Thread Break – Crazy Thread!

I was Happily embroidering a couple of nights ago when I got a Thread Break. I am embroidering on some very rough textured Placemats (almost like burlap) for an upcoming Valentine Banquet. As I am using Metallic Thread, I wasn’t terribly surprised because this rough burlapy fabric can be hard on Metallic Thread, even our Rapos “Metallized” Thread that is really wrapped with Mylar instead of actual metallic bits.

When I grabbed the end of the thread to snip a clean end and re-thread the needle, I couldn’t even pull enough thread down to reach the needle!

We embroiderers tend to yell at our embroidery machine when we experience a Thread Break. We blame it on Tension, bad needles, bad fabric, wrong stabilizer . . . you name it. And when it happens repeatedly, we tend to growl and mumble and scowl at our machine and say, “What the heck is wrong with you!!???” In this instance, the problem was my thread. It had gotten itself off its thread path and wrapped itself around the post in the adjacent thread path!

If you have sewn or embroidered for any length of time, you know that thread can do some crazy things. When you get a Thread Break, before you re-thread the needle and press Start – do yourself a favor and check the entire length of the Thread’s Path to verify that all is truly well with the Thread.

What the heck? It’s not the fabric that is the problem here!

I made the two videos below to show you what happened.

The Moral of this Story? When you start experiencing unexplained issues:

  • Check the entire Thread Path – from Thread Spool to Needle. Sometimes, thread can droop off the spool and get itself caught under the spool causing the kind of Thread Break shown in this video. A Thread Net around the spool can keep the Thread from being able to droop down and get caught under the spool. A Thread Net can also prevent the kind of slack in the Thread that allowed it to get over into the adjacent Thread Path and get wrapped around the post.
  • Pull the Thread and make sure it moves freely.
  • As you pull, watch the Thread move through the Thread Path – watch the Tension Dials – are they turning as you pull?
  • Is your needle in Backwards? If you are new to your Happy Machine – coming from the Single Needle/Home Market with Flat-Backed Shank Needles – it is easy to insert your Round Shank Commercial Needles backwards. Guess what? They won’t work when they are in backwards! If you can’t tell the difference, get yourself a magnifying glass and really, really inspect one of your needles. Get familiar with it. Once you look at your needle really closely, you will be able to tell immediately if it is inserted backwards. Doesn’t mean you won’t still put it in backwards from time to time, we all get in a hurry and make mistakes. But, when you do, and you are troubleshooting, you will see the problem right away if you know the back of the needle when it is facing the wrong way – towards you!

Here’s a helpful diagram:needlediagram


It is easy to get yourself all worked up when you feel like you are in a battle with your embroidery machine and it is winning! Kind of like trying to get a Toddler to eat his peas. He is winning! But if you will take a deep breath, walk away, calm down and then come back and really, really look at the situation – from top to bottom – you might find that it is just a simple problem like my Crazy Thread!

Sorry, I have no advice on the Toddler – my son never ate his peas – still won’t. 🙂



Heading for AQS Quilt Week in Des Moines

Well, I am almost ready for AQS Quilt Week in Des Moines, IA – October 5-8. Did I say almost? Maybe it’s more like, “Oh no! I’m not nearly ready. It’s going to take all night, every night to make my vision come true for the booth!” Well, OK, it is somewhere in between the two.

Come see me and see if I managed to pull it all together.

Will you be at the AQS Quilt Week in Des Moines next month?

I will be in a corner booth just outside the Learning Center so be sure and stop in and say hello.

We will have great prices – especially for the AQS Members as part of their “I Am AQS” program.

Call me anytime for a Price Quote – 877-335-5206, Ext 6532 or email me at


Quilting in the Hoop Tension Settings

I received the following question regarding a Quilting in the Hoop YouTube video of mine:

“I found your YouTube videos about quilting in the hoop with a multi needle embroidery machine.  I have a 6 needle machine that I was trying to quilt in the hoop and embroider in a . . . class starting in September.    Do you have any instructions as to setting the bobbin for quilting and then setting the top threads to be balanced like a quilting machine.  I have a separate bobbin with a 40 weight thread but I don’t know how much to loosen the bobbin as well as tightening the top thread tension.  Do you loosen the bobbin first and test or do I need to tighten the top thread at the same time? “

In answer to this question, below is what I did to set up my Happy Embroidery Machine for Quilting in the Hoop, all 3 layers of a Quilt Sandwich (Pieced Top/Batting/Backing):
  • I bought a new Bobbin Case to use just for Quilting in the Hoop. I adjusted the screw on this Case specifically for the Tension required for Quilting in the Hoop. You must buy the case specifically required for your machine.


