Thread Issues

I have been having issues… thread issues!

Two weeks ago I treated myself to a lot of shiny thread at the quilt show.  I asked the shop ladies if there was any difference between using the polyester versus the cotton thread. They let me believe that it was a personal choice and that both the cotton and the polyester would work fine for FMQ. As I have been using polyester thread by Gutermann for over a year, I decided to stick to the polyester Aurifil. Okay and it was on sale…the polyester was about 80% cheaper as it concerned cones of the old colour chart. Paying 8 euros for 750 m in cotton, or just 2 euros for 1000 m in polyester. Come on… you would have done the same thing with this knowledge, right?

Please let’s not turn this post in a discussion on cotton versus polyester thread! I think that everyone should use what they think is best. In my instance budget had a large impact on the choice I have made.

I just want to SHARE and NAG a bit about my thread issues!  🙂

So everyone is raving about Aurifil… and now it feels like I am the only one out there having trouble with it: It is coming of the spool TOO FAST. It then curls around the spool-thingy and snags there. Result : thread breaking!

Look! This is what the spool holder looks like on top of my Janome Horizon:

The blue arrow points to the thread unraveling on the spool holder.

When the thread then curles around the stick-thingy, it SNAGS AND BREAKS.

It has even been DIGGING INTO my machine!


So far I have tried to do some Thread-CSI:

  • It does not make a difference if I use a spool stand next to my machine. Actually it makes it a bit worse as the thread unravels even quicker and  “slips down” and snags on the stick-thing there!
  • Cleaning the machine, rethreading, changing needles, changing top tension, using a Magic Bobbin Washer, walking away from the machine and even eating chocolate… DIDN’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
  • Using the same thread in the bobbin, or a thread by a different manufacturer, does not make a difference.
  • It is important to leave the detachable disc on the cone and putting that end on the spool holder first. Less snagging.
  • Pushing the cap stronger onto the spool holder does make a little difference. If the cone can not spin, the thread will not unravel as quickly.  Less snagging.
  • It seems to make a difference to what cone I am using. Some colours are coming of the spool quicker than others.

My conclusions so far are these:

  • Some cones are more affected by “unravelling” than others. Throw way the bad ones, and take my loss!? Maybe there was a reason why these cones were dead cheap?
  • The bad cones may contain thread “that has gone bad”. (Does anyone know how old thread has to be to be considered “too old”? )
  • I may need some kind of net to put over the cone when sewing.

Are you still there?

Nagging time is over now!  😉

Time for some show and tell instead!

I have two more testblocks to share of the Honey Honey pattern.

Alida changed the pattern a bit an created a variation in the corners. Now there are two diamond shapes interweaving!


The dark background is very effective!

Beth made the four blocks in primary colors and is planning to turn it into a little baby quilt! Wonderful idea, right?

Of course I have also some quilt-stuff of my own to show today! I have finished the top of one of two pillows for my parents livingroom. I revisited a pattern I had used in July for a little foot pillow.

The pattern was inspired by a quilt drawing I saw online . This gorgeous quilt pattern is called “the Tempest” and can be found on the Cherry House Quilts website. As I was uncomfortable with traditional patchwork techniques (inexperience) I drew a paper piecing pattern based on Cherri’s design.

This is what that little pilow looked like:

Now I am making the pillow bigger,( scaled the blocks) and leaving the white fabric out. Too messy with two little grandkids around!

Some of my favorite little blocks with FMQ:

I love the shinyness of the Aurifil thread, but not how it unravels on me!

Alright, I am happy with the way all of the FMQ patterns turned out, but I find stitching in the ditch difficult still.

More, more, more practice I guess!

I am linking up all over the place tonight!  😉

Finish it Up Friday” ,

Can I get a Whoop Whoop” ,

Paper Piecing Linky Party

Fresh Sewing Day

Bye Bye,



42 thoughts on “Thread Issues

  1. Wow, that the thread damaged your machine is just incredible (love to hear if the net helps; it sure seem like it would.) Even with these trials, your amazing work shines through – those pillows are awesome.

