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Needle Size | What Causes My Thread to Shred?

Posted: 26 July 2013 at 11:20 a.m.

Importance of Matching Needle Size to Thread Thickness

Wrong needle size caused shreddingUsing the correct needle for your threads is as important as having correct tension settings.  If too small a needle is used, the thread may fray, shred, or break. There's not too many things more frustrating than having your top thread break constantly.

How do you know what size of needle to use with a particular thread?  We've made it easy for you with our Thread Reference Guides, available for both Home and Longarm machines.  Within these Thread Reference Guides, you will find information on the proper needle size, recommended bobbin thread, and recommended tension settings for all our threads.  By following these three recommendations, you will have much success.

When a thread is shredding or breaking on your machine, find the point where it is occurring. It will probably be at the needle or just after the tension disc area.  If the problem is at the needle, change the needle to the next size larger.  The most common reason why thread shreds, frays, or breaks at the needle is because the eye is too small to accommodate the thread, causing stress and friction, which results in shredding or breaking the top thread.

As an additional safeguard to eliminate thread shredding or breaking, we use and recommend Superior Topstitch Needles. The Topstitch needle has an elongated eye which is nearly twice as long as the eye in most other needle styles (see photo below). This extra space allows the top thread more room to move and thereby alleviate extra stress placed on the top thread.

Notice the difference of the eye  What happens to thread when it shreds
Superior Topstitch Needle & Universal Needle #80/12 Thread which is shredding at too small a needle


If you follow Superior's Thread Reference Guide and match the correct needle size with the thickness (weight) of your top thread, you will find more joy in sewing, quilting, & embroidery due to less thread breakage and better stitching capabilities. 

Shop Superior's Titanium-coated Topstitch Needles

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