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How can I tell what is causing my thread to break?
By Dan Novak

There are three common types of top thread breakage.
A. Stress Break
B. Clean Cut
C. Hook Break

Stress Break
If the thread looks like it was pulled apart, it most likely was. This is most often caused by too much tension or more tension than a particular thread can handle. You may need to loosen the tension a bit or skip some thread guides to relive some strain on the thread. Some people will use thread lubricants, but keep in mind that if the thread is weak, it may not hold up on the quilt.
A stress break can also be caused by the thread being caught somewhere on the machine. Be sure to check for this before you make too many changes.

Clean Cut
A clean-cut thread looks as if it were cut with a pair of scissors. A bur in the needle area most often causes this. A bur is a sharp edge that is usually caused by the needle striking another metal object. This will push some metal out causing a bur or sharp edge. As the thread passes over this bur it will be cut. Most burs can be removed with a fine sand paper or emery cloth. Try not to get any of the grit particles into the hook assembly, as this will cause premature wear.

Hook Break
A hook break is easy to determine. If you look at the thread break, you will see a few fibers hanging straight and the rest of the fibers will be bunched up a little higher on the thread. There are a few different reasons why this might happen. The hook point could be too far away from the needle causing the point to catch the outer layers of fiber instead of slipping completely under the thread and picking it up.
Sometimes you may get a bur on the hook point and this can also have the same result. Imagine trying to pick up a piece of rope with a shovel. Then imagine trying to pick up a piece of rope with a shovel with the point curled up. This is about the same effect. The bur on the hook point is caused by needle deflection. A few different things can cause this. Loose or worn needle bar bushings will allow the needle to bounce against the hook point. Moving the machine too fast can make the needle bump against the hook point. Also having the top tension too tight will pull the needle tight to the hook point.
Improper hook timing will have the same effect.
Most of the time a hook break is caused by needle deflection.

Always look at the thread break before you make any changes, this will save you lots of time and grief.