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Thread: FMQ Thread Breaking - Troubleshooting help needed

  1. #1
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Question FMQ Thread Breaking - Troubleshooting help needed

    Hi all! I'm trying to FMQ a baby blanket (which, of course, is last minute ) and the top thread keeps breaking after less than a minute of stitching.

    Here's what I have.
    • The machine is a 1990s Singer (it's upstairs and I'm too frustrated to go back in there right now and get the model # LOL) that I've used for FMQ before without an issue
    • FMQ foot that I've used successfully before
    • New needle
    • Two layers of cotton (a top and a bottom) with a layer of W&N batting
    • Dritz basting spray between the layers (usually use something else)
    • Mettler thread (usually use Coats & Clark)
    When I FMQ either on the quilt or on some scraps prepped the exact same way, what happens is that less than a minute into stitching the top thread will break at the needle.

    Things I've tried that didn't help:
    • Rethreaded the machine, top and bobbin
    • Cleaned the machine
    • Changed the needle to the same kind, just another one
    • Changed the needle to a larger eye
    • Adjusted the tension, the stitch length (which I usually leave zero) and covered & uncovered the feed dogs
    • Avoided any seams
    So I tried changing the thread to my old Coats & Clark and it STILL broke.

    Okay. Changed to a sandwich that did not have the basting spray and the Coats & Clark lasted a few minutes. I called this success. Then I went back to the basting spray and the Coats & Clark and even though it broke in the last test it was still good! Wow, maybe I shook something loose!

    So I rethreaded the machine with the Mettler and bang, broken thread.

    With the Mettler still loaded I changed to my usual foot for straight stitching and even with the spray-basting the thread did not break.

    I'm not experienced enough with this process to come to a conclusion as to what is wrong, so I'm hoping the experts here can help me.

    Please help!
    Last edited by JulieR; 12-06-2011 at 01:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Super Member Val in IN's Avatar
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    Could it be a bad batch of needles? Sometimes they have a burr in the eye and it will shred and break the thread. Is the tension correct? Did you thread the machine with the foot in the UP position so that the thread "seats" properly between the tension disks? Are you using the same thread in the bobbin? Are you moving the piece too fast? Is your machine clean? I actually changed my needle to a size 16 denim needle when my thread was breaking. Hope you can get this resolved, Good Luck!!

  3. #3
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Val in IN View Post
    Could it be a bad batch of needles? Sometimes they have a burr in the eye and it will shred and break the thread. Is the tension correct? Did you thread the machine with the foot in the UP position so that the thread "seats" properly between the tension disks? Are you using the same thread in the bobbin? Are you moving the piece too fast? Is your machine clean? I actually changed my needle to a size 16 denim needle when my thread was breaking. Hope you can get this resolved, Good Luck!!
    Thanks, Val! The larger-eye needle (I'm not sure what it was - it was new in a package in my grandmother's sewing box but it was one of those with a "range") is from a different package as the other two. I'm using the same thread top and bobbin. As for moving the piece too fast, I've tried varying speeds (foot and hands). The thing is, up until the thread breaks the stitches are great! No loops or nests, no punching through...it looks the same on top as it does on the bottom.

  4. #4
    Super Member ckcowl's Avatar
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    sometimes unfortunately there is nothing to do except switch thread- i have been through this---tried everything- over & over- so frustrated---finally give in- switch thread---and no more trouble---sometimes the thread we want to use-just does not want to be used!
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  5. #5
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckcowl View Post
    sometimes unfortunately there is nothing to do except switch thread- i have been through this---tried everything- over & over- so frustrated---finally give in- switch thread---and no more trouble---sometimes the thread we want to use-just does not want to be used!
    Sigh. I'll give it to the weekend and then you're right, I'll just replace the thread. I don't have enough of anything else suitable and this one was just perfect. I'm sorry you were so frustrated, too - thanks for the commiseration and advice

  6. #6
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    Are you using the single hole plate or the slot hole plate? Sometimes with the single hole plate the thread will clip as it goes through the tiny hole from either your hands pulling the needle off center or the weight of the quilt. Try the plate that you use for zig zag instead. If you already have that one on then it must be something else. Make sure the thread from the spool is not wrapping around anything as it feeds (sometimes catches on the little spool slit). Can you get the hole plate off and check it for a rough spot? sometimes it will have a jagged spot from a needle strike that will snag the thread. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
    Are you using the single hole plate or the slot hole plate? Sometimes with the single hole plate the thread will clip as it goes through the tiny hole from either your hands pulling the needle off center or the weight of the quilt. Try the plate that you use for zig zag instead. If you already have that one on then it must be something else. Make sure the thread from the spool is not wrapping around anything as it feeds (sometimes catches on the little spool slit). Can you get the hole plate off and check it for a rough spot? sometimes it will have a jagged spot from a needle strike that will snag the thread. Good luck!
    Good idea - I checked and it's the slot. I removed it and took a look but it looks fine.

    However, I checked the FMQ foot and there look to be tiny chips on it! It's one of the plastic kinds; anyone know how I can try to file that down?

    I don't know if that's causing the issue but I'm willing to try.

  8. #8
    Super Member hobo2000's Avatar
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    We had that on our longarm this past weekend. We loosened the upper tension one notch at a time until we finally got it right. Took us quite awhile to do it. We now understand the "lefty loosey, righty tighty" routine. Why, all of a sudden it happens, is beyond me. It was working great for ever so long, then boom. Oh well, we're back in business again.

  9. #9
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hobo2000 View Post
    We had that on our longarm this past weekend. We loosened the upper tension one notch at a time until we finally got it right. Took us quite awhile to do it. We now understand the "lefty loosey, righty tighty" routine. Why, all of a sudden it happens, is beyond me. It was working great for ever so long, then boom. Oh well, we're back in business again.
    Hmm. Maybe I wasn't patient enough when adjusting the tension. I'll try that again, thanks!

  10. #10
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Also, I don't know if anyone mentioned this but did you clean out the feed dogs and bobbin area really well and oil it?

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