December 2008

December 2008

Education: Looking at the Whole Picture
I recently received an e-mail from a customer who had been debating with another person the quality of threads.  The issue was that thread A was better than thread B because it was stronger and Thread B happened to be our thread.  She was convinced our thread was still a better product but she didn’t know how to respond.  I love it when people defend us.  Here is my  response:

There is more to thread than simply the strength.  If strength were the only determining factor of thread quality, I think we would all be using nylon all the time because nylon is the strongest fiber in the thread industry.  However, other factors are also important.  Consider this example:  My 1990 VolksWagon gets better gas mileage than a new Rolls Royce.  Therefore, my car must be better. As long as we only compare one aspect of the cars, my car wins.  But what about the comfort, the smooth ride, the look, the long lasting value, the quality of workmanship, the satisfaction of knowing the Rolls Royce is built to last, the warranty, the service?  Likewise with thread, quality is determined by more than one aspect.  In terms of importance, here is what makes a quality thread:

1. Raw materials.  As far as cotton is concerned, the best cotton is Egyptian-GROWN, extra-long staple cotton.  90% of so called Egyptian cotton does not come from Egypt.  It is deceptive labeling because it comes from other countries including Turkey, Romania, Pakistan, India, Brazil, China, and the U.S.  In fact, Egypt only produces about 2% of all the cotton grown.  As a consumer, it is impossible to tell by looking at it if the cotton is really from Egypt. Our cotton is grown and certified in Egypt.  We guarantee that.  It is also extra-long staple cotton.  What makes a good polyester?  The number of micro strands that make up each individual ply or strand of polyester.  For example, a #50/3 polyester is made up of three strands.  Each of those three strands are made of numerous micro strands.  An inexpensive polyester may have three or six micro strands per ply.  A high quality polyester may have as many as 48 micro strands.  It is impossible for consumers to know how m!
 any, but this is the reason why some polyester threads are so much better than others. 

2.  Processing.  A company may start with a good quality raw material but cut corners in the processing, resulting is a poor quality product.  Some of the processes involved in making cotton thread include twisting (some threads are loosely and inconsistently twisted), the smoothness of the thread (no slubs or clumps of lint wound into the thread), the finishing (nice smooth finish without excessive lint), and the winding.

3.  Ease of use.  Does the thread come off the spool or cone easily?  Does it have an even, consistent wind on the spool or cone?

4.  Strength.  Is the thread strong enough for the application?  Thread for piecing does not need to be as strong as thread for quilting.  Embroidery thread does not require as much strength as quilting thread. 

Will you and your machine be able to tell the difference?  I think so.  Back to car example, we all know that buying a high grade gasoline, changing the oil on schedule, and frequently rotating the tires will keep the car in better condition and it will last longer.  It does not make sense to buy an expensive car and not take care of it.  So it is with our sewing machines.  Quality thread really will make a difference.  You will have better results, a cleaner machine, and fewer frustrations. It is worth it.  Poor quality = poor results.  Mediocre quality = mediocre results. Superior quality = superior results.

Send us your ideas to help us serve you better (products, education, website, customer service, etc.). We will award a $30 gift certificate for the best ideas. In the e-mail subject line, please type "$30 idea." This month's winners:

1.  Jody Johnson (Canada)  The Wish List idea highlighter in the Oct. 2008 newsletter.  Judy suggested this idea a long time ago and by the time we got it done, I had forgotten where the idea originated.  We did not give her credit in that newsletter.  Thank you Judy.

2.  Jody Johnson (Canada). A back-to-back winner.   I read a lot of your Education pages have noticed that the size of the font can be difficult to read for prolonged periods of time.  Has consideration been given to adding adjustable font sizes for viewing purposes? I know that I could just print out the PDF files or web pages but I prefer to refer to it on the computer.
Bob’s Note: I really like this idea.  I asked our web team to create this function and it is now available.  In the upper right-hand corner of our website, you will see a font size guide with the  words Normal, Big, Huge.  Click on them and watch what happens.

