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Superior's Blog Posts

  • 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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  • Keep Track of Your Stash

    Track your Thread Stash with the Superior App

    Having a hard time remembering if you have a certain color?  Happens to us too.  We have two helpful tools to keep your threads in order.

    First, for our tech-savy friends we created the Superior Threads Inventory App for Apple and Android.  

    Superior Inventory App

    This app is device specific, so please use it on the technological tool that you’d like to always access your stash with.

    Second, for those who love having a paper copy of their inventory, we have thread inventory lists online for you to print.  We find it helpful to laminate or keep them in sheet protectors and use dry-erase markers to keep numbers current.

    By using these tools you’ll never again have to wonder if you have the thread color you need.

    Next, hopefully we will design something that will make it easier to actually locate the thread in your stash! 

    Do you have a method that works really well to keep your thread stash organized?  Please let us know in the comments.

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  • Our Newest Thread: Sew Complete

    Sew Complete Completes my Sewing Dreams

    We are excited to announce our newest thread line, Sew Complete! We have received countless requests from our customers and friends to create a strong, smooth, lightweight sewing thread for crafting, general sewing, and home decor. Sew Complete is a 50 wt. (standard sewing weight) poly-wrapped poly core thread available in 25 functional colors wound on 300 yd. spools. Sewing with Sew Complete will solve many frustrations that exist with other, low-quality all purpose threads. It provides smooth stitches with consistent tension and due to its strength, minimizes thread breaks.

    We know what your next question is:  What’s the difference between Sew Complete and So Fine! #50?  Sew Complete is a great all-purpose sewing and crafting thread and because of its fiber composition, is slightly stronger than So Fine! #50.  With 300 yds per spool, Sew Complete is more economically priced.  Both are great threads and serve their own purpose. We invite you to sew with our newest thread line in the Superior family.

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  • Advice for Newbies

    Quilting advice from the experts

    Recently, we asked our friends on Facebook, “what’s the best advice to give a new sewist?” We really loved what they had to say and are passing along a few of their awesome tips to you!

    Kathy M – Relax and realize, like with anything else, you get better with the more experience you get.  If it doesn't turn out right it means nothing in the grand scheme of things.  Chalk it up as learning.

    Peg A - Use Superior Titanium-coated Topstitch needles in your sewing machine. If you have thread breaking or tension issues, change your needle to one of those, remove thread, re-thread the machine, and change out your bobbin. You will probably fix what is wrong. Those machine needles last twice as long as a regular machine needle (or more).

    Alexi G - There's nothing in quilting that can't be undone and fixed. Might take some effort and a new piece of fabric, but all mistakes are reversible. So it's okay to mess up.

    Nancy C - Find a good mentor who will guide but not JUDGE. Always use the best supplies you can afford. Have patience, you didn't come out of the womb knowing how to sew.

    Liz S - Sewing with a group is really helpful when you're learning, in either a class or guild group. You will find lots of support and learn lots of tricks that making sewing easier.

    Tina T - Never give up, if it is not working the way you thought it would, take a step back so you can look at it from a different angle.

    Kay S - You are doing this because you want to. Have fun, enjoy the fabric and don't stress about "perfect".  You will get better and better as you go along.

    Jeannie - Keep your sense of humor and enjoy the process. If you do mess up, and you can live with it, then you have added an artistic touch.

    Gerri G - Don't make the first mistakes I made! Start out right with Superior’s thread and needles!!

    Angela P - Always use bobbins specifically made for your machine to avoid many tension issues.

    Betty M - Watch your fingers when the needles moving.

    Doreen D – Patience and buy the best you can afford.

    Judith B – Start with an easy project.

    Ellena G – Don’t get discouraged.  There is always a way to “make it work”.

    Jacki S – Take your time to know your machine.

    Diana – Buy chocolate.  Buy LOTS of chocolate.

    Barbara H - The seam ripper is your new best friend. Never give up.

    What advice would you give a new sewist?

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  • Troubleshooting Sewing Frustrations

    Help!  Thread is breaking, shredding, or misbehaving!  What do you do? 

