August 2008

August 2008. It's Heather's (Mother Superior) birthday this month and we are celebrating!


Question from a customer: What is the best thread for sewing clothes? Has everyone forgotten about us? Is there a thread for us please?

Answer: Yes. I promise you will fall in love with So Fine. Although the label says it is a quilting thread, it is a wonderful, all purpose construction thread. Use it both top and bottom to make smooth and accurate seams. So Fine is a strong, soft polyester, has no lint, and is available in 100 colors which makes it easy to match fabrics. So Fine is also a wonderful serger thread, making soft and pliable seams.


Superior Threads is one of the sponsors of a great contest by Robert Kaufman Fabrics and Quiltmaker magazine. Kaufman has a line of batik fabrics called Artisan Batiks. Use any past pattern that has appeared in Quiltmaker magazine and create it using these batiks. Pay close attention to the size requirements. (Once Mother Superior made an absolutely sure-to-win quilt for the Hoffman challenge and when preparing the paperwork to accompany the quilt, she discovered that it was over the size limit.) By the way, Rainbows and King Tut look absolutely stunning on Batiks. The one-inch color change of these threads can either blend or contrast with batik patterns depending on which colors or color combinations are used. Solid colors such as Highlights, also look great when the actual quilting motif is an important part of the quilt because solid colors tend to emphasize the quilting line and not necessarily the thread. You have until October to create an award winner. Below is a link to the contest rules:

EDUCATION: It's a Tug of War Out There

Before reading the explanation below, please look at the diagram on our website that explains how tension works and how it affects the stitch.

Think of the top and bottom thread as having a tug of war. If the threads are identical, both sides have equal strength and the result will be a draw. The sewing should therefore produce perfectly even stitches with no top thread showing underneath and no bobbin thread showing on top. However, in the real world, the teams are rarely equal. One team will be stronger or bigger or faster than the other. We sometimes use decorative or sensitive threads on top. We often use different fibers for the top and bottom threads. We also add stabilizer or batting. Sometimes we might use a cotton bobbin thread and other times we use a polyester bobbin thread. All these factors make it necessary to adjust the tension for each project. By adjusting the top tension either up or down, we are able to add or take away strength on the top thread team to equalize the tug of war battle. Following is a list of things that affect stitch results:

1. Batting. This adds drag on the thread. Cotton batting tends to grab the thread more than polyester batting, adding more friction on the thread.

2. Fabric type. Dense weave fabric puts more stress on the thread. If you are quilting on a longarm machine, keep the fabric relaxed between the rollers.

3. Top thread thickness and type. A heavier thread requires a larger needle. Metallic is less flexible than cotton or poly. Poly is usually stronger than either cotton or rayon.

4. Bobbin thread type. Cotton bobbin thread tends to grab more than a smooth filament polyester such as The Bottom Line, So Fine, and Highlights. Sometimes grabbing is preferred and sometimes it causes problems. A smooth filament poly thread (not spun poly) in the bobbin will work better with sensitive threads such as metallic and trilobal polyesters because it will not grab the top thread and pull it down too far into the batting. The top thread stays on top and the quilted stitches are more visible.

5. Needle. Make sure you have a large enough needle for the thread you are using. If in doubt, increase the needle size.

6. Speed. Go slow until all the above are worked out. You should then be able to increase the speed.

Sewing machines are factory preset to have the top and bottom thread form even stitches when sewing with a 50 or 60 wt. thread. If the top and bottom threads are identical in fiber and weight and the tension settings are perfect, adjustments may not be necessary. However, if we use cotton on top and poly underneath, or metallic on top and poly underneath, or a heavy thread on top and a thin thread underneath, it is necessary to adjust the tension settings. It is fine to use different thread types and weights on the top and bottom. Relying on a machine's automatic tension system is not enough. Most adjusting is done with the top tension. Although most home machines rarely require adjusting the bobbin tension, many longarm machines require adjusting (usually loosening) the bobbin tension as well as the top.

BOB'S SEMINAR SCHEDULE: Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob

Aug. 15 & 17. Birmingham, England. (I hope my quilting friends from Wales come see me.)

In between seminars, I will be in stands that have our products. These include


Martha Milne (stand B 2)

Quilt Direct

The Crafty Quilter (stand I 42)

Sep. 11-12. Wisconsin Quilt Expo. Madison, WI

Sep. 25-27. NW Quilting Expo. Portland, OR

Oct. 8-11. Innovations. Tacoma, WA


Almost everything we do at Superior Threads is a result of ideas, suggestions, and recommendations from our employees and from our customers. You are the ones that really manage our company. Send us your ideas to help us serve you better (products, education, website, customer service, etc.). We award a $30 Superior Threads gift certificates for the best monthly ideas. Send an e-mail to [email protected] with "$30 idea" in the subject line. This month's winners:

1. Sonja Greyling (South Africa) When viewing the shopping cart, the names of the ordered items appear as well as a link to view these items. I would like to suggest that you put a small picture of the item there as well so we can immediately see what we ordered with one glance and it is not necessary to page back to these items. It makes the buying process so much faster.

Bob's Note: A great idea. We did it.

2. Georgene Hugget (Virginia). Add Poly Quilter to the online Inventory List.

Bob's Note: We missed that one. Thank you for telling us. It is now added to the Inventory List

3. Lauretta Crites (California). List fiber content and thread wt. on all the "try me" specials.

Bob's Note: We did it. Try Me specials are available for most products. We choose the colors and you save about 40%.

