Superior's Blog Posts

  • QOV Spotlight: Ronald Olson

    Quilts of Valor (QOV) is an incredible organization based on volunteerism.  Quilters donate their time and supplies to give a quilt to soldiers who have served our country.  Ronald Olson, is one of these volunteers.

    This month, Ronald passed an astounding milestone by quilting his 2,000th quilt for QOV!  Here it is:

    Ronald QOV

    Ronald QOV Backing

    Ronald says, “I began quilting Quilts of Valor for men and women who served in the military in 2003.  Piecers send me tops and backs and I supply the batting and quilt them.  This is the 27th quilt that I pieced as well as quilted.  As long as men and women serve our country in the military, I intend to continue making quilts for QOV.”

    The quilting patterns are:  Bubbles by Christy Dillon and Lincoln by Anne Bright.

    For more details about the program, visit the Quilts of Valor Foundation website.

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  • Superior Spotlight: Jennifer Schifano Thomas

    Jennifer is a talented quilter and blogger.  Today we’re proud to show off her quilt, Sugar Crush, which was published in the latest issue of Quilter’s World magazine. 

    Sugar Crush

    Sugar Crush was originally conceived as a scrap quilt.  Jennifer planned to make a quilt with a large number of small, traditional style blocks in many different fabrics.  As she searched for a classic quilt block to follow, she fell in love with the Cake Stand block. 

    Sugar Crush

    After many of hours playing with scraps trying to get the balance of colors, Jennifer decided to “scrap” the idea and sewed this quilt with just three fabrics. 

    Sugar Crush

    Jennifer quilted Sugar Crush with King Tut #997 Alabaster using swirls, zig zags, loops, scallops and a triangle pattern, similar to Angela Walters’ style.

    See more of Jennifer’s talent on her blog Curlicue Creations.


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  • Should I use cotton or polyester for clothing construction?

    What thread to make clothes?

    Surprise!  It doesn’t really matter.

    But if you want our expert opinion, there are advantages to using polyester. 

    Polyester thread doesn’t absorb moisture like cotton fibers.  This helps your garment dry faster.  It’s not accurate to say polyester is stronger than cotton, but polyester is a strong thread that maintains integrity through many wash cycles.

    What if the cotton shrinks and the polyester thread doesn’t?

    Quality fabrics don’t shrink like they used to.  If you’re nervous about the cotton shrinking, wash the fabric prior to sewing.

    What if I want my project to be synthetic free?

    Great!  Then use a cotton thread like our MasterPiece #50 to construct your project.

    Will the polyester thread “tear” my cotton fabric?

    Thread will not tear through fabric soley due to its fiber content.  If a thread ever tears through a fabric, it is because it won the strength contest.  In a battle of heavy use and high stress placed on clothing, the strongest component will always win.

    Our final reason why polyester is great for clothing construction?  Price point.  Generally, polyester threads are less expensive than high-quality cotton threads.  Are you ready to try polyester for your next sewing project?  We recommend Sergin’ General for your serger and So Fine! #50 for your home sewing machine. 

    Happy stitching! 


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  • Valentine Postcards: Part Two

    Part Two of Valentine Postcards with guest blogger:  Martha Milne.

    You'll need some card and a printer. We've made a pdf file for you to download for the paper side of your postcards (see end of post). A thicker card works better than regular paper. It's fun to play with colored paper too. Print your postcards and bring them to your cutting table.

    Valentine Cards

    Did you know that graphic designers used rotary cutters, mats and rulers before quilters did? For this part of the project we're going to do the same. Use your OLD rotary cutter or the one with the dull blade. We're going to be cutting through card and you'll ruin your blade if you use the new one. Use your ruler to cut round the postcard images. I like to leave an 8th of an inch all the way around.

    Once your cards are cut out, place the card over your quilted sandwich and cut round it. You'll want the fabric part to be a little bit longer and wider than the card.

