How To Stop
Breaking threads is no fun. You sew a little, and
snap. The thread breaks. You rethread and start all
over. Snap! Snap! Snap! Those breaking threads can
drive us crazy.
Sewing is fun. Sewing is creative. Sewing is actually pretty
easy when all goes well, but when threads keep breaking; it can
As a technician, I understand the frustration. It even
happens for me, when threads keep breaking. It is especially
upsetting when I miss the cause and fail to find a
You can encounter thread breakage on cheap and on expensive
machines. When the situation is right, threads break. The make,
model, design, and purpose do not seem to matter. It seems that
anyone who sews eventually faces thread that break.
The challenge is to figure out the causes and solutions to
thread breakage so you can sew care free.
There are two basic situations where threads will keep
breaking: excessive stretch and pinching.
When you sew along and the threads snag on something or get
caught, the threads pull apart. Tension issues, burrs, and
other snags cause threads to break.
Sharp edges, tight spots, burrs, and other mechanical
irregularities can pinch or cut threads.
Solutions come quickly when the causes are understood and
identified. Whether the thread breakage comes from pinching or
pressure, it is important to find out.
You can take action step by step to fix the problem of
breaking threads. Here are ten steps you can take.
To begin with, take out the old needle and put a new one in
its place. Be sure to match the needle to the fabric for best
Second, thoroughly inspect the upper thread line. Look for
rough spots, rust spots, or any surface that might snag the
thread. Better quality threads tend to perform better than
poorer quality, older, or linty threads. Long fiber threads do
better than spun fiber threads. Polyester does better than
Next, check the needle plate for abrasions, sharp edges, and
needle pricks. Smooth or fix the needle plate or replace
Fourth, inspect the bobbin for sharp edges, improper thread
wrappings, and proper selection. Never wind more than one
thread on a bobbin. Loose ends can interfere and cause thread
breakage. Often we find that the user is trying to use the
wrong bobbin for the machine. It is essential that the bobbin
match the make and model of the machine.
A damaged bobbin carrier can cause all manner of problems.
Look for breaks, cracks, thread scores, sharp edges, and any
other potential problem.
Unlike needles which are easy to replace frequently, the
hook is seldom replaced. However, it often develops burrs,
scars, or other damage. Make sure the hook does not catch or
pinch the thread.
Seventh, inspect the race for potential snags and lubricant.
Occasionally, the race becomes overly dry and requires a drop
of pure clean sewing machine oil. Sometimes, neglect leads to
stickiness that must be cleaned away and relubricated.
When tensions are too tight, threads can snap. When the
tensions are too loose, the thread can get caught on other
parts and end up breaking as well. Therefore it is vital that
the bobbin tension and upper tension both be checked and
Ninth, check the hook needle timing and clearance. When the
timing is inappropriate, it puts stress on the thread or the
thread breaks altogether. If the timing out, you will find
skipped stitches or none at all. The distance between the
needle and the hook needs to be very small without actually
touching. If they touch you will hear a ping and it may pinch
or cut the thread. If the distance is too great, the hook will
fail to pick up the threads and stitches may not form.
Feed dogs may pull the fabric and thread in problematic ways
unless properly set for timing, movement, and feed dog
Test and retest until the thread movement is smooth and
without thread breakage.