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Back to Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob

In Video #20, Bob Purcell (Chief Threadologist of Superior Threads) discusses the winding patterns on a spool and a cone of thread. If a spool is straight wound (parallel wound), it is meant to come off straight from the side. If a cone of thread is cross wound, it is make to come off over the top of the cone.


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Thread Therapy Video #21


Bob: The last 5%, and the reason we stopped and 95% is because there's the
5% unknown. If you've tried Step 1, Quality, Step 2, Needles,
Step 3, Tension, and now step four, we're up to 90%. If this
doesn't solve it, the last 5% doesn't solve it; maybe it's the
unknown 5% between 95% to 100%. Maybe you're machine has worked
itself out of time. Maybe your husband tried to repair for you.
We have no idea what's going on, but that's where we take the
machine into a tech, if we haven't solved it up to now. The last
part is only 5%, usually we don't have to go this far.

Look how your spool is wound. We have 2 spool types: The machine
spool and the cone. They're wound differently. If you look on
the spool, you see how the machine spool has a nice, even, what
we call a parallel lined around, and around, and around; and the
cone, a crisscross lines. They're wound differently on the
spools and they're intended to unwind differently. Stores
usually don't know this and they don't really explain it to the

We're usually used to putting your spool on the machine on
your horizontal pin, just like this. Is that familiar? As we
unwind it, we're unwinding that like that, over the end. That's
not how a spool is intended to unwind. If there's a straight
wind spool, a straight wind on, straight wind off. If you put it
on your horizontal pin and it unwinds this way, it's not a
straight wind; it's coming over the end. You really can't see
was happening, but you're adding a twist every revolution. Most
machines have some type of a vertical pin spool holder. Is that

A spool that is straight-wound is intended to go on the spool,
on the pin like that, and unwind from the side. On the spool,
unwind from the side with the spool rotating. No tension added
not over the end. Here's what it's doing, this is a good visual:
This is your spool of thread. Imagine your spool of thread goes
on the horizontal pin, now we're going to unwind over the end
like we're taught by our dealers. Look what happens. Every
revolution twist, twist, twist; you're doing that to your
thread. What happens if your thread's twisting like that? You
made the threat pretty much doubled in diameter, it's double the
size by the time it hits the needle. Of course, it's going to
fray, shred, or break. Watch what happens if you put it on the
vertical pin, like this. On the vertical pin on top of your
machine, unwinds from the side. No twisting. It's just that
simple, but nobody teaches this. Spools from the side, cones
over the top. Yes?

Female 1: Is the thread spool made to unwind from the back across or from
the front?

Bob: It does not matter.

Female 1: It doesn't?

Bob: When you have your spool of thread, it does not matter if it goes on
this way or on this way. This way from your viewpoint is winding
from my side. You're going to turn it over from this way, it's
whining on your side. It does not matter. Somebody's going to
say it does and it works better one way or the other; fine.
We're just all about troubleshooting, but it really shouldn't

Look at the cone. The cone is a crisscross wind. It is never
meant to unwind from the side. Have you seen the wooden dowels
that go up inside? There's some wooden dowels that go up inside,
so you're thinking, 'I put a wooden dowel there, now I put on my
vertical pin. I'm going to have this unwind from the side.' It
takes so much drag to rotate and turn that cone of thread, you
will get different tensions. It's not how it's meant to be.
Always over the top. The problem is if I put this on top of my
machine, there's nothing up here on most machines to lift the
thread over the top into the machine. You think, 'Can I put
this on my vertical pin?' It goes vertical and it comes off of
this way. Yeah, that's fine, except there's not enough
clearance. It won't fit.

This is where we go back a few years. This is an antique thread
stand cone holder. Nothing new. Yeah, they're great. This is
meant to stabilize the cone of thread. You don't need an
adapter even though the pin is small and narrow, and that's a
larger opening, it doesn't matter. That center pin is only meant
to keep the thread from tipping over. It sits here, you bring up
over the top into that first hook, and it goes into your machine
into that thread guide. Look how it comes off of the spool. No
tension added. This sits either next to or behind your machine.
Yes, it does fit your model. It's that simple.

There's 2 types you can get: You can go to your discount store
and get a cheap’o plastic one for $5 unless you take your '40%
off any single item' coupon, get it for $3. You'll hate the day
you bought it. It's plastic, flimsy, it'll break eventually,
it'll tip over on you, and it's just a pain. Or you spend a few
dollars more; get a heavy-duty metal one, weighted base. It will
not tip over and it will accommodate cones. It's just that
simple. That's the last 95%. Question?

Female 2: I have a question about like when you have the up-right spool
and . . .

Bob: The pin holder?

Female 2: I've been told that it's very critical that you either have the
factory-supplied cushion there or a piece of felt there to
diminish that friction.

Bob: On the bottom, right? That's going to depend on the spool. On a slick
thread . . . and I don't know if there's much on friction, but a
slick thread can, what we call puddle down. Sometimes, that
thread will unwind here and get caught between here and
underneath. That's where that will help. I've seen the sponge
cushions underneath here; it's not absolutely critical. If it
works better, do it. If it was working without it, no need.