Recently there was a great
Embroidery Library's Facebook page
about one of the most annoying and
painful "threadaches" that stitchers
can get: shredding and stripping of
More than 50 comments with ideas,
tips, and solutions came pouring in.
As you probably know, Facebook feeds
are fleeting and disappear quickly,
and can be difficult to find again.
I decided to preserve those tips
here so that they'll be readily
available, and easy to find, if you
ever get one of these "threadaches."
let's take a look at how thread
shredding will appear. It's
demonstrated in the photo to the
right. The fibers on the outside of
the thread weaken, and you'll see
the thread start to fray.
This might be accompanied by
numerous thread breaks, but
sometimes it just looks like fuzzy
I'm fortunate in that I don't see a
lot of thread shredding. When I do
see it, it's in the wintertime, when
the air in Minnesota becomes drier
than dry. During the winter months,
a humidifier runs in my sewing room
nearly non-stop to keep everything
If I have any thread shredding
outside of the winter months, it's
usually resolved by switching to a
proper machine care, and proper thread storage
and care will help to avoid thread shredding.
Here are the tips that other
embroiderers shared on the Facebook
page (some have been slightly edited
from the original form):
suggested: Too much spray adhesive.
wrote: Most of the time I've found that thread
shredding issues are related to the needle. Swap
out the old one for a new one, and it quite
often resolves the issue. Sometimes, however, it
may be due to the thread itself (lower-quality
brand, a glitch in the manufacture of the
particular spool being used, etc.). Some people
insist that their machines only "like" specific
brands, as apparently they have zero issues when
using one brand of thread, but have nothing but
trouble with a different brand of thread.
wrote: I usually find it is my bobbin thread. If
I get shredding, I do it all: change my needle,
change my bobbin, thread and rethread the
machine. I don't know which works, but all is
well after that is done.
There may be a burr on the needle, throat plate,
or bobbin casing. Rub a cotton ball over the
areas to see if it hangs. If you get past that
OK, then check the tension on top and on bottom.
Totally remove the thread, check the tension
disks to see if fuzz is stuck there, and then
rethread. Then consider the thread itself. Maybe
it has a strange twist from winding, so try it
with another spool that is near the color. If it
is still happening, then maybe the stabilizer
isn't adequately hooped. If it is still
happening after that, try a different design.
That will basically tell you if your machine is
the problem or one of the steps is.
I had that problem and started putting something
on my thread (think it is silicone). Then I
started buying Floriani thread. It is already
lubricated and my issues stopped.
wrote: When I bought my machine I went hog-wild
and bought a ton of embroidery thread at a
too-good-to-be-true good price. Some colors
would break constantly. Other brands of thread
were fine. Instead of taking a loss on the
thread, I was told to stick it in the freezer or
give it a shot of silicon lubricant spray. That
was likely because the thread was too dry, and
that advice worked.
shared: Polyester bobbins get hot and that could
be affecting the thread. Switching to cotton
Change the needle, or lower the tension.
wrote: I had the same problem. I noticed a nick
in the embroidery foot on my Pfaff Creative
Vision and put on a new foot. So far, so good! I
seem to remember breaking a needle some time ago
and it hit the foot. Don't ask me how I did
that, it just happened. I think it was when I
was trying to embroider on a leather biker vest.
Won't do that again. Needles wear out too.
Rayons break much more and more easily than
polyester threads, in my case.
Make sure there is no extra thread or fuzz stuck
in the tension area.
Try re-threading and putting thread on the other
side of the tension disc. My machines all
respond differently to different threads. Always
us a new proper size needle for the task.
Larger-eyed needles work best for embroidery.
Also, I want to say that some machine brands
have had some issues with thread shredding.
Check with your dealer to see if there is a
retro fit part that can be installed.
Sometimes it's just a bad package of needles.
Try one from a new package.
Heavier thread needs a larger needle. Use a
90/14 needle for 30 weight thread. Also, some
sticky-back stabilizers can catch the thread and
Sounds like tension is wrong for the needle, or
it could be a sticky gummed-up with sticky
When this happens to me, I use a liquid called
"All Purpose Sewer's Aid" for Smooth Hand and
Machine Sewing. It comes in a small clear
bottle, like Fray Check. You put some liquid on
your thread, then rub it onto your spool, then
continue as before and most of the time, it
corrects my problem.
All of the above are my "go-to" issues, plus
this one: If using a sticky stabilizer, or if
the back of the fabric is rubberized in any way,
that can cause an issue. When I first started
embroidering I purchased some sticky stabilizer
on sale and soon realized it had probably gotten
hot and was no longer any good. Too sticky! It
caused my thread to stick and shred.
wrote: I was having trouble with shredding
because I was using the wrong foot. I was using
a quilting foot, not an embroidery foot.
suggested: If the bobbin shuttle doesn't have a
burr on it, I suggest taking the machine in for
a deep clean at the dealer or tech. A build up
of dust and lint can cause that, rotten thread,
and even the tension.
