Superior's Blog Posts

  • Superior Stars: Pat Durbin

    Pat Durbin is an inspiring fiber artist.  Since 2005 she’s been making quilts that resemble paintings.  She is inspired by beautiful scenery or pictures (often taken by her husband).  Pat uses quilting to express the joy she feels observing creation.  Today we share a few of her beautiful quilts.

    Fall Leaves

    Wonder Land

    Through the Boughs


    Tigress Sheena

    Wild Rhodies

    The last quilt above, Wild Rhodies, received 3rd place in the Art-Naturescapes category  at the Houston International Quilt Festival last year.  This beautiful quilt was thread painted using Rainbows and Nature Colors with Bottom Line in the bobbin.  You can view more of Pat’s designs on her website here

    What’s your experience with thread painting?  Have you ever made a quilt patterned after a photograph?


    Images courtesy of Pat Durbin

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  • Superior Stars: Suzan Engler

    Suzan Engler

    Suzan Engler is an impressive digital and fiber artist.  She paints an image using computer software; prints it onto fabric; and then quilts heavily to add life to her artwork.  Today we showcase Portrait of a Great Blue which is currently on display at The Art in Fiber 2015 Festival in Round Top, TX.

    Blue Heron

    Blue Heron Detail

    We had a chance to interview Suzan about her creative process, which she describes in her own words:

    “I worked in architecture where the average work week was 70 hours.  It was an exhilarating career, but I was designing and fulfilling someone else’s dream and it was time for me to fulfill my dreams.  Inspiration comes from the everyday objects, animals, and nature which I reinterpret in new ways by manipulating light and color.  It is my intension for the viewer to experience something familiar, but in a surprising new way. 

    I probably have 50 yards of fabric in my stash.  I currently design my quilts and have them printed by a printing service, so I don’t have a huge stash.  Thread is another story.  Let’s just say that I have all the colors of Rainbows, So Fine! #50, and Kimono Silk.  I’m now working on stocking up on Fantastico and Magnifico threads.”

    Superior Thread Stash

    Suzan’s artwork is displayed in private collections in the United States, New Zealand, and Great Britain.  We completely understand why, her quilts are breath taking!  To see more of Suzan’s quilting, please visit her blog

    Images courtesy of Suzan Engler.

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  • Superior Stars: Virginia Greaves

    Worry by Virginia Greaves is stunning and emotionally moving.  This impressive quilt is Virginia’s interpretation of Dorothea Lange’s photo.  Virginia works from photographs she has taken or from historical photos which are public domain.  This piece won 3rd place in Houston in the Art-People Portraits and Figures category.

    Worry

    While creating Worry, Virginia learned more about the value of hands in a portrait.  She learned their placement can be just as powerful in conveying emotion as the eyes. 

    When Virginia free motion quilts at a high speeds through several layers of fused fabrics, she recommends using a high-quality thread that won’t shred. Virginia says So Fine! #50 is strong enough not to shred yet thin enough to not dominate the design. Most of the faces for several years have been quilted with Toast #406. She says the perfect neutral, medium-value beige for Caucasian faces.

    Virginia is currently collaborating with Leisa Rich to open a two-person show, Wash and Wax, in Atlanta which will begin in October of this year.

    We are in awe of Virginia’s talent.  If you’d like to see more of her work, you can follow her on Facebook.

    Golden

    Lincoln

    Raven

    Images courtesy of Virginia Greaves

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  • How Often Should I Change My Needle?

    Superior Topstitch Needles

    If you ask 10 of your sewing friends when they change their sewing machine needle, you’ll most likely get 5 different answers. The 'every project' designation is quite vague, because some quilts take much longer to piece and quilt than others. If new needles were required for every new garment that was sewn, clothing costs would increase due to the increased needle expense. Because of the varying amount of time it takes for the many quilts I make, I personally don't follow the 'use a new needle with every quilt.' mantra.

    With Superior's Titanium-coated needles, you will hear a different sound when sewing (a soft, constant 'thud, thud, thud') when the needle is getting dull. This is because the thin layer of titanium-nitride coating is wearing off. Every time the needle penetrates fabric, there is a microscopic amount of wear on a needle, no matter what it is coated with (nickel, chrome, or titanium).

    There are many other cues of a dulling or dull needle that are more recognizable, such as skipped stitches, the top thread shredding, and/or puckering while stitching. If your thread starts to behave strangely and you are experiencing these types of problems whereas you weren't before, chances are that your needle should be replaced.

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  • Superior Stars: Kathy Wylie

    Kathy Wylie

    We love being inspired by amazing quilt artists.  Today, we are inspired by Canadian Kathy Wylie’s beautiful quilt, Symphony of Praise.  This beautiful quilt was created using hand applique, machine quilting, trapunto, couching, and embroidery (whew!). 

    Symphony of Praise

    Kathy teaches and lectures all over Canada at guilds, shops, and quilt shows.  She has been competing at quilt shows for the past 14 years and has several quilts on permanent displays.  Kathy creates her own patterns, has been published in magazines and is the author of Sewflakes:  Papercut Applique Quilts.  See more of her talent on her website.

    What techniques do you use on your quilts?

    images courtesy of Kathy Wylie

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  • Quiltmakers’ Christmas in July Contest

    Christmas in July

    Who says you have to wait until December for Christmas?  (In fact, I should probably start my December projects now!) 

    No need to wait 6 months to enjoy some incredible gifts.  We’ve teamed up with Quiltmaker to give you the chance to win some fabulous prizes (including Superior Threads).

    Simply visit Quiltmakers’ Christmas in July contest page and correctly answer questions about the sponsors' products in the scavenger hunt.  This contest is open now until 11:59 pm MST on 8/7/15.  Good luck!

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  • Superior Stars: Margaret Phillips

    Pink Annie

    Pink Annie

    Pink Annie is a wonderful original by Margaret Phillips.  Last year, Pink Annie won 3rd place in the Art-Miniature category at the Houston show.

    Margaret’s quilt was inspired by a photo taken by her 4 year old nephew.  Although the quilt isn’t an exact copy of the photo, Margaret has made four versions of the quilt in different dominant colors: pink, yellow, green, and mauve.  The purpose of this quilt was to experiment on color relationships within a design and how to do skin tones with fabric and thread.

    Margaret used many shades of MasterPiece cotton thread, which sews wonderfully on her 27 year old Bernina.  We are grateful to Margaret for sharing her beautiful artwork with us today.

    Photos courtesy of Margaret

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  • Superior Stars: Sue Bleiweiss

    Sue Bleiweiss

    Sue Bleiweiss is a talented fiber artist and recently won 2nd place in the Art-Whimsical category in Houston.  We love that Tutti Frutti City Skyline has contrasting, sharp lines and bright, happy colors.

    Tutti Fruitti

     

    Sue just published her book, Color Fabric Collage.   We are grateful that we could connect with Sue about her book and her fabric artist career. 

    Fabric Collage

    What is your favorite part about quilting?

    I don’t have a favorite part because I love the entire process from start to finish.  It’s full circle for me starting with sketching and designing, then dyeing the fabric, and then creating the quilt.  Each part of the process is fun and exciting to me in its own way.

    How do you find inspiration?

    Inspiration for me comes from the process.  My studio shelves are filled with all of my hand-dyed fabrics and I’m inspired by the bright color palette that I’ve become known for.  I’m drawn to whimsical and wonky imagery probably because it’s fun and easy to draw.

    How does thread affect your quilts?

    All my quilts are created using cotton.  I prefer working with cotton because I like the way the stitches blend with my hand dyed fabrics.  In my work, the quilting on my pieces is not meant to be a focal point, it’s meant to play a supporting role so I want to use threads that won’t impart any color shifting or shine that would detract from the overall imagery of my quilts.  I use both King Tut and MasterPiece as staples in my studio.

    What was the inspiration for your book?

    The inspiration came from having reached a point where I felt that I had perfected my processes and I was ready to share them so others could learn from them.  I love to teach because I enjoy passing along what I know and seeing the enjoyment in my students faces when they learn a new technique.

    What do you want people to know after they read your book?

    I’d like the reader to have discovered just how versatile fusing can be beyond just using it to adhere one piece of fabric to another.  In my book I dedicate and entire section to the many different ways fusing can be used like interfacing delicate fabrics, basting a quilt, creating color effects, texture surfaces, foiling, and more.  My other goal with the book is to show the reader how fusing can help make that transition to becoming an art quilter a little easier because once you add a layer of fusible web to the back of a piece of fabric there is virtually no shape or image  you can’t create with it.

    See more of Sue’s work and learn more about her book on her website, suebleiweiss.com.

    Images courtesy of Sue Bleiweiss

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  • Superior Stars: Kathy McNeil

    Kathy McNeil is an incredible, award-winning quilter.  In fact, two of her priceless winning quilts are on display at Superior Threads (come see them for yourself!).  The two quilts we have on display are Natural Wonders and Jingle Bells.

    Natural Wonders

    Jingle Bells

    Kathy’s most recent award-winning quilt is this beauty, Reflections, which won Best of Show Mancuso, Savannah 2015.  This gorgeous quilt is hand appliqued with Kimono Silk and Bottom Line.

    Reflections

    Kathy grew up in a small mountain community in Washington state (there were only 30 students in her graduating class!).  She spent a lot of hours playing in the woods with her younger brother and drawing pictures from fairy tale books.


    Her love for quilts began when she worked as a nurse in a hospital. She saw the love and comfort that quilts brought to patients. Then when her daughter asked Kathy to make a quilt for her dorm room, she decided to try. Kathy and her daughter went to the quilt store to buy fabric and saw a pictorial quilt.  At that time she didn't know that people made pictures with quilts, but this marked the beginning of an incredible 17 year journey.

    Kathy says she still wakes up so excited to see what she can create with fabric and thread.

    To see more of Kathy’s incredible work, visit her website www.kathymcneilquilts.com

    Images courtesy of Kathy McNeil

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  • Superior Stars: Joanne Baeth

    Joanne Baeth is an incredible quilt-painting artist!  Today Joanne has graciously allowed us to share one of her beautiful prize-winning quilts and tell us a little about it.

    Here is Feathers and Farms.

    Feathers and Farms

    "To me, this quilt represents old farms all over the United States.  The barbed wire proved to be very challenging. After many tries, I finally covered a thin cotton cording with glue and paint. Tiny barbs were added to the long wire and let dry. I had several pictures of pheasants but was having trouble getting my drawings just right. Then while out bird hunting one day, my husband actually shot a pheasant and brought him home. That poor pheasant spent the next several weeks in the freezer at night and on my sewing room floor during the day. By the time I had constructed all of the feathers on the pheasants, he smelled pretty ripe."

    Joanne's hard work and diligence paid off.  We are amazed by the life-like quality of her quilting.

    Awards won: IQA Houston 2013 Pictorial – first place; Road to California 2014 Pictorial -first place; AQS Lancaster 2014 Best Wall Quilt Viewers Choice; AQS Paducah 2014 Small Wall Quilt – second place Viewers Choice; AQS Des Moines 2014 Wall Quilts – second place.

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  • Superior Stars: Alicia Sterna

    Arizona Starry NIght

    Arizona Starry Night is Alicia’s interpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night (one of her favorite paintings).  Alicia’s piece is not meant to copy his work, but capture the feeling, making it instantly recognizable, but different. 

    This project took roughly three months to complete.  Placing the pieces took about a month.  Alicia glued each piece of the sky lightly to a background, then added mountains and cacti.  The entire piece was covered with tulle before quilting.  Using Bottom Line polyester thread on the bobbin and Highlights in the top, Alicia used quilting to add texture to her naturescape.

    Her beautiful quilt earned Alicia an Honorable Mention in Art-Naturescapes at the Houston show last year.  We appreciate Alicia for letting us to share her work with you and hope you’ve felt inspired as we have!

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  • Superior Stars: Cathy Wiggins

    Cathy Wiggins

    Today we are spotlighting Cathy Wiggins’ beautiful quilt, Oscar.  Oscar won 2nd place in the Art-Painted Surface category at Houston 2014.

    Oscar

    This fun quilt tells a story, which Cathy describes here:

    “Oscar the dragon has been with me for a long, long time.  I knew he would show up on a quilt and this was the perfect chance to bring him to life.    He is the 12th quilt in my ‘Just for Fun’ series of quilts.  These quilts are designed to make people smile.  With Oscar, I wanted to create a book cover, complete with a leather binding and bookmark.  I wanted to supply images of Oscar’s life on the cover and let the viewer make up their own story.  This is my first venture into using leather in a show quilt.  The silver “book binding” is upholstery leather and Oscar is painted white muslin.  I knew the leather and muslin would shrink differently so I had to quilt each section separately and then join them together.

    Princess

    I have about 250 hours of design and painting, 300 hours of quilting and 50 hours of hand embroidery in this quilt.  I wanted to have a story where the dragon lives happily ever after with the princess and her knight in shining armor.

    prince and princess

    One of the biggest takeaways from this project is that I can use the same needle and thread combinations for quilting leather that I use on any other quilt top.  Oscar is quilted using Magnifico polyester thread.  The blue background and silver leather is quilted with silk.”

    quilted leather

    Oscar is amazing and we are thankful Cathy allowed us to share him with you today.  To view more of Cathy’s amazing work and follower her creative process, visit her Facebook page.

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  • Superior Spotlight: Sandi Nehlsen-Cannarella

    Sandi Nehsen

    Sandi’s first Girl Scout badge was for sewing.  After an exciting career in medicine, with a focus on transplants and immunology, Sandi retired at age 69. Her husband surprised her with a beautiful 500-square foot studio above her garage.  She then joined her local Busy Bears Quilt Guild, produced their annual quilt show for three years and has spent time teaching quilting and applique in local shops.

    Come Walk Through My Garden

    Sandi loves to follow the work of quilt artists and after reading many books and receiving a Superior Threads starter pack, she was hooked.  Sandi says, “I have consistently worked with Superior Threads and joined their thread clubs.  I discovered that Bottom Line was fabulous for my early work in applique, but soon found Kimono Silk through their Thread Sampler Club that has changed my life!”

    Flowers

    What has she done with the 80+ quilts that she’s made in the last 4 years?  Given them as gifts, sold them at quilt shows, and donated them to charity auctions.  Thank you Sandi for sharing your beautiful work with us! 

    Kittys Magical Garden

    Spiral Galaxy

    Story Book

    Images courtesy of Sandi Nehlsen-Cannarella

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  • Superior Spotlight: Carol Ann Waugh

    Carol Ann Waugh

    Carol Ann Waugh is an amazing fiber artist and educator.  We are thrilled to have Carol Ann as a guest blogger today.  We know you’ll enjoy Carol Ann’s beautiful pieces and inspiring words.

    "My inspiration often comes from the endless question: “What can I do to take this piece somewhere new and somewhere different than others have gone before?”  I typically begin a new piece with many drawings and sketches as well as a desire to try a new process or work with interesting materials.

    Carol Waugh

    My current work hints at the mixing of geometric and organic textures with layer upon layer of complex surface tension. It’s about exploration where unexpected connections and juxtapositions can lead to new ideas and artistic expressions.  I enjoy not having complete control over the outcome of my work and as I layer, create each line, shape or pattern.  It’s why making art is so intriguing to me and something I am driven to do every day.

    Breaking Out


    I don't have any secrets about how I create my art.  Since I teach thousands of students every year, I always tell them everything, from the exact products I use to the brands of needles and thread that are my favorite (Superior, of course!).  I am a big believer that teachers need to be open, honest and transparent so students don't leave the class with half the real story!

    Light at the End of the Tunnel

    I have many different threads from Superior and my go-to thread is Bottom Line polyester thread.  I use this almost exclusively in my bobbin for all my work.  Beyond their high-quality thread, I like the company.  I love supporting family-owned and operated business.  Superior has done a wonderful job in educating consumers about thread as well and I appreciate that effort.

    Santa Fe

    My advice is to experiment.  The quilting world is full of rules about how to make a perfect quilt.  I've never been much for following rules.  If there is truly only one perfect weight and type of thread to piece together fabrics, we surely wouldn't have all the wonderful choices we have today.  The same goes for fabrics.  Perfect commercial red?  Wow.  If that were true, I'd have to become a fabric dyer to get all the shades and tints I want!”

    ---

    We love the amazing art Carol creates.  You can see more of her talent on her website.

    Images courtesy of Carol Ann Waugh

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  • Superior Stars: Karen Eckmeier

    Karen Eckmeier

    Karen started quilting at age 30 when she taught herself to sew for the sole purpose of making a quilt.  After reading The Fabric Makes the Quilt by Roberta Horton, Karen felt her chains to conform were lifted.  She was now free to play with fabric.  This started her creative journey. 

    Rhythm and Roses by Karen Eckmeier won 3rd Place in the Innovative Pieced category at Houston 2014.  This beautiful quilt took 2 months to create and was completed with King Tut cotton quilting thread.  Karen loves the “electric” feel of this quilt.  Simply beautiful!

    Rhythm and Roses

    Sunshine and Shadow Garden

    Karen gains inspiration from visiting quilt shows and from her beautiful surroundings in Connecticut.  She loves the peaceful setting of living in a rural town with only one stoplight.  When not hiking, baking, reading, or traveling, Karen astounds us with her quilting talent!

     

    Connecticut

    To see more of Karen’s work, such as her newest piece Sunshine and Shadow Garden, check out her website, kareneckmeier.com.
     

    Images care of Karen Eckmeier

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