Have you tried a top-stitching needle? I use the variegated (both trilobal poly and cotton in my bobbin mostly) and then rayon in the needle when quilting. Breakage sounds like a needle problem, not a machine problem. If the groove in the needle and needle size is adequate, the thread shouldn't break.
There can be so many reasons for the thread to break. I just got in from my shop - I had an old White ZZer machine I just got. I fooled and fooled with it. Gave up and worked on a Kingston made by Brother 15 clone. Thread kept breaking - two in a row???. Hint. They came at the same time... So since I was lazy and didn't do it, I changed out the needles. AHA. Maybe I wouldn't have had to rebuild the tensions and fool around with the bobbin tension and look for burrs all over the place after all. NAH - needed to do that anyway. Oh well, two very nice working machines. Then I got out an old Atlas - guess what - that one's needle was in backwards too. Go figure. These all must have come from the same place. At any rate all three work just fine now. The Atlas is sure ugly but a good working machine. I just looked - I had 10 calls today while I was trying to work. No wonder I was distracted. GGGGRRRRRRRRR. Next time the voice mail will get them.
I do a lot of free motion quilting, and I've had so much trouble with YLI thread that I no longer buy it even if it is beautiful. The few spools I still have say "Warning! YLI thread!" on a tag attached to the spool. I use it only for couching on wall hangings.
I was in a class at a major quilt festival where everyone was given YLI thread to use, a promotion of the YLI company. There were 32 people in that class with 32 different machines of various features, ages, and models. All quilters were familiar with their machines. Of the machines, 30 out of 32 got seriously messed up with thread so badly wrapped around the innards that the machines couldn't sew. We spent the day cleaning thread out of our machines instead of sewing, and still, six machines had to go in for repair. Obviously, the quilters with those machines were out of luck with their classes on subsequent days.
I was using my trusty Singer 301, which had never had trouble with any thread before (or since). Many of you know that a 301 is ideal for free motion quilting. This machine takes any thread (except YLI). But YLI thread appears to be too loosely twisted, and I had major problems with it. It got itself so wrapped around the parts of the machines that it took me five hours to dig out all the thread - which of course frayed badly - and another three hours after that to get it to sew again. I saw thread in places I've never seen thread go before, and all sorts of little wisps of thread caught everywhere. I should mention that I had all the proper tools with me and that I am a certified sewing machine mechanic. I've worked on 301s many times; usually, they behave very well. I've also worked on many other machines. When I got home, I carefully tried the YLI thread on other machines with the same results, even for regular sewing. It looks to me like it does not have enough cohesion to sew properly; it apparently is made of very short threads which easily fray and come apart. (I've taken classes in thread construction, too.)
I mentioned this to the YLI rep at the show and she said it "shouldn't" have happened. Yet when 30 out of 32 machines had major problems with the thread, it has to be the thread!
I use a 90/14 top stitch needle when I want sew use variegated thread for quilting. I agree that the 15-91 would be a good choice for FMQ. I have a 15-90 that is one of my favorites for FMQ. You don't want your tension on "0", you want the stitch length on "0". I had a 500a, never could get that machine to do FMQ it just said nope not doing this.
i sure appreciate all the ideas! i wonder if the thread itself is the problem. If 30/32 machines had trouble with the YLI . . . .that seems pretty damning of the thread. My machine is really a gem and i've never had problems with any thread breaking before, even if it isn't the perfect FMQ machine. And it was so weird that when I pulled the thread ONLY through the tension disks, the tension seemed fine. Then I threaded it the rest of the way and pulling it through the needle, it seemed too tight. I even tried skipping a thread guide here and there because I'd read that as a suggestion if you had too much tension. That just seemed weird and didn't seem to make a difference.
purplefiend, I only moved the tension to zero because i was trying to reduce the tension because of the thread breaking. Normally I have it around 3 or 4 and it's a good stitch. I had the stitch length regulator to zero.
miriam and spiralt, I did try 2 different brand-new Schmetz 90/14 top-stitch needles.
Just got a call from the guy repairing my machines and they are ready! I got the machines both in Sept/Oct and haven't really played with them yet. Got them cleaned up and they worked, but I was afraid of the electrical. Turns out that was a good thing. He said the 15-91 had to be rewired back to the motor - the wires were rotten from too much oil, or something like that. The wiring for the 66 was ok, though. That 15-91 had been neglected horribly in a garage and when I got it ($35 including its case) it was filthy. Shined up beautifully - I can't wait to try it.
This is the website of the guy that's worked on them - they restore old machines SO beautifully! http://stagecoachroadsewing.com/
I think I'll try the YLI thread in the 15-91 and see what happens.
I think I would not be trying it out on that first thing - I would do other stuff first but be ready for servicing it just in case
Originally Posted by oregongirl
oh - so you're thinking the thread could cause a problem with the machine? yikes. i don't want that!
If you try out the machine just use different thread
This is weird. I use YLI all the time for piecing and quilting, including FMQ, and never have an issues except operator head space ones aka carbon based unit ones. I use mostly my 301 for both piecing and quilting with the YLI with almost no issues and used some when I was mending/darning hubby's work pants. It was what I had in the bobbin at the time. I agree it might have been the thread or might have been something else.
you must be number 31
Originally Posted by chris_quilts