3. Pat Harrison (Exeter, RI).   As a hand appliquer and one who likes to use MasterPiece for needle turn applique, I would suggest a set containing every color of MasterPiece on prewound bobbins.
Bob’s Note: A set of all 36 colors is available.  There are two options. #1.  The Frostings sets each contain 12 bobbins.  There are three separate sets.  Option #2 is the Frosted Donut.  The BobbinSaver, the donut-like round rubber ring holds exactly 36 bobbins, one each of all the MasterPiece bobbin colors.  We named this product the Frosted Donut.  See the What’s New section for the direct link.

4. Susan Contreras (Johnston, RI).   Here is an idea for professional quilters.  When I finish a customer’s quilt, instead of wasting the last of the bobbin thread or if I wound an extra bobbin, I take them and wind them on to cards. I  mark the thread color and type and give it to the customer with their quilts in case a repair needs done, for reference or for the customer to use with binding.  This also means I don't have a gazillion half-loaded bobbins or single bobbins lying around.

5.  Mary Campbell.   Last week I was trying to decide what motif to use on a lumpy customer quilt. I always wind up changing my mind after I do the first couple. I hate ripping out quilting. While I sat at my machine meditating on the ripping to come, the light went on. Why not quilt with vanish until I felt ready to commit? Requilting is a lot easier when I don't need to rip out.   The third design I tried was perfect. Is this a hot idea or what? Audition patterns right on the sandwich!

6.  Gigi Kandler (Arrayo Grande, CA).   I use Vanish-Lite in the bobbin because I can get more thread on the bobbin, and the Lite does not break or fray at any speed in the bobbin. I use Vanish-Extra on top so I can sew full speed ahead without breaking it.

7.  Wavalene Winkler (Tahlequae, OK).   I used the NiteLite ExtraGlow on the back of baby quilts so mom doesn’t have to turn on the lights to find the quilt in the dark.

8.  Lillian Menzies (Canada).   I use your Vanish thread for lots of things. Before machine embroidering on ready-to-wear clothing with two layers (like a back yoke on a jacket, shirt or vest), I use the Vanish thread in both the top and bobbin threads. I pin or hold the two layers together, keeping it taut, and I stitch with a medium (3.5mm) basting stitch.  I start in the vertical center, then the horizontal center, then in a sort of grid to keep those layers from shifting. No matter what you do, unless you do this you have two layers that will shift and misbehave!  And if I am embroidering on tricky fabrics or locations, I digitize both a basting box and a grid which I stitch in Vanish thread, again top and bobbin. It keeps the stabilizers perfectly in place, controls the tendency of the fabric to stretch or bunch, etc. None of this stitching needs to be pretty.  After all, it will just wash away!

1.  Frosted Donuts.  A fun name for a ring full of Frostings bobbins.  Frostings is the name for our assortment sets of MasterPiece bobbins.  Each of three sets contains 12 colors for a total of 36 colors.  Amazingly, the BobbinSaver donut-like ring holds exactly 36 L-style bobbins so we put 36 colors of MasterPiece bobbins in the ring and called it Frosted Donut.  This keeps the bobbins organized and prevents unraveling. Here is the link:

2.  MasterPiece M style bobbins
It’s been a long time in the making, but M style bobbins (for most midarm and longarm machines) are finally here.  We have two colors ready now, #153 Parchment (light beige) and #156 Granite (light gray). Four other neutral colors will be here in three weeks.  These bobbins are made with our MasterPiece thread, an extra-long staple Egyptian-GROWN thread.  Guaranteed to keep your machine clean and happy.  Here is the link:

3.  Educational Guide and Color Booklet.  We’ve been asked by numerous book publishers and customers to write a book on threads.  It’s been on the back burner for many years and still is.  We have always emphasized education and try to share all our knowledge through the newsletter and via our Education section on our website.  We have included all our reference guides into our new booklet, What Makes Us Superior? and this might be the start of a real book.  It is free online at or if you would like a full color printed copy, they are available at our cost of $2.00.  The 72-page booklet contains the following:
Color brochures of our thread lines
Thread Reference Guide for Home Machines
Thread Reference Guide for Longarm Machines
Thread Selection Guide
Troubleshooting Guide
Product Guide
Thread Tension illustrated lesson

