Using monfilament thread for top stitching
I use monofilament thread in both the bobbin and the top threads to top stitch runners and placemats because they have two different fabrics and it saves changing colors all the time.
I have been having trouble with the top thread breaking all the time. I have been using the same tension as set by my repair shop, but should I change this?
I notice that the thread gets tight coming through the area before the take up hook. I am using a good quality thread and just changed needles. I also use a walking foot.
Sharon, I so appreciate all the information you gave me in your question. It really helps.
Yes, you should reduce your needle tension setting from what was set by your sewing machine repair person. On my Viking Designer I, I automatically reduce my tension by two full numbers before even testing the thread combinations on a practice quilt sandwich.
There are two reasons for this.
Using a sewing machine for quilting
First, sewing machines are engineered to stitch with the same 50-60 wt thread in both the needle and bobbin. Good quality monofilament thread is even finer--.004 to be exact. So the thread you're using is different than what the SEWING
machine is built for.
Stretchy thread has tension already built in
Next, monofilament thread has stretch to it. That stretch creates tension in the thread as it winds its way through the thread path.
An example of a noticeably stretchy thread is elastic thread. As you sew with it, the elastic stretches (creating tension). Once it's created the stitch, the thread contracts back to its relaxed size and Voila! your stitches have made gathers. To a lesser degree, the same thing happens with monofilament thread.
To counteract this, you must dial down the tension setting on your machine.
Add to that, that stitching through the additional batting layer adds resistance as the thread is stitched...all these things add to the need to decrease the preset tension setting.
I recommend reducing your setting by 1 whole number and then testing on a practice sandwich (a small one made from the leftovers from your table runners and placemats). Stitch a little and then check how those stitches look. Repeat until you are satisfied and then go back to your projects.
This should make a huge difference. Let me know how it goes!
PS Just another thought...most clear threads are on a cone without a notch in it to hold the thread tail. If your thread is on a spool that has a notch on it, make sure that the notch is either on the bottom or to the right so that the thread doesn't catch on it, stretch and then snap.