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Thread Problems when Sewing Knits?

MelyndaR | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hi all!  I just finished doing an easy alteration on a dance costume.  It was a slinky-ish four-way stretch knit and I did this on my sewing machine using the stretch stitches. 

The problem that I had was that my thread – basic Coats thread – kept bunching up at the needle.  Sort of being stripped.   I had a new ball point needle, which I changed once the thread problems started, but both of my new ball point needles did this. 

Is it my thread?  The needles?  The fabric?  The stitch?  I was hoping to do a Diane Von Furstenburg type wrap dress after this.  Any help would be appreciated.



  1. PASDENOM | | #1

    I think it's the thread. When I switched from C&C to Gutermann or Metrosene this stopped happening.

    1. ctirish | | #2

      Was all of the thread polyester and the same brand?  I have discovered certain brands will mix well together and some will not. I would try switching most of the main threads to the same maker and see what happens...   jane

    2. MaryinColorado | | #3

      I also prefer Guitterman or Metrosene threads.  Use the same thread in the bobbin as the needles for basic sewing.  It sounds as if the thread may have been old or too thick or fuzzy.  What size needle are you using?  Is the thread poly or cotton?  It needs to match the fabric type too.  I never use that old cotton wrapped polyester as it is known to do that fraying.

      1. ixs | | #4

        I think Guterman is fuzzy; I use a premium serger thread on a cone and use a stand behind my sewing machine; it's a little thinner thread but it works great and is even and doesn't seem to have any fuzz.  David Page Coffin, in his shirtmaking book, suggests using embroidery thread, and I have made a shirt that way, and it works great. 

        1. Teaf5 | | #5

          I have problems with Gutterman, too.  On knits, I usually try out at least four needle sizes and types (sometimes universals work better than ball points, for some reason) and at least a couple different kinds of thread.  I use a big, doubled piece of scrap fabric and make long runs on it to test each one.

          Coats is a cotton-covered polyester, and some knits will catch the cotton and strip it.  Maybe try some all-poly or nylon thread instead.

          1. fabricholic | | #6

            I've had a sewing shop tell me that Coats and Clark was cheap thread and not to use it with the new machines. I was shocked. That used to be all there was available. I had never heard this before.Marcy

          2. Teaf5 | | #10

            A very expensive quilting shop in our town won't carry any cheap threads or fabrics, mainly because they're the only game in town and can charge $12/yard for average cotton fabric and $7.99/spool for quilting thread!  The most expensive thread I ever bought gave me nothing but headaches....

          3. fabricholic | | #11

            Well, that tell's the story, doesn't it.  As soon as I figured out that I wasn't clicking the bobbin thread in the tension, Coats and Clark and all kinds of thread worked.  They weren't giving enough credit to the machine.


          4. Teaf5 | | #12

            It's always the simple things--like the bobbin holder-- that can cause us the greatest problems! My mother used to be known as a sewing machine wizard, and she said that almost all of the problems were caused by the needle: too big, too small, too worn, and in some cases, inserted backwards. Glad that you found a simple (and very cheap) answer to your problem!

          5. fabricholic | | #13

            Well, I had tried everything: new needles, new thread, you name it.  Another woman was having the same symptoms with her machine, so I really thought I had a big problem.  The store was very gracious about it.


          6. ixs | | #7

            You know, I used to have problems with my old 1965 Singer with thread stripping, but now I just use Schmetz needles and a newer machine, although I have several different kinds of Schmetz needles.  At a sewing show a few years ago I bought a big box of Schmetz size 10 Universals and use those for almost everything.  But I do change needles often, although not as often as most experts say to; I'm frugal.  I think I can tell when a needle is going bad.....

  2. User avater
    krawz | | #8

    I would use a Stretch needle (probably size 75) on this type of fabric. I follow Sandra Betzina's advice on stretch fabrics and hand-wind wooly nylon on the bobbin, use regular poly/cotton thread in the needle, and a very small zig zag stitch (.5 width). This allows more stretchability to the thread. Before I did this I would get stitches breaking when the garment was worn because the thread had no give.

    1. ixs | | #9

      Maybe it was my ignorance, but I didn't do any of that stuff, and I made a lot of knit clothes for work and didn't have a problem with the seams.  I just used my Guterman or Metrosene thread and the same thread in the bobbin; and I used a straight stitch.  Go figure.  Maybe just dumb luck.  Some of those garments are over 10 years old now and the ones I have left still look pretty good.......I made most of my clothes for work because the clothes in the store were either too young or too old or too costly and the buyer had no idea of what larger size (20) flattering clothes should look like, I thought, and I usually got compliments on the clothes I made...... 

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