    • Yeah it is nasty how the thread cut into that plastic part of the sewing machine! I will try to get my hands on a net tomorrow. I will keep you all posted on the difference it makes ( or not 😦 )
      Thank you for leaving such a nice comment today!

  2. Thread nets are the answer……they have been for me! Aurifil poly is not the only cones that have this situation. I have found it to be true on many other brands, also! I have, also, found that the nets have to be positioned a bit differently on each cone configuration but that is the only solution that has worked for me! I love poly threads and use them more than half the time. They are relatively lint free (gotta love that!!) and I really like the glossier finish. There is a place for the matte finish/cotton thread and I do use it but prefer poly……whatever the brand!!!!! Hang in there, Esther!!! You do beautiful work…….hugs……..

    • Wow, thank you for the quick answer. I am thankful to now understand that getting a net js the way to go! Also happy that I do not have to throw away the gorgeous thread I was so happy with at the quilt show. Thanks for reassuring me that it is fixable!

      • You are totally welcome…..for sure!!! The thread is beautiful and a very excellent investment!!!!! I believe that the nets come in 2 sizes and you would want the smaller for those cones. The larger ones work better on the super large (serger cone sized) cones. I do use them on the smaller sized cones by doubling them over on themselves to make sure that there is enough tension on the wound thread and, also, so that the thread doesn’t get tangled in the net as it feeds off the spool/cone. Happy sewing/quilting!!

  3. I hear you!! I think stitch in the ditch is nearly impossible. Maybe I need to lower my idea of “in the ditch” or might just be something I can never do.

    I use Aurifil quite a bit and havent run into a problem like yours. I do sometimes drop it in a small glass and put it behind the machine. It works pretty well, but I have to be sure not to drop the glass off the back!

    I have heard more than once that there are some thread/machine combinations that just don’t seem to jive for whatever reason. Seems crazy to me, but stranger things have happened.

    • Hello Susan,
      Thank you for your tips! I love the idea of putting the cone in a glass, but I would worry knocking it of the table too. I will try it out.
      I have heard reports about some threads not working on some machines. I experienced it with the monofilament when working on a 1961 Pfaff. Just would not handle it; breaking and so on. I put that down to “they did not make thread like this back than”.
      The stitching in the ditch is still a bit of a mystery. I can do it relatively well with a walking foot, but FMQ style is horror. I should give it a try with the thick ruler I bought. Still need to order that ruler toe to try that technique out safely.
      Have a wonderful evening!

  4. Well, thank you that someone else out there out issues with Aurifil. I was lucky enough to pick up a bundle of Aurifil in a shop that was going out of business. I got 10 cones for $15 and I was thrilled until months later when I had the just perfect quilt to use this thread on.
    My machine just wouldn’t behave. I stopped, regrouped, cleaned my whole underside and vacuumed the whole machine, got back to the practice piece, no change. I was quite frustrated and under the stress of completion for my client.

    I solved this with a paper clip. First, by putting the cone, (the smaller ones, not the huge 2000, cones I’m talking about) into the upright cone holder that I can do with my machine, that didn’t help, bungled up underneath, even with both bobbin and cone the same thread. I played with the tension, no result. I put all the tension back to where it was originally and then I decided to try something really weird, I taped a half unhooked paperclip right angle to the upright cone on the flip up cover and low and behold, it worked! I used this on the Smithers 2013 Centennial Quilt!

    I’ve since learned that the expensive embroidery thread given to me as a gift that was also not working, now works in this way and its awesome for FMQ. Thanks for this topic! Try it?

