March 2010 Newsletter (Part 2)

We are continuing the $3.95 SHIPPING ON ALL RETAIL ORDERS within the U.S. 50 states through March.  You choose the products, we’ll choose the shipping method.  To our international customers:  Because we cannot offer these special shipping rates to international destinations, we will offer FREE thread with your retail order.  At the end of your order, in the Comments box, write in the thread type and color and we will include it with your order.  Select anything up to $7.99 in value. 
(Wholesale and business account orders do not qualify for these offers.)

What do I piece with?  I used to piece with So Fine.  It makes a beautiful seam.  However, because it is polyester, it is important to remember to turn down the iron temperature when ironing the seams.  Same with The Bottom Line.  Some quilters piece with King Tut.  It is a fantastic thread but a little on the heavy side for piecing and creates more bulk in the seams than a fine thread does.  We developed MasterPiece as the ideal piecing thread and that is what I now use for piecing.  It is extra-long staple Egyptian-grown cotton, a very smooth 2-ply thread which means virtually no bulk in the seams, extremely low lint, and it is iron safe.  Remember MasterPIECE for piecing.

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We have a Golden Retriever.  She was easy to train, is very eager to please, obedient, and loves everything we do.  Our neighbor has a Dalmatian which is rather high strung and not yet properly trained.  Unless trained, some dogs cause a lot of frustration.  Sewing machines and longarm machines are like dogs.  Some require very little training, love any thread we give it, and cause very few problems.  Other machines are temperamental, high maintenance, and require a lot of attention and training before they serve us well.  If we learn how to train (adjust) the machine, it will serve us well and bring much happiness.  An untrained machine can cause more frustration than joy.

Making the perfect stitch is the goal of all sewing. It is perfectly fine to use different threads in the top and the bottom, whether they be different fiber types (for example, cotton and polyester) or different thicknesses.  Adjustments for these differences are made with the tension settings, usually only to the top tension on home machines but to both top and bottom on longarm machines.  

Home Machines.  For home machines, the training is usually quite simple.  
1.  Use the best quality thread.
2.  Use the proper needle style and size.
3.  Sufficiently adjust (usually loosen) the top tension.
Machines differ in top tension among brands but it seems that the recent trend is to make tighter-tensioned machines and that can be frustrating.  Learning to adjust the top tension setting, even if your machine claims to be automatic, is very important.  Most machines are factory set too tight to successfully sew with decorative, delicate, sensitive, or medium/heavy threads without loosening the top tension setting.  On a scale of zero (no tension) to 10 (highest tension), most factory tension settings are in 5.0 range.  That is OK if we use a 50 or 60 wt. polyester thread (the kind we use for sewing clothing or crafts) but it is too tight for most other threads.  The most common tension range we use for other threads is between 2.0 and 3.5 so this requires adjusting the tension setting.
For a chart of recommended needles and tension settings for threads used on home machines, please see our Thread Reference Guide.

Midarm and Longarm machines.  Some longarm machines require extra training.  Don’t give up.  It is possible to have a machine that loves to serve its master by successfully running a wide range of good quality threads.  If you have experienced problems running metallic, monofilament, trilobal polyester, or other delicate or sensitive threads, this scenario might sound familiar: I loosen the top tension so the thread does not break but it is so loose it loops on the back.  If I tighten the top tension to get rid of the looping, the thread breaks. 
This is a common problem with many longarm machines.  The problem is that the top tension and bottom tension are too far out of balance so no matter what we do to the top tension, it will not solve the problem. In order to fix this, we must loosen the bobbin tension also.  Many of us were taught to never touch the bobbin tension. That was when thread choices were very limited and decorative threads hadn’t yet been created or used on high speed and longarm machines. Times have changed.  If you can thread a sewing machine, you can successfully adjust the bobbin tension. There is no need to spend money on a second bobbin case. With a permanent marker, put a dot where the tension screw is now pointing to so you can always return to the original setting. Then, with a screwdriver and thinking of a clock, make adjustments by turning the screw equivalent to what a 15-minute movement would be (1/4 turn). Counterclockwise loosens the tension (the most commonly required adjustment) and clockwise tightens the tension. Remember, lefty-loosey, righty-tighty. For longarm machines, the bobbin tension should be loose enough that if you hold the bobbin case in your left hand and pull the thread up with your right hand, the bobbin case should not lift off your left hand. The old 4-inch drop test is gone. Bobbin tension gauges are available and worthwhile.  They allow you to measure and then make note of the best bobbin tension for each thread.  

By running fairly loose and balanced top and bottom tensions, you will be amazed how well your machine behaves.  Training is not difficult.  Just as a well trained dog is much more fun than an untrained dog, so it is with a well trained machine.  You paid a lot for your machine.  It can and should serve you well.