  • I bought a Towa Bobbin Case Tension Gauge. Sold at 


  • I bought a Thread Tension Gauge for the upper thread settings. I use this for Gauging the Tension during regular embroidery and for Quilting in the Hoop.ThreadTensionGauge
  • I use L Style FIL-TEC MAGNA-GLIDE CLASSIC, pre-wound Bobbins for all my embroidery, including Quilting in the Hoop. The magnetic core creates a consistent tension throughout the entire length of the bobbin spool. I also like the quality of the thread (100% continuous filament polyester). They also stay in the Bobbin Case well and I spend much less time chasing dropped bobbins around my sewing room floor. 🙂 

Now, with my Tools in hand, I could set up the machine for Quilting in the Hoop. Just as I dedicated a Bobbin Case to this process, I dedicated my Needle 1 position on my 15 Needle Happy Embroidery Machine to nothing but Quilting in the Hoop.
When I want to go from embroidery to Quilting it is a very simple process for me. I just use Needle 1 – the Tension Dials on that Needle are always ready for Quilting. All the other needle Tensions are set for standard embroidery. I take the Bobbin Case out of the little zipper bag that has a piece of Batting in it to identify its purpose and pop it in. Voila! My machine is all ready to Quilt.
Whether you are Sewing or Embroidering, there is always a “Tug-of-War” going on between the Top Thread and the Bobbin Thread. In Sewing, you want this war to end in a draw – right at the fabric. As you can see in the Diagram below, your Multi Needle Embroidery Machine is not set up this way. It is set up for a crushing win by the Bobbin Thread. It wins the “Tug-of-War” by pulling the Top Thread down to the underside of the Embroidery Design.


As you can see in this picture of the underside of Embroidered Satin Columns, there is Top Thread on each side of the Column that makes up about 2/3 of the Column, 1/3 on each side. This leaves the Winner, the white Bobbin Thread running down the center 1/3 of the Column. 


Below is a page from our Training Materials for the Happy Machines that explains how to achieve this 1/3 Proper Tension Balance. We just need to Reverse these instructions in order to Loosen that Bobbin Thread’s Tension so that it can start “losing” to the Top Thread and allow itself to be pulled up towards our Quilt Sandwich.


Tension Adjustment Excerpt:

1.Examine the results by looking at the reverse side.  Check each satin sample to ensure there is a white strip of bobbin thread 25%-33% in the
center.  Then, if:
Bobbin strip is very thin or non-existent: that thread is very  loose.   Tighten using the upper tension knob for that needle.

Bobbin strip is a little thin but consistent: thread is slightly  loose.  Tighten using the upper tension knob for that needle.

Bobbin strip is wide to a large degree, some of it being pulled around to the front: That thread is very tight.  Loosen using the
upper tension knob for that needle.
– Bobbin strip is only slightly wide: The thread is slightly over-tight.  Loosen using the lower tensioning knob for that thread.

2.Notes:  Make big adjustments.  When tightening or loosening, make several full turns in either direction (turning the knob just a few clicks in either direction will not make any difference in tension.)  Then, re-pull the thread after adjusting to let the new tension setting “set up” through the tensioners and guides.

3.Maintain a balance between the 2 tension knobs.  Do not over-tighten one, leaving the other too loose.  The lower knob should not be tightened to the point that its wheel cannot turn.  Generally, neither knob should be set so tightly that the mounting post protrudes above the knob center.

We still want to achieve balance so we will Loosen the Bobbin Case Tension as well as Tighten the Top Thread Tension Disk. Following the instructions above, Keep adjusting these and test stitching a Quilting Design until you see no Bobbin Thread on Top and no Top Thread on Bottom. I find the easiest way to see this is to create a small Quilt Sandwich by layering Colored Fabric on top my Batting with a piece of White Fabric on the Bottom. Then I use Colored Thread on the Top and White Bobbin Thread. The White Bobbin Thread will show easily on the Colored Top Fabric and the Colored Top Thread will show easily on the White Bottom Fabric. Once I can run a section of the Quilting Design and see no “out of place” threads on either side of my Test Sandwich – I am ready for the real Quilt!
You might be thinking, “Hey! What about those fancy Tension Gauges I just bought?”
I’m glad you asked. Now we use those Gauges to find out what the settings are for our newfound Tension Balance. What Top Tension Setting and what Bobbin Case Tension Setting gave us such beautiful results? Knowing and keeping these numbers will allow you to achieve this beautiful Balance quickly in the future. You might not be able to leave your Needle 1 dedicated to Quilting. You might need to loosen that tension after you finish Quilting and use that needle for regular embroidery. No problem, go right ahead. Then next time you want to Quilt, just pull out your Top Tension Gauge and loosen the Tension until the Gauge reads the Magic Number. 

