Dear Jan,
When quilting on a Grace frame using a Janome 1600p-DB and the darning foot the thread keeps breaking. Have tried adjusting tension...changed needles...used different threads but all to no avail. The breaks within 8-10 inches of sewing. Can you help? -Juanita, Bluefield, VA

Dear Juanita,

Here are a few ways to troubleshoot thread breakage and more:

1. You will not be able to run at full speed while the machine is on the frame. The speed contributes to thread breakage.

2. If you are using the needle that came with the machine you will need to change it. Use a size DBX x 1 size 16 or larger Needle; a smaller needle for the novice flexes a lot and can do hook damage.

3. Rethread and check the thread path.

4. Rethread the bobbin and check the thread path.

5. Reseat the bobbin.

6. On the frame, make sure that the pickup and backing rollers are level with each other, and that there is no more than a fingers space between the pickup roller and the base of the sewing machine.

7. Make sure the presser foot is down! Use the darning foot and plate combo; if the stitch out shows top thread on the backing, then tighten the top tension(righty tighty, lefty loosey,); this will pull the thread up.
If the stitch out shows bobbin thread on the top, then tighten the bobbin tension.
Think of the bobbin case as a clock, and adjust only in hour increments, taking note of where "home" is.
Proper tension for the quilt sandwich itself, is looser than most think: poke your finger up from the bottom of the sandwich to the top and grab the sandwich from the top with your other hand. If you can grab all around your bottom finger, it is properly set up!

8. If a needle did collide with metal, it probably hit the hook. To test this, take an old pair of panty hose or tricot, and gently grab the hook; if the material snags, then you have hook damage. You should then take the machine to your dealer.

9. Run the machine OFF the frame first to just get comfortable with it. If it runs off the frame, it's fine!