    • For sure! Great idea! Does the paperclip prevent the thread from slipping underneath the cone?
      I did another simple test with a piece of paper between the cone and the removable disk. I will have to redo that test as my circle was not cut evenly and it was too big.
      I will report on Friday,

  5. I don’t have any experience with the Aurifil poly,but I’m kind of in the same situation where I just don’t understand all the hype over Aurifil. I’ve been using cotton from Connecting Threads which is around $2 for 1000m, but I recently tried Aurifil cotton at $10 for 1300m and honestly didn’t notice a difference. I think some people get caught up wanting to fit in with the “cool quilters” who all use Aurifil, but I really can’t justify the major price difference when I don’t see a major difference in quality. To each their own, though. Hope you get your tension issues figured out!

    • Thank you very much Amanda for replying on the Aurifil issues. I really love the look of the threads once quilted, but I hope I can figure out a way to get a more even tension on the cone so it does not spin and snags the thread. Otherwise I will be going back to Guterman,

  6. I too really can’t stand using aurifil. I really wanted to, but just like you it snags in my machine. The one thing I found that works while the spool is still mostly full is to turn it around the other way, so the small end is to the right, and also I use the large spool holder that came with my machine. Then when the thread is about halfway gone it starts getting caught on the lettering on the spool and I basically give up and just use it for bobbin thread. I much prefer Gutermann thread and I’ve bought it ever since my 2nd aurifil pissed me off.

    • Totally understand! I do not have experience on what the cone behaves like when almost empty, but I will watch out for it! Thanks for the tip. I will report back on Friday on how the net works!
      Bye bye

  7. Ugh, thread issues are such a source of frustration! I never use the silky types of threads (polyester, rayon) because they give me such problems and my bobbin winder doesn’t wind them as neatly. And I detest the spools with spinning pieces because those are always the first to do to me what yours did to you. The quilting thread I use just comes on a regular cardboard tube. I don’t know how newer machines are set up, but if I have to use one of those spinning spools I have found mine pulls from the spool better if I run it through the tension disc for winding the bobbin and then thread it throughout the machine like normal. It’s probably terrible for my machine (LOL!) but I’m just glad I’ve found a workaround, because sometimes I have to sew with a particular type of thread for the color match or other reasons. I have never heard of nets; I might have to check into that!

    • Oh, and I would love to also know about thread going bad over time. I am a cheapskate (*ahem*) and my great grandmother’s 1970s machine came with an avocado green case filled with polyester thread. I use it all the time, but I do sometimes worry about whether the thread has weakened over the years.

      • Hi Jessica,
        We have heard from a chemist that it is unlikely that poly thread will go bad. I guess that it may get brittle over time as other plastic do. I will check with another chemist and will report back on Friday!

  8. Wouldn’t you put the the ‘fat’ end of the spool to the other side? So that it would spool off like it was a large disk, instead of it leaving a ‘short’ space between the thread and disc. I don’t know, I haven’t run into this problem yet, I’ve only used the gueterman poly. I am new to quilting, but have sewed clothing and crafts all my life. I’m enjoying it!

    • Hi Lori,
      Yeah, I did try that too. But the thread got entangled on the right of the cone, snag and snap too. Putting the disk on the right was less of a problem than putting it on the left.
      This whole thread issue seems a lot like police work, LOL!
      We will figure it out, but it will take a while until I can test all of the tools and tricks.
      I am so glad to hear that you love to quilt too! It is such fun!!! ( even with thread issues 😉 )

    • Hello Jenny,
      Thank you for your kind words on my thread issues blog post. It really seems to depend on which cone I am using; some are perfectly fine and others are a real horror!

  9. So sorry to hear about your thread trouble. It reminds me of a time when I tried to sew a silk blouse on an old second (or third? hand) sewing machine; the thread would not behave at all and I abondoned the project. I could ask Walt the chemist if thread changes as it ages; suspect cotton does and polyester to a lesser degree. More later.

  10. Oh I have no idea on the thread issues – but I sympathise as I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been!

    Meanwhile those tester blocks look fabulous – and I am loving your quilting as always!