“Hey! What about that Bobbin Case Tension Gauge? That Expensive one!!!?”

Yes, I know you have a special Bobbin Case just for Quilting. But what if you break it. Or break your regular one and have to change the Tension on your Quilting Case so you can use it for regular Embroidery? What if you get energetic and decide to clean up and organize in your Sewing Room and you can’t find the blame thing!? (Don’t ask me how I know.) If you have to buy a new Bobbin Case, again, you will know the Magic Tension Number to set your new Bobbin Case’s Tension at so that the second time around will go much more quickly than the first.

Here’s a video from on using the Bobbin Case Tension Gauge:

I hope this answers your question and I hope you enjoy Quilting in the Hoop with your Multi Needle Embroidery Machine as much as I do.



I don’t hear anything!

I recently received an email SOS from a new Happy Owner:

“What is the trick to get the bobbin to click?  I have tried for over an hour and it still won’t click.  I made a copy of the manual and have watched the videos.”

I called her up and we walked through it together over the phone. She quickly had her Bobbin Case inserted correctly  – and she heard the “Click”.

What was the problem? Why wasn’t it “Clicking” when she put it in the machine?

She sent me a picture of the page in her User’s Manual that she was referring to:


The instructions she was following “Inserting the bobbin case”, shown below, specify in Step 1 “. . . open bobbin case latch (A) . . . Slip bobbin and case on stud of rotary hook body, and press in securely.Release bobbin case latch. Press the bobbin case in to be sure it is fully seated.” 


Note, the Manual’s instructions do not mention an audible “Click”. Where did that come from?

From a video!

If you watch the video below, at about the 2:40 mark in the video, Rene gives instructions on inserting the Bobbin Case and talks about that “Click”.

So what’s the problem?

The User’s Manual and Rene are using two different methods to insert the Bobbin Case.

If you “. . . open bobbin case latch (A). . .” as instructed in the User’s Manual by pulling out that little Handle on the front of the Bobbin Case and hold it open while you are inserting the Bobbin Case, you are opening a “Latch” on the side of the case that engages when you insert the case in the Rotary Hook Area. When you release the Handle, the Latch engages and locks the Bobbin Case into place in the Rotary Hook. If you use this method, you do not hear a “Click” because you have opened the Latch with the Handle and it simply closes with no sound when you release the Handle. The Bobbin Case is locked into place when you release the Handle. The Manual further instructs you to “Press the bobbin case in to be sure it is fully seated.”

If you use Rene’s method from the video and  leave the Handle down and simply press the Bobbin Case into the Rotary Hook, the lock inside the Rotary Hook presses against the Latch on the side of the Bobbin Case and opens it. When the Bobbin Case is fully inserted into place with the Handle down, you hear a “Click” when the lock closes. Pressing against the Latch without opening that little Handle while inserting the Bobbin Case causes that audible “Click” when the Latch is fully engaged.

Which way is correct? Both! You can use either approach. 

The Instructions in the Manual are correct – it does not mention the “Click” because it instructs you to open and hold the Handle while inserting the Bobbin Case. Releasing the Handle locks the Bobbin Case into place – Silently.

Rene’s video is also correct. He demonstrates inserting the Bobbin Case without opening the Handle and instructs you to listen for the “Click” which indicates the Bobbin Case is locked into place. He is correct because he isn’t telling you (in this video) to hold the little Handle open. There will be a Click – if you inserted the Bobbin Case fully. If you don’t hear the Click, you got a problem – the Bobbin Case is not inserted correctly or fully. Something is wrong!

Which method should you use?

I prefer Rene’s method – don’t open the Handle – listen for the Click.

Why? Because this method gives you an audible indication that you have inserted the Bobbin Case far enough and that it is fully locked into place. No guesswork. If you open the Handle and insert, you might not put it in far enough to engage the lock and if you forget to push and check – well, you would not know it until you had problems with your stitches.

