Superior's Blog Posts

  • Solve your thread frustrations: Thread Delivery!

    Thread breakage giving you issues? 

    Sometimes, after rethreading your machine, changing needles, and trying everything with tensions--the thread is still breaking!  The next step is to check your thread delivery method.  Dr. Bob explains how thread delivery affects your stitches in this segment of Thread Therapy.


    Using a Superior spool?  Make sure you take the Snap Cap off before you start stitching!

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  • Superior Stars: Susan Stewart

    Susan Stewart is an amazing quilter and embroiderer.  We absolutely love her work! (So much that we named a thread color after her, Purple Susan).  She began winning quilting awards in 2004 and hasn’t stopped since.  Check out her incredible quilts:

    Crystal Garden

    Crystal Garden

    Crystal Garden is pieced with black cotton sateen and cross-woven silk fabrics.  The embroidery designs are from OESD. It is pieced with So Fine! #50 and quilted with black and Purple Susan Kimono Silk with Bottom Line in the bobbin.

    Radiance

    Radiance Detail

    Radiance won Best Machine Workmanship at Houston in 2011, and Best Machine Workmanship at Paducah in 2012. The ivory fabric is Kaufman Radiance, and the pastels are Cherrywood. The quilting is done with Kimono Silk and Bottom Line.  The embroidery designs are from Zundt.

    Frozen Margarita

    Frozen Margarita was Susan’s donation quilt for Houston last year.  It is Kaufman Radiance. The OESD embroidery designs were stitched in Superior Metallic and quilted with Bottom Line on top and bobbin.

    Susan says, "Kimono Silk is my favorite thread for quilting!  It quilts sooo beautifully!  I like fine detail work, and Kimono Silk really works for that.  The colors are beautiful, too.  Sometimes I use Bottom Line as the top thread for quilting, but I almost always use it in the bobbin.  

    I use lots of Bottom Line as the bobbin thread for my machine embroidery. Two main reasons - one, it creates virtually no lint, which is important with the amount of stitching I do, (sometimes up to 6,000,000 embroidery stitches in a single quilt!); and two, I can come close to matching the bobbin thread to the top thread, so that if there is a little glitch in the tension, there is no white spot of bobbin thread showing.  

    I piece with So Fine! #50.  I often do machine embroidery over pieced fabric, and I learned the hard way that cotton thread is not strong enough to survive the repeated needle piercings of a dense machine embroidery design.  So Fine! #50 eliminates any breaks in the seam that have to be repaired by hand after the embroidery is done."

    Images courtesy of Susan Stewart

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  • Superior Stars: Angela Walters

    Angela Walters

    We’re excited to highlight quilter, blogger, and incredible teacher: Angela Walters.  She does amazing quilting tutorials on her website. 

    Angela Walters

    Angela Walters

    Angela Walters

    Angela offers great advice to new and experienced quilters and today we share a few of her best quilting secrets:

    1. Don’t Compare Your Worst with Everyone Else’s Best

    We all do it to some extent, but it can be so detrimental to our joy. Have you heard the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”? If so, then you know what I am talking about. Instead of comparing your quilting to everyone else’s, be proud of the fact that you are doing your best work right now. It’s ok to inspired, but don’t be intimidated!

    2. Don’t Point Out Your Mistakes

    It can be an automatic response, someone compliments our quilt and we immediately begin pointing out all the things that are wrong with it. I see this in my classes all the time and it makes me so sad. Instead of pointing out mistakes or dying a compliment, just say ‘Thank You’…..or at the very least, say something like ‘I had a fun time working on it’.

    3. Don’t Forget the Purpose of Your Quilt

    If you are getting frustrated with the quilting on your quilt, it may help to remember the purpose of your quilt. Chances are, the main purpose of your quilt isn’t to give you an opportunity to berate yourself. Instead, think about the greater purpose that it will serve once it’s finished, whether you are keeping it or giving it away. Changing your perspective may help you enjoy the whole process a little more.

    And last but not least:

    4. Don’t Forget That a Finished Quilt is Better Than a Perfect Quilt Top.

    No one ever sat by the fire cuddled up under a quilt top. Pull out those unfinished quilt tops that you are afraid to quilt, and finish them!

    ---

    Wise beyond her years!  To see more of Angela’s talent, visit her website.

    Images courtesy of Angela Walters

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  • Superior Stars: Becky Goldsmith

    Becky Goldsmith

    Becky Goldsmith is an incredible quilter, appliquer, author, and teacher!   She is part of the amazing design duo of Piece O’ Cake.  Today, we share one of her first pieced quilts in a long time, Tick Tock.

    Tick Tock

    Tick Tick is beautifully appliqued using Frostings Prewound MasterPiece bobbins and quilted using King Tut

    Her cute sewing studio, pictured below, is directly off her living room.  It looks to me like a haven for creativity!

    Becky Goldsmith

    Helping Becky through her creative process are her three cute cats; Emma, Dave, and Belle.  While pictured here together, the three of them do not get along well. (Can you relate with this?)

    Cat friends

    Becky’s best quilting organization tip?  Force yourself to make your backing and binding when you finish a top and cut the fabric for the sleeve at the same time.

    Love Becky’s work as much as we do?  See more at pieceocake.com.

    Images courtesy of Becky Goldsmith

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  • Superior Threads’ Birthday!

