Troubleshooting and Tension from Superior Threads

Troubleshooting and Tension

Q  I’m new and do not know what thread to use. Do you have a some information? Needles are a mystery to me also. And tension settings. How do I know what to set that tension to? What thread do I use in the bobbin?
A  We have many easy-to-understand Reference Guides. The two Thread Reference Guides provide needle, tension, and bobbin thread recommendations.  One Guide is for home machines and one is for longarm machines. All Guides, articles, and videos are available free of charge on our website.
Q  How can I tell if the problems are with the thread or with the machine?
A Our Troubleshooting Guide will tell you. You will love this guide. It will show you how to determine if the problem is with the thread, the needle, the tension, or the machine.
Q  How do I get rid of the thread looping on the underside of my quilt?
A  When 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.  OurTension Tug-O-War article explains how tension settings work.
Q  My machine has automatic tension. Do I still need to adjust the tension settings?
A  This is a big YES. The newer machines are coming with faster speed and tighter tensions. Most machines are preset with fairly tight top tension and designed to sew with a 50 or 60 wt. polyester thread. That is not the most commonly used thread in our quilting and embroidery world. The preset tension is too tight for most quilting and embroidery applications using a 40 wt. thread or a more delicate cotton thread. Learn to override the automatic tension and loosen it to the point that works best. On most machines, we set the top tension between 2.0 and 3.5. When using metallic thread, we go all the way down to a 1.
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?
A  Adjust the tension. What would you think of a TV salesperson who told you to never change channels.  We would quickly find a new dealer.  Adjusting the top tension on your machine is like changing channels on your TV.  Both allow us to get the result we want.  Tension settings are there to be adjusted, even on automatic tension machines. Experiment with them.  This is the key to being able to successfully use a wide range of threads.  Let’s go get those 100 thread channels!
Q  Does it matter how I position the spool of thread on the machine?
A  Yes. Spools of thread which are wound with a straight or parallel wind are made to unwind from the side of the spool (as the spool rotates) and not over the end or top of the spool. (Cones, on the other hand, are meant to unwind over the top.)  Most machines have a vertical spool pin. Position the spool on the vertical pin and the thread will unwind straight from the side of the spool with the spool rotating. View our video on Thread Delivery.
Q  What is the best way to store thread?
A  If it is Superior Threads, store the thread in an easily accessible place out of direct sunlight and away from settling dust. There is no need to keep thread in the freezer or refrigerator or in a ziplock bag or in a humidor. (I’ve heard them all.) If it is not Superior Threads, it is best stored in a place where you can never access it.


Q  Can I use a polyester thread in the bobbin with cotton thread on top?
A  Absolutely yes. The first rule is that there are no rules but hundreds of myths and traditions. Find the combination that works best for you.
Q  What’s the difference between plastic-sided and cardboard-sided prewound bobbins?
A  Either is fine. Our L-style and  M-style bobbins are wound with cardboard-sides.  Our Class 15 bobbins have plastic sides.  Our Bobbin Compatibility Guide lists the bobbin style for almost every machine.
Q  Will using prewound bobbins void the warranty on my machine?
A  This 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 the manual or on the warranty card of any brand of machine.  I contacted the headquarters of some machine companies. Here is their answer: “Prewound bobbins will NOT void the machine warranty. There seems to be no problem with using quality prewound bobbins.”  If your machine model is compatible with prewound bobbins, choose quality bobbins and enjoy the convenience. Bobbin Compatibility Chart


Q  Why do you recommend Topstitch needles?
A  Because that is the needle used and recommended by many professional quilters and full time educators. They use and like the Topstitch style. It has a larger eye, a deeper and wider groove, and a nice light-sharp point. Superior Topstitch needles are titanium coated. Check out our Topstitch Needle Infographic
Q  Are titanium-coated needles OK for home machines?
A  Definitely yes.  Most industrial machines around the world use titanium-coated needles because they last much longer. The titanium coating is micro-thin and prevents normal wear and tear at the friction points. If you hear the rumor that a titanium coated needle will cause more machine damage if it breaks due to the titanium coating, ignore it. The micro-thin titanium coating does not make the needle super strong. It just provides a very hard surface coating to reduce wear. Any needle breakage can cause damage and the titanium-coated needle has no more potential to do harm than other types of needles. If that were true, industrial sewing companies would not use them. Superior is the only company that has Topstitch needles with titanium coating


Q  Why don’t you offer free shipping?
A  We do now. Any order over $50 being shipped to the contiguous 48 states qualifies for free shipping. If you need it shipped faster, there are options you can choose for additional fees. Shipping discounts are automatically applied to those who live elsewhere in the world. Get free shipping on your next purchase.
School of Threadology Top Educators Coming
Education is powerful. It expands our thinking, helps us avoid mistakes, and helps us solve problems. At Superior, our first responsibility is to educate. After more than 15 years of thread study, we want to teach everything we have learned. Some Education is best done in person with hands on learning (School of Threadology sessions).  Here are some upcoming opportunities:
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