BOB'S TEACHING SCHEDULE. Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob
April 7-9. St. George, UT. School of ThreadologyCertified Threadologist Course. (SOLD OUT)
April 16. Providence, RI.  MQX show
April 23. Paducah, KY.  AQS show
May 3-5. St. George, UT.  School of Threadology with guest teacher PAM HOLLAND. Class Schedule. (2 spaces left)
May 12. Overland Park, KS.  MQS show 
July 1-3. School of Threadology goes to HAWAII as part of Quilt Hawaii 2010
Sep. 27-29. St. George, UT. School of Threadology. Certified Threadologist Course

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April 7-9. St. George, Utah.  Certified Superior Threadologist course.  (SOLD OUT)
May 3-5. St. George, Utah.  School of Threadology with guest teacher PAM HOLLAND. Class Schedule (2 spaces left)
July 1-3.  Hawaii (Big Island). Certified Superior Threadologist course in Paradise.  Part of the Quilt Hawaii 2010 event.  Life doesn’t get much better than this. Become a Certified Superior Threadologist while enjoying a few days in paradise. Other classes and events are also available as part of the Quilt Hawaii event. Great room rates at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa have been negotiated.  Register through Quilt Hawaii.
New session just added.  Sep. 27-29, 2010. St. George, Utah.  Certified Threadologist Course.


1.  Debbie Henry.  I suggest adding a link for the Thread Selection Guide to the Product Index.   Maybe even link it periodically throughout the list. With so many wonderful choices, it's almost overwhelming. I found the Thread Selection Guide on your site while exploring. The chart makes for an easy visual without going into each separate thread type for descriptions/testimonials.
Bob's Note
:  We did it.  The Index is not very well known on our website but is a wonderful resource.  Please discover it.  It provides a list of threads by weight, name, and use.  We now have added a link to all the Reference Guides at the top of the Index.  The Thread Selection Guide shows what thread is best for any sewing application such as piecing, clothing and craft construction, quilting, embroidery, bobbin, applique, serger, and more.

2. Ann McNew (Missouri).   Please carry Groz-Beckert needles for the A-1 longarm machine in smaller sizes.  My customers are begging for the better needles in sizes 16 and 18.  I love your thread and my longarm customers do too!
Bob's Note
Groz-Beckert size #16 and #18 for A-1 machines are now here.  A-1 machines use a different needle size than other longarms.  A-1 machine needles are marked 135x17 and most other longarm needles are marked 134.

3. Summerset Banks (New Hampshire).  Please make sub-categories for the product list on the "All Products" page that is under the Products tab.  Organizing the products by thread, notions, etc. will make it easier for customers to find exactly what they're looking for.  I primarily buy thread from the website and would rather get to looking at all the pretty threads quickly rather than sifting through the list looking for the thread products.
Bob's Note
. Great idea.  The Products are now categorized by type and much easier to find.

4.  Marcia Middents (Arizona).  I was looking on the website at the patterns that use Texture Magic and wondered if you could add more information about the patterns.  For example: quilts - dimensions of the quilt; purses and totes - dimensions of the purses or tote; and sizes for the clothing patterns.  I loved the "Little Miss Sunshine" pattern but had to look at the tiny print on the photo of the pattern to determine that it was only a 6 month to 1 year size pattern. The "Tickled Pink" pattern doesn't have any sizes listed on the front of the pattern.
Bob's Note
:  Done. Size descriptions are added at the top.  Click here to view patterns

WHAT’S NEW (This week)
1.  New educational video, All About Polyester, just posted on our website.  Learn about the three main types of polyester threads: Spun poly, Multi-filament poly, and Trilobal poly. 
2.  Our revised color catalog and reference guide entitled What Makes Us Superior? is now posted online.
3.  New needle sizes for A-1 longarm machines.  Groz-Beckert size #16 (MR 3.5) and #18 (MR 4.0) SAN 11 style needles are made specifically for multi-directional stitching which is what longarm machines do.  Needles for other longarm brands are also available.
4.  New and interesting ideas for Quilt Guilds.  Please see this page for ideas

Bubba walked into a doctor's office and the receptionist asked him what he had.
Bubba said, "Shingles."  So she wrote down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat.
Fifteen minutes later a nurse's aide came out and asked Bubba what he had. Bubba said, "Shingles."  So she wrote down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told Bubba to wait in the examining room. 
A half hour later a nurse came in and asked Bubba what he had. Bubba said, "Shingles." So the nurse gave Bubba a blood test, a checked his blood pressure, did an electrocardiogram, and told Bubba to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor.
An hour later the doctor came in and found Bubba sitting patiently in the nude and asked Bubba what he had.  Bubba said, "Shingles."
The doctor asked, "Where?"
Bubba said, "Outside on the truck. Where do you want me to unload 'em?"

Need a new or improved website? Bob's personal recommendation

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Bob Purcell, the Thread Professor and self-certified Threadologist.

Superior Threads: The ONLY thread with a guarantee.
Superior no ka oi

Copyright 2010 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.