Try using Sewer's Aide. Works a lot when having
trouble, but just use it a little at a time.
Sounds like the upper tension is out of whack,
or too tight.
Kate wrote: I
have been having this problem lately, too! I
just changed the type of spray adhesive, and
that is when it started. Going back to my old
Karen said: I
slow the speed down on my machine, along with
using a needle with a bigger eye.
These are the kind of issues that seem to be hit
and miss for me. Last time it happened, the
thread tension was too tight and loosening it
helped. Sometimes it just seems the thread has
weak spots in an area where the stitching is
pretty fast, so I just use another "better"
Unthread and rethread the machine, use a new
needle, and check your bobbin thread.
Sometimes it's just a bad thread or section of
thread also. I usually just start over with new
thread, bobbin, and needle. It's easier than
getting irritated over it. If you embroider, it
will happen occasionally.
Kay wrote: I
use Madeira and Floriani, but being slightly
frugal, I found embroidery thread that was super
reasonable (read: cheap). I ordered a few spools
to try. Not all colors shredded really bad, but
some were awful. Others just so-so. I got rid of
the cheap stuff, and have no trouble.
The thread might be dry as a result of long-term
exposure to light and air. A tsp of water in a
plastic bag, dump in the spool of thread, seal
the bag, and put it in the fridge for a week. It
will add needed moisture to dried out thread.
If you've been stitching too long the needle can
become too hot and it can shred the thread.
Change the needle!
shared: I have found with the bigger hoops the
fabric in the hoop tends to move up and down
with the needle, especially with a dense design
(this is called flagging). This causes all sorts
of problems - shredding, thread nests, etc.
Viking has a special foot called the Sensor Q
Foot which is great, but otherwise I find a
top-stitching needle better than an embroidery
needle. Apparently the newer embroidery needles
have a rounded tip and this is the problem.
said: When it was happening to me, I discovered
that there was dust and thread pieces in where
the thread gets threaded.
Lois wrote: I
strip off about 3 yards of it and throw it away.
I clean my tension discs and I always use a
wrote: I have that problem with rayon thread.
After flipping the thread every way I can think
of because it may be wound funny on the spool, I
use All Purpose Sewer's Aid. It helps make
Too much adhesive, or tension is wrong, I would
There is a product called Sewer's Aid here in
the states that helps cut down on shredding.
However, checking to make sure the machine is
threaded correctly, and there is a new
needle on the machine and that the bobbin is
wound correctly and the bobbin case clean and
without lint helps, as well.
suggested: Slow the motor down. It helps
Usually the needle needs replacing. I have also
heard if the humidity is not right in your house
(too much static), this will happen.
Put in an embroidery needle with a larger eye,
or a larger needle.
Kim said: Any
time I have had problems with thread shredding,
all I've had to do is move the spool further
away from the machine. I put it in a coffee cup
or a thread stand. The extra distance gives the
thread more time to "unkink" after it comes off
the spool. I find this especially important when
using specialty threads like metallic or
Some of the cheap threads (e.g. eBay finds) make
embroidering agony. When in doubt, throw them
New spool, or change of tension, or longer path
to needle. I have a thing that rigs the thread.
A stand on the side, with a high loop, for just
suggested: Sometimes it is the throat plate.
This is worse on embroidery machines. If there
is a nick in it, sometimes you can take fine
sandpaper and smooth it enough to stop it.
Change to a titanium embroidery needle. If that
doesn't help, then it might be cheap thread. Use
a good-quality thread. It's not worth saving a
few cents to buy cheap thread. You get what you
I first check out the needle, then the bobbin
(may have to redo or refill), then check out the
bobbin for any bumps or plastic snags. Check
stabilizer and hooping. If using cheap thread,
throw it out. Not all machines will like it. If
all else fails, walk away from it and grab a
bottle of wine and head to the tub for a
relaxation and de-stressing time out. When you
return, it will be so much easier!
suggested: I use Madeira thread bought in the
US, and the thread is wound on bobbins that are
not like the ones in Europe (they are not
symmetrical like the ones in Europe), and I do
have this shredding problem when the thread gets
stuck in my thread dispenser, as it creates
extra tension. I also found I was not changing
my needles often enough, so the other solution
is using a brand new needle.
I also live in the UK and also have some threads
that delight in shredding. I run floss (normally
used for teeth) through my Janome at the start
of a project -- as if you were threading it.
Seems to clean out all the lint. Also, change
needles regularly and slow the speed down on
I also had this problem, particularly with the
"inexpensive" thread. However, not long back my
machine man recommended I try Schmetz System SP
needles, and I've hardly had a problem since
with any type of thread.
Maybe a burr in the embroidery foot, and/or the
foot is not centered and the needle is too close
to the foot. These things could cause the thread
As you've seen, the
tips and suggestions above hold quite a variety
of ideas! What works for one embroiderer may not
work for another; further, one machine might
love a brand of thread, and another machine
might not. Try different suggestions and tips
until you find the one that works for you.