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Why Your Machine Embroidery Needle Keeps Breaking

Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself and how to fix them so you can prevent breaking all those needles!

Is the needle pushed all the way up?

Before your needle broke, was it pushed all the way up? This one is an easy fix, when putting in your next needle, make sure it is pushed all the way up and tighten it as much as you can. 

Is the needle in properly?

You’ve pushed the needle all the way up and tightened it as much as you can so it’s not loose, but did you put it in properly? You want to make sure the flat part of the needle is facing towards the back of your machine. 

Is the embroidery foot on correctly?

When your needle broke, did it hit the embroidery foot? This might mean that you’re embroidery foot isn’t on correctly. What you can do to fix this is to take off the embroidery foot and put it back on. When you are putting it back on, make sure you’re putting it on correctly and tighten as much as you can. 

Was your needle bent?

Was your needle already bent before you started embroidering? Did the needle hit the embroidery foot before it broke? Bent needles are hard to spot, the way you can fix this is to remember to change your needle approximately every 8 hours of sewing.

What brand of embroidery needles are you using?

Try using different embroidery needle brands until you find the one that your machine and you like. I suggest trying Shmetz. 

New Brothread brand thread in a shoe box
I suggest using New Brothread brand of thread

Is your machine threaded properly?

Are you threading your machine with the presser foot up? You want to make sure that the presser foot is up when your threading your machine because if the presser foot is down it will add unwanted tension to the threading. Also, make sure that your thread isn’t getting caught on anything as it goes through the machine. 

Are you using the spool holder on the machine?

I suggest not using the spool holder that’s on the machine. It causes a lot of problems and doesn’t give the thread long enough to be loose before it goes through the thread guides. Using a thread stand, or putting the thread in a cup behind your machine can also stop the thread from getting caught on anything. 
This is my Brother SE600 embroidery machine
Behind the machine, I am using a yellow plastic cup for my embroidery thread.

Is the thing you’re embroidering too thick?

Are you embroidering on a bulky seam or a thick fabric? If you’re embroidering on something very thick make sure you have a new and sharp needle.

Are you using the right needle for the project?

Are you embroidering heavier fabrics? Like denim or leather? If so, you’ll want to use a heavier needle size like 90/14. If you’re just embroidering mid-weight fabrics you’ll want to use 75/11

Are you using sewing needles?

Make sure that you are using specifically embroidery needles and not sewing needles. 

Is your machine going too fast?

Especially if you are using heavier fabrics, needles can be bent easily at high speeds. A quick fix would be to slow down your machine if you can. 

What’s your tension at?

I suggest never changing the tension on your machine. If you’ve changed your tension recently, put it back to the default tensions and leave it there. This said some people are able to change their tensions without problems. If you are going to change your tension, try doing all of the suggestions in this article first.

Is your bobbin in the bobbin case correctly?

Make sure that your bobbin is not upside down. This is an easy fix, you can watch a video on YouTube or look in your manual for how to put your bobbin in right, and make sure the bobbin is threaded properly.

Are you using a stabilizer?

Make sure that you are using a stabilizer! Not using a stabilizer can cause you a lot of problems with your machine embroidery. There are three main types of machine embroidery stabilizer, cut away, tear away and wash away. They each do exactly what they sound like! You can read more about the three main types of stabilizers here!

Are you embroidering a towel with a wash away/water-soluble stabilizer?

If you are embroidering a towel, make sure that you are using a water-soluble stabilizer on the top. This can not only prevent your needle from breaking but also help prevent the design from sinking into the towel! This article will explain more about how to hoop and embroider towels!

This photo shows Baby Yoda embroidery design from Lizzsews Etsy shop being embroidered out onto a towel using a wash away stabilizer on the top and bottom of the towel.

How to tell if your needle needs to be changed:
  • Puckered fabrics
  • Needle is bent
  • Thread is shredding
  • Skipped stitches 
  • Hearing the needle hit the machine
  • Uneven threads
  • Needle is dull
Please keep in mind that the needle might need to be changed for other reasons

Now that you know how to prevent a broken needle, it's time for your next project!

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