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How costly can a thread break be? Madeira USA offers a quick online tool to help embroiderers know just how much revenue is lost in production when thread breaks. This easy-to-use calculator is available to all at; drop down from the “Services” tab and click on “Cost of a Thread Break.”

For example, if you run a small shop, with a single commercial embroidery machine (one multi-needle machine = one head), you run your machine at 1,000 spm (stitches per minute), you charge $1.50 per 1,000 stitches in a design that requires no digitizing, and there are 15,000 stitches in the design, enter these four underlined numbers to learn what a single thread break in an hour will cost you. While you should be able to run 60,000 stitches in an hour, you’ve just cut that down to 56,250. Your profitability just went from $90/hour to $84.38/hour. What should have taken 15 minutes per run will take you 16, assuming you are pretty efficient at re-threading your machine. Instead of accomplishing four runs in that hour, you’ll complete 3.75. And, you’ve lost about $1.50 per run, which translates to $5.63 in that hour – and that’s a single-head machine.

Madeira USA MarCom Director Alice Wolf offers these tips: “First, start out with a good, quality embroidery thread. Beyond that, a break can be caused by poor tension, an old needle that may have a rough burr, the wrong size needle for the thread you’re using or running the machine too fast on an intricate design. Remember the wise embroiderer’s adage: ‘Time is money. Don’t waste it.’ ”