    Superior Threads Birthday

    Superior Threads was born out of necessity. Bob and Heather Purcell started Superior Threads in the spring of 1998 in their small garage. Heather had been quilting for several years and was looking for a source of high-quality threads. With the current market supply limited, Bob and Heather embarked on a journey to find a Thread supplier who would create the high-quality threads they had envisioned.

    Unfortunately, American thread mills wouldn't listen to their ideas. When they approached several mills and textile factories discussing their ideas for high-quality quilting and sewing threads, they were told "This is what we make. Take it or leave it". They realized that they couldn't have the quality they were hoping for, so they moved onto Plan B, Japan. Having spent the better part of 10 years in Japan, they knew Japanese production methods and the high demand for quality-conscious products. Many trips and collaborations later, Superior teamed up with several of Japan's finest textile manufacturers to produce the high-quality threads they set out to create. We celebrate our birthday on July 18th, as this is when Superior was set to full power. We've come a long way since the beginning and have broadened our range of products to include needles and notions.  Now Heather has access to the largest thread and fabric stash ever!

    Thank you for coming with us on this incredible journey and celebrating our birthday with us!

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  • Superior Star: Patt Blair

    Patt Blair

    Patt Blair is a wonderful artist and thread painter.  Today, she has allowed us to share with you a few of her incredible thread painted quilts.

    Salsa Con Libby

    Salsa Con Libby (pictured above) was created when Patt participated in the Inspired by Libby (Lehman) project.  Each artist was to reference some quilt by Libby Lehman and use it as inspiration.  Patt chose the title of one of Libby’s quilts, Salsa con Lima, and created this quilt to reflect Libby.  Thanks to the numerous contributors (both artists and buyers), this project earned about $73,000 for the fund! Patt owns one of Libby’s quilts and studies her threadwork to learn her satin stitch technique (which she incorporated in this quilt).  Patt’s secret?  Once finally done, she wanted to keep it, but it was meant for the cause so off it went.

    A few more of Patt's quilts:

    Big Ben

    Patt Blair

    Winged Lion

    Fun things to know about Patt:

    • She has a separate sewing studio condo 15 minutes from her home.
    • She is known as an art quilter/ teacher, but her ‘fun’ hobby is in traditional quilting!
    • She loves chocolate AKA “Quilter’s Vitamins”
    • She loves using trilobal high-sheen polyester threads like Nature Colors and Rainbows
    • She feels like she NEVER seems to have enough room in her studio and fabric/thread storage!

    Images courtesy of Patt Blair

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  • Superior Stars: Mary Hildebrand

    Mary Hildebrand

    What do you do to challenge yourself on quilts?  Mary Hildebrand shares with us three of her incredible, challenging quilts.

    Japanese Tea Garden

    Japanese Tea Garden was inspired by vintage photographs and childhood memories of visiting the Tea Garden.  Mary collaborated with Annette Kennedy to finish this quilt.  When she first started, Mary had no idea the thread work would become so intricate.  Tea Garden won a 2nd Place award at Road to California and an Honorable Mention at Quilt Festival in Houston.

    Beyond the Horizon

    Beyond the Horizon was made for her husband who is fond of the 1800's wood cut which inspired the quilt.  It is done in raw edge fused applique with satin stitching in black to mimic the inked lines.  

    Life on the Mesa

    Life on the Mesa is a miniature quilt inspired by a photo by Alex Proimos (and used with his permission).  It won a first place ribbon at Houston.  This quilt is raw edge applique over a black background.  None of the pieces overlap so the black background peeks through.

    Mary’s one piece of advice for quilters is: take advantage of every workshop or seminar you can manage (especially Thread Therapy), because so much can be learned from a variety of quilting teachers.

    Images care of Mary Hildebrand

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  • Reference Guides

    We can help!

    Do you ever have a question that even Google can’t seem to answer?  Well, if it’s about thread, quilting, sewing, or needles we have answers.  Not only do we have hundreds of education articles, we have great infographics, videos and reference guides.

    Today I want to share a few of my favorite reference guides with you.

    Thread Reference Guide – Home Machine and Longarm Machine

    • These two guides contain a host of information about what needle size and tension settings to use when sewing with Superior Threads. These reference guides detail the thread line, weight, needle size, and top tension suggestion.  Often, needle size recommendation can be found on the label of the spool or cone of our threadlines as well.

    Troubleshooting Guide

    • If your thread is breaking, shredding, or doing anything else naughty, this is the go-to reference guide.  It’s a simple step-by-step guide, which helps to resolve thread issues. It has saved me from a lot of hair pulling!

    Color Compatibility Charts

    • Can you use a different thread in the bobbin than the top?  Absolutely!  To help you find the closest color match, we have several color compatibility charts to help you find colors across different lines.

    Bobbin Compatibility Guide

    • If you haven’t tried a prewound bobbin yet, let me tell you a secret...  Save yourself the time of winding bobbins and try a prewound today!  Eliminate searching for an empty bobbin, winding it, and hoping the tension is right.  With a prewound bobbin, you can get straight to sewing and quilting  Our Bobbin Compatibility Guide is constantly updated (thanks to our fantastic customers keeping us informed of what bobbin type their machines use) to help you quickly find the bobbins you need for your machine. 

    All of these reference guides can be printed and added to your sewing or quilting binder and shared with your friends.  Hope you enjoy.  Do you have a favorite go-to reference guide? 

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  • 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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