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Machine quilting threads keep breaking

by Donna

I have made several quilts, however, on this one the machine quilting threads keep breaking.

This is very frustrating to me.

What can I do?


It is frustrating when your quilting thread keeps breaking. And there are several basic causes for it.

  • The thread is of poor quality.
  • The thread is catching on something creating too much tension.
  • The thread is fraying and shredding as it passes through the quilt sandwich.
After every suggestion, do a bit of stitching on a mini quilt sandwich made from scraps of the fabric and batting used in this quilt.

Confirm that you are using a quality machine quilting thread.

None of the 10 for $1 stuff for YOUR quilts. Nothing that your Grandmother passed down to you. Your time is much too valuable!

Completely rethread your sewing machine.

Sometimes the thread gets wrapped around one of the spool pins or the uptake arm, wrapping tighter and tighter as more stitches are made. It snaps from the excess tension.

Change to a new needle.

Needles are one of the cheapest parts for your machine, but the cause of a lot of headache. A point damaged from hitting a pin or slightly bent from pulling on the fabric can effect your quilting. Change it.

Check for burrs or nicks along the thread path.

This includes your spool of thread. Some spools have a nick on one side to secure the thread tail.

If this is your case, just make sure the nick is on the right hand side of the spool if you're using the horizontal spool pin. If you use a thread stand for your spool, the nicked side should be on the bottom. That way your machine quilting thread won't catch on it.

If you're using a thread stand, but your thread 'puddles' around the bottom of the spool and wraps around the pin, use a thread net to gently hold the thread in place around the spool.

If you've recently 'nailed' a pin with your sewing machine needle, you may have created a nick in the throat plate. If your thread is catching here, you'll need to either sand the nick out with crocus or emery cloth, have your dealer do it, or replace the throatplate. (I must admit that I have done this several times, each time replacing the throatplate.)

Try to a bigger needle.

If your thread begins to fray as the needle passes through the quilt sandwich, a larger needle will make a bigger hole.

A bigger hole reduces the amount of friction on the thread. Did you know that your machine quilting threads pass through your quilt sandwich upwards of 0 times before they are locked into an actual stitch. That's a lot of rubbing if the needle hole is too small!

If none of these suggestions helps with your thread breakage problem, then I suggest you take your sewing machine into your dealer for a look. I would suspect that there's a burr or nick somewhere that you can't get your fingers on. Your dealer will be able to open up your machine to get to those parts.

Thank you for your question.


Julie Baird

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