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Quilting T-shirt material

by Ernie
(Washington State)

Quilting machine works great but ran into problems when quilting T-Shirt material for a T-shirt quilt (breaking thread).

Any recommendations on adjustments or setting changes to make to avoid this problem in the future?

Any suggestions would be appreciated!


Short answer first! :D

If you've already tried a brand new needle, then I'd first try a larger one.

Then I'd try a Universal.

I'm sure you've backed your quilt with a woven and some sort of packaged batting. I'm assuming that you've probably also added an interfacing of some sort to stabilize the knit T-shirt fabrics. The point on the Universal is meant to be used with both wovens and knits and it'd be worth at least a try.

Now for the longer answers if that doesn't work.

Thread shreds...

If the thread is shredding and then breaking, it's a sign of friction. Somewhere the thread is rubbing too much as it winds its way through your machine.

The needle eye could be too small—use a larger needle. The Metallic or Topstitching needle have the largest eyes—2mm is standard regardless of the size of the needle. The Metallic needle also has a deep groove down the front it to protect the thread as it moves back and forth through the quilt sandwich until finally being captured in a stitch. That type of needle would be worth a try.

If the needle isn't large enough, that would be causing abrasion as the thread is pushed and pulled through the sandwich before it becomes a stitch. (The thread goes back and forth through the fabric around 30 times before its a stitch.)

Thread breaks or snaps...

This is a sign that either the tension is too tight (if the bobbin thread shows on the top, it's a sure sign...but I bet you already know that!) or the thread is catching or snagging somewhere.

If your spool has a notch in it, make sure the thread is coming off the opposite end so it doesn't catch on it (a crosswound spool uses a horizontal pin, stacked threads on a spool need a vertical pin).

There is some particularly good advice in the comments section of our page, "Thread breakage problem ona long arm quilting machine with multiple users", that you might find helpful, too, particularly if you are using a long arm machine...and I think maybe that's the case because of the wording in your question. (Am I correct?)

Let me know if these tips help.

In the meantime, Readers, how do you solve your breaking thread problems? Please share your experience.

Thank you!


Julie Baird

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