A Sewing Machine Problem That's Easy to Fix

Breaking or shreadding threads

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This irksome sewing machine problem always seems to rear its ugly head right in the middle of something fun, doesn't it?

You're stitching along and...

S-S-S-SSSSSnap!

That darned thread has broken!

What's a quilter to do?


For the answers to this and other sewing machine problems, use this list to find the answers.


Problem: Breaking needle threads


Remember to sew a test strip after each change.

  • Rethread the machine according to your instruction manual.
  • Check that the needle tension is not too tight.
  • Change to a new needle.
  • Change to a larger needle, the eye may be too small—too small an eye and your thread will shred.
  • Use quality thread.
  • Always begin stitching with the thread take up lever or arm is at its highest position. This way it will lay in between the tension disks.
  • Check for burrs or nicks in the thread path. Burrs in the thread path inside your sewing machine is a problem that should be taken care of by your dealer.

Is there a notch in the spool cap that the thread has caught on?

If so, turn the spool in the other direction on the spindle or make sure that the cap that holds the thread in place is bigger in diameter than the end of the spool.

Has the thread wound around the spool spindle?

This is a common problem with a horizontal spool spindle and slick threads like a monofilament or rayon.

Is there a nick in the throat plate hole where the needle passes through?

If so, replace the throatplate. You can try polishing out the nick with crocus or emery cloth but I've only had limited success with this fix.

Be careful not to remove too much metal from the hole. 

If it's still breaking, take your sewing machine to the shop.

Return to the Problems List.


Problem: Breaking bobbin threads


This is a relatively uncommon problem. Thank goodness!

  • Inspect the bobbin. Are there any burrs or nicks? Is it bent or warped? To check, put the bobbin on the spool spindle and unwind some manually. If it wobbles as you unwind, it is bent. Replace any damaged bobbin.
  • Check that the bobbin is wound evenly. If not, rewind.
  • Check that it's not wound too full. Unwind and remove a bit if it is, otherwise it will not turn smoothly in the bobbin case.
  • Clean out any dirt or lint from the bobbin case that might keep your bobbin from turning properly.
  • Floss out the bobbin tension spring or clip to make sure no stray fibers, dirt or lint is caught in it.
  • Check the throatplate for burrs. Polish with emery or crocus cloth to remove. If you can't polish out the problem, replace the throat plate.
  • Reinsert the bobbin.

Return to the Problems List.


And finally, as you work to solve your sewing machine problem, change just one thing at a time.

Then try some sewing on a practice piece.

That way you know specifically what solved your problem.

If you change several things at once, you have no way of identifying which thing actually worked.


If you are unsure...


These are easy fixes to do at home for this annoying sewing machine problem.

Don't forget that many a problem is remedied simply by changing to a new sewing machine needle of the proper size. Keep a variety on hand.

However, if you find that you're uncomfortable with implementing any of these suggestions, please contact your sewing machine dealer for assistance. 


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