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Why does my thread keep breaking?

tibspalover | Posted in General Discussion on

I am semi-new to sewing and I am trying to make a bag out of denim. I have a nice White brand machine that is supposed to handle denim. I have been breaking thread for over an hour now and don’t know why. I have tried all purpose thread with the 90 needle and upholstery thread with the denim needle (100) and all combos between them. My pressure foot tension is correct per my instruction manual and I am at a 3 stitch length and 2.5 stitch width. The thread kind of separates (both sizes) and part gets bunched and eventually breaks. It will stitch about 3 stitches max before this happens. Even when I tested it on 1 thickness as a sample.
What am I doing wrong? Any ideas?


  1. rekha | | #1

    You have probably answered your own question: the quality of thread you are using may not be suitable for this work

  2. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #2

    First, check that you are threading your machine properly. Check the manual just to be sure. Check that the bobbin is inserted properly and unwinding properly.
    Second, make sure you are purchasing quality thread. It makes a huge difference.
    Third, make sure you are using quality needles in your machine, and check them for flaws before you insert them. Even the best sometimes have flaws that will shred thread.
    Have you cleaned your machine recently?
    Also, make sure that the machine is doing the work. Don't pull the fabric through. Hold the threads behind as you start and just let the machine take up the fabric.
    It could be a combination of factors. Hopefully One of these will work. If the threads continue to break when working on another fabric, you might need to have the machine looked at. Cathy

  3. Pattiann42 | | #3

    This can be so frustrating.  First thing that is usually recommended, is to remove the thread and bobbin and clean the bobbin case area. 

    When changing or removing the top thread, snip the thread at the spool.  Lift the presser foot and remove the thread from the needle and pull the thread out from the bottom and not at the top.

    Check the throat plate for nicks or burrs that may be cut the thread.  Smooth any rough spots with a round emery file.

    Replace the needle.

    Presser foot, up re thread the machine.

    I hope something we recommend works and the machine does not have to go into the shop.  If you do need to take it to the shop take a sample of the problem with you.

    Best wishes and good luck with your machine and project.

  4. DONNAKAYE | | #4

    I had a White machine back in the '70s and '80s.  My machine broke the thread all the time.  When I brought it in to have it serviced, they couldn't find anything wrong with it and it would stitch just fine over several layers of denim.  Then I'd get it home and it'd do it again.  Then I'd bring it back and -- well, you get the picture.  I finally got rid of it and bought another machine.  I know this isn't very helpful, but there you have it.  Good luck.

  5. jjgg | | #5

    check the thread tension, you said the presser foot tension was ok, but you need to check the thread tension.

  6. Betakin | | #6

    I say the same as the above poster..to check the thread tension. It sounds like the thread tension is too tight.

    You might want to also check the thread up by the spool to see if it is catching in the notch on the spool. You might need to use a bigger spool cap.

  7. Teaf5 | | #7

    I agree with other posters that the problem is likely somewhere along the threading route.

    Once, I found that thread got caught under the gap between the metal machine body halves; I needed to loosen the screws to re-set the parts so that they would meet rather than overlap.

    A needle inserted backwards will also foul the thread; generally, the rounded part is forward or outward, and the flat part faces inward or to the back.  A bobbin inserted backwards or incompletely latched can stall the stitching, too.

    Worn needles are also a problem, as are the flawed new ones and incorrect thread tension as already mentioned.

    A good way to check threading problems is go back to square one, re-thread the top and re-insert the bobbin, and then, with the needle in the top of the cycle, yank the top thread about 12" or so through the needle a few times.  As you pull, check the path of the threading for possible problems.  Stitching lines on paper can also help you diagnose the source by making everything easier to see.

    Good luck and let us know how you solved this very frustrating problem!

  8. damascusannie | | #8

    Are you using a thread spool that has a little slot in the rim to secure the end of the thread when you aren't using it? If so, make sure that the end of the spool with the slot isn't catching the thread as it unwinds off the spool. It sounds ridiculous, but it definitely happens and it mimics as a problem with the machine.

  9. sewnutt1 | | #9

    Make certain the upper, flat portion of the needle faces the correct way.  My current machine has the flat part positioned toward the back of the machine but some in the past had the flat part going toward the right.....

    ALSO, have you threaded the bobbin with thread winding off in the correct direction?

    As you stitch, make certain you have pulled out enough of a tail of thread, presser foot is down on fabric, not open space.    The suggestion about the little notch on the thread spool catching the thread is excellent.

    When you take a machine into the dealer for this type of problem, have them watch you sew with it.   It may be some subtle thing you are doing that causes the thread to break.

  10. Tangent | | #10

    This hasn't been mentioned yet, but inspect the 'hook' that catches the thread to flip it around the bobbin.....  is it sharp, smooth and clean?  I had a problem once where a breaking needle had stabbed a nick into the hook, and so it was shredding thread.  Also inspect the entire hook unit (that the bobbin fits into) for nicks or gunk where the thread passes around it.

    This is probably unusual, but one of my machines had a hook that was too sharp, it could pierce the thread, and once I carefully polished the point (to blunt it a wee bit, like a 'ballpoint') it was just fine.

    If your tension's too tight, it can break the thread.  Are the tension-disks smooth and clean? Make sure the bobbin is in the case facing the right way. Is the bobbin tension correct? The upper thread should be into all the thread-guides, in the proper order.  Make sure they are all smooth and clean.  If using a spool-cap make sure it's big enough. Is the thread spool "right-side-up"? With some threads this can make a difference. Needle/thread/fabric should be compatible. Needles must be inserted fully and properly, and discard them if bent or damaged. Don't 'pull' the fabric along, because you could bend the needle.

    Sometimes sewing thru thick fabric layers will make the needle bend, because the wad of fabric squirmed out of position a bit; this can cause problems.


    Sometimes it's just a 'lemon' machine, I hope this isn't your case!

    Good luck, and please let us know how you finally solved your problem.


  11. sewmasta | | #11

    HiI have a high speed machine and the thread kept breaking on my to incredible frustration.I finally figured out that the thread stands were turned awkwardly causing too much strain on the thread. When I swiveled them to a direct route of the threading the thread stopped breaking.Also--of course the quality of the thread and type of fabric has a great deal to do with breaking threads!!Julia

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