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Serger threads…

rekha | Posted in General Discussion on

I am at the end of my tether or thread if you like. This is the problem

If I use the sew all polyester thread on the needles, the looper threads break, mainly the upper one.

Now I replaced all the threads with the overlocker thread and the chain bunches followed by the upper looper thread breaking.

I have tried changing the looper tensions am not getting anywhere. I am writing for help


  1. sewchris703 | | #1

    From the Ultimate Serger Answer Guide by Naomi Baker, Gail Brown, and Cindy Kacynski:

    Loosen tensions incrementally, starting with the thread that breaks most frequently; and/or the tightest tension.

    Thoroughly inspect the threading paths.  Are threads caught or tangled on spools or cones, thread rods, or guides?  Is the telesopic thread guide in its fully expended position?  Is the needle thread going directly through the eye, or is it possibly wrapped around the needle?

    Rethread from scratch, following the correct threading sequence described in your mannual.  Finish by threading the needle.  Before starting to serge, all thread tails should be above the throat plate.

    If the lower looper thread keeps breaking, it's likely caused by out-of-sequence threading.  For example, if the lower looper is threaded after the needle (likely in the most accessible needle-down positions), the lower looper thread will be trapped over the needle thread.  As the stitch advances, the lower looper thread pulls up on the needle thread and the thread breaks.  To prevent this problem from recurring, simply rethread the needle after threading the lower looper.  Or, rather than rethreading, use tweezers to clear the needle thread from around the lower looper and draw up the needle thread tail above the throat plate after threading the lower looper.

    Change to a new needle.  The needle you're using may be bet, burred, or the wrong size or type.

    Test for urrs on the looper tips and eyes, the needle yee, and the throat plate"  Run a strand of woolly stretch nylon over the area and watch for chatchng or shredding of the thread (indicative of burrs).  If you feel burrs on the needle eye, replace the needle.  If you feel burrs on the loopers and/or throat plate, try to lightly sand them off using crocus cloth; if the burrs remain, consult your dealer.

    Hope some of this helps.  It all depends on which thread is breaking and when in the serging process it's breaking. 


    1. rekha | | #3

      Ultimate Serger Answer Guide

      Well I never! I bought this book the month I bought the serger with the view to mechanical repair if it occurred but was disappointed and returned it.

      Rethread from scratch...correct threading sequence described in your mannual

      Whilst I was waiting for a response this is exactly what I did and it is working.

      When I am in the middle of a project I lose patience if I can't fix it right away. Usually I go away have a cup of tea and look at the problem fresh.

      Someone in another thread wrote that she uses sewall threads on the needle and overlocker threads in the looper. Does that make a difference. I bought some cheap 'Moon' and 'Swan' overlocker threads only because they came in groups of 4; the tragedy is that they keep snapping. As it stands I don't think I can return the cops

      My overlocker is probably not too different from you sewelegant because it is a very basic machine (Janome 9102D). Simpler machine give you an opportunity to troubleshoot simply.

      Edited 4/24/2008 12:22 pm ET by rekha

      Edited 4/24/2008 12:23 pm ET by rekha

      1. sewchris703 | | #4

        I bought the book when I got my 2nd serger, a basic White with differental feed.  I traded my ancient Juki for it.  I have since retired the White and use an old Babylock without differental feed (it has the best rolled hem on just about any fabric--shirt weight linen to bridal veil tulle) and a Phaff with differental feed.  That book has been very helpful both when I taught serger sewing classes and for troubleshooting my own machines. 


        1. rekha | | #5

          What is view on using the sew all threads (Guttermann), for example, on the overlockers. I find that the threads keep snapping despite adjusting the tension to ridiculously low levels.

          1. Crazy K | | #6

            When I got my first serger, I bought some Maxi-lock thread with it.  Then being a tight-wad, I bought some el-cheapo stuff thinking it couldn't be that much different.  I had trouble with threads breaking all the time.........I got so frustrated.  It took a while (a little dense sometimes!) to realize that when I had the Maxi-lock thread in the machine, it worked fine but when I tried with the cheap stuff, I had trouble.  Well, tight-wad or not, I threw the bad stuff out and got that color in Maxi-lock.  I won't use any other serger thread now and rarely have a thread break. About the only time I have to re-thread is when I'm changing colors and my tie-off comes undone!  I'm sure there are other good ones out there but Maxi-lock is what is sold locally.  I have found a mail-order place where I buy when I need more than a spool or two..........it is much less expensive.  The threading sequence is important in many sergers but the thread can have a huge bearing.  I guess I wouldn't recommend Gutermann for utility serging.........its heavier and you don't need that bulk in your seams.  Maxi-lock or another quality thread should work.

            Hope this gives you some ideas.


          2. rekha | | #7

            Actually, I need to confess. After writing here and spending a few hours on the overlocker threading, I realised I had made a big mistake. I didn't put the thread through the eye of the lower looper which fits in a groove before entering the eye of the lower looper. The threads aren't great but the mistake was mine.

          3. Crazy K | | #8

            Been there, done that.........I think we all have possibly.  Glad you've solved your problem regardless of the reason.  I was having major problems one time and finally realized that somewhere along the line one of my looper threads worked its way behind one of the guides and was getting caught!  After much frustration, when I remedied that problem, it worked fine.

