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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 02:38 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
    Power Poster 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

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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?

  11. #11
    Super Member sewNso's Avatar
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    i have found, that i absolutely have to use good quality quilting thread. and i don't tell anyone, but sometimes i spray my spool of thread with spray silicone. shhhh, don't telll anyone.!!!!

  12. #12
    Super Member Pinkiris's Avatar
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    You can try sanding down the nicks on the foot with either an emery board or a metal nail file. Just don't sand it over the opening of your machine! Good luck!
    Sue

  13. #13
    Super Member donnalynett's Avatar
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    Did you make sure a piece of thread or lint is not caught in the tension discs? If it is not a computerized machine use canned air and blow it in the tension discs. I also use "Sew Ease" on my thread if it is not regular quilting thread.

  14. #14
    Super Member TerryQuilter's Avatar
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    I had this problem in the past and figured out that I was trying to go too fast with my FMQ. Once I slowed down and relaxed more I have not had the problem. Don't know if that's your problem but I hope this helps.
    The Trike Riding Quilting Diva

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    Quote Originally Posted by JulieR View Post
    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.
    for those chips that may be fraying the thread......go to local hardware store and ask for a sheet of crocus cloth-it is a sandpaper but more flexible.....you can tear or cut a skinny strip and rub that onto where the rough part is and see if that removes it. I know it works on metal, so probably will work on plastic.....I have a longarm and have used that on knicks or rough spots.........

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    Been there, done that....... I even tried crying and it did'nt help either..... Really.... try a larger needle #16.... it seemed to help for me.

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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.
    Check for a small peice of lint or dust, this can cause a break even if you can't see it

  18. #18
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your suggestions. I've tried most of the ideas here and still no love, so I un-stitched what I did manage to do and am drawing a new plan, featuring lots of SID. Several of my gifting plans have now been scrapped and it looks like I'll be waving my credit card at the Christmas tree this year.

    On the bright side, most of holiday season 2012 is already pieced and I have a whole year to figure out how to finish it.

    Thanks again for all of your help.

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    Julie, the thread isn't catching in the spool edge,[little cut to hold thread when not in use] is it? Just a thought. I always turn that to the wheel side. Barny.

  20. #20
    Super Member sewNso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barny View Post
    Julie, the thread isn't catching in the spool edge,[little cut to hold thread when not in use] is it? Just a thought. I always turn that to the wheel side. Barny.
    i noticed that for me also. my phaff grand quilter is like that. so moody, and tempermental. i find, that i don't use it at all. i would put my janome on the stand and used it. but was still limited by throat space. so i just roll, and free motion, or quilt by check anymore.

  21. #21
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Thanks Barny and sewNso! No, the edge isn't catching; the Mettler doesn't have a cut and the C&C was to the wheel side.

    Last night I went back in and tried to SID with the Mettler and it wouldn't even pick up the bobbin thread on a straight stitch! That sure wasn't happening before! I was panicked, thinking the whole shebang was for nothing, but I switched back to C&C and the straight stitch was fine. Go figure.

    I've packed the Mettler and the leftover fabric from this project in a box and will give them to a friend. I just can't deal with it anymore. LOL

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