Want to troubleshoot a sewing machine skipping stitches? There is nothing more frustrating than skipped stitches. It results in messy seams that are likely to break and result in holes. This tutorial will show you some easy tips for fixing skipped stitches and getting back on track.
Sewing Machine Skipping Stitches Tutorial
When you have a sewing machine skipping stitches, it is really frustrating and a waste of time as you fiddle and fuss over trying to get things right. There is nothing worse than the thread that breaks as you turn that vital corner or the foot that jams just as you are about to race along the seam of a new garment.
Having a checklist to troubleshoot when your sewing machine is skipping stitches is a wonderful resource to fall back on. It’s the next best thing to a machine mechanic in your own home.
What should you look for first?
Common Fix for Sewing Machine Skipping Stitches
Before you start major troubleshooting, just do a rethread of your sewing machine, both on the top and bottom. Doing this is a basic technique that fixes many problems.
Have you ever restarted your computer when it was playing up? You restart, and the problem is miraculously fixed. Well, this is similar! If, after rethreading top and bottom, the sewing machine is still skipping stitches, then have a look at the 11 tips below.
Sewing Specialty Fabrics
Often specialty fabrics need particular needles, threads, and sewing machine feet. Here are some articles that may help you.
- CHIFFON – Sewing Chiffon
- BATIK – What is Batik
- CANVAS – Sewing Canvas
- COTTON – Sewing Cotton
- DENIM – Sewing Denim
- FELT – Sewing Felt
- FUR – Sewing Fur
- KNITS – How to Sew Stretch Fabric
- INTERFACING – Types of Interfacing
- LACE – How to Sew Lace
- LEATHER – Sewing Leather
- RAYON – Sewing Rayon
- SHEER – Sewing Sheer Fabrics
- SILK – How to Sew Silk
- THICK – Sewing Thick Fabrics
- VELVET Sewing Velvet
- WOOL – Sewing Wool
- FLEECE – Sewing Fleece
- SEQUINS - Sewing Sequin Fabric
Fixing Sewing Machine Skipping Stitches
When troubleshooting your sewing machine skipping stitches, you should check your needles, thread, tension, foot, and the actual machine.
TIP: Before you start, check if the stitches are skipping on just one fabric or all fabrics. This will help you narrow down the correct solution.
1. Check your Needle Quality
If they are bent, blunt, or broken, you may have found the cause of the problem. Even if it looks ok, try replacing with a new needle in case the damage is not easily visible.
2. Check you Inserted the Needle Correctly
The flat side should be set at the back. Sewing machine needles are designed to be placed in the holder in one direction only.
3. Check the Needle Type
Check the size and type of needle are correct for the type of fabric you are sewing. I find it particularly important to have a stretch needle or ball point needle when sewing knit fabrics and Spandex or Lycra. Sewing leather without the proper needle is another cause of a sewing machine skipping stitches. The size of the needle must also match the fabric weight. The thicker the fabric, the larger the needle size.
You can read my full article on sewing machine needle sizes and uses but here is a basic run down.
|FABRIC TYPE||MACHINE NEEDLE TYPE|
|Knits/Stretch||Stretch or Jersey Needle|
|Denim||Denim or Jeans Needle|
4. Is the Machine Threaded Correctly
If you are a new sewer, then consult your manual to double-check that everything is correct. If you are an experienced sewer and have threaded your machine a million times, just undo everything and do a quick re-thread. Always rethread the bobbin after you have done the top spool. (How to thread a sewing machine)
5. Check the Bobbin
If you are still asking why is my sewing machine skipping stitches, check that the bobbin is wound evenly and tightly. An incorrectly wound bobbin can snag and produce uneven tension that can cause a sewing machine to skip stitches. (How to wind a bobbin)
6. Check for Jams
Could the skipping stitches be caused by a tiny piece of thread being jammed in the needle plate or bobbin housing? Give your machine a good clean for lint and dust. (How to clean a sewing machine)
7. Change Thread Quality
Are you using good-quality thread, or is your thread snapping easily? I find that, particularly when sewing difficult fabrics like lycra, a good quality thread makes all the difference. Poor-quality thread can have burrs along its length that can get caught in the tension disk leading to snapping. Good quality brands of threads include Gutterman, Coates, and Rasant.
Here are some more in-depth articles that can help you troubleshoot these thread issues.
- How to Thread a Sewing Machine
- How to Wind a Bobbin
- How to Clean a Sewing Machine
- Sewing Thread Types
8. Check the Machine Tension Dials
If you have checked the needles and thread, next on the list if your sewing machine is skipping stitches is sewing machine tension.
Check the tension of the sewing machine and try some different options on a scrap of fabric to get the right tension for the fabric you are using. The upper and lower tension should be even, with no loops or uneven stitches. Start by checking the tension dials and then consult your manual to see if the bobbin case has a tension screw (not all machines have this).
9. Don't Pull Fabric
Check your own tension. Are you feeling tense about this garment? Sometimes in our anxiety to get the job done, we pull the fabric instead of letting it feed through naturally and cause unnecessary tension. Let the feed dogs do the work of feeding the fabric through the machine. Don't push or pull.
10. Replace Sewing Machine Foot
In certain circumstances, sticky fabric such as leather or Lycra may be dragging underneath the sewing machine's presser foot. The ideal solution is to switch to a Teflon foot, but alternatively, try a bit of sellotape on the bottom to help it glide over your fabric more evenly.
Specialty feet can make all the difference to some tricky fabrics.
11. Check Your Machine Plate
Look at the throat plate on your machines and check for any nicks that might be snagging the thread. Nicks can be caused by a needle bending and hitting the side of the plate. I generally need to replace my plate every couple of years. Don't worry. This is normally a very cheap part and is easily switched over with one or two screws.
12. Change the Fabric Weight
Stitches can stitch when the fabric is too thick for the machine. This can happen when you are stitching lots of layers or stitching across lots of seam allowances. Try a longer stitch length.
On the other hand, a thin fabric can also cause the sewing machine to skip stitches. Try adding some interfacing or another layer of fabric.
Sewing Machine Skipping Stitches - In Conclusion
If none of these suggestions are working and you still have a sewing machine skipping stitches, then it may be time to take your machine for service. First, just make sure it is skipping stitches on all types of fabrics and not just one. If it is just one type of fabric and not others, then it will be an incompatibility with your machine and the fabric.
Why not make a copy of this handy little checklist and slip it into your machine handbook. It could be the best little timesaver you have readily available to stitch in time and save nine.