    Valentine quilting cards

    Take it to your sewing machine. Holding the card in place with the card side up, stitch around the postcard. I start out with a straight stitch following the edge of the image. Then I come around again with a zig-zag to secure the edges. Worried about stitching through card? Don't be. All you need is the right needle. I use a 90/14 Titanium coated Topstitch needle from Superior Threads. The titanium coating makes the needle extra strong so it stays sharp, even sewing through card.

    Valentine Cards

    Finally cut around the card to get rid of the extra fabric.

    Valentine Cards

    Once I've done one, I can't wait to do more!

    Valentine Cards

    In no time at all you'll have a lovely stack of fabric postcards. Treat them just like ordinary postcards. Write your message and address them. Once you've added the stamp these little quilts can go through the mail to surprise your friends and family. 

    Click here to view and download the Valentines Postcards pdf.  
    You can use this to make your very own postcards.
    Happy Valentine's Day! 


    See more of Martha's quilting talent on her blog.

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  • How do I find needles for my Longarm quilting machine?


    This is one of the most commonly asked questions we receive.

    Understanding the writing on needle packages can be confusing.  There are so many numbers, but which ones are the ones you need to know?  Here’s a helpful diagram explaining the numbers on the needle package.

    Needle Numbering

    The key numbers to know when ordering the right needles for your machine is the needle system (the numbers in the left, mid-section) and the needle size (the numbers in the upper right corner). 

    What to do next?  Simplify the entire longarm needle purchasing process by using our Longarm Needle Finder.  It’s so easy.  Choose the machine you have then select the needle size you need.  Not sure what size you should buy?  Use our Longarm Thread Reference Guide to help.

    One final tip.  It’s helpful to keep an old needle package on hand to reference when reordering needles.  One way to have one always readily available is to attach a small piece of Velcro to the package and to your longarm so you never have to look, never have to wonder, if you’re ordering the right needles.

     

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  • Valentine Postcards: Part One

    This is a Valentine postcard tutorial for making lots of postcards by guest blogger, Martha Milne.
    Time to Sew!

    First go through your stash and pick out pretty fabrics. I go for reds and pinks and hearts and flowers. Then stitch them together.  It ends up looking a bit like a crazy quilt, but there's method to my madness. I know that I'm going to be cutting the top into postcard sized pieces at the end. So I'm putting together fabrics that look nice and leaving some open places for machine quilting.

    Once my 'top' is pieced I load it onto my quilting frame. Then comes the fun part. I'm going to free-motion-quilt all over the top. Quilting frames make this easier but you can also just do free-motion-quilting sitting down at your machine. I don't need to worry about being perfect. I'm going to cut it up into postcards at the end so mistakes won't matter. I'll just use my favourite parts for the postcards. This lets me have fun and take risks that I probably wouldn't if I needed the whole top to look good.

    Valentine quilting

    I like to play with lots of different threads. Sometimes I'll scallop around a pattern in the fabric.

    Valentine quilting

    This 'hearts and loops' pattern is fun too. It looks so pretty with the variegated threads.

    Valentine quilting

    We call this pattern 'mussel shell hearts'.

    Valentine quilting

    and this one 'baby bum hearts'.

    Valentine quilting

    This pattern reminds me of the flower called 'Bleeding Hearts'

    Valentine quilting

    and this one is a fun feather pattern.

    Valentine quilting

    Once the top is all free-motion-quilted I take it off the frame and choose the best parts for the postcards. 

    Now I'm ready for Part Two.


    See more of Martha Milne's quilting on her blog

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  • Bobbin Tension Tips


    Guest blogger Martha Milne shares her favorite tips on how to get perfect bobbin tension.

    Superior Threads are so pretty

    I love thread!! All kinds; cotton, silk, gorgeous light reflecting tri-lobal polyester, metallics, even glow in the dark. As a quilter, sometimes I like thread to blend in so I might use a thin very fine thread. Sometimes I may want thread to stand out so I use a thicker thread for a bolder line. But I also use thread for piecing and binding, appliqué and embellishing. This is why we need to adjust thread tension. 

    Most tension problems can be fixed by adjusting the top tension dial on your sewing machine. But sometimes you will need to adjust the bobbin tension to balance your tension. I'll always try the top tension dial first, if that doesn't solve the problem then I move on to the bobbin. Adjusting your bobbin tension is easier than you think. I'll show you why and how.

