Wednesday 19 June 2013

Snapping Thread on the Singer 15K

When I first put the Singer 15K hand machine to serious use I found there was a problem with the thread occasionally breaking.  It took me a while to fathom out what was going on.  The thread was getting itself looped over the take up lever, pulling tight and snapping.

The next question was why was this happening with this machine, when I had never had the same problem with the 15K treadle.  The answer lay with the thread.  I have been using a cotton 50, just about the only thickness you can easily get these days, and there is too much twist to it. When you pull it off the reel, often it does not lie flat, but it has a curl to it.  When the take up lever goes down on the 15K it is right next to the tension discs, sometimes the slack thread twists, and it ends up looped over the lever.  This is especially likely to happen when you are going slowly, or doing work that entails lots of stops and starts, just the type of work best done on a hand machine rather than a treadle.

With the treadle I most usually do quilting, especially free motion work, which is faster and calls for thicker thread.  I have never had the thread snapping for this reason with the treadle.

The thread I use for quilting is Gutermann Sulky cotton 30.  It doesn't twist itself into trouble in the same way as the cotton 50.  Neither does the old fashioned Sylko 40, which I snaffle up in a trice when I see it in charity shops.

I have had to get myself into the habit of taking a quick look at the take up lever whenever I have to start sewing again after having to stop.  Irritating, but necessary.

What I am most pleased about, however, is that I can declare the machine innocent.  I blame the thread entirely.


  1. lol! Yay for the machine! I had a go with some aurifil 28 and my machine.I thought for sure it was something dumb I was doing, but as it turns out - every other thread in my pile works just fine. Phew~ I might want another machine, but not today!

  2. hello lizzie, i am a fan of your videos , so from you tube i tracked down this site ,

    i wonder if you can help me , i recently purchased a singer 15k-28 , treddle , dates to 1901) so i realy do want to get it right and protect it for the future,
    i have cleaned and restored the table , cleaned and oiled the machine , and it sews great , but i think there is something not quite right , regarding band wheel , if i can email you some photos , it might be easier to explain im trying to replace any missing parts , but i dont know what to order, or if this machine was somehow customised so should i leave it alone ? the guard that covers the band is not there , but perhaps you could advise me ? hopefuly sincerly erika

    1. Hello Erika,

      Glad you have enjoyed the videos.

      I am not sure whether you are talking about the balance wheel on the head of the machine, or the treadle wheel underneath the table.
      If you are in this country, please can I suggest that you visit Helen Howes's site (link is at the bottom of the page, on the right) - she has sewing machine parts, and would be able to tell you if anything is missing.
      Other sites you might find helpful are Treadle On and Treadle Lady..,


    2. Just found your reply now ! Thanks for info .

  3. Dear Miss Lenord. I enjoyed your Singer "how to clean antique machine". Can you tell me more about the metal cleaning polish you use? I have a 1928 Singer Model 99, AC519404. I just purchased it, and love it!

  4. Hello Mrs. D,

    Click on the heading on the side bar "Metal Polish", and also at the very bottom of the page on the right is a link to the manufacturer's website for Peek Metal Polish.

    Good luck with the clean up on your new machine!

    Love, Muv

  5. The thread take up lever is threaded backwards in this picture...

    1. It isn't. Please read (or re-read) the text.




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