When you first get into sewing, working with a sewing machine can be incredibly frustrating and confusing. There are so many things to figure out, so many knobs and loops you have to learn about.
Even if you have gotten the hang of it, simple adjustments like switching to a different, thicker fabric can require a whole new configuration.
Why is your thread breaking when sewing thick fabrics? If your thread breaks when you try to sew thick fabrics, it could be because your thread is too weak, your needle is too thin or not strong enough, or your tension is too much. You can also check that your sewing machine has been threaded properly and that all the parts are functioning well.
If you are reading this article, you are probably quite frustrated with your sewing machine when sewing with a thick fabric like denim or suede because your thread keeps breaking.
Don’t worry, this problem is quite common, even for experienced sewists. In this article, we will walk you through some steps that you can take to make sewing thick fabric easier. Many of these tips will also help if you are having the same problem when hand sewing.
Is The Thread Right For The Fabric?
When it comes to matching the right thread with the right fabric, you may think that just having the right color is enough, but it’s not true.
This is a lesson that you only learn after using the wrong thread with thicker fabric and it keeps breaking as you sew.
The reality is, not every type of thread is thick enough to sew every type of fabric. This is especially true for thicker fabrics like denim. If the thread is not strong enough to handle the pressure of the thick fabric, it can break easily when you try to sew.
When sewing thick fabric, we recommend using high-quality, thicker thread that is made of polyester. This type of fabric is quite strong, which means that it can effectively work with thicker fabric.
If you are using a thick and strong polyester thread, but it is still breaking, another problem could be that the thread can be too old. Threads that have been in your craft box for too long may lose some of their quality – they can be worn down and break easily, especially when used with a thick fabric.
We recommend replacing your thread with a newly purchased spool, one that can handle the pressure of sewing thick fabric. Using the right thread can reduce the chance of breakage as you sew with a thick fabric.
When you switch out the top thread, don’t neglect the thread on the bottom bobbin. The two threads should match in terms of size and strength. That way you you won’t have any more accidents when you sew.
When you switch to a new thread, do a test line with a scrap piece of fabric first to see if it matches your fabric. If the thread is thick enough to remain intact as you sew, you should be good to go!
Is The Needle Right For The Fabric?
Similarly, pairing the right needle with your fabric will make sewing a lot easier. If your thread keeps breaking at the needle, you may be using the wrong needle for your fabric.
It can be intimidating to change out the needle – after all, you are touching the “hardware.” However, if you practice changing the needle and adjusting it when you approach a new fabric, you will find that it is quite life-changing.
To sew thick fabrics, use a needle that is thick and strong enough to puncture that fabric. If your needle is too thin and weak, it may not puncture the fabric properly; it could bend or even break when you try to sew. Switching your needle to match the thickness of the fabric will help solve this problem.
When you sew with a thick fabric, the thread can break because the needle is bent or damaged. If your thread breaks, you should check your needle first before checking other parts of the machine.
If you are already using a thick needle, but it is still not working with this fabric, check to be sure the needle is not too dull. A dull needle may not puncture through several layers of the thick fabric. This can damage your fabric and may even break your thread. In this case, switching out the needle will do the trick.
As always, test your needle on a scrap piece of fabric first before moving on to the real project. Since a needle that is too dull or too thin may snag and damage your fabric, testing it out first will help minimize any damage to your project.
Are You Using The Right Tension?
Thread tension can be puzzling even to experienced sewists, so you know we have to mention it here. Yes, your top thread can definitely break if you don’t have the right tension.
Each type of thread, needle, and fabric will need a different tension. If you don’t set it correctly to match your fabric, your thread will break or become undone as you try to sew.
A general rule is the thicker the thread, the greater the tension should be. The tension knob on your sewing machine is usually a dial that you can turn up or down to increase or decrease the tension for your thread.
Adjusting the tension on your machine requires some trial and error. You usually have to adjust it a few times to get it just right. As always, testing the tension on a scrap piece of fabric will help you in this process.
If you adjust the tension on the top thread, don’t forget to adjust the tension on the bobbin as well. If the tensions on the top thread and the bottom thread don’t match, it can cause issues when you try to sew.
Other Things To Try When Your Thread Breaks
If you have tried all of the tips above and your thread is still breaking when you try to sew a thick fabric, there may be some other issues with your machine. Below are some common solutions that can help you avoid thread breakage.
1. Check if both top and bottom thread are correctly threaded.
If everything else seems right, but your thread is still breaking, check that your threads are going through all the loops and knobs that they are supposed to.
This problem happens quite regularly with beginners. So it is definitely worth checking if this is the first time that you are using your machine.
If you are unfamiliar with how to thread a sewing machine, consult the instruction manual that came with your machine or even look up the machine’s model on YouTube to see if your machine is properly threaded. Making sure that your machine is properly threaded should help you minimize the problem of thread breaking.
2. Check your needle plate.
The needle plate is the removable cover on top of the bobbin area. The needle plate has several inserts where your needle will go through as it creates stitches on your fabric.
Sometimes, if the needle plate is not closed correctly, it may obstruct the path of the needle. This can cause breakage as you sew. Fortunately, checking that the needle plate is in its correct place will help you solve this problem.
3. Check your accessories.
If your thread keeps breaking as you sew, there may be some problems with the accessories that you are using.
If the bottom thread breaks when you sew, you may not be using the right bobbin for your sewing machine. Some sewing machines require specific models of bobbins. If you are using a replacement bobbin, it may not work properly with your sewing machine.
In this case, you can check the proper bobbin that your sewing machine is designed to accommodate. Using the right accessory will fix this problem for you.
If your top thread keeps breaking, you can do a quick check of your thread spool to see if it is in its correct place and that the thread is unraveling without any issues. If there is an issue when the thread spool feeds to the machine, your top thread can break easily.
4. Clean your sewing machine.
If you have used your sewing machine for a while and it’s no longer functioning properly and causing thread breakage, it may be time to clean your machine.
When you sew, small fibers can shed and get stuck in all the nooks and crannies in your machine. Sometimes, they can even clog up the thread path that allows the thread to be fed properly to the needle. If the thread isn’t fed properly it can sometimes cause thread breakage.
Cleaning your sewing machine will help you solve this problem if this is happening. However, it’s not a bad idea to clean your machine from time to time anyway.
Here’s a great video from sewist Evelyn Wood that shows you how to clean your sewing machine by yourself:
5. Service your machine.
Similarly, if your machine has been in use for a while, the machine may need to be oiled or serviced for it to function correctly. If you have tried all of the tips above but are still experiencing problems with thread breaking, maybe the problem is with the machine itself.
Taking your sewing machine to the manufacturer to get serviced is also a great way to show some love to your sewing machine. You may discover some potential issues with your machine that may cause you problems as you sew.
After servicing your machine, you should be able to sew smoothly without any further issues.
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