Just spent 20 minutes embroidering something beautiful on your machine and now your embroidery thread is breaking like crazy? Stop pulling your hair out wondering what’s wrong with your machine and take a step back to look at what’s actually going on. The first question that you should ask yourself is “how old is my thread?” – seems obvious, but when you sit down and think about it, you could very well have threads that you first bought when the kids were in primary school and now you’re right in the middle of embroidering towels for their engagement gift. We tend to hoard threads for years, but sadly, all those lovely coloured spools will deteriorate, especially if exposed to dry air from a heated room, dust that has settled on the top of the spools, or direct sunlight (that maybe they are only in for half-an-hour a day but they’ve been in that same spot for 5 years). If the thread is relatively new, then the second question should be “how good is the quality?”. There are 1000m spools of embroidery threads ranging from $3.50 each to $13.50 each – like everything else, you need to establish a balance of price versus quality. If a spool (or a brand) tends to break more often, then maybe it’s time to move away from that product and upgrade to something more reliable because whatever you are saving in spool price, you are probably spending in time, frustration or unfinished embroidery designs.
Finally, and this is the most common question – “why is the thread breaking now?”. It all comes down to resistance. At the start of your design, thread is being stitched into an open-weave with no real stress put on the thread, but then, and your embroidery design elements start overlapping, thread is now being drawn through denser, already-stitched areas causing more resistance against the travel of the thread and this resistance is dragging the thread against the eye of the needle. Here is where older or poorer quality threads (and even needles) will start have an affect: threads will shear and break, your machine will beep at you, and you will start getting really frustrated. If this is happening to you, try substituting your thread for a newer, or higher quality one, replace your needle with a new or size-90 Schmetz embroidery needle, and then test sew again. Sure, there could be other reasons that your thread is breaking, but rule these most common things out first and you can begin to trouble shoot the bigger stuff.
Mike’s recommends Robison Anton Rayon 40 machine embroidery thread for reliable results, which you can purchase from any quality haberdashery outlet.