Thread Q & A from Superior!


In their most recent newsletters, Superior Threads offered the top ten most frequently asked thread questions of 2015. We’re happy to share them here:

#1 Q: What makes your cotton threads so lint free and smooth?

1Superior uses only the highest grade cotton to produce King Tut and MasterPiece cotton threads. Egyptian-grown extra-long staple cotton is the best in the textile/thread industry. (FYI, most labels claiming “Egyptian cotton” are not from Egypt. Use cotton thread that is certified Egyptian-grown.) Extra-long staple (or fiber) means less lint and higher strength. Superior’s cotton threads also undergo special processing that makes them virtually lint free. This process includes mercerizing, tight twisting, precision dying, and gassing (passing thread above a flame at high speed to burn off any excess fuzz and lint so it doesn’t end up in your machine).


#2 Q: I’m a beginner, What thread, needles, or bobbin thread do I need to use?
2We have many easy-to-understand Reference Guides to help with this. Our Thread Selection Guide will help you find the best thread for your project. Our Thread Reference Guides provide needle, tension, and bobbin thread recommendations. One Guide is specific to home machines and another is for longarm machines. For help choosing the prewound bobbin that works best in your machine, consult our Bobbin Headquarters page which provides more information about bobbins than any other place in the world. All guides, articles, and videos are available free of charge on the Superior website.

Superior’s Bobbin Headquarters has an interactive bobbin style chart!


#3 Q: How do I prevent the thread looping or bird nesting on the underside of my quilt?
3Assuming you have the correct needle size for thread you are using, if the top thread loops on the underside, either the top tension is too loose or the bobbin tension is too tight. Adjusting either should correct the problem. On home machines, we usually need only to adjust the top tension. On longarm machines, we usually adjust both. Our Tug-O-War tension article explains how tension settings work.

View Superior’s Tension Tug O’ War article


#4 Q: I never touch the tension on my machine. My dealer said I shouldn’t need to. So, what else can I do to get a perfect stitch?
4Tension settings are there to be adjusted, even on automatic tension machines. Experiment with adjusting the tension. Adjusting tension settings will allow you to successfully use any quality thread in your machine.

Read more about adjusting tension HERE.



#5 Q: Where can I look to know what bobbin size fits my machine?
5The Superior Threads Bobbin Headquarters page has a lot of bobbin information. It is also the place to find prewound bobbin information for most machines, and it shows the top three most commonly used bobbin sizes (L-style, M-style, Class 15 or A-style) available with prewound Superior Threads.



#6 Q: Do you have piecing thread?
6MasterPiece will help you create perfectly pieced seams without bulk or lint. Your machine will stay very clean. Designed with superstar quilter Alex Anderson, MasterPiece is the best #50 cotton piecing thread available. MasterPiece is available in 75 colors and is also recommend for applique and as a the bobbin thread.



#7 Q: How can I tell if the problems are with the thread or the machine?
7Check out the Superior Troubleshooting Guide. It will show you how to determine if the problem is with the thread, the needle, the tension, or the machine. Become an expert by mastering each step of this Troubleshooting Guide.




#8 Q: My machine has automatic tension. Do I still need to adjust the tension settings?
8This is a big YES! Newer machines come preset with faster speeds and tighter top and bobbin tensions designed to sew with a 50 or 60 wt. polyester thread. Factory preset tension (usually set at 5.0) is too tight for most quilting and embroidery applications. Automatic tension does not know if you are using a very delicate thread, sensitive thread, or heavy thread. It does not know if you are using cotton or poly or metallic or monofilament thread. Learn to override the automatic tension setting and adjust it (usually loosen) to the point where you get the perfect stitch. Knowing how to adjust the top tension will open up your thread choices so you can use any quality thread without frustration. On most machines, we set the top tension between 2.0 and 3.5 (see Home Machine Thread Reference Guide). When using metallic thread, we go all the way down to 1.0. The tension concept is explained on our Tension Tug-O-War diagram.


#9 Q: Why does it matter how I position the spool of thread on the machine?
9How the thread gets from the spool or cone to your machine is important. Spools of thread that are stack wound (or straight wound or parallel wound) are made to unwind from the side of the spool (as the spool rotates) and not over the end or top of the spool. Remember, straight wind on, straight wind off. Cones, on the other hand, are always meant to unwind over the top of the cone. Most machines have a vertical spool pin to hold the spool of thread. Position the spool on the vertical pin so the thread will unwind straight from the side of the spool, with the spool rotating. Straight-wound spools should not be placed on the horizontal pin that unwinds the thread over the end of the spool, causing twisting.


#10 Q: Will using prewound bobbins void the warranty on my machine?
10This is a common question and unfortunately believed by many because they were told this by their machine dealer. I have never seen this written in a manual or on a warranty card of any brand of machine. To confirm this further, I contacted the headquarters of several machine companies. Their collective answer was unanimously: “Prewound bobbins will NOT void the machine warranty. There is no problem using quality prewound bobbins.” If your machine model is compatible with prewound bobbins, choose quality bobbins and enjoy the convenience.

Thank you, Superior Threads, for sharing these answers to frequently asked thread questions with our family of quilters.

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Julie Beard

Wonderful news as always. So important and so helpful. If any level (beginner, confident, professional and other) quilter doesn’t read your words of knowledge it’s a sad day. Sharing your good news is a gift worth more than any quilter could pay. I don’t mind saying I’m a big fan of Superior Threads.

Thank you for your articles! I have a longarm and am recently learning the ropes of tension with it. I copied the troubleshooting guide. Thanks again, Diane