4. and 5. Two winners for the same idea. Barbara Daniel (California) and Lorraine Williams (Washington).

To hold my prewound bobbins, I use the Bobbinsavers, those blue rubber-like circles that hold a lot of bobbins. I carry them with me to do my applique projects. This keeps me from having to carry so many spools of thread. One Bobbinsaver holds my Bottom Line SuperBOBs prewound bobbins, another holds my MasterPiece prewound bobbins. The Bobbinsaver keeps the bobbins from unraveling. My projects are completely portable, lightweight and very well organized. Please make these available to us.

Bob's Note. Bobbinsavers are now available. Here is the link:


1. Bobbinsavers. These hold 20-25 bobbins, all sizes. Keeps the thread from unraveling. $6.25.

2. SunBurst. Sunlight-activated color changing thread. SunBurst is primarily an embroidery thread. The white thread changes to one of eight colors when exposed to sunlight. Use it on T-shirts, clothing, bags, bridal gowns (white on white indoors and it blooms into beautiful colors outdoors), and anything else you can imagine. The sun's UV rays activate the color change so it even works on cloudy days. Indoors the thread is white. When exposed to direct sunlight, the thread immediately changes to one of the following colors:









SunBurst is a 40 wt. polyester thread and available on 3,300 yd. cones. See Specials below for introductory pricing. Here is the link:

3. Rainbows #845-NEW. This is a pink and brown variegated thread, matching the popular fabrics with these colors. Available on 500 yd. spools and 2,000 yd. cones.


Happy Birthday Mother Superior. Because she is So Fine, we are having a So Fine sale.

1. So Fine 3,280 yd. cones are only $12 through the end of August (regular price is $15.90). 100 colors to choose from. So Fine is a wonderful, versatile thread. Recommended as a quilting thread (both longarm and home machines), bobbin thread, serger thread, and all purpose clothing construction thread. It is a strong, smooth, lint-free #50/3-ply polyester.

2. SunBurst sunlight-activated color changing thread (see above What's New section for detailed description). 3,300 yd. cones. $19.95 (reg. $29.95)

3. Highlights and Art Studio Colors. Our premium 40 wt. high-sheen trilobal polyester thread is the finest embroidery thread available. It also makes a beautiful quilting thread. Trilobal polyester has a sheen equal to silk rayon but without the negatives of rayon (rayon is often not colorfast). Polyester is colorfast and stronger than rayon.

Highlights. 38 brilliant colors of 40 wt. trilobal polyester. 2,000 yd. cones are only $9.00 this month (reg. $13.90).

Art Studio Colors. 36 NEW colors of 40 wt. trilobal polyester. 2,000 yd. cones are only $9.00 this month (reg. $13.90).

4. Superior Metallic is the only metallic thread that is guaranteed to work and it on sale for almost 40% off this month. 5,000 meter cones (approx. 5,500 yds.) are on sale this month. Solid colors are only $20 and variegated colors are only $25. Here's the link:

5. 10,000 yd. Jumbo cones of Superior Metallic are on sale for $29 (reg. $48.00). Available only in Gold #7. Here's the link:

6. Perfect Quilter. 50% off Perfect Quilter. Regular price for 300 yd. mini cones is $8.99. Now only $4.50. 2,500 yd. cones are $15 per cone (reg. $29.95). Perfect Quilter is a 17 wt. cotton thread that creates a wonderful, well defined stitch. We recommend using a Topstitch #100/16 needle and a thread stand/cone holder. We recommend this thread for home machines and not for most longarms. Topstitch needles are available on our website and heavy duty thread stands are also available. Here's the link for Perfect Quilter:

7. Check out other specials and "try me" specials here:

BOB'S RECOMMENDATIONS (unpaid and unsolicited)

1. The Quilt Pattern Shoppe has over 100 patterns from nearly a dozen designers that you can purchase and instantly print from your home computer. You can start on your project without waiting for the pattern to be shipped to you and avoid shipping costs. Here is the website: If you are a patter designer and would like to have your patterns featured on this website, please contact them.

2. Website Design and Hosting. Are you frustrated with your website or webmaster? Or thinking about creating a website or need to upgrade, change, or maintain your current website? Check out They are highly skilled, fast, accurate and have good rates. We use them, like them, and recommend them to everyone. Please contact them through their website or via e-mail at [email protected] We use them, like them, and therefore recommend them. You'll love their superior service.


Three elderly sisters, ages 92, 94 and 96, live in a house together. One night, the 96-year-old draws a bath. She puts her foot in and pauses. She yells to the other sisters, "Was I getting in or out of the bath?"

The 94-year-old yells back, "I don't know. I'll come up and see." She starts up the stairs and pauses. "Was I going up the stairs or down?"

The 92-year-old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea, listening to her sisters. She shakes her head, knocks on the table, and says, "I sure hope I never get that forgetful. Knock on wood!" She then yells, "I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who's at the door."

THANK YOU for reading. Please forward to a friend and have a SUPERIOR day.

Bob Purcell, the Thread Professor and self-certified Threadologist

Superior Threads: The ONLY thread with a guarantee.

Superior no ka oi.

Copyright 2008 by Superior Threads. If you wish to reprint the Education portion of this newsletter, authorization is hereby granted as long as the source is clearly cited as follows: used with permission from Bob Purcell and Superior Threads.

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