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Longarm Technical Tips : Top Thread Breakage
By Dan Novak

Top thread breakage is a challenge for all longarm quilters. There are many causes for this frustrating situation. The first place you should look is at the thread itself. Bargain bin or old thread can often be too weak to stand up to longarm quilting. Multi-directional sewing at relatively high speeds is very stressful to the thread. You should always use a new cone of high quality thread. You can use a simple test to gauge the strength of your thread. Pull on a length of it until it breaks. Compare that with the thread that was working well for you. Age and dark color dye seem to weaken thread. Check your thread before starting your next project. Many quilters have been successful with Tex 40.
If the thread seems to be strong, start at the back of the machine and move forward. Check each possible cause for breakage.
Is the thread coming off the cone freely? Is it catching on or under the cone, the handle, the stylus, or any other part of the machine near the cone? If it is jumping off the cone and catching on one of these parts, you can use a small piece of batting in the first thread guide to slow the release of the thread. Always make sure that the thread guide above the cone is centered over the cone.
Make sure that the machine is threaded properly. Has the thread wrapped around any of the series of thread guides?
How is the top tension? Is it too tight for the strength of the thread? Should you loosen both top and bottom tension to relieve the stress and maintain the stitch quality?
If all appears to be fine, check for burrs. Burrs can be found in thread guides, needles, hopping foot, throat plate, bobbin case, and hook. Try using a length of your thread in a motion like dental floss to help you locate burrs. Check each of the parts listed. Once you have located the burr, buff it out or replace the part. Most of the thread guides, and other parts are inexpensive. You may want to have a few spares on hand. Nobody wants to be shut down for minor part.
Top thread breakage is frustrating. Use your experience and follow these tips, and you will find the cause.

Good Luck and Happy Quilting.