Why take chances? Use the Click Method and know that all is well!

If you’ve been having problems and thinking “How come sometimes it stays in and sometimes it doesn’t” or “Do I use this little handle thingy or don’t I”, hopefully this answers your question or solves your problem.


Small Things – Big Problems

Sometimes it is the smallest things that cause us the biggest problems. A perfect example of this is your Bobbin Case. Many times we hear that someone is experiencing serious issues with stitch outs and after troubleshooting – it’s lint in the bobbin case! This can be extremely frustrating after hours of struggle, trial and error, damaged materials . . . you know . . . I’m sure you’ve been there.

First, let’s be sure that your Bobbin and Bobbin Case are being loaded and inserted properly:














A Bobbin Case costs just $12 –

I actually have 4 Bobbin Cases for my Happy HCD2 15 Needle Embroidery Machine.

#1 – Regular Stitching Case – Used for just that – Regular Embroidery Stitching – the kind I do the most.

#2- Metal Bobbin Case – This one has the Anti-BackLash Spring inside it –    This spring, as explained in the video below, is used when I wind my own bobbins with thread to match the top thread. Since you don’t want this Spring installed if you are not using the Metal Bobbins, I decided to just leave it in the Bobbin Case and swap out Bobbin Cases when I use the Metal Bobbins. I was also afraid I would lose this little Spring and not have it when I needed it – safest place to keep it? – in a Bobbin Case! The Happy Machines do not come with these Metal Bobbins as most of our customers use Pre-Wound Bobbins. If you would like to wind your own Bobbins, you can purchase the Metal Bobbins and the Anti-Backlash Spring at



#3 – Quilting Case – This is the Bobbin Case I use when I am Quilting my Quilt Sandwich (Pieced Top/Batting/Backing). When I am Quilting, I need the Tension on the Bobbin Case to be set much looser than the Tension when I am stitching regular embroidery designs. With Quilting, I want the Top and Bobbin Thread to “meet in the middle”. I don’t want to see Bobbin Thread on the Top or Top Thread on the Bottom. I also don’t want to be constantly loosening and re-tightening the screw on my Bobbin Case so I just bought a 3rd Bobbin Case that is set and dedicated to Quilting. I put this Case in a small plastic zip bag with a piece of Quilt Batting in it so I know that it is my Quilting Bobbin Case. I have painted a stripe of nail polish across it as well, as a identifier, that this is not my Regular Bobbin Case – but that will wear off in time. For safety and to avoid confusion, I take that case out, use it and put it straight back in the little bag with the Batting when I finish Quilting. Because I don’t like having to “mess” with my Tension Dials, I have dedicated Needle 1 on my machine to Quilting. The Tension Dials for this Quilting Needle are set very, very tight, allowing them to pull the loosened Bobbin Thread towards the Top, allowing them to meet in the middle for a beautiful Quilting Stitch on my Quilts.


#4 – Emergency Case – Just like the Spare Tire in my car for emergency, unexpected Flat Tires, this is  my “Spare” Bobbin Case – the Tension on this case is set the same as the Tension on my “Regular Stitching Case”, the kind of stitching I do the most. If I have a problem with my Regular Case – like drop it and step on it, kinda flattening it out on one side (don’t ask) – I don’t have to mess with one of my “Specialty” cases, I just pull out my Spare and keep right on stitching! You know, you don’t have to step on it to get it “out of round”, just dropping it can cause that (Don’t Ask!)

4 Bobbin Cases!? Sound like “overkill”?

Well, look at it this way, if you have a needle problem you can simply move the thread to a different needle and keep right on stitching. But, if the problem is the Bobbin Case, what are you gonna do? All the needles use that one Bobbin Case!

Get a spare! I hope you never have to thank me!! 🙂

As I said at the beginning, believe it or not, just a little bit of fuzz or thread under the Tension Flap on the Bobbin Case could be the entire cause of your current Stitchout Nightmare! (DON’T ASK – REALLY – DON’T ASK!)

This video is one of our Education Manager, Rene Rosales, videos on YouTube. This is one of the setup videos for our HCD2 15 Needle machine – about halfway through this video, Rene shows up close inserting the bobbin in the bobbin case and re-loading it into the machine:

Below is a video on Inserting and Cleaning your Bobbin Case by Bill Garvin: