You may be asking yourself, “Why is my sewing machine skipping stitches?” When sewing, we all face common problems, but one of the more annoying instances is skipped stitches, which can’t always be fixed by simply re-threading the machine. A single read-through of this post will provide a better understanding of what skipped stitches are, what causes them, and how to prevent them from happening. Gather ‘round your sewing machine, we suggest our Mood Brand Sewing Machine, (but we’re slightly biased) and prepare for a course in skipped stitching problem-solving.
Let’s ease into the topic with some basics first:
- What are skipped stitches?
Skipped stitches are areas in a row of stitches where the needle and thread have not made a complete and consistent stitch pattern, creating a bald spot.
- What do skipped stitches look like?
All About Skipped Stitches (Causes and Solutions)
Is your machine threaded correctly?
- At the first sign of skipped stitches, re-thread the machine following all of the thread guides, making sure that the presser foot is up each time you thread the needle.
Are you using high-quality thread?
- When selecting thread for your machine, it’s important to pick a high-quality thread, like our Gutermann Thread. A thread that has minimal extra fuzz, has been wound properly with consistent color, and is free of any damaged spots will be less likely to break or create issues when being sewn.
Do your needle size and thread match?
- You must use the right size needle and thread for your fabric to get the best results when sewing; both the needle and thread should complement one another.
Is the tension appropriate for the fabric you’re using?
- Your tension could be too high, resulting in skipped stitches. Experiment by adjusting your tension dial on your machine to see if that’s the root of the problem. Adjust the tension on your bobbin case, too, if needed.
Are you pulling the fabric too tight or moving too quickly?
- If you find that your machine is skipping stitches, try to loosen your grip or slow down and see if this simple fix could solve your problem.
Is your bobbin wound correctly?
- Check that your bobbin is tightly and neatly wound around its spool. A loosely woven bobbin won’t perform its best and could cause skipped stitches.
Is your needle in good condition (is it bent)?
- A dull, bent, or nicked needle can cause skipped stitches. You may not see visible issues with your needle, but try replacing the needle to see if your skipped stitches subside.
Is your needle the correct one for the fabric you’re sewing?
- Selecting the right needle for the job can be the difference between skipped stitches or complete ones. Needles come in different sizes and levels of sharpness, a little research to find the best one for each project will increase the overall products you produce and the longevity of your machine.
Here are a few needle-to-fabric pairings to help you get started:
When sewing knits (ex. jersey, spandex, ribbing, fleece):
- Use a ballpoint sewing needle, which has a medium tip that allows it to gently slide past the fabric so no damage occurs to the fabric
When sewing woven fabrics (ex. silk, faux suede, crepe, lawn):
- Use a sharp needle to pierce through the fabric with ease.
When sewing heavy wovens or layers (denim, duck, canvas):
- Use a denim needle, which is strong and equipped with a sharp tip, to sew through heavy wovens.
When sewing metallic:
- Use a metallic or microtex needle, specially designed with a large eye and very sharp point for use with metallic thread.
- Use a leather needle, which has a wedge-shaped point which will cut through thick fabric.
Did the needle hit a pin?
- Sewing with pins can be a literal and figurative pain and if your needle stumbles over one while sewing it may create a nice little bunch of skipped stitches. If you feel or see your needle come in contact with a pin then adjust your fabric accordingly and continue or replace your needle if it looks broken.
Is your needle all the way in and tightened correctly?
- Your needle may cause skipped stitches if it isn’t properly tightened in place. Simply loosen the screen and reposition the needle as needed to see if that solves the problem.
*If you’ve checked all of the above and are still having issues then it may be time for a machine tune-up*
Prevent Pesky Skipped Stitches
- Change your needle after about 8 hours of use – keep extras around for easy access
- Take your machine in for tune-ups regularly
- Refer to your owner’s manual when you have questions about how something on your personal machine is done
- Pay attention to which needle and thread works with your project
- Use silicone spray on your thread or fabric to eliminate skipped stitches.
- Remember: when in doubt, re-thread your machine THEN test other methods if your machine is still producing skipped stitches.
There’s no denying that skipped stitches are a pain but there’s no need to let them continue. Most cases can be solved using our tips, so don’t let skipped stitches delay your project. Now you can identify the problem and get back to sewing without missing a beat.
What are some other common problems that you face when sewing that have got you puzzled?