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fabric/thread question - help!

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Hi All!

I need some help! I just labored for days over this "Peppermint Twist" quilt (56"x 70"). I used practically a whole can of silicone spray on the fabric, thread, back etc. The thread broke practically every 3". These are for Christmas presents, just cute throws, but they can' come out like the first one! (I did FH snowflakes, curliques and mittens). Love the idea, but I have 6 more to do!

Here's the deal.... I'm one of those who doesn't always prewash fabric. SO would that be my problem? Do I need to wash all the tops before I quilt them? or is it ALL the seams - only 1.5" apart that does it. I have changed needles, threads, sprayed and sprayed silicone! (I have asthma so now back to daily attacks.)

I thought if I put the tops in my mesh bag and washed them I wouldn't have too many threads hanging. I would rather iron all 6 again than go thru the frustration of breaking threads.

Oh - the pattern is in the latest American Patchwork mag. It's just so cute!

HELP! Any suggestions will be great!


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Well first I would question my thread....remember thread does have a shelf life. You may have just bought it for this project, but still there is the chance that it has been in your retailers or at a wholesalers place for several years. If its a Poly/cotton you will have a longer shelf life, but 100% cottons do breakdown and they do start to snap sooner than we would like.

You say that it is breaking every 3 inches....that could be a tension problem as well....it would give that much time in your machine to run a complete cycle in the hook assembly and if its to tight it will snap your thread regardless of the brand, quality, or how old it is.

I wouldn\'t think just because you didn\'t wash your fabrics that you are getting this problem, that\'s not usually why people wash their fabrics. Mostly that\'s because people have an allergy, or don\'t like the feel of the fabric while they have the factory fabric sizing on them so they wash them.

I never wash my fabrics and have been known to even stiffen them more with addtional spray starch. This doesn\'t cause a thread issue with my machine, but each machine\'s a bit different and each has their own personality so I guess that still could be a possible problem.

I would start with a good cleaning and change needles, double check your thread to make sure its not going bad, and then the tension....and go from there.

And Oh, before I forget...you don\'t want to wash your tops even in a mesh bag....you won\'t like the results and the threads even in the bag are really really bad.

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It doesn\'t sound like that quilt was fun at all! Sorry.

You said you changed the thread, was it thread from the same lot? If so it may just be a problem with the thread. I would also check for a burr...sounds like that might be breaking your thread. Is your thread snapping or shredding? You might want to loosen the tension more or not go through all of the holes on the pigtail.

I do prewash but starch all my fabric. Doubtful that unwashed fabric would cause the problem. Bonnie\'s so right you will end up with a whole lot more problems washing it now!

What kind of fabric are you using on the back? Maybe you should just wash that. If it is a batik then maybe that is causing your problem. When you say you are spraying silicone, I\'m a little confused. You might want to consider getting a lubricant dispenser like they have at Kingsmen, then there would be no arosal involved and it coats your thread evenly.

Good luck.


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Hi Bobbi,

If you have breathing problems, you need to stay away from sprays. You did not mention which machine you have.

Like so many others, I do not pre-wash any of my fabrics. I buy quality fabrics and do not worry about the stabilizer or bleeding colors. I\'m also lazy, washing, drying and ironing is work. I want to sew not do housework.:P

First, can you bounce a quarter off your quilt while it is on the rollers. If so, LOOSEN it. :D Generally if it is too tight you will hear a popping sound as the needle enters the quilt... . It is similar to the sound that a burred needle makes. It sould be loose enough that you can see the machine moving under the quilt like a mole underground. :D

When we have Santa Ana winds her in southern California, the air gets dry and there is static electricity (especially if I have the overhead fan going). I put a few drops of some silicone or that thread liquid stuff (Sew Fine??) on a piece of batting, fold it and stick that batting in one of my thread guides above the thread in the back and make sure that the thread goes thru the fold in the batting so it gets the lube on the way to the needle.

Really clean-out your hook area. You may have a piece of thread stuck in there from earlier on and it drops into the path occasionally and snaps your thread. This is easier to do with a helper. Get down on the floor with a flash light, tweezers, and cotton swabs. Have your helper s-l-o-w-l-y turn the freewheel and stop so that you can clean out using the swabs. When the hook rotates, you will notice that a hole appears at about 10 o\'clock. Stick your swab back there and clean it out. Use the tweezer to pull out any threads that you see stuck. The hole disappears as the freewheel continues to be turned. With your machine pulled away from the quilt, have your helper spray the hook area. Go over that area with a small (4"x 4") piece of cotton batting or fabric to get any fluff or debris hanging on the walls in the hook area.

Make sure that your needle so that the needle groove faces the front of the machine. I know, dumb but I have gotten mine turned around so it does happen. :o

Let us know how you do with this.

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It is really no wonder threads break. Our mechanic is a pro at repairing commercial machines.. and some of them sew as much as 6 layers of very heavy woven straps that are the tie-downs for truck loads.. to commercial embroidery machines, to high speed HUGE quilting machines.. etc..

He said he and a friend were curious so marked a piece of thread, and counted the times it went around the race and hook, before it went into the material and the answer was an average of 29 times depending on the length of stitch and thickness of what you are sewing.

Isn\'t it a wonder that a short staple thread sews at all??

Ive never heard of spraying silicone on the quilt.. I use Sewers Aid and there is one called Thread Ease, that is a liquid and it is put on the spool of thread.. If I suspect I\'ve gotten into something sticky like glue stick or a fuse that isn\'t quite set, I put a drop on the needle too.

Nearly forgot to say, that really is a very cute quilt..

Hope you find a solution.


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Thanks soooo much for your help... and suggestions.... did I also mention that I had changed needles several times?

the thread mostly would shred as it went into the quilt. then other times it would break of as if it was cut by scissors. Very interesting.... mostly it would break at the seams where there are a couple of layers of fabric. Would a smaller needle be good?

I am going to load another one (since I still have 6 to do) and try different thread. I had been using red thread and maybe that is it. I tried cotton, poly, cotton/poly, etc! Superior and Signature with Bottom Line in the bobbin.

I am going to try the cream So Fine with cream Bottom Line in the bobbin and see if that will work. I\'ll change the needle again and try cleaning out the bobbin/hook area. I had heard that colored thread is not as strong as white or cream (since it hasn\'t been dyed.) I was using a bright red.... it was sooooo cute! Oh Well!

The snowflakes will look better white!

Thanks for alll your support! Bonnie, Heidi, Linda, and Rita!

and Rita... I did 4 in the cream w/cranberry and 3 in the white with bright red... sooo cute!

Just throws for the winter season... It does get COLD here in Ohio!

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OOOPS! I forgot to tell you about the silicon spray...

Kingsmen carries it ($6.00?) It\'s great to spray on thread, fabric, backing, rails, wheels, needles, etc and more! It is great stuff.... my third quilt had some batik\'s in it and the thread kept breaking each time I reached a block with batik in it. I sprayed with the silicon, and voila! it came out great! Ask Myrna, she mentioned she uses it too.

It doesn\'t leave a residue or anything, just makes it easy for the needle to go thru. It helped on this quilt, but holy smokes it was hard!

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"the thread mostly would shred as it went into the quilt. then other times it would break of as if it was cut by scissors. Very interesting.... mostly it would break at the seams where there are a couple of layers of fabric. "

I had this very same problem this afternoon on a quilt that was half done and had been very smooth. It happened on seams and I could hear it pop when it broke. After checking tension, threading path, and blowing out the bobbin area, I finally took the bobbin out of the case and there was the tiniest piece of fuzz in the case. Couldn\'t be the problem right? I swabbed out the case with WD40 and not another problem.

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You were ALL right! I think the thing tha† I did that was the worst was my sandwich was too tight.

I just (finally had time after all the company) took another one off! It went beautifully! I\'m still working on feathers, mine aren\'t as pretty as everyone else\'s. But I decided to stipple - just to get these done. The next one I think I will try snowflakes in the border.... I think the other difference is the thread. I am using Superior in the top now and bottom line in the bobbin. I\'ll post some photos when I get them bound!

I am so excited! I really thought the grinch was gonna ruin my Christmas presents!


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