    Sometimes the bobbin tension has been set too tight at the factory. This is a common problem and is easy to fix. Take your bobbin case out of the machine. Hold the tail of thread firmly and give it a short sharp shake. It should drop a couple of inches and then stop. 

    If it doesn't drop then the bobbin tension is too tight. Get a small screw driver. Look at the screw. Think of the line in the screw like the minute hand on a clock. You are only going to turn the screw in very small 15 minute increments. Remember righty-tighty and lefty-loosey. Turn the screw a quarter turn to the left and give it another shake. If it still does not drop, repeat the process. If it drops too far or too fast then tighten it up a bit righty-tighty. Be sure to keep track of how many quarter turns you make so that you can get back to where you started.

    Bobbin Tension Diagram

    For free-motion machine quilting I am finding that a looser bobbin tension works best for me. If my bobbin tension is loose enough then I am able to maintain a good thread balance by simply adjusting the top tension dial as I work with a variety of different threads.

    Visit Martha’s blog to learn more about her and her company.

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  • Q&A: Magnifico on a Longarm

    Q&A Magnifico

    Customer:  I'm having some difficulty with Magnifico thread on my longarm, and I'm wondering if you have any suggestions.  I use a Towa bobbin gauge, so I'm sure my bobbin tension is correct, and the thread tension looks wonderful on top and bobbin. I'm using a size 18 needle.  My problem is thread breakage - the thread is breaking 2-3 times on each pass. I've tried everything I know to do to fix the problem - changed the needle, cleaned and oiled after each pass, rechecked tension repeatedly - but the breaks keep occurring.  It's not just a single thread cone, either; it's happened with several different cones and colors.

    Do you have any suggestions for me?  I love the way the thread looks, and my customers do, as well.

     

    Bob:  The needle size is correct. Magnifico is a strong thread so if is breaking, there is something wrong.  I assume it is not breaking at the needle.  What is the Towa gauge set to?  We recommend setting to 180, or even 170 while we fix this problem.  Then loosen the top tension to balance the top and bottom tension.  Skip some of the threading along the thread path (the 3-hole plate).
    Please let me know if this helps.


    Customer:   I reduced the bobbin tension to 160-70, and then reduced the top tension accordingly, and now everything is working fine with no more breakage. It was probably the result of my quirky machine, as much as anything else.  Thanks for your suggestions!


    We’d like to answer your questions!  Please email them to info@superiorthreads.com


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  • Top Tension Tips


    Guest blogger, Martha Milne, shares how she adjusts the top tension to get the perfect stitch.

    We like to think of the perfect stitch 
    as a love affair between the top and bottom threads. 

    But no relationship is automatically perfect.

    Most sewing machines are pre-set at the factories for sewing garments with a mid-weight thread on mid-weight fabric.  That's fine if you're sewing clothes but what if you're doing something else? If you are quilting multiple layers, stitching heavy or light weight fabric, doing applique, free-motion embroidery or embellishing you may find that the top tension is too tight. 

    Here's a good close up showing what the stitching looks like when the top tension is too tight. Notice how the top thread is pulling the bobbin thread up through the fabric layers to the top. You can see this especially around the curves.

    Top Tension Too Tight

    In the following close up photos you can see skipped stitches as well as the thread shredding and breaking.

    Notice how the top pink thread is pulling the bottom red thread to the top.

    Top tension too tight

    Here you can see how the tight top tension is causing skipped stitches.

    Top Tension too tight

    Here you can see the thread shredding.

    Top Tension Issues

    Fixing the too tight top tension is easy. 

    Most tension problems are caused by too tight top tension. Learning to loosen the top tension dial will solve the problem. Turn it to the left then do a bit of stitching to see how the adjustment is playing out. If it is still too tight, loosen it a bit more and try stitching again. Keep on loosening the tension dial and checking the stitching until you have the perfect stitch. The perfect stitch is when the top and bottom threads are evenly balanced and meet in the middle. 

    Sometimes the top tension is too loose. When this happens the bobbin thread pulls the top thread to the back of the project looking like this...

