Nothing is more annoying than realizing that you’ve been sewing without thread for the last 10 or 15 inches of your project.
It’s one thing if you simply ran out of bobbin thread, but it’s quite another if your thread keeps breaking for no reason! Have an upper thread sensor on your machine? Enjoy the new beeping soundtrack your sewing room! Gaah!
Here are some tips, with links to helpful posts that will help you avoid thread breakage. Sometimes, you just need to take a break. So, take this post with you and go get a glass of wine to reset your sewing mojo!
- Clear your thread path. This is the number ONE cause of thread breakage. If your spool is on a horizontal spool pin, I’d recommend using the smallest spool cap possible, or switching to and industrial thread lift. I see so many people with thread wound tightly around a too-big spool cap. Of course it’s going to break! Using a thread lift avoids the spot cap issue altogether and also lets tightly wound threads “relax” before they make their way into your sewing machine. Just keep an eye out for “pooling” when you set your threads up vertically. If you see lots of extra thread winding off your spool before it’s lifted up into the thread lift guide, use a spool net, or get rid of the thread- it might be old or damaged.
- How old is your thread? Are you able to easily break it using your hands? Does the color look faded? Is it falling off the spool? These can all be signs that your thread is old or sun/water damaged. This is a big reason why we don’t advocate buying thread at garage sales- you just don’t know where it’s been. Also, don’t buy cheap thread. It can break off inside your machine, shed fibers everywhere, and cause you major machine issues.
- Slow down, Turbo! Are you embroidering? Are you using metallic thread? Are you heavy-footed? Slow down. Some projects require you to go a bit slower. Metallic threads, especially when used in embroidery often need to be run at a slower speed- they just aren’t as bendy as normal threads, so give ’em a break and slow down. If you’re stitching on something like burlap or vinyl, those fabrics can actually cut your thread. So, slow down and see if that helps- if not, you might be using the wrong thread or needle or both.
- Use the right thread for the job. As I mentioned above, some fabrics can really test your thread. If you are sewing vinyl or burlap, use Mettler Metrosene polyester thread. It’s strong and durable for wear and for sewing. If you try to use a cotton- even a high quality one- the rough burlap and jagged vinyl can wear on it and cut it easily during sewing. Also, don’t use crappy thread. That stuff you buy at big-box stores that feels like thin nylon rope is not ok. We are recommending a polyester thread, but it’s flexible, soft and strong, not stiff and gross or blended with other fibers.
- Use the right needle for the job. Needles aren’t just piece of metal with a hole in them. Needles have channels in them to deliver thread through your fabric and down into the bobbin area. A leather needle is shaped like a knife on the end in order to make a slit in the hide for the thread to pass through. If you use a needle that’s too small or not properly shaped for the job, you’re putting extra stress on your threads.
- Check your bobbin case. If you have a drop-in bobbin, remove your plastic bobbin cover and your metal throat plate to reveal your bobbin case. Does it have a bunch of holes in it like this? This can definitely cause thread breakage. In order to form a stitch, your top thread comes down and loops around the bobbin thread. It has to come into contact with the bobbin case, and if there are a bunch of jagged holes on it it will probably break.
- Check your throat plate. Take your presser foot off and look at your throat plate. See the area where the needle is supposed to pass through? If that looks chewed up and jagged, your machine needs some love. That metal edge is supposed to be smooth, and if it’s not, it can wear on your thread.
- You might not be threading your machine properly. Allow for this possibility, even if you have been sewing for decades. Unthread your machine. Check the bobbin area for lint, clean it, and replace it properly. Thread with your presser foot up and make sure you get in your bobbin tension when you re-thread. This can all effect how your stitch turns out and whether or not your thread gets undue stress during the sewing process.
- What color is your thread? Black and red threads break more often than other colors. This is because they have to be dyed and dyed and over-dyed to achieve their saturated color. If you are sewing with black or red thread and you’ve tried all the fixes above to no avail, wind some off. You might be at a bad spot in the spool. This doesn’t happen often- and that’s why it’s the last possibility in the list- but it’s worth a try!
Have you ever fixed a thread breakage issue on your own? Tell us how!