piece somewhere new and somewhere different than others have gone before?”  I typically begin a new piece with many drawings and sketches as well as a desire to try a new process or work with interesting materials.

    Carol Waugh

    My current work hints at the mixing of geometric and organic textures with layer upon layer of complex surface tension. It’s about exploration where unexpected connections and juxtapositions can lead to new ideas and artistic expressions.  I enjoy not having complete control over the outcome of my work and as I layer, create each line, shape or pattern.  It’s why making art is so intriguing to me and something I am driven to do every day.

    Breaking Out

    I don't have any secrets about how I create my art.  Since I teach thousands of students every year, I always tell them everything, from the exact products I use to the brands of needles and thread that are my favorite (Superior, of course!).  I am a big believer that teachers need to be open, honest and transparent so students don't leave the class with half the real story!

    Light at the End of the Tunnel

    I have many different threads from Superior and my go-to thread is Bottom Line polyester thread.  I use this almost exclusively in my bobbin for all my work.  Beyond their high-quality thread, I like the company.  I love supporting family-owned and operated business.  Superior has done a wonderful job in educating consumers about thread as well and I appreciate that effort.

    Santa Fe

    My advice is to experiment.  The quilting world is full of rules about how to make a perfect quilt.  I've never been much for following rules.  If there is truly only one perfect weight and type of thread to piece together fabrics, we surely wouldn't have all the wonderful choices we have today.  The same goes for fabrics.  Perfect commercial red?  Wow.  If that were true, I'd have to become a fabric dyer to get all the shades and tints I want!”


    We love the amazing art Carol creates.  You can see more of her talent on her website.

    Images courtesy of Carol Ann Waugh

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  • Superior Stars: Karen Eckmeier

    Karen Eckmeier

    Karen started quilting at age 30 when she taught herself to sew for the sole purpose of making a quilt.  After reading The Fabric Makes the Quilt by Roberta Horton, Karen felt her chains to conform were lifted.  She was now free to play with fabric.  This started her creative journey. 

    Rhythm and Roses by Karen Eckmeier won 3rd Place in the Innovative Pieced category at Houston 2014.  This beautiful quilt took 2 months to create and was completed with King Tut cotton quilting thread.  Karen loves the “electric” feel of this quilt.  Simply beautiful!

    Rhythm and Roses

    Sunshine and Shadow Garden

    Karen gains inspiration from visiting quilt shows and from her beautiful surroundings in Connecticut.  She loves the peaceful setting of living in a rural town with only one stoplight.  When not hiking, baking, reading, or traveling, Karen astounds us with her quilting talent!



    To see more of Karen’s work, such as her newest piece Sunshine and Shadow Garden, check out her website,

    Images care of Karen Eckmeier

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  • Why are some threads so shiny?


    It’s no secret that I am attracted to shiny objects (you should see my jewelry collection!). So of course, I want my quilts and embroidery projects to be just as shiny. I’ve been sewing with Fantastico and Magnifco to get my high-sheen fix, and thought I’d explain the science behind why some polyester threads have a high sheen and others don’t.

    Smooth fibers such as silk, multi-filament polyester and rayon tend to have a higher sheen than non-smooth fibers (such as cotton and spun polyester). However, even within this smooth fiber category, there is a wide range of sheen or luster. High sheen is the result of each individual micro-strand (sewing threads are made up of many micro strands) reflecting light, and the shape of the individual fibers determine how light is reflected. 

    Think back to 9th grade science class. We know that we aren’t really seeing objects with our eyes. We see the light reflected off the object, passing through the optic nerve, into our brain. Light or the absence of light has everything to do with how we see things, including whether an object is shiny or matte.

    Trilobal Polyester

    Round fibers - Regular multi-filament polyester threads such as So Fine! #50, So Fine! #40, and Bottom Line are examples of multi-filament polyester threads. Filament means a continuous strand and multi means many. The threads are made of many long, continuous strands of polyester which are twisted together to create the finished thread we sew with. Each micro strand which makes the thread is round.  Light reflects off these small, round fibers in a way which makes the thread appear as medium sheen.

    Trilobal fibers - Magnifico, Rainbows, Nature Colors, Living Colors, and Art Studio Colors are examples of Trilobal Polyester threads.  Trilobal fibers have three distinct sides ('tri' = three and 'lobal' = sides), so when light hits them, they reflect back the light in a direct path, resulting in a high-sheen appearance.  Although the individual micro-fibers are triangular in shape, when multiple strands are twisted together to make the final thread, the end result is a smooth, round, high-sheen thread.  Until recently, trilobal polyester fibers were weaker than regular round polyester fibers, so we had to choose between strength and high sheen.  But no more!  Our high-strength, high-sheen trilobal polyester threads, Magnifico and Fantastico are created using new high-tenacity (high-strength) trilobal polyester fibers.  Both of these thread lines consist of 192 micro-strands of high-tenacity trilobal polyester fibers twisted into a smooth, round #40 thread. 

    Irregular fibers - Most rayon threads are irregular. We don’t use or recommend rayon threads because they’re not universally colorfast and tend to be weaker than polyester threads.

    Voila.  Here is our threaducation for today and I am happy as a clam stitching with my beautiful high-sheen thread.  To see more beautiful work done with our high-sheen trilobal polyester threads, please visit a previous blog post by Hollis Chatelain.

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  • Superior Stars: Laura Welklin

    Laura Welklin

    Did your mother teach you how to sew?  Laura’s mother taught her to sew at an early age.  Laura made many of her own clothes growing up, but didn’t start quilting until after she was married and moved to a quaint town with a local fabric store only 2 miles from her home (best…thing…ever!). 

    After joining the Indianapolis Quilters Guild, Laura entered an appliqued bed quilt and won a blue ribbon!  Today, Laura has shared with us her beautiful Houston International Quilt Festival, 1st Place Art-Miniature piece, The Flower Garden.

    The Flower Garden

    The Flower Garden

    The Flower Garden was made to honor Laura’s parents.  Her mother loved to garden, but when her mother’s Alzheimer’s kept her from being in the garden, Laura’s dad took over.  This combined effort inspired the combination of batik flowers on a calico background.

    In Laura’s words, “I had never made a quilt this small before.  I was having trouble finding the right thread to edge stitch the applique.  Everything I tried was too heavy, so I ordered some Superior “Try-Me” silk threads.  The 100 wt Kimono Silk was perfect.  I also purchased the color cards for Kimono Silk, and now I have the cards for many of the threadlines.  They are my favorite tools for quilting!  I highly recommend them.  This quilt is also quilted with Kimono Silk.  I paired it with Bottom Line in the bobbin and my 20+ year old Bernina stitched wonderfully with it. 

    This was the first time I quilted free motion feathers on a competition quilt.  I think I have read everything Diane Gaudynski has written about quilting feathers, and I practiced them many times, but I still had to give myself a pep talk before I began.  I have to admit they were the easiest and quickest part of making this quilt!  I love quilting feathers now!”

    We love Laura’s quilting and are proud of her 1st place prize in the Houston Show and 3rd place in Paducah.  She does beautiful work!

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  • Superior Stars: Hollis Chatelain

    Hollis Chatelain

    We are pleased to honor Hollis Chatelain today.  She is an incredible internationally renowned quilter and thread painter.  I can remember the first quilt I saw made Hollis, my reaction was something like:  mouth dropped open, eyes widened, and thoughts along the lines of, “Is this seriously thread and fabric?  How does she do that!?”

    Her gorgeous talent speaks for itself.

    The Change

    African Garden

    Girls are Strong

    Source of Life

    Hollis’ amazing quilting career started  when she was urged to submit a quilt to Houston International Quilt Festival.  This first submission took first prize!  With this exciting start, Hollis then submitted her quilt to 18 more quilt shows, but was rejected at every single one!

    We are so glad Hollis was not discouraged by this bumpy start and appreciate the heartfelt messages she mediates through her quilting artwork. 

    Several of Hollis’ quilts have over 20,000 yards of thread.  Hollis admits to having 800 shades of thread in her collection (and you thought you had a lot of thread!).  Hollis has two beautiful high-sheen trilobal polyester threadlines through Superior Threads, Nature Colors and Living Colors.  These beautiful colors chosen by Hollis are perfect to create true-to-life thread-painted quilts.

    We are inspired and impressed by Hollis’ talent and are grateful for her willingness to let us share her artwork with you today.

    To see more of Hollis’ amazing quilts:

    Images care of Hollis Chatelain

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  • Superior Stars: Kathy York

    Kathy York

    Today we are pleased to share with you a beautiful art by Kathy York!  Kathy is a terrific quilt artist who enjoys allowing fabric to express life experiences.  Her work is known for its bright, fresh colors and bold, crisp graphics as can be seen in her IQF Houston 2014 Honorable Mention, Suburbs.




    Kathy started working on Suburbs in 2010.  At that time a monstrous fire was raging in Texas, threatening and destroying many homes.  Kathy’s inspiration came as she thought of rebuilding the communities on top of the charred black soil the fire left behind.  Each home has a unique color and quilting design to represent the individuals in the community, but the form of the houses are identical to symbolize how they come together as a community. 

    We appreciate Kathy’s art and that she has allowed us to share her work with you today.  Kathy’s quilting has won numerous awards including two first place awards at Houston International Quilt Show.  She frequently contributes to Quilting Arts Magazine and has appeared in several quilting books.  To view more of Kathy’s beautiful work, check out her blog:

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  • Superior Stars: Margaret Solomon Gunn

    Margaret Gunn

    Mother.  Engineer.  Gardener.  Figure skater. Educator. Professional quilter.

    Thirty-five years ago Margaret Solomon Gunn learned how to embroider and to make clothing and pillows.  In college, she made her first bed quilt and has never looked back (and we’re so glad!).  Her talent astounds us as well as the judges at many quilt shows.  We are excited to share Springtime in the Geisha's Garden, won 1st Place at Road to California 2015 and IQF Houston 2014 Judges Choice awards.

    Springtime in the Geisha's Garden

    Springtime in the Geisha's Garden

    Springtime in the Geisha's Garden is mostly hand-stitched and all applique is turned edge.  Margaret astoundingly finished this quilt in just one year.  One of Margaret’s favorite parts is designing and then seeing the vision come to life.  She likes to use subtle prints and incorporates embroidery to build texture in the quilt. 

    In Margaret’s words,

    “The quilt is about the piecing and applique, so the lines of the quilting only needed to be textural.  I used Kimono silk.  The silk is a nice touch that not many quilts use and I didn’t want the quilting to conflict with the prints.  I use SuperBobs exclusively in my bobbins, even if I happen to sneak a few other brands of top thread into a quilt.  I stopped winding my own bobbins years ago because the SuperBobs are a consistent tension.  It makes life easier.”

    Springtime in the Geisha's Garden

    A big thank you to Margaret for sharing her talent with us.  To view more of her amazing work visit

    Images courtesy of Jeffery Lomicka Photography and Margaret Gunn

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  • Adjusting Tensions on a Longarm Machine

    Bobbin Tension

    Hurray!  You have loaded a new quilt onto your longarm machine and you’re ready to quilt a beautiful design into the fabric. As you thread the machine, you realize just how many places the cone of thread comes into contact with the machine. With nearly a dozen or so contact points, this can add quite a bit of tension on your top thread. Let’s go through a few quick and easy steps on how to achieve excellent stitch quality by making a few adjustments to your machine’s tension settings.

    Unlike a home sewing machine, there are no automatic tension settings on a longarm machine.  Some of the brand new Handi Quilter longarms reflect a number on their digital readout to place a value on the top tension, but all other longarm machines do not have any system in place to display the amount of tension which is placed on the top thread. A home sewing machine will either have a digital or analog method of displaying the top thread tension. It may take some extra practice to get the feel and flow of proper tension settings for your longarm.

    Adjusting tensions on a longarm is simple, here’s how:

    1. Tensioner – Remember this sentence: righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.  Don’t be afraid to loosen your top tension by turning the tension knob several revolutions.  If  my top thread is snapping, chances are my tension is too tight. I crank my tensioners several revolutions to the left, almost to where the knob falls off, and then start tightening it as I stitch until my stitch quality is perfect.
    2. Contact points – each instance thread touches the machine (via threaders, tensioners, sensors etc.), friction and drag is increased. We know that the more friction which is added to a moving object, the more resistance the object will face. This means that thread will have a greater chance at breaking, the higher the number of contact points the thread is passing through.  Decrease the number of contact points to decrease tension.  My favorite place to do this is at the three hole tension plate.  I usually pass the top thread through two of the three holes but if I’m working with a more sensitive thread (like MonoPoly or Metallic) I  pass the thread through only the center hole.
    3. Handy Net – This is a great notion which helps keep slick threads on the cone. Trilobal polyester threads are high-sheen and with that sheen comes slickness. Fantastico, Magnifico, and Monopoly are examples of slick threads. Place a Handy Net on the bottom half of the cone to keep the thread from puddling down.  Watch our short video on how this works here.
    4. Bobbin Tension – It’s fun to mix up bobbin thread when quilting.  When switching thicknesses in threads, it may require adjusting bobbin tension.  If you bobbin is too lose you may see your bobbin thread collecting in a large gob on the underside of your quilt. This is called a  birds nest. If  your bobbin thread is too tight, your threads may break.  You can see a video on adjusting bobbin tension here.

    My recommendation:  learn to tame your tension with ample practice and not being afraid to try reducing the contact points, top tensioners, adding a Handy Net, and adjusting bobbin tension.  Once you are confident in adjusting your machine’s tension, you can run any quality thread through your longarm.

    What are you rituals for successfully using a wide range of threads in your longarm?

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  • Superior Spotlight: John

    After watching our Quilting Anonymous Video John decided it was time to come clean.  He wrote to us telling us that he went from wood working;  to making large stained glass windows; to rebuilding 1850s furniture and reupholstering the pieces; to QUILTING!  He said some of his friends laughed at him until they saw the results of his first quilt, which he designed.

    Many YouTube tutorials and 250 hours later, the finished 48” x 78” twin quilt was ready for his first grandson.

    John's Quilt

    John has not stopped there.  Here we show off a little of his applique work.  He plans on branching out to paper piecing and thread painting.  We look forward to seeing more from John!

    John's Applique

    John's quilt

    Do you have a spouse that loves to quilt?

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  • Superior Stars: Janneke de Vries

    We are excited to highlight Janneke de Vries’ beautiful 1st Place Art-Abstract, Large Houston International Quilt winning quilt, Hurricane.

    Hurricane is a vibrant, colorful, and emotional quilt that took Janneke 2,100 hours to complete! To put that into perspective, that amounts to 87.5 days.  Phileas Fogg went around the world in less time that it took for Janneke to create this fantastic, work of art.


    Janneke describes her quilt in her own words: 

    “I hope that viewers can feel the emotional force of a hurricane in the quilt. It took a lot of work to make sure the colors were in harmony and achieved the right balance and contrast.  I’m often asked if my quilts are painted, but I never use paint in my quilts.  My favorite part about Hurricane is the waves and the colors in combination with the wrinkled fabric.”

    Janneke’s gorgeous and powerful Hurricane was completed with the use of Rainbows, Tiara Silk, Metallic, MonoPoly, and Living Colors

    We are thankful Janneke allowed us to share her beautiful and inspiring work.  Her final word of advice to quilters is to always find pleasure in quilting.  To see more of Janneke’s pieces, including Poor and Rich, visit her website

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  • 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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