There is nothing more frustrating than sitting down to finish a project – or start one, or just make some progress for once! – and not getting anywhere because your thread keeps knotting up or breaking. In most cases, it seems to happen out of nowhere and we have no idea how it was sewing okay one minute, and a mess the next.
Sometimes a trip to the sewing machine doctor is necessary, but in a good number of instances, the fix can be an easy one. Before rushing off to urgent care, let’s look at some of the causes of broken threads and thread nesting issues.
Are you using quality thread?
This is not meant to be a snobbish question, but it is an important question when considering how thread will perform in your sewing machine. Quilting and sewing are not the most economical of hobbies, and when it comes to thread, the thought of spending more just doesn’t appeal.
But the harsh truth is, most bargain threads will add excessive lint to your machine in several different places, and over time, this will most certainly affect the tension and smooth, clean path in your machine. If there is lint caught in the take-up lever, tension springs, tension discs… any number of places, thread cannot move as smooth as it needs to.
If you are using the bargain bin thread (you know the thread, it comes in a fairly large cone and is about $1.50 per spool next to the cutting counter at Joann’s) or even standard Coats & Clark, try using a higher quality thread. You may need to have your machine cleaned out if you can see a considerable amount of lint.
Re-thread your upper thread and bobbin thread.
This is one of those annoying steps that can also save you hours of frustration. It’s not difficult for one small section of your thread to disrupt the entire flow of things, so take the 2 minutes and completely rethread your machine.
When you thread your machine, make sure your presser foot is up so that your tension discs are open. Once you thread your upper thread, and ensure that you have inserted in the proper direction in the needle, drop your presser foot, and lightly pull on the thread. You should have resistance and you should not be able to pull the thread without extreme force (please don’t do that!).
Remove your bobbin, then re-seat your bobbin, or replace it in the bobbin case, ensuring that the bobbin thread is moving in the proper direction. I can't tell you how many times this is overlooked; it is very easy to insert your bobbin with the thread going in the wrong direction.
If it's been awhile since you've threaded your machine, you may be missing a vital step. Believe me, it happens to all of us! Refer to your manual, if you have one, if you need a refresher on the way your machine is threaded.
Check your bobbins.
One of the biggest culprits of sewing issues is use the wrong bobbin. I will say, I find it frustrating that Singer, nor any other brand or manufacturer, hasn't bothered to indicate the type of bobbin on the actual bobbin. We are left to guess, unless you have decided to learn the difference from one bobbin to the next.
Most people cannot identify the difference in bobbins at a glance. If you have multiple machines in your home or you have acquired a machine (bought it used or inherited it), there's a good chance your machine has the wrong bobbin. When in doubt, check your manual for the type of bobbin you should be using, and if you aren't sure, throw out what you have and buy new ones.
I know that sounds drastic, but I cannot tell you how frustrating it is trying to use the wrong bobbin. It simply won't work.
Check your bobbins case or carrier for burrs or rough spots.
If you have top loading bobbin, you'll need to check your bobbin carrier for burrs or rough spots. Remove your needle plate, and check all of the black plastic to make sure it's smooth.
If you have a side or front loading machine, and you use a bobbin case, you'll need to check the metal hook. The tip should be sharp, but smooth.
If you find burrs or questionable issues with your hook or carrier, you will need to see a service technician.
If you have any questions about these check points, or if you're unsure how to check your hook, identify a bobbin, or properly thread your machine, please comment below or email me, I'm happy to help!
For more information about machine service, please visit my service website here.