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What Causes Thread to Fray or Break?

Questions to Ask in Order to Pinpoint the Issue

 

Thread breaks and frays are separate issues. Thread breaks are usually caused by tension issues, thread path interference, old thread or poor digitizing. Thread frays have more to do with burrs and nicks in the thread path.

Top 5 Questions to Ask

 

1.   Is the machine threaded properly? Try re-threading according to your machine manual. (Breaking)

2.   Is the top tension too tight? Use the 1/3 - 1/3 - 1/3 rule. (Breaking)

3.   Needle  Questions:

       a.   Have you changed the needle recently? A damaged needle may or may not be visible to the naked eye. (Fraying)
       b.   Are you using the correct size needle based on the thread you are using? A needle chart is available by clicking here (Fraying)
       c.    Is the needle inserted properly? Is the needle eye facing forward? Is it inserted fully? (Breaking and Fraying)

4.   Has the machine been lubricated? Be sure to follow your machine manual’s suggested lubrication schedule for your machine. (Breaking)

5.   Is the bobbin case tension spring clear of lint? Run a business card underneath the tension plate to clear out any lint build up. (Breaking)

 

Additional Causes of Thread Breaks and Frays

6.     Check for burrs and nicks in the following areas: (Fraying)

       a.     Rotary hook
       b.     Thread path
       c.     Needle eye
       d.     Throat plate
       e.     Bobbin case

7. Is the pressure foot nicked, burred or bent? Check with your machine manual or contact your machine tech.(Fraying and Breaking)

8. Is the needle going through the center of the pressure foot? Check with your machine manual or contact your machine tech. (Fraying and Breaking)

9. Is the needle going through the center of the needle throat plate? Check with your machine manual or contact your machine tech. (Fraying and Breaking)

10. How old is the thread? Old, improperly stored thread will break down and deteriorate. (Breaking)

11. How has the thread been stored? Embroidery thread should be stored in cool, dry conditions away from excessive light. (Breaking)

 

Is the thread breaking on more than 1 needle (on the same head)?

1.     Check the bobbin/rotary hook area

       a.     Is the bobbin threaded correctly?
       b.     Is the rotary hook area clean?
       c.     Has it been lubricated?
       d.     Does the throat plate have any rough spots in the needle hole area?
       e.     Is the outside of the rotary hook area smooth?
       f.      If you wind your own bobbins, are they wound correctly?

 

Other possible causes of thread breaks:

  • Machine speed is too fast – try slowing the machine down.
  • Build up of adhesive sprays and glues on the needle – use needle-friendly adhesives and glues. Be sure to allow them to dry adequately before embroidering.
  • Incorrect needle depth – Check your machine manual or contact your technician.
  • Improper hooping – both too loose and too tight hooping can cause stress on the needle and thread and can cause thread breaks.
  • Rough/abrasive backing – Use a high quality backing that is intended for embroidery.
  • Stick-On backing – The adhesive can break down due to improper storage, high heat and humid conditions. Be sure you are using needle-friendly Stick-On backings that are not old and have been stored properly.
  • No backing being used – always use a backing, even if the fabric is stable enough to support the embroidery without it. Backing allows the hoop to glide smoothly over the needle plate and cylinder arm.
  • Too heavy a bobbin thread – use of the proper bobbin thread will ensure the best balance between the top thread and bobbin thread.
  • Poor digitizing – overly short stitches or excessive density in designs can cause thread breaks.
  • Machine timing is off – improper timing may cause thread breaks or frays.

 

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