    We recommend taking a deep breath, perhaps walk away from the machine, and then return with a determination to follow these troubleshooting steps. 

    Click on the image to see a larger version PDF.

    Troubleshooting guide for home machines

    Sounds simple enough, right?

    By following these steps, you will be able to solve most of your sewing frustrations.  Keep this on hand by printing it here.  Need help with adjusting your top tension or determining if you’re using the right needle size?  Print out a copy of our Thread Reference Guide for Home Machines.

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  • Quilting Myths: What's true and what's not!

    Quilting Myths:  What's true and what's not

    There are so many myths regarding thread. Some are propagated purposely due to a financial motivation, others by misinformed professionals including store sales staff and repair technicians, and most by innocent people just passing on what they have heard.

    Myth 1 - Polyester will tear my quilt fabric.
    Not true. If you have attended one of Bob’s seminars, you have seen hands-on proof that this is a myth. (If you haven't, please watch his Thread Therapy DVD) Thread tearing into a fabric has nothing to do with the thread fiber type but with the strength of the fibers (both in the thread and in the fabric). Some cotton thread (such as glazed cotton) can be stronger and more abrasive than polyester.

    Myth 2 - My machine repair person said that I must use only ____ thread.  (Fill in the blank with a brand name or cotton or poly, etc.)
    Some have been told to use only cotton thread.  Others have been told to use only polyester thread. I’m sure the person who says this means well. He/She probably just finished cleaning a machine full of horrible lint or other problems and intended to advise the owner to use a better thread. The advice may be spoken out of frustration or misinterpreted. Imagine a car company saying you must use only Shell gasoline because other brands will damage your car. It does not make sense. Quality is the key, not the type. Your machine is made to accommodate many types and sizes of threads. With the proper needle and tension adjustments, your machine should run any high quality thread. Don’t be stuck on one channel.

    Myth 3 - Using prewound bobbins will void my warranty.

    Not true. Similar reasons as #2 above. I personally checked with machine companies and using prewound bobbins will not void any warranty.  Most machine companies sell prewound bobbins. They are a wonderful convenience. Choose quality bobbin thread.

    Myth 4 - You must always use a 3-ply thread.
    Not true. In most cases a 3-ply thread is stronger than a 2-ply thread. However, if the 3-ply thread is a lower quality product, it is possible than an excellent quality 2-ply thread is stronger and preferred for particular uses.  The number of plies is not the critical point. The quality of the raw material and the processing techniques together determine how good a thread is.  For example, consider piecing thread. The goal when piecing is to make a smooth seam without bulkiness. A thread with occasional slubs (clumps of excess thread or lint wound into the thread) will not create a smooth seam. A heavier-than-necessary thread will make a bulky seam. If you have a top quality smooth, slub-free, and adequately strong 2-ply cotton, the seams will lie flat, the points will meet, and there will be no bulkiness in the seams. Quality is more important than the number of plies.

    Myth 5 - Titanium-needles are so strong, that instead of the needle breaking when under force, it will break your machine.
    Not true. If using a Titanium-coated needle posed a risk to a sewing machine, the majority of factories around the world which sew any garment, upholstery, quilt, or textile wouldn't use this modern marvel. Titanium needles are not made from Titanium, they are made from high-strength steel and coated with a thin layer of Titanium-nitride. This layer is almost like a ceramic substance and only 3-5 microns thick on a sewing machine needle. It doesn't add any breaking/tensile strength, but does increase the life of the needle several times due to advanced abrasion resistance.

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  • Glitter Thread Tutorial


    Glitter is a gorgeous thread that can add sparkle to any quilting project!  What makes this thread different from Metallic?  The extra bling!

    In this video, educator Cindy Needham explains how to use Glitter:

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  • How to Store Threads

     How to Store Threads

    Two questions we hear frequently are “What’s the best way to store my threads” and “How can I tell if my thread is old?” 

    These questions tend to go together because properly storing threads will increase their ability to run smoothly in your machine for years to come. 