    Top Tension too loose

    Once again it's easy for fix the top tension when it's too loose.  Simply turn the dial to the right to tighten the tension.

    We like to think of the perfect stitch

    as a love affair between the top and bottom thread.

    But even the best relationship can turn into a tug of war. 

    Balance Tension

    Getting your top and bottom threads balanced so they meet in the middle requires a little adjustment. 

    Visit Martha’s blog to learn more about her and her company.

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  • Organize a Sewing Room

    Organize Your Space

    First tip:  Don’t!

    Just kidding!

    Organization is something I’ve struggled with in the past.  It seems so much easier to simply leave things the last place it was used.  Way faster and easier in the moment.  My sewing room gets even harder to organize once things start looking disheveled.  It’s a slippery slope from there to a complete pigsty. 

    My mother was the perfect example of organization.  Everything had its place (and a label to accompany it).  She did her best to teach me that organized people are the lazy ones.  She said when things were organized she never had to search for something or wonder where it was, saving time and energy. 

    This is the year I’m challenging myself to get organized and stay that way.  If you’re like me, when you finally have a spare moment the last thing you want to do is organize.  I’d much rather be sewing.  But, if what my mother says rings true, once I’m organized I’ll have more time for sewing.   I’m giving up sewing time now in hopes I’ll have more later.

    Can you help me?  What do you do to keep your sewing room organized?

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  • Sew Sassy with Jane Sassaman

    Award-winning quilter, Jane Sassaman, shares with us two gorgeous quilts.  The quilts below demonstrate the bold, decorative stitches of Sew Sassy.  Jane Sassaman helped us create this thread which is why we decided to call is “Sew Sassy” in honor of Ms. Sassaman. 

    As you can see, Sew Sassy really stands out!

    Star Gazer - Sassaman

    Star Gazer - Sassaman

    Sweet Potato Vines

    Sweet Potato Vines

    Try our 12 wt polyester Sew Sassy on your next quilt!

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  • Essentials for Your Sewing Kit (Scissors)

    Sewing Scissors

    Experienced sewers, quilters, and crafters understand that quality sharps dramatically increase the success and ease of your project.  Today we discuss the essentials for your sewing kit.

    Scissors vs. Shears – There is a difference!  Do you know what it is?  Scissors are less than 6” long and have equally sized finger holes.  Shears are longer than 6” and have one small hole for the thumb and a larger finger hole to fit two or more fingers. 
         Scissors – these are helpful to trim extra threads.  Serrated scissors help grab the threads, making solid cuts.  It’s handy to keep a small pair on a zinger pinned to your shirt so you never have to look around for these.
         Shears - The ergonomic handles are great for making longer cuts (like with dress patterns) without tiring your hands.  Some prefer the spring action shears to curb hand fatigue!

    Pinking Shears – Pinking shears are typically used to prevent raw seam edges from fraying.  These can be used as an alternative to trimming and clipping curves because the v-cuts replicate the clip effect, and it’s much faster and easier to do.

    Rotary cutter – Rotary cutters are a dream come true!  They make cutting so fast and easy.  So what do you look for in a rotary cutter?  They come in sizes ranging from 18 mm-60 mm.  The smaller cutters are meant for detail cutting.  If you plan on cutting lots of fabric the bigger the better because it cuts down on time (less rotations of the blade).  Pair your rotary cutter with a cutting mat.  We talk more about these here.

    Seam Ripper – Or the “unpicker” is essential.  No one’s perfect and your sewing shouldn’t have to be either, but there are times when a seam ripper comes in handy.


    We recommend buying the highest quality that you can afford.  Sharpening and replacing blades will depend on your use.  You will not be disappointed when you spend the extra money for higher quality.  We recommend making sure everyone knows that if they mess with a sewers scissors (especially in regards to paper) they will be banished!


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  • How to stitch with Glitter thread

    Glitter Quilts

    Glitter is our gorgeous flat, hologram mylar thread which has incredible sheen.  It’s a beautiful accent thread, perfect for embroidery, quilting or fun decorative stitching.

