Easy Trouble-Shooting In Machine Embroidery

General Rule In Case Of Any Problem

  1. Make sure that your embroidery arm of your machine can move to all directions, and nothing is disturbing it.
  2. Re-thread both top & bobbin thread.

Top Thread Breaking

  1. Try to re-thread your machine. While re-threading, make sure you hold the thread very tight and it doesn not have the slightest chance to loop anywhere. BEFORE you start stitching:
    1. Make sure that your thread cone doesn not slide off the spool pin if the holder is horizontal. In case it has tendency to slide off - secure it using spool holders (little plastic caps) that come with your machine.
    2. Make sure that the thread ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT wrap or catch around thread holder. If your thread will wrap around it at some point - it will DEFINITELY break.
  2. Make sure that the thread doesn't catch on the spool edge. This problem always pops up when using small "mushroom" type thread spools (the 275-yard ones usually). What happens is that after unwinding normally for a little while, the "mushroom" edge starts preventing the thread from unwinding smoothly any further. And the thread breaks. That is why so many embroiderers do not like small spools. And for a good reason.

    There are 2 optional solutions to this problem:
    1. Avoid using small "mushroom" type spools. Whenever you can, purchase the good size, economical 1100-yard cones. They never have these annoying "mushroom" edges.
    2. If you already have some small spools and are determined to use them - try using vertical spool pin, and loosen top thread tension a little. You may also use separate vertical thread stand, if you have one. It may help your thread to feed up well, and avoid its friction with plastic spool edge.
    In case your machine doesn't have a vertical spool pin and you don't own thread stand either - consider getting a kit with normal thread cones. Because these stands cost $50 - $100, and for this money you may get a lot of really good thread cones.
  3. Be sure your needle is appropriate for machine embroidery. For regular 40wt rayon and polyester thread 80/12 needles usually work great. Yet, if you're using metallic or thick cotton - try using metallic needles. They have larger eyes, often coated with Teflon, to help thick thread move smoother.
  4. Take thread end into your hands. Unwind a couple of yards and feel the thread between your fingers. It should be smooth, even and without knots. If it is not the case - try to unwind several more meters. It may be damaged only in a certain place on spool. If it is still inferior after you unwind several good yards - put that spool aside and take another one.
  5. If none of the above helps, and you're SURE that the thread isn't catching anywhere - try to lower top thread tension. Your machine manual will show you how.

Bobbin Thread Breaking

  1. Take the bobbin out. Clean bobbin case. Insert the bobbin again and re-thread.
  2. If re-threading doesn't help - try to take a new bobbin.

Must say that our suffering with bobbin thread breakage ended happily the moment we started using pre-wound bobbins. Apparently, pre-wound bobbins are winded much better than self-wibnded ones.

Anyway, we've come to conclusion that it's better, cheaper and a lot more pleasant to use quality pre-wounds bobbins. We're huge fans of plastic sided bobbins, and sideless or cardboard sided also work very well.

Needle Breaks

  1. Needle may break because of all the same reasons that thread breaks. Therefore, first follow all steps against thread breakage.
  2. Remove your hoop, and see what happens at the bottom. You should not see any thread loops there. If you see loops – carefully remove all stitches, reverse your machine several stitches back, and embroider them again.
  3. Needle may break if the design is too dense, too "fat". This is especially frequent on photo stitch designs and sometimes on not properly digitized lace. To overcome this problem, try using a thinner needle. If this doesn't help - just avoid bulky designs.

Stitches of Design "Sinking" Into The Fabric

For stitches-absorbing fabric types, like towels, fleece, short fur, velvet, corduroy, jersey and knits always use water soluble topping film to prevent stitches from sinking into the fabric.

It's easy - you just cut a little piece of film, and put it over the background fabric. Then start embroidering. After your design is ready, the large pieces may be removed and all remainder dissolved in warm water.

Stitches Looping Under The Fabric

  1. Your machine may be not threaded correctly. Re-thread both top & bobbin thread.
  2. Your needle may be damaged, or just secured not well enough.
  3. Your top thread tension might be too loose. To check whether the problem really is in tension, remove your hoop and inspect the reverse side of your embroidery. If your tension is well balanced, you won't see the top thread on reverse side when making ru8nning stitch.

However, if you see a lot of top thread - increase top thread tension. The loops may occur just because the needle is catching on those bubbling threads.

Bobbin Thread Shows On Front Side Of Fabric

Generally, when bobbin thread shows on top, it means that there's too much tension on top thread. Yet, before rushing to reduce top thread tension, first check these two issues:

  1. Check if top thread unwinds and feeds up well. Make sure that the spool doesn't slide off horizontal spool pin. If it falls – it creates too high tread tension by not giving the thread to unwind properly.
  2. Check that the needle is good, not sticky, and allows the thread to come through it easily. It should have a large enough eye.

Top Thread Shows A Lot On Bottom

To solve this problem, just tighten top thread tension until you see only one thread color on each side.

Skipped Stitches

  1. Skipped stitches are usually caused by old needle. Also, secure the needle well.
  2. Make sure that you've selected the right pressing foot.

Fabric Puckering

  1. Poor Hooping – try to “re-hoop” your fabric.
  2. Incorrect Stabilizing - check out "Easy Rules for Stabilizing".
  3. Some computerized machines should be adjusted with the type & weight of fabric you currently use in order to embroider properly.
  4. The needle might be damaged (hooked) and therefore damage or just pull the fabric, causing puckers.

Design Parts "Run Away" from Each Other (design not lining up, outlines off)

  1. Your machine stands on a surface that is not enough stable (it must be absolutely unmovable and unshakable, even if you try hard).

  2. Improper hooping - if you've hooped too loose or too tight. Be sure you do this important step well.
  3. Your hoop doesn't hold the fabric well enough, and the fabric moves slightly while you embroider. This problem is especially frequent on large hoops, and with slippery fabrics.
  4. Your stabilizer choice wasn't correct. Most often this happens when fabric that you select to embroider on is a little (or a lot...) stretchy. While the design is being embroidered, the fabric pulls, and therefore different design parts "run away" from each other.

    To overcome this problem completely, you must make stable fabric out of stretchy one.

    How is that possible?
    Select a proper weight cutaway stabilizer. Hoop it well. Then, spray Temporary Adhesive Spray over the stabilizer and attach the fabric to it, without stretching or deforming the fabric. Because the fabric will be actually glued to stable material (cutaway backing), it will not pull while you embroider.
  5. If none of the above tips solve the problem - perhaps the design is not good. Embroider it on something very stable, like denim, to see how it behaves. If it looks ok - then just don't embroider it on the fabric you've selected before. Choose another fabric. Not every fabric type is embroidery friendly.

Machine Makes Strange Sounds

  1. Stop embroidering at once. Inspect your design. Perhaps it's too dense, or the thread looped heavily at the bottom.
  2. Open your machine, take the bobbin and bobbin case out. Clean that space using a small brush. You may even use vacuum cleaner to breath thread pieces and dust.
  3. In case your machine should be oiled - oil it according to manufacturer instructions. If you're not sure whether it should be oiled or not - check the manual as well.
  4. If the above doesn't help - don't embroider any more and call your dealer for technical support.

Machine Glitches

  1. If your machine suddenly starts making strange things like embroiders half design on one place in hoop, half on another, or just doesn't want to embroider - first turn it off. Completely.
  2. Remove the hoop, and if your embroidery arm is removable - take it out too!
  3. Give your machine to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Insert the embroidery arm back, make sure it has enough space to move to all directions. Turn on the machine, and try to embroider again.

Hope you have enjoyed the tips.

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