Feature Story in Superior Threads Newsletter

I’m honored to have been asked to submit an article for Superior Threads newsletter.  If you haven’t subscribed to their newsletter, hop on over and do that today. Below, is the article I submitted.

Superior Threads Saved My Sanity!

When I purchased my first longarm quilting machine in March 2010, I started purchasing threads from the cheapest places I could find. I quickly abandoned that practice in favor of good quality threads. I discovered that what I thought was a bargain, turned out to be more expensive in the long run – especially in terms of the amount of time I spent trying to achieve that elusive goal of perfect tension.

The first cone of Superior thread I purchased was King Tut. I bought a few cones of that and other brands of similar weight thread. (I still have those other brands of thread buried in the bottom of one of my two cabinets full of Superior’s thread.) I soon moved on from King Tut to a thinner thread more suited to the type of dense quilting I was focusing on. Since I had a lot of success with King Tut thread, I tried a combination of So Fine! and Bottom Line threads. That was the beginning of my love affair with Superior Threads. I bought a TOWA gauge and that little gadget combined with Superior Thread’s learning resources SAVED MY SANITY! I had been spending hours trying every conceivable thing I could to get good tension. I watched videos on the “drop test” for bobbins, but no matter what I did, I just could not reliably have good tension each time I changed my bobbin. Armed with my new gadget and Bob’s reference guide for bobbin settings, I spent far less time fixing tension issues and much more time enjoying quilting.


(Left) Closeup of The Sun, The Moon and The Stars, pieced by the late Lorna Blount while undergoing chemotherapy in 2015 and accepted into Paducah, 2016. 1st Place Custom Our Daily Bed at MQX Midwest, 2016.  — Kimono Silk thread. (Right) Same quilt shown at MQX – Springfield, 2016 with me.

With the knowledge I gained from reading nearly all of Bob’s education articles on thread and tension (and his Jokes), as well as scouring the internet and reading every resource I could find, I became fearless at switching thread types and thread weights in the middle of quilting a quilt! My rule of thumb is if it’s thinner, it needs to be looser on my machine. That doesn’t always mean loosening the rotary tension dial; it usually means skipping some of the thread guides in the thread path. By skipping some of the holes in the thread guides, you’re able to achieve a looser tension without having to dial back the settings on your rotary tensioner, which could cause some loops in the stitching. By starting with Superior’s recommended bobbin settings, I only have to concentrate on setting the top tension correctly.


(Left) Sunflower Stars. Pieced and quilted six months after purchasing my longarm. It was accepted at Paducah 2012. This quilt has won many regional and state ribbons. It also represents my first attempt at trapunto design. So Fine! and Bottom Line threads. (Right) Vintage linen layered on satin. — Superior MicroQuilter and Kimono Silk threads. – 2016

Today, I do more quilting for others than piecing for myself. I have a couple of original quilts I’m currently working on, but my longarm business keeps me hopping and I have little time to spend on my own projects. To help prevent burnout, I’ve turned my love of collecting vintage textiles into a quick and easy “creative fix” for myself. I can pop one of these linens on the frame in between client quilts and get it done in a few hours. As a reward, I get something pretty I didn’t have to piece and the client benefits from having a happy longarmer!

I became a member of Superior’s Thread of the Month Club a few years ago and I found that it was an easy and affordable way to build my thread stash. If there’s a downside to collecting my favorite threads, it’s that I had to get creative in finding a way to store all of my thread! I purchased two antique curio cabinets (because one was not enough) to store all my thread. If I need a specialty thread or something I don’t have in stock, I simply add it to my next club order and it ships for free.

Joy Voltenburg


Quilts on an A1 Elite Platinum longarm

I mentioned my curio cabinets full of thread in the article above.  Here is a pic of one of them. I think it looks gorgeous and so colorful.


6 responses to “Feature Story in Superior Threads Newsletter

  1. Joy, as soon as I saw that first photo in Superior Thread’s email, I KNEW it was your work!! I’m still head over heals in love with your vintage pieces.
    Now you’ve got me on the hunt for a pretty curio cabinet like yours.

    Congrats on being featured!!!

  2. Thank you for this excellent advice on bobbin tension. I ordered the TAWA gauge. I also appreciated understanding the difference threading the machine could make in tension. I have Pinned your article for future reference. Thanks again.

    • Thanks! When I bought my first longarm, I printed out some articles I found very helpful. Things like what it meant when there were flat lines on the back (bobbin tension too tight); eyelashes on top (top tension too tight); etc. That TOWA gauge was a lifesaver for me. It’s also helpful in seeing when a bobbin is out of round and needs to be discarded. If you don’t get a consistent reading when pulling the thread – if the needle jumps around – then throw that bobbin away!

  3. Congrats, Joy, on your informative article for Superior Threads Newsletter, what great reference material! I, too LOVE Superior Threads and ALWAYS use my TOWA for at least my first bobbin – sort of as a ‘baseline’ and to refer back to during the quilting of each quilt project, especially IF I start having tension issues.

    Your quilts and quilting are amazing and knowing they’ve been quilted with Superior Threads, gives us an inkling as to ‘why’…course your quilting skills surely do enhance this wondrous Superior thread 😉

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