    Superior Glitter is twice as strong as other mylar threads and today we will share tips on how to make stitching a breeze with this sparkly thread.

    Needle Size – Needles help protect the thread as it moves through fabric.  We recommend a size #90/14 Topstitch needle in your home or embroidery machine or a size #18/4.0 in your longarm quilting machine.  The reason why we like our Topstitch needles is because they have a longer eye and deeper groove, which helps reduce breakage.

    Tension – Home machine users and embroiders:  to use Glitter please manually lower your top tension to a 1.0. On your longarm machine, lower the top tension by threading Glitter through one of the three holes of the three hole tension guide and reduce the tension at your primary tensioner by 2-3 full rotations.

    Thread Delivery – Thread delivery is key for success with Glitter thread.  Glitter must be wound directly off the side. 

    Unwind off Side

    If the thread unwinds over the end, it adds unnecessary twists to the flat thread, much like unwinding the ribbon in the picture below.  The extra twist in the thread may cause breakage.

    Twists aren't good for Glitter

    Bobbin Thread – Glitter is gorgeous as a top thread, and pairs well with Bottom Line in the bobbin.


    By following these recommendations we guarantee Glitter will add lots of dazzle to your next creation!

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  • Cutting Mat Care

    Cutting Mat Care

    Rotary Mats are a quilters best friend!  When you begin quilting, your life will be made much easier by purchasing a self-healing mat.  These mats close up or “heal” any incisions from rotary cutters leaving no visible slices on the mat.  Self-healing mats have a certain limit to the amount of slicing they can take so if you start seeing cuts remain or need more pressure when using a rotary cutter, this may indicate your mat needs replacing. 

    Mats can last a long time, and to ensure your mat serves you well, take care of it!

    Avoid harsh chemicals when cleaning your mat.  Clean stains and dust by using a gentle soap/water combo and a lint-free cloth.  If you cut a fuzzy fabric, like minky, the extra fluff can sometimes get stuck in the cuts.  In order for your mat to heal, the fuzz needs to be removed.  

    Store your mat flat, not on its side.  Do not let your mat get too hot or sit on your cutting table in direct sunlight.  These practices lead to warping and a sad quilter!

    Take care of your mat and you can enjoy hours of cutting together!

    Do you have additional tips on how to care for a self-healing mat?  Please share in the comments below.

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  • What thread should I use for Applique?

    Baa Baa

    Applique is awesome!  It’s a great way to add interest and dimension to quilts, bags, shirts, and more.  We offer several thread lines that are prefect for blending, decorative, and invisible applique. 

    It’s ideal to stitch with a blending thread to make your applique look effortlessly applied.  These are the threads we’ll be discussing today.  Each of the threads can be used for applique by hand or machine.

    Baa Baa Black Sheep

    MasterPiece - Designed with award-winning quilter Alex Anderson, MasterPiece #50 is nature’s finest thread. Say goodbye to linty cotton threads and enjoy smooth stitches without the mess.

    Bottom Line – Bottom Line is a 60 wt. lint-free polyester thread which blends very well when paired with similar-colored fabrics. Bottom Line is available in 55 colors and wound on cones, spools, and prewound bobbins. Our most popular color is #623 Silver, as it blends well with any light-colored fabric.

    Kimono Silk - Kimono Silk is a #100, very fine silk thread. Made from 100% pure Japanese filament silk, Kimono Silk is incredibly strong for how fine it is. It slides through fabric without added friction.

    MonoPoly - Our reduced-sheen monofilament polyester is the best choice when it comes to invisible threads. Unlike other monofilament threads made from weaker nylon materials, MonoPoly is made from polyester. Commonly referred to as an invisible thread due to its fineness and reduced-sheen, MonoPoly is great for invisible applique. Available in 2 colors, Smoke (for dark fabrics) and Clear (for light fabrics).

    Baa Baa Black Sheep

    One of the best things about applique is that you can do it on the go!  To help manage space in your applique bag we offer Donuts.  35 colors to choose from in one convenient ring.  Available in MasterPiece or Bottom Line.

    What’s your favorite applique thread? 

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