Why is my thread breaking?

Before you can troubleshoot any thread break, make sure you have covered your bases:

  1. You have hooped properly.
  2. You have a good design that has been tested.
  3. Your machine has been threaded correctly.
  4. Your machine is well maintained.

Next, you have to ask yourself one important question: Is your thread breaking on one needle or across multiple needles? This helps you determine the cause of the break.

Shredding on one needle is commonly caused by:

  • The needle. A worn out or damaged needle can cause your thread to break. You could also experience shredding if your needle is placed backward or slanted. Usually, embroiderers replace their needle before taking any other steps. If the problem persists, it may be something else.
  • The thread. If it’s not your needle, it might be your thread. Test the spool that is breaking on another needle. Then, put a new cone of thread on the needle that is shredding. If your old cone breaks on a different needle and the new thread works fine on the first needle, it’s your thread. Remember to store thread in a cool environment. Storing threads in heat or sunlight can damage the thread, causing it to shred.
  • The thread path. Any burrs in your machine’s thread path will cause shredding. If you have a burr in the thread path, polish it away with crocus cord until smooth.

Shredding on multiple needles is commonly caused by:

  • The rotary hook/needle plate area.  Inspect your rotary hook/needle plate area for burrs or damage. If you have any burrs, polish them away with crocus cord or sandpaper. If there is significant damage, you may have to replace the damaged part. Residue and buildup from adhesive stabilizers, sprays, and embroidery supplies can also cause your thread to break, so be sure to keep your rotary hook area clean.
  • The timing is off. Shredding across multiple needles can also mean your hook timing is off. You can easily fix this issue by contacting your dealer to walk you through how to adjust it back to working condition.

Check out Ricoma’s blog for more embroidery insights.


Laura Gomez

Laura Gomez is the content specialist at Ricoma Embroidery Machines. Ricoma engineers, manufactures, and distributes embroidery equipment worldwide. To support both the industry and its customers, Ricoma regularly creates blog and video content to give both beginners and experts the confidence to start or grow their custom apparel business with embroidery. For more information regarding Ricoma, visit or click here to view Ricoma embroidery machine specifications. To contact Laura directly, email [email protected] 

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