Superior Education

Causes of Thread Shredding

  • Tension
  • Needles
  • Thread Quality

Matching Needle Size to Thread Weight

When sewing, using the correct needle type and needle size for the top thread thread is as important as having a perfectly balanced top and bottom tension. If too small a needle is used, the thread may fray, shred, or break. There's not too many things more frustrating than having the top thread constantly break while sewing or quilting.

With many different needle types and sizes available, how do you know which needle to use with a particular thread? We've made it easy for you to navigate the options with our Thread Reference Guides, available for both home machines 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. Our favorite needle to use on a home sewing machine is our Superior Topstitch needle. The Topstitch needle style has a longer eye, deeper groove, and rounded sharp point. It's the go-to needle for the quilting pros and we understand why! The larger eye allows for greater tolerance of the top thread while a stitch is being formed and the deeper groove keeps the thread against the needle, avoiding excess friction as it rubs against the fabric.

Topstitch needle style
The difference between a Universal needle (top) and Topstitch needle (bottom)
Thread shredding
Thread can shred if too-small of a needle is used

When a thread is shredding or breaking on your machine, find the point of origin. 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 (if using a #80/12 needle, change to a #90/14 needle). 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.

If you follow our 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, and embroidery due to less thread breakage and better stitching capabilities.

View our education article What is the Shelf Life of Thread.

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