            I will repeat though that using quality serger thread is just as important as using quality sewing thread.  The really cheap stuff often isn't worth the hassle.  Sandra Betzina always recommended to use 'the best thread you can afford' and I guess that is some good advice.  I use mostly Gutermann for sewing and Maxi-lock for serger.  If you need to buy large amounts (different colors) of serger thread, check out http://www.Atlantathread.com   You can purchase the 3,000 yard spools for about $2 per......US.  They carry Gutermann as well if you need the larger spools.

            Happy serging now that you've fixed your problem.


          4. rekha | | #9

            ... Maxi-lock for serger

            Thank you. I haven't heard this name in the UK. Guttermann does both the sew all polyester and overlocker spun polyester. There is another from Empress Mills and much cheaper than Guttermann.

            p.s. where do you get the shade cards from?

            Edited 4/25/2008 9:41 am ET by rekha

          5. Crazy K | | #14

            Got to their website....you can order a color shade chart.  Also, when I wrote, I called the 3,000 cones "spools" but they are cones and I recommend them for serger sewing.  I have used regular sewing thread in a pinch to match colors but for most seams, seam-finishing, etc.  I still recommend the cones of thread made specifically for serging.  All else aside, it is much more economical.


          6. rekha | | #15

            I tried; they don't send it to the UK

          7. Crazy K | | #18

            Do you have any family or acquaintance in the US that could order for you and then send over?  I don't know about customs or any such thing but it was just an idea that popped into my head! 

            You see, there is a reason for my handle.......:-)

            Crazy K

          8. rekha | | #19

            There are a few family members I don't have much contact with so I am hardly in a position to suddenly request purchase and shipping.

          9. Crazy K | | #20

            I completely understand...........it was just a thought.  I have extended family with whom I have very little contact as well and would be hesitant to ask any favors!


          10. rekha | | #21

            I am glad I am not the only one; I thought I was eccentric

          11. Betakin | | #23

            Sergers are not usually thread fussy. You can use pearl cotton, yarns and even ribbon floss in the loopers. Thread breakage can be caused by the problems already posted but something to remember is always thread your needles last. Even if you have threaded your serger in the correct order..and if you should break a looper thread or need to rethread a looper, remember to clear the needle threads from the stitch finger under the plate and rethread your needles other wise..it can result in more broken threads when starting to serge again.


          12. User avater
            Becky-book | | #22

            You have a lot of good answers to your thread problems... but one that I did not see yet is ... use the thread nets over your cone of thread; sometimes the thread is just a little too eager to get to work and as it comes off the cone it loops back on itself creating a little pre-knot. Its not really knotted, but it may get caught in the tension discs just like a knot. Wooly nylon (fuzzy type) is the worst! These are about 3 inches of stretch net mesh that fits over the cone and holds the thread from falling off too fast (make sure the thread is not caught in the bottom edge of the net or it will cause problems of its own!Becky

          13. durf | | #24

            I have had 2 sugers also and I have always used Maxi Lock thread mainly because I have not see any other thread at JoAnn Fabrics that I could use in my surger and I am happy with  the Maxi Lock thread also. I also have an off brand and found a small knot in the thread and it broke and there was a break in the thread when the company wound the spool and they just started over again and I had to re thread. That is very madding.Re threading a surger is not the easiest thing to do especially if it is the upper looper for my machine "cause that is the first thread that has to be threaded in my machine. Oh well I still like my surger and it serves me well.



          14. sewchris703 | | #11

            My most frequent mistake in threading the serger is forgetting to remove the needle threads from around the lower looper before threading the looper.  BTDT  Now, my first rule of thumb in trouble shooting my serger is to rethread from scratch in sequence.  But I don't always follow that if I'm tired or frustrated.


          15. rekha | | #12

            thread unreeling discs

            What are these? and BTDT?

          16. sewchris703 | | #16


            They're also called thread caps.  They allow the regular spool of thread to unwind properly when used on the serger.  They keep the thread from getting caught on the end of the spool and prevent the spool from flying off the serger.

            BTDT  Been There, Done That


          17. sewchris703 | | #10

            I haven't had any problem with Guttermann (or Coats and Clark at work) thread breaking in my serger except when it gets tangled up around the thread spindles or on the thread spool itself.  There's a reason why cone thread comes on cones.  When they unwind off the cone, they don't fall down and get tangled up around the thread spindles.  I always use the thread unreeling discs when I use regular sewing thread on the serger and make sure that the thread slit on the C&C thread is on the bottom.


          18. rekha | | #13

            When they unwind off the cone

            The unwinding is made easy because the threads on the cone run spirally top to bottom or something like that

          19. sewchris703 | | #17

            Guttermann sewing thread is also cross wound like serger cones, except on spools.  I was talking about the fact that cones are wider on the bottom than on the top.  That prevents the thread from falling down off the cone as well as helping to unwind the thread at serger speeds.


  2. sewelegant | | #2

    I have an older serger so this may not help, but if all else fails, try oiling the thing!  Mine seems to need it a lot to perform well.

    Good luck!

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