Saturday, April 10, 2010

Stop Breaking Threads

Sewing is fun. Sewing is creative. Sewing is actually pretty easy when all goes well, but when threads keep breaking; it can get frustrating.

As a technician, I understand the frustration. It even happens for me, when threads keep breaking. It is especially upsetting when I miss the cause and fail to find a solution. Usually sewing machine manuals fail even to mention the problem or steps to resolve the problem of breaking threads.

You can encounter thread breakage on cheap and on expensive machines. When the situation is right, threads break. The make, model, design, and purpose do not seem to matter. It seems that anyone who sews eventually faces thread that break.

The challenge is to figure out the causes and solutions to thread breakage so you can sew care free. Even a beginner sewing student can master their sewing machine. Now you can learn to sew without this frustration. By understanding how to sew and the causes of breaking threads, you will be able to prevent and sew like a pro.

There are two basic situations where threads will keep breaking: excessive stretch and pinching.

When you sew along and the threads snag on something or get caught, the threads pull apart. Tension issues, burrs, and other snags cause threads to break.

Sharp edges, tight spots, burrs, and other mechanical irregularities can pinch or cut threads.

Solutions come quickly when the causes are understood and identified. Whether the thread breakage comes from pinching or pressure, it is important to find out.

You can take action step by step to fix the problem of breaking threads. Here are ten steps you can take.

To begin with, take out the old needle and put a new one in its place. Be sure to match the needle to the fabric for best performance.

Second, thoroughly inspect the upper thread line. Look for rough spots, rust spots, or any surface that might snag the thread. Better quality threads tend to perform better than poorer quality, older, or linty threads. Long fiber threads do better than spun fiber threads. Polyester does better than natural fibers.

Next, check the needle plate for abrasions, sharp edges, and needle pricks. Smooth or fix the needle plate or replace it.

Fourth, inspect the bobbin for sharp edges, improper thread wrappings, and proper selection. Never wind more than one thread on a bobbin. Loose ends can interfere and cause thread breakage. Often we find that the user is trying to use the wrong bobbin for the machine. It is essential that the bobbin match the make and model of the machine.

A damaged bobbin carrier can cause all manner of problems. Look for breaks, cracks, thread scores, sharp edges, and any other potential problem.

Unlike needles which are easy to replace frequently, the hook is seldom replaced. However, it often develops burrs, scars, or other damage. Make sure the hook does not catch or pinch the thread.

Seventh, inspect the race for potential snags and lubricant. Occasionally, the race becomes overly dry and requires a drop of pure clean sewing machine oil. Sometimes, neglect leads to stickiness that must be cleaned away and relubricated.

When tensions are too tight, threads can snap. When the tensions are too loose, the thread can get caught on other parts and end up breaking as well. Therefore it is vital that the bobbin tension and upper tension both be checked and adjusted.

Ninth, check the hook needle timing and clearance. When the timing is inappropriate, it puts stress on the thread or the thread breaks altogether. If the timing out, you will find skipped stitches or none at all. The distance between the needle and the hook needs to be very small without actually touching. If they touch you will hear a ping and it may pinch or cut the thread. If the distance is too great, the hook will fail to pick up the threads and stitches may not form.

Feed dogs may pull the fabric and thread in problematic ways unless properly set for timing, movement, and feed dog height.

Test and retest until the thread movement is smooth and without thread breakage.

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