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Thread breakage problem on a long arm quilting machine with multiple users

by Sue

We have a long arm quilting machine that is being used by a group of people. Some of us have little or no problem with thread breakage while others experience severe problems (every 3-4 inches).

In general, it is the trainees who experience the problems. We have had the "no problem people" work through the setup process with the trainees and still they have problems. We have gone through all the standard fixes, re-thread, new needle, check tension, new thread, all to no avail. Frequently the "no problem" individual will use the machine right after the trainees, only changing the quilt and the thread with no problems.

What is going on?

We want the machine to be available to the entire group.


Sue, I moved your question to it's own page, as it is a very specific question about thread breakage.

I am a domestic machine quilter and do not use a long arm machine, so to my readers, please do leave your suggestions via the 'comments' link below to help Sue with this snarly problem.

Sue, from what you have written a couple of things pop out to my novice eyes.

If the problem is specific to the 'trainees' and you've mentioned that they've switched out the quilts on the it possible that something is different with the way they load the quilt or the batting that they are using?

The second thought it that they are moving the machine perhaps too fast or too slow for the speed of the machine. (If it's a stitch regulated machine, then this wouldn't be the case.

I wish I personally be of more help, but I'll have to depend on our visitors for assistance with this problem.


Julie Baird

Comments for Thread breakage problem on a long arm quilting machine with multiple users

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Thread breakage on longarm
by: Ruth

When you are dealing with new long armers, you might try using a larger needle. The larger eye in the needle gives a little more play to the thread and can cut down thread breaks significantly. A new needle, even though it is a larger size, will not cause damage to the fabric.

New User Thread Tension
by: Cambridge Lane

There are so many reasons thread can break on new users and it's frustrating, taking a lot of the fun out of learning to use the machine.

One newbie temptation is to pull the fabric taut, like a drum. It's better if it has a bit of play in it, like a trampoline. Then, when the machine is jerked a little, another habit that must be unlearned, the thread has somewhere to go. The most difficult thing to do, I think, when learning long-arm quilting is to relax - relax the quilt, relax the tension on the bobbin, relax the shoulders, lose the white knuckles!

Polyester thread can also help the process because it doesn't break as easily. Don't initially use the slippery stuff as that has issues all its own, but some of the YLI threads by Linda Taylor are strong enough to get a learner past the hurdles and confident enough to try again with the beautiful cotton threads.

There are a lot of other things that can contribute to thread breakage as well. Sometimes, after all the needles have been changed, the machine re-threaded, bobbin tension checked, the thread keeps on breaking and I think that the thread is perhaps not up to par. Make sure the same weight thread is in the bobbin as in the needle. Make sure the thread hasn't been sitting in the light for a long time, as that will deteriorate the quality of the thread as well as the color. Move up a needle size. But most often the issues of thread breakage can be addressed best by just relaxing everything!

Cambridge Lane

Thread Breakage on a long arm
by: Glenda in South Africa

IF there are quilters who are using the machine without any problems, then those with problems need to look at two things: (1)which way round their batting is put on the frame:( there is a top and bottom side to batting)and (2) it could be that the quilt is too tight on the frame. If the quilt is too tight on the frame then its guaranteed that the thread will shred.

Suggest that those inexperienced members join the online group for that particular machine or one of the general on line quilters groups.

Glenda Kirkiridis

Possible Thread Breakage
by: Moose Quilts

Initially, the way the quilt is loaded and the type of thread used can be an issue. Getting the tension right for the thread being used is the main culprit. It sounds like that isn't the issue here.

What I have noticed working with beginners is that they jerk the machine around more. Once helping a young girl, the thread would break several times going across. She would said, "But I didn't jerk it." But she did. Part of the learning curve is learning to move the machine the way it likes to be moved.

Every 3-4 inches sounds excessive even for that, but that's what it sounds to me from what you have described.

Konda Luckau
Moose on the Porch Quilts

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