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Breaking Thread

Working with a sewing machine that is breaking thread can be very frustrating. Needles are not that easily threaded and the last thing you want to do is thread your machine 10 times to sew one seam.

If your sewing machine is breaking thread, always remember to check the easy things first.

  1. Change Your Needle!
  2. Using the instruction manual to your machine as a guide, re-thread your sewing machine.
  3. If your thread breaks when you first start sewing be sure that you are pulling up the bobbin thread before you start.  You can do this by gently holding the end of the needle thread and turning the handwheel 1 full turn. When you pull the needle thread, the bobbin thread should appear above the needle plate.  Pull the threads to the back of the machine and lower the presser foot.  Always be sure the needle thread take-up is at its top position before sewing.  If it is not at the top position the take-up will rise when you start, pulling the thread from the needle.
  4. Make sure your upper tension is not set to tight.
  5. If the spool pin on your sewing machine is mounted horizontally, be sure to use a spool pin cap that is larger in diameter than the spool of thread.  If you fail to do this the thread will get caught in the slit at the top of the spool and cause your thread to break. 

If these five suggestions do not stop your machine from breaking thread, it is time to start looking for damaged parts.

Damaged Rotary Hook or Shuttle

When you are sewing, the needle thread passes over the areas in red in the images below.  If there are burrs or rough spots in these areas, thread breakage will occur. 

Breaking threadUsing your instruction manual as a guide, remove the shuttle from your sewing machine.  Inspect the shuttle, looking for burrs, needle marks and rough spots in the red areas of the image on the left.  Use your fingernail to rub across the shuttle point and around the shuttle.  If there are deep scratches, the shuttle should be replaced.  Otherwise use a breaking threadfine sharpening stone to lightly file the scratches and burrs.  Then, using crocus cloth, polish the areas you filed.

Use the same techniques as above on a rotary hook, looking for damage in the red areas as shown on the image to the right.

Damaged Needle Plate

A damaged needle place will cause thread breakage

The needle plate on your sewing machine can become damaged if the needle comes in contact with it.  To prevent this, never pull on the fabric as you are sewing.  Always let the machine feed the material.  Since both the needle thread and the bobbin thread come into contact with the needle plate, it must be smooth and free of needle marks or thread breakage will occur.

Burrs in this area are difficult to get to, and the needle plate should be replaced if you are unable to remove the burrs.  You can take a thin strip of crocus cloth and polish the needle plate hole, but be careful not to remove too much metal or your machine will skip stitches.

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