Superior's Blog Posts

  • 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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  • Hurray for Free Shipping!

    Free Shipping Superior Threads

    Guess what?  We offer free shipping on all non-business orders over $50, shipped within the United States (including AK and HI).  But what if you only need one or two spools?  We offer a low, flat rate shipping of $3.95 for any order less than $50.

    You know what that means?  Another great reason to shop our threads.

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  • Sewing Curves With A Bias Binder

    Sue teaches us how to sew bias onto a curve using the Bias Binder attachment for Baby Lock sergers. Using a coverstitch with the Bias Binder helps make sewing the neckline or arm holes much easier and more precise. The Bias Binder is available in several varieties and sizes. This video demonstrates the Single Fold and Double Fold bias binders.

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  • Merry Christmas!

    We hope your Christmas is beautiful, filled with love, happy reminiscing, delicious food, and staying snuggly warm in a homemade quilt.

    Merry Christmas from Dr. Bob and Mother Superior

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  • Quilting a Christmas Card

    This is a story about the Christmas video Martha and her daughters recently made featuring Superior Threads...

    The whole time that my mom was piecing the Christmas Tree card quilt, she and I were discussing how to quilt it. We decided that we wanted to quilt a garland of holly and ivy in the wide red border.

    For me, the first step in quilting a new pattern is always to practise it on paper before I even think about approaching the machine. I have a huge long roll of tracing paper that I like to use for practising my quilting designs. I practised the pattern below for a couple hours (the image is slightly grainy because tracing paper doesn't seem to like being photographed!). Mom even brought me in some ivy from the garden so I could try and copy it more accurately!

    Audition Superior Threads
    Then came the actual quilting! We loaded the quilt onto the frame, and then auditioned some threads to see which ones we would use first. 

    We ended up using  King Tut #988 Oasis for the garland. The King Tut creates a beautifully bold line, and we really wanted the quilting to stand out. In the image below, you can see the end of the garland. this is actually two layers of thread - I used Twist, and then King Tut #988. The berries were done using Magnifico.

    Quilting

    Next was the Christmas trees themselves! I used King Tut again (this time #981 Cobra) for the branches. It was a very striking effect, and I like how every tree is slightly different - almost like real life!

    Oh Christmas Tree

     

    Between the Christmas trees, I used Fantastico #5170 Pixie Dust to create curls that looked a little bit like swirling snow. This thread was beautiful to use, and it wasn't a thread that I would have immediately thought to use with a white background. On the cone it looks a lot more colourful! It blended beautifully, leaving behind a wonderful, snowy texture. 

    The final quilt looked a LOT like the original Christmas card that mom based her piecing on. We like the quilted version better though!

    Christmas Tree Quilt

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

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  • It started with a Christmas card...

    This is a story about the Christmas video Martha and her daughters recently made featuring Superior Threads.

    It all started with a retro 1950's Christmas card. 

    I thought that this 1952 Christmas card by Charley Harper could translate really well into a Christmas quilt so I pinned it on my Christmas pinterest board. I like using pinterest boards as  design boards for various quilts that are percolating in my head. The pinterest board keeps all the ideas in a place that I can actually find when I want to come back to it later.

    Martha Milne

    This year when we were planning a Christmas video clip for our friends at Superior Threads we decided to translate the card into a quilt. Because I love the quilting part best these days, I usually see the pieced top as a 'canvas' for the quilting.  When I piece a quilt I am already thinking about how to quilt it. I was thinking even at the start of the project how fun it would be to draw the branches with the sewing machine needle and thread.

    Christmas Trees

    First I raided my green fabric stash and  pieced the trees. I used So Fine #50 for the piecing with SuperBobs pre-wounds in the bobbin. These very fine lint-free threads gave me flat seams and nice sharp points for my triangles.

    Then I needed to appliqué my tree-cutter person in the larger white triangle. I used Kimono Silk on top and SuperBob pre-wounds in the bobbin for the machine appliqué.  

    Martha Milne Quilt

    These silk threads blend so well with the fabric! I like how the raw-edge appliqué technique makes the figures seem to pop-up out of the quilt.  Finally we decided to add a wide red border. We were planning to use this border to quilt a holly and ivy garland to frame the trees.

    Here's the top all pieced and ready to go on the JUKI QVP 2200 long arm frame. 
    Christmas Trees

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

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  • Serging with a Bias Binder

    Serging with a Bias Binder allows you to sew a strip of fabric on your project with a coverstitch and get perfect coverage on your seams (including neckline). Available in several varieties and sizes, this video demonstrates the Single Fold and Double Fold bias binders.
    Sue details the process on how to install the bias binder, what positions the needles should be in, and how to keep the stitching in line with the bias.

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  • How to Hide a Thread Tail in the Middle of a Seam Technique

    This video highlights how to hide a tail chain in the middle of a seam. There are times when you will want to hide the tails on a garment or project, which can appear to be difficult. Use this quick technique to ensure flat seams and eliminate the chance for your thread to unravel. We are serging on a Baby Lock Ovation serger in this video. This technique can be used on many different sergers, not just this one.

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