To answer this question completely, we have decided to create a fun infographic which highlights specific points as to what makes King Tut Egyptian-grown extra-long staple cotton quilting thread so good.
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King Tut is an extremely low-lint #40/3 extra-long staple Egyptian-grown cotton thread. It is different from all other Cotton Quilting Threads because the high-quality nature of the raw products used and the special processing it undergoes. From the time the cotton seed is planted to when the thread has been completely processed and ready for use, an entire year has passed. This long process is necessary to produce the best cotton thread for machine quilting. Below are points which detail why King Tut is nature’s finest thread.
The best cotton in the world (for thread) is grown in the Nile Delta region of Egypt. Because this geographic area has an excellent combination of weather and nutrient-rich soil from the Nile River, the cotton produced here is premium. Egyptian-grown extra-long staple cotton is the highest-quality thread currently available. Egypt has been growing high-quality cotton since the 1800’s.
Everywhere cotton thread comes into contact with a machine, lint will rub off. Excess lint build-up is not a good thing, as this lint will rub off and can cause problems inside your bobbin case, clogging the thread path which results in poor stitch quality. King Tut is an extremely low-lint thread due to the nature of extra-long staple Egyptian-grown cotton and the special processing it undergoes.
Although it is never printed on labels, thread twist is measured by the number of twists applied per meter. Why is this important? A loosely twisted thread requires less total fiber content, takes less time to produce, and is less expensive to manufacture. “Regular” cotton thread may have as few as 150 twists per meter. (Think of a budget thread that can easily be untwisted by rubbing it between your fingers.) King Tut has almost 7 times as many twists per meter, resulting in a smooth, consistent surface.
Although the main difference in quality is determined by the staple length, processing also contributes to the quality of thread. Most cotton threads are mercerized, whether it is stated on the label or not. Mercerizing is the process of treating cotton thread in a special solution, which causes the fibers to swell. This allows dye to better penetrate the fibers, resulting in even coloration and causes the thread to become stronger. King Tut thread is mercerized, but it is not printed on the label because of limited label space. When starting out with a high-quality raw product such as Egyptian-grown extra-long staple cotton, it is unnecessary to ‘Double Mercerize’ the thread.
The overall strength and quality of cotton thread is often measured by the length of the staple. (’Staples’ are the individual fibers from a cotton boll.) King Tut is certified to be classified as ‘extra-long’ staple cotton. High quality and superb performance are directly related to the extra-long staples which make King Tut thread smooth, strong, and extremely low lint. This is why King Tut has a smooth feel and is strong enough for high-speed machine quilting.
Variegated King Tut is precision-dyed with even, one-inch color change intervals, unlike other thread companies that offer variegated threads with randomly dyed intervals. Superior Threads follows a strict process which precisely dyes the thread in one-inch intervals. The benefits of precision-dyeing are consistent color flow, even color distribution in small spaces (i.e. fill stitches), and uniform appearance.
King Tut undergoes a special process called “gassing”. Gassing refers to passing a cotton thread at a high speed above a flame, which burns off excess fuzz and lint. The process of gassing gives threads a brighter and smoother appearance. Gassed cotton may be referred to as ‘silk-finished cotton’ or ‘polished cotton’. You can tell whether or not a thread is gassed by the length of fuzz from a strand of cotton thread. If the fuzz has very little variation and appears uniform in length, it has been gassed. A non-gassed thread will have a combination of short, medium, and long fuzz in an irregular pattern. The less fuzz on a thread means less lint displaced inside your machine. King Tut thread is gassed, but it is not printed on the label because of limited label space.