“Before the Thread Goes Through the Needle”

If you have sewn for a long time, you probably remember the novelty of thread being sold on cones for the first time.  Years ago, if you were a home sewer and were not involved a sewing business, you simply had never seen thread sold on a large cone.  Since small thread spools were the only way thread was sold back then, if you owned a sewing machine, your only option for top thread delivery was an upright post.  Now, of course, threads are sold in a large variety of spool and cone sizes and shapes so the newer machines reflect the flexibility needed to produce excellent stitches.  If you, for instance, start experiencing top thread delivery problems while using your machine, you may want to change how your thread is moving up to and through the machine.  If your thread is leaving the spool in big loops, you may have the thread positioned in the wrong way for the thread to unwind smoothly.  If your thread is breaking frequently and you have already changed the needle, the thread may be leaving the spool with too much tension causing it to leave the spool in fits and starts.  Take a look at the following pictures and, if you have experienced any of these issues lately, see how you may avoid these annoyances in the future. 

The vertical spool pin on my 1994 Husqvarna Viking was the only type of spool pin available on machines for many years. Since this machine was one of the first embroidery machines for the home market…
…it was the first machine I had ever owned that also had a horizontal spool pin option available. This pin was designed to handle the newest threads of the time; embroidery thread that was cross wound.
With all the newer threads on the market, how you position your needle thread on the machine makes a big difference in its smooth delivery. Did you notice that there are no two spools that are the same size, even in this small sampling?
The vertical spool pin works best for “stacked” thread spools. This means the thread is loaded onto the spool in a stack with each thread stacked on the one below it. These spools generally do not feed their thread well if the thread is laid on its side or if it is pulled off the spool from the top. In fact, pulling the thread off the spool from the top may cause the thread to come off in fits and starts, increasing the likelihood of thread breaks.
The horizontal spool pin is the best option for cross wound threads. If you have an older machine, the spool pin may be on the back, just like on my old machine. But today…
…the horizontal option looks more like this. Did you notice how you can see an X pattern in the thread? This is cross wound thread and it does not come off smaller spools, like this one, in a smooth manner unless it is exiting the spool horizontally. If you try to use this thread on a vertical spool pin, the thread will either loop off the spool in uncontrolled loops or it will catch unevenly, coming off in fits and starts. If you must use this type of spool vertically, a spool cap is almost a necessity.
Although this cone of thread is cross wound, it performs best on a vertical pin with a longer thread path; provided by the thread stand. It works well due to how the thread is loaded onto the cone (at an angle from the top) and also because the thread stand allows the thread the extra time needed for it to relax as it exits the spool before it needs to travel through the machine. Thread cones do not perform at their best when used horizontally nor when they are used vertically without a thread stand.
If your machine does not have a thread stand option, you may want to consider purchasing an after market thread stand. The one on the left is made to fit onto the vertical spool pin of a Pfaff/Husqvarna Viking machine and the thread stand on the right is designed to sit on the table next to the machine. Each gives the thread a longer path to the machine, allowing the thread to relax more. Sometimes, when using a thread stand, your thread may still be a bit unruly, in which case you should also use a thread net around the spool. This is especially helpful with cones of monofilament thread.

I hope you find these examples helpful! Happy Sewing!