Machine embroidery is a fantastic way to add beautiful designs to fabrics. However, one of the most common problems people face is the thread breaking. This can be really frustrating, especially if you’re in the middle of a project. Let’s explore some reasons why machine embroidery thread keeps breaking and how you can fix it.

Understanding Machine Embroidery Thread

Machine embroidery thread is a special type of thread designed to be used in embroidery machines. It’s usually made from materials like polyester, rayon, or cotton. Unlike regular sewing thread, embroidery thread has a smooth finish and a slight sheen, which makes the designs look vibrant and attractive. But even with these special qualities, the thread can sometimes break, causing headaches for crafters.

Common Reasons Why Embroidery Thread Breaks

1. Incorrect Thread Tension

One of the most common reasons for thread breakage is incorrect thread tension. Tension refers to how tight or loose the thread is as it moves through the machine. If the tension is too high, the thread can snap easily. On the other hand, if the tension is too low, the thread might bunch up or cause uneven stitches.

How to Fix It:

  • Check your machine’s manual for the recommended tension settings.
  • Test your tension on a scrap piece of fabric before starting your main project.
  • Adjust the tension dial slightly and keep testing until the thread flows smoothly without breaking.

2. Poor Quality Thread

Not all threads are created equal. Using low-quality thread can lead to frequent breakages. Cheap threads might have uneven thickness or weak spots that snap easily under the stress of embroidery.

How to Fix It:

  • Invest in high-quality embroidery thread from reputable brands.
  • Avoid using old or dusty thread as it can become brittle over time.
  • Store your thread in a cool, dry place to keep it in good condition.

needle issues

3. Needle Issues

The needle plays a crucial role in machine embroidery. A dull, bent, or inappropriate needle can cause the thread to break. Different fabrics and threads require different types of needles.

How to Fix It:

  • Use the correct needle size and type for your thread and fabric. For example, use a 75/11 needle for most embroidery threads.
  • Change your needle regularly, especially after completing a large project.
  • Make sure the needle is properly installed and not bent.

4. Improper Threading

Threading your embroidery machine correctly is essential. If the thread isn’t properly placed through the machine’s guides, tension discs, or needle, it can lead to breakage.

How to Fix It:

  • Follow your machine’s threading guide step by step.
  • Double-check that the thread is passing through all the necessary guides and tension discs.
  • Pull the thread gently to ensure it moves smoothly through the machine.

5. Speed of the Machine

Running your embroidery machine at high speed can sometimes cause the thread to break. The faster the machine goes, the more stress is placed on the thread.

How to Fix It:

  • Slow down the machine’s speed, especially when working on intricate designs or using delicate thread.
  • Gradually increase the speed only if the thread holds up well.

6. Fabric Issues

Certain fabrics can be challenging to embroider on. Thick, stiff, or stretchy fabrics can create tension issues that lead to thread breakage.

How to Fix It:

  • Choose fabrics that are suitable for embroidery.
  • Use stabilizers to support the fabric and reduce stress on the thread.
  • Experiment with different types of stabilizers until you find the best match for your fabric and design.

bobbin issues

7. Bobbin Problems

The bobbin is the lower thread in your embroidery machine. If the bobbin is not wound correctly or if there are issues with the bobbin case, it can cause thread breakage.

How to Fix It:

  • Make sure the bobbin is wound evenly and smoothly.
  • Check that the bobbin case is clean and free from lint.
  • Ensure the bobbin is inserted correctly and the thread is pulling smoothly.

Understanding Different Types of Embroidery Thread

Embroidery threads come in various types, each with unique characteristics. Here are the most common ones:

  • Polyester Thread: This is the most popular type due to its strength and durability. It’s also colorfast, meaning the color doesn’t fade easily.
  • Rayon Thread: Rayon threads are known for their beautiful sheen and smooth texture. However, they are not as strong as polyester threads and can break more easily if not handled properly.
  • Cotton Thread: Cotton threads are less common in machine embroidery but are loved for their natural look. They are more prone to breaking because they are not as strong as synthetic threads.

Understanding the properties of these threads can help you choose the right one for your project and reduce breakage.

Importance of Machine Maintenance

Regular maintenance of your embroidery machine is crucial for preventing thread breakage. Dust, lint, and old thread bits can accumulate in the machine, especially in the bobbin area, tension discs, and around the needle.

How to Maintain Your Machine:

  • Clean Regularly: After every project, clean the bobbin area and tension discs with a small brush.
  • Oil Your Machine: Some parts of the machine need lubrication. Check your manual for instructions on how to oil your machine.
  • Professional Servicing: Take your machine for professional servicing at least once a year to keep it in top condition.

embroidery stabilizer

Choosing the Right Stabilizer

Stabilizers are essential in machine embroidery. They support the fabric and help maintain the integrity of the design. Using the wrong stabilizer can cause thread breakage.

Types of Stabilizers:

  • Cut-Away Stabilizer: Best for stretchy or unstable fabrics. It provides strong support and remains on the fabric after the design is complete.
  • Tear-Away Stabilizer: Suitable for stable fabrics that don’t stretch. It can be easily torn away after the embroidery is done.
  • Water-Soluble Stabilizer: Ideal for delicate fabrics like lace. It dissolves in water, leaving no trace behind.

Choosing the right stabilizer for your fabric and design can significantly reduce the chances of thread breakage.

Using Embroidery Digitizing Software

Modern embroidery machines often come with software that allows you to digitize designs and adjust settings. Proper use of embroidery digitizing software can help minimize thread breakage.

Tips for Using Embroidery Software:

  • Adjust Density: Ensure the design is not too dense, as this can put too much stress on the thread.
  • Use Underlay Stitches: These are preliminary stitches that provide a foundation for the top stitches, reducing stress on the thread.
  • Test Stitch: Always do a test run of your design on a scrap piece of fabric to check for any issues.

Absolute Digitizing: The Solution for Perfect Designs

Absolute Digitizing is a professional service that converts your artwork into a digital embroidery file. This process, known as digitizing, is crucial for creating high-quality embroidery designs. Poor digitizing can lead to many problems, including thread breakage.

Benefits of Using Absolute Digitizing:

  • Expertise: Professionals at Absolute Digitizing understand the intricacies of embroidery machines and threads. They ensure your design is optimized for smooth stitching.
  • Quality: High-quality digitizing reduces the stress on threads, leading to fewer breaks and more consistent results.
  • Customization: Absolute Digitizing allows you to customize your designs to fit your specific needs, ensuring the best outcome for your projects.

By using a professional digitizing service like Absolute Digitizing, you can ensure that your designs are set up correctly, minimizing the risk of thread breakage and improving the overall quality of your embroidery.

Troubleshooting Tips

Even with all the precautions, thread breakage can still happen. Here are some additional troubleshooting tips:

  • Clean Your Machine Regularly: Lint and dust can accumulate in your machine and cause problems. Regularly clean your machine, especially the bobbin area and tension discs.
  • Use the Right Thread Path: Make sure the thread is following the correct path through your machine. Refer to your manual if you’re unsure.
  • Check for Snags: Sometimes, the thread can snag on burrs or rough spots in the needle plate or bobbin case. Inspect these areas and smooth out any rough spots if necessary.
  • Maintain Proper Thread Length: Ensure you have enough thread length when starting a design. Too short of a starting thread can lead to breakage right away.
  • Test Different Threads: Sometimes, switching to a different brand or type of thread can make a big difference. If one type keeps breaking, try another to see if it works better.


Thread breakage in machine embroidery can be a major annoyance, but understanding the reasons behind it and knowing how to fix it can make your embroidery experience much smoother. By maintaining your machine, using high-quality materials, selecting the right stabilizer, utilizing embroidery software effectively, and considering professional digitizing services like Absolute Digitizing, you can significantly reduce the chances of thread breakage. Happy embroidering!