    • Hey hey Kristy,
      Yes, very annoying, let’s just say ( and I know I have said this before ) that quilting is firstly an exercise in patience… Boy, I practised a lot, 😉

    • Hi Amanda,
      Thank you very much for your wonderful comment on my orange pillow. Today I worked on the backside. I decided to quilt feathers inside a larger square. I will share pictures somewhere this week.
      Have a wonderful evening,

  11. I’ve no knowledge of polyester thread going bad. I do know cotton does and you can usually test by taking a length of thread and pulling sharply on it. Cotton thread will snap if it isn’t good any more. Sorry you had such problems with your shiny new thread. Hope the thread nets solve the problem!

    • Goodevening Joan,
      Thank you for sharing your knowledge on cotton threads! I have always worked with poly, so I do not have much experience with cotton.
      I will try out the nets soon!
      Bye bye

  12. I have a suggestion for you (but I can’t solve your thread issue) and that is, if I were you, I’d put some kind of tape over those gouges the thread made in the plastic of your machine. You may solve your current problem with a net, but then I’d worry the thread may occasionally get caught in those nicks and break.

  13. I have the same machine as you and I have occasional problems with poly thread. I think the net will be a good solution for you. When I use Aurifil, I use the wider cap. That works for me.
    I love your orange pillow!! So warm and pretty 🙂

    • Hello Kim,
      Thank you for letting me know that you have encountered the same problem with some poly threads on the Janome. Today a other Aurifil cone worked just fine, so it seems to depends on “bad luck at that moment” or maybe some cones are not wound tightly enough at the factory. I find the latter unlikely so I am putting my money on “bad luck” and not using a net.

  14. I have always used Guettermann polyester thread without any issues on my Janome. You did get a good deal on that thread and it is beautiful. Hope you can find a solution. Your fmq is gorgeous, Esther!

    • Hey Lorna,
      I have been using Guterman too up till now. It has always worked fine and will surely use it again on quilts. The Aurifil thread is very shiny and a bit luxurious so I will reserve that for special projects that need a bit of sparkle.
      I will investigate if Guterman carries a shiny thread we could use for quilting. I will let you know what I find out,

  15. Oh no!! I think a net will help as well! My poly thread does the same thing. I only use it for embroidery. The net makes a huge difference. Good luck! Oh, and LOL on the chocolate part. I do the same! Love the beautiful work and FMQing!

    • Hi Melissa,
      I have just worked with the poly thread again. It just drives me nuts… It went perfectly fine!? I do not get it why the other cones were such a pain and the one I used just now went “easy peasy”. I have not been able to try a net yet. All of the local fabric shops do not carry them, some did not even know what I was talking about, go figure!
      I hope to try a net Thursday. I will post my findings again on Friday.
      Thanks again for your reply and shared misery, and chocolate-habit!

  16. Pingback: Free Motion Crazy | ipatch

  17. Pingback: Thread Issues Resolved ?! | ipatch

  18. Pingback: From the House of Orange | ipatch

  19. what in the world is the net? Never heard of it but I am new to quilting.Have acquired some beautiful metalic thread but won’t work in my machine,Janome, computerized.

    • Hi Eileen,
      The net is a kind of small net you place over the thread cone. Mostly used with sergers. The net keeps the thread from unravelling too soon.

      I have had problems with the metallic thread too. My problems originate from a sharp burr created by a needle breaking on the bobbin holder. I think!

      These thing may work for you:
      -Try to use a tipstitch needle, size 90. There are also special metallic needles.
      -Also put the thread spool next to your machine on a spoolstand. Check to see if your thread unravels and twists on itself. If so try to prevent that from happening. I use two rings. one is taped to the right top side of my machine . The other ring hangs on the spool stand. When I thread my machine I start by threading the thread through these rings first and then into the machine. I have heard other people using a drinking straw to help preven the thead from twisting. I have not tried that with metallic thread though.
      -Also try putting your tenstion to 0. (on the top of my machine)
      – I have heard that the brand really matters.
      – Maybe try using the thread in the spool versus the top. You would have to sew upside down.

      Lots of luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s