    The best way to store threads is out of direct sunlight and away from air vents.  Sun can fade colors and cause some threads to become brittle over time.   Air vents can cause dust collection on threads.  The dust doesn’t affect the thread as much as it will affect your machine.   Imagine dust covered threads running through your tension discs.  Not a pretty picture.  It’s a good idea to keep your threads in a drawer, closet, or in a plastic holder.

    Threads made today are of higher quality and last much longer than they used to.  Man-made threads, like polyester, can last 100+ years without compromising quality.  High-quality threads made from natural fibers like silk or cotton have a lifetime of 50+ years. 

    The best thing to do if you’re using older natural fiber thread (grandma’s thread stash) is to try the snap test.  Hold a strand of thread in your hand 8-10” apart and break the thread.  If you get a clean break, the thread is good and can be used in your sewing or quilting project.  If the thread feels like it just pulls apart, the thread is bad and should be thrown out.  

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  • Paper Piecing and Texture Magic Tutorial

    Annie Unrein from Patterns by Annie demonstrates how to paper piece fabric that is texturized with Texture Magic.

    Looking for more tutorials?  Find them on our Videos page!

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  • Superior Spotlight: Diane B

    Diane B is one of our wonderful customers.  Diane teaches classes at her local quilt shop, The Quilting Corner, in Tilton, NH.  We were so excited when she shared with us this quilt she made with one of our newest threads, Sew Sassy, and want to share it with you. 

    Sew Sassy

    Diane says, "I decided recently to try out the Sew Sassy thread. I used it in a little landscape. The Sew Sassy was perfect for adding small branches to my applique trees and for edge sewing the applique. I used a #100/16 needle on my Janome machine and used Bottom Line in the bobbin. Usually when I have a thicker thread I need to reduce the upper tension so I started out with it at a 1.0. I had a lot of top thread on the bottom so I gradually went up in tension. I was surprised that the best result seemed to be at 4 or even 5. When making the branches, I was happy with the thickness of the branches with just going up and back once.”

    Diane offers a great tip.  When trying a new thread, we recommend dropping your tension and then slowly tightening until you see a balance in your stitches.  When stitching with Sew Sassy you may want to lengthen your stitch to enjoy the full power of the bold stitches this 12 wt thread offers.

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  • Easter Baskets for Quilters

    This post is from our friend, Martha, The Machine Quilter.

    Superior Easter

    Wouldn't you love one of these for an Easter Basket?! Surprise your quilting friends and family with an Easter Basket full of threads and bobbins in gorgeous pastel colors. Superior Threads has many threads and notions to choose from--you're certain to find the perfect treat. When everyone else has finished the chocolate, these beautiful threads will still be giving months of stitching pleasure. 

    Superior Easter

    Here's an egg-cellent idea for an Easter gift. Wrap a cone or spool of thread in pretty pastel tulle and tie it with a ribbon. Little May in the photo above has a lovely cone of Kimono Silk

    Superior Easter

    Eye candy with no calories so go ahead and fill your basket!

    Easter baskets from Superior Threads--better than chocolate! 

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  • Tulle skirts: a tulle-torial!

    This article is by guest blogger, Martha Milne.

    Tulle Skirt Tutorial

    Here's Emily making a pink tulle skirt with little May, Annie, and Teresa

    Making a tulle skirt couldn't be simpler! For this project we used the Tulle Circle Skirt DIY instructions found on A Beautiful Mess blog post - it has very clear pictures, which is a must for any good tutorial! We used So Fine! #50 for stitching the skirts with Bottom Line pre-wounds in the bobbin. While making the skirts was fairly easy, I did find that it got even easier when I kept the following in mind:

    • When cutting out the tulle, make sure you're using your sharpest scissors! You want the lines to be clean and smooth, not jagged.
    • When you cut out your elastic, always make it an inch shorter than the waist size you want. The elastic stretches, and the tulle doesn't, so if you need to slip the skirt over your hips to your waist, make sure there's some give!
    • Before sewing the elastic onto the layers of tulle, I found it helpful to actually sew the layers together, rather than just pinning them. This way, you know that all the layers are together, and you won't have to unpick if you accidentally miss a layer while sewing the elastic on. 
    • Really pull the elastic taut while you are stitching the tulle to it! 
    • So Fine! #50 with Bottom Line in the bobbin is the perfect combination for clothing projects! 
    Tulle Skirt Tutorial

    Little May was so curious!  She loved watching the sewing machine.

    Sergin General

    We used a serger, and the new Superior Threads line Sergin' General, to make the linings for the tulle skirts.

    Sergin General

    Sergin' General is a Poly-wrapped poly core thread  specifically designed for serging or overlocking. It's the cleanest serger/overlock thread available with excellent strength and elongation for smooth stitches with less puckering. Sergin' General is available in 50 solid colors specifically chosen for their blending tones so you can easily find a perfect match. It's wound on convenient, 3,000 yd. cones and will fit on your serger/overlocker comfortably. 

    Did you learn something from Martha?  Check out her blog for more quilting and sewing tips and tutorials.

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  • Bad Habits Quilters need to Quit

    Bad habits quilters need to quit

    Have you heard the story about the woman that every time she makes a roast she cuts off the ends because that’s the way she saw her mother cook it?  The truth was the mother had too small of a cooking pan and cut the ends to accommodate.

    Sewing can be like this too.  You’re taught or observe someone doing something and figure that’s the way to do it.  But there are some sewing and quilting habits that could be hindering your sewing experience.  Here are 10 habits we recommend quitting:

    Not organizing your fabric scraps

    Will you ever use fabric scraps if you can’t even tell what you have?  Our favorite thing is to organize scraps by colors.  If you don’t have them organized, you might as well throw them out because they won’t be used and they’re taking up precious space!

    Overly criticizing your work

    Do you nit-pick and over analyze your stitches and points?  Stop it.  Seriously, just stop.  You’re not doing anyone any favors and especially yourself by trash talking.  Why not celebrate that you actually made time to sew?  Congratulate that you finished a project.  Be happy that you created something that didn’t exist before.  That’s pretty cool.

    Putting water in your iron          

    We might all be guilty of this one.  Water in the iron (with the exception of distilled) can corrode your iron.  Or worse, a leak could leave a spot stain on your fabric.  Get a spray bottle of water to help with misting needs.

    Cutting the same place on your mat      

    Want a quick way to wear out your mat?  Always cut at the same place.  Mats need time to heal.  Here’s a little more on how to care for your mat.

    Sewing over pins

    Sewing over a pin causes problems.  Needles bend, dull, or worse—break.  If you have a habit of sewing over pins because you haven’t experienced issues yet, please stop now.

    Not maintaining your machine

    Clean your machine regularly.  Change the needle when you see stitch quality decrease or hear a gentle thud sound.  Take your machine to the mechanic once in a while.  Be good to your machine and she’ll be good to you!

    Not completing your projects   

    Having too many unfinished projects is discouraging.  If you find you have a project you started, but haven’t returned to in years, probably you’re discouraged or simply not interested.  This is a great opportunity to donate your half-done project to your guild or a friend who might love a head start on a new project!

    Unthreading the machine incorrectly

    When you change a spool color, the first thing we normally do is just pull the spool off the machine and pull the thread backwards through the tension discs.  Easy? Yes.  Bad for your machine? Yes.  Time to break the habit and cut the thread at the spool and pull it out through the needle.

    Using dull cutting tools

    This is a no brainer, but sometimes you just hope our rotary cutter will make it a few more squares or that the frayed fabric edges from your shears aren’t that bad.  Sewing is much easier with crisp edges and choosing to use high quality sharps can help alleviate a lot of frustration and save time.

    Using low-quality thread and fabrics

    You knew this was coming!  Low quality threads shed lint, break, and may not stand the test of time.  Similarly, fabric quality will affect how long your quilt will last.  We recommend buying the highest quality you can afford.  This will make sewing and quilting much more enjoyable.

    Are you guilty of any of these habits?  Are there others that should be listed but aren’t?

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