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Troubleshooting Ideas - Thread Breaks, Needle Breaks, and Loops in the Back
TexasSewGal Send a Message
Alvarado, TX
To anyone that has a frame (of any brand) and is having problems this is a LIFE SAVER!!! Print this out and keep it by your frame. It works.

I am not smart enought to figure this out my. I have copied it from .....http://Gracemachineframe@yahoogroups.com A member of that group figured out all these problems and actually took the time to write out the questions and answers for all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you to whoever that person is. I hope you don't mind me moving it over to this web site. The Yahoo group is a great website to join as well. Have learned alot by just reading.

Here goes..... (One comment I would like to add is about the thread. Use good quality machine quilting thread.) Hope this helps everyone......


If you’re having a problem with thread or needle breakage, loops on the bottom,
or skipped stitches, try the suggestions below.

1. Set your bobbin tension first, then your thread tension. The bobbin should be
loose - if you hold the tail of thread in your hand it (and maybe give a little
flick) it should unspool easily and drop all the way to the ground. Loosen the
bobbin tension a tiny bit at a time until you get this. Load the quilt and sew
through a small practice piece (the size of a sheet of paper, but all three
layers). Use different colored thread top and bottom so you can see what's
happening. If the top thread pulls through to the bottom, tighten the thread
tension. If the bottom thread pulls through to the top, loosen the thread

2. Make sure your needle is big enough. You need at least a 16, preferably an 18
needle for frame quilting. Too small a needle will often lead to thread
breakage. It's important that you get the right needle for your machine. If you
have a 1600P-DB or 1600P-DBX, you need to use DB x 1 needles, and they're harder
to come by. I found mine at AllThreads.com.

3. Be sure the needle is inserted correctly and all the way up. Check your book
for the correct way to insert the needle. Sometimes the eye faces to the front
of the machine, sometimes to the left (when looking at the side with all of the
dials, etc.).

4. Use good quality thread, and make sure the size is appropriate for the job
(and for the needle). The higher the number, the finer the thread. I was able to
use my Aurifil 50 thread with a 14 needle until I got the larger needles. If you
use 40 or lower thread, be sure to use a 16 or 18 needle. Some variegated
threads are reputed to be more likely to break - I haven't experienced that
myself yet. Try different brands – some people love Aurifil, Superior, YLI,
Coats & Clark, and some people hate Aurifil, Superior, YLI, Coats & Clark. You
need to try them for yourself to find out what works.

5. The quilt should not be too tight on the frame. You should be able to poke a
finger up from the bottom and grip it through the quilt on top. The side clamps
are there only to keep it straight, not tight. I've even quilted several passes
without using the side clamps, and everything worked fine.

6. The take up rail should just barely clear the bottom of the machine. You
should be able to slide a finger under the bar, but that's about it. You'll need
to adjust this as you get further into the quilt. The take up rail should also
be rolled so the quilt comes off the bottom, not the top. I get this wrong all
the time, and never catch it until I'm a few passes into the quilt, when all
heck breaks loose.

7. I've heard that you should only quilt left to right from the front of the
frame (when you’re doing free motion quilting) and right to left from the back
of the frame (when you’re using pantographs or templates). When you finish one
pass, clip the thread, return the carriage to the left side, roll the quilt to
the next space, and start again from the left.

8. Set the foot pressure dial (on the top of your machine above the needle) to
0. Set the stitch length to 0 also, since you're moving the machine – the
machine isn’t moving the fabric.

9. Check that your feed dog cover is securely in place. Some people tape it
down, others remove their feed dogs entirely if the machine will only be used
for frame quilting.

10. DON’T FORGET TO PUT YOUR PRESSER FOOT DOWN! This is the number one cause of
thread looping on the back.

11. If you are going fine for a while and suddenly the thread starts looping or
breaking, check in the bobbin area for a stray piece of thread. A tiny piece of
thread caught in the works will muck up everything. Use a flashlight and a long
pair of tweezers and get right down in there to look. You might even want to
take off the needle plate and check in there - I once had a foot long piece of
thread get wound around a shaft in there.

12. If your thread is breaking, check your needle for a burr. If there's a tiny
jagged spot in the eye, the thread will shred. Run your finger over it, or use
a magnifying glass to check. Also, make sure you're needle isn't bent ever so
slightly, or even just old. A worn needle will cause problems. Replace them

13. Also check your foot for a rough spot. If your needle hits the plastic part
of your free motion foot, it can knock out a tiny chunk. This tiny gap will
shred your thread faster than you can say... well, you get the picture.

14. If your bobbin is inserted in the bobbin case backward, it will mess with
your tension. Check your manual to be sure you put it in the right way. Some
are supposed to unspool clockwise, others counterclockwise.

15. If your bobbin thread is wound unevenly, or too tight, this will also mess
with your thread tension. One way to tell is to put the bobbin in the case and
insert it in the machine. Make sure it's seated securely, then slowly and
steadily pull on the tail. As it unspools you may feel it get tighter and
looser. If you feel this, try using a different bobbin. The problem may have
been caused by a bad bobbin, or just the winding of the thread.

1/13/2008 6:36:41 AM
cindyg Send a Message
TX-Houston sub
TexasSewGal - thanks so much. This is great information. While using my quilting machine last week my thread kept breaking. I was using a Superior varigated thread. I changed my needle to a size 18 and had no more thread breaks.

One more thing I'd like to add to your list: clean your machine after every quilt. I use DH's shop vac because it has really good suction power. It really makes a difference. I have a Juki and the manual suggests that I oil it so I do that, too, after each quilt.

Thanks again for posting this.
1/14/2008 10:12:57 AM
Cynluvs2quilt Send a Message
Abilene KS
Thank you so much for sharing these hints!!!!!! I tried to find this forum and I cannot locate it??? Is it under a different name
1/14/2008 5:28:31 PM
TexasSewGal Send a Message
Alvarado, TX
Here's the web address for the Grace Frame Yahoo Group. I am not sure how I did up but I receive all of the email communications going back an forth among the members. I just read the information being passed along and delete the emails. It has been a tremendous help getting started on my frame. There is so many knowledgeable, helpful people out there. Hope you can now find it
1/14/2008 5:38:13 PM
grammy11 Send a Message
United States
I just purchased a used Little Gracie II....I am having the same problem with thread and needles breaking, thank you for sharing this information, I will try using an 18 needle!
10/17/2015 1:21:11 PM
auntjana Send a Message
Herriman, Utah
Thanks for sharing - Handi Quilter has great videos on YouTube that shows you how to fix problems as well.

The biggest thing I learned at a Handi Quilter retreat was the first thing is to set the bobbin tension, once you have mastered that, everything will be easy! Also, remember to check your tension every time you change your bobbin. It does change once in awhile.

10/18/2015 1:50:52 PM
Has anyone gotten a solution to the Grace Dream Frame and Software?
I to only Queen size quilts and I need to get training on how to manage the material!!
10/28/2017 10:39:37 AM
toekeyotow Send a Message
Indiana Joan
I bought a Towa Guage and that has helped so much with tension issues. Superior Threads has a lot of information on thread and needle size for all different kind and makers of thread. I also floss my thread tensioner on the thread path, just to make sure that no lint has built up. Hope that makes sense. Joan
10/31/2017 5:01:08 PM
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