4.  Gift certificates can be purchased by telephone or online at

If you own or work at a store that carries any of our products, please add your store information to the Store Locator on our website. Customers can find you by country, state, or zip code. We will tell the world about your store, list all Superior products you carry, list your phone number and website, and even provide a map. Listing is free. Here's the link:   We also have “Superior Threads available here”  window and door decals available for your store.

1.  Our Christmas present to you is a FREE spool of thread with your order of $30 or more.  If you order online, during checkout you will be prompted to type the promo code offered to our newsletter subscribers.  The code is NEWS.   You then will be asked to choose a spool of MasterPiece, King Tut, So Fine, or The Bottom Line.   You choose the thread, we choose the color and will include it FREE with your order.

2.  Frosted Donuts
All 36 colors of our L style prewound bobbins with MasterPiece Thread packed into a BobbinSaver for safe keeping and instant access to all colors. $35.  Here is the link:

3.  MasterPiece M style bobbins (for most midarm and longarm machines) are available in two colors with more on the way.  Colors #153 Parchment (light beige) and #156 Granite (light gray) are available by the dozen, half gross, and gross.  Here is the link: 

4. 10,000 yd. Jumbo cones of Superior Metallic are on sale for $29 (reg. $48). Available only in Gold #7. Here’s the link:

5.  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

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

I’m writing this while visiting Kyoto, Japan, the cultural and historical capital of Japan and also a city with over 1800 Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.  Christmas trees decorate the hotel lobbies and store display windows.  Christmas music plays in the hotel lobby and I think the commercial side of Christmas starts earlier in Japan than in the U.S.  Although Japan is 99% non-Christian, they certainly embrace the commercial aspect of the season and enjoy the music and lights.  On Christmas Day, Merry Christmas is spoken as a greeting and received with joy.  I enjoyed 10 wonderful years living in a country of 120 million Buddhists and I never met even one person who was offended by hearing the words Merry Christmas.  Likewise, they share their joyous greetings on their religious holidays and we receive them with gratitude and share their joy.  I gladly accept sincere messages of kindness, hope, and love from anyone, whether they be Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, o!
 r of any other religious or nonreligious background.  So again this year, I send you my Christmas message of love, hope, and joy.

Christmas is a celebration of three things.  First is LIFE.   We celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ.  We celebrate the wondrous gift from God, our Heavenly Father, a gift of his own son, to all mankind.  The life of Jesus Christ is our example to follow.  His was a perfect life of love, obedience, kindness, and mercy.  Second is HOPE.  Jesus Christ offers hope to us through his life, his atonement, and his resurrection.  It is this hope that gives meaning to our lives.  Third is LOVE.  We are commanded to love one another as He has loved us.  Demonstrating love brings out the best in us as parents, grandparents, children, brothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors.  Love is the true spirit of the Christmas season and brings us closer to our families, to our neighbors, and to God.  Don’t let a problem become more important than the person.
At this time, as young children are full of excitement and wonder, "What will I get?," we can feel even a greater degree of excitement as we consider, "What will I give?" and "Who needs my help?"  May this season be full of joy as we reach out to one whose heart may be aching or lonely, or whose body may be tired or ill.  May we reach out to our families and neighbors with forgiveness, kindness, and love, and by doing so, bring the Spirit of Christ into our lives. One kind word can warm a long winter month.

During this joyous season, let's mend a quarrel, seek out a forgotten friend, erase a grudge, ask forgiveness, offer forgiveness, express our love, and be of good cheer.  Jesus Christ is the son of God. He lives and is our perfect Example.  May we enjoy the Spirit of Christ during this wonderful season and carry it into the new year.
MERRY CHRISTMAS from Bob and Heather Purcell

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.