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Why Sewing Machine Skipping Stitches

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Figuring out why your sewing machine is skipping stitches? Skipping stitches are one of the common sewing machine issues that every level of sewer faces with. 

In order to stop the skipping stitches, it’s important to identify the problem first to find the correct solution. There are a handful of common causes for a sewing machine to skip stitches, let’s explore why.

Why sewing machine skipping stitches? The most common reason why stitches are skipped is due to the condition of sewing needle. The needle may be bent or the point is too dull to catch the thread underneath to create a clear hole on each stitches. 

In addition, improper threading of the sewing machine and bobbin can easily cause issue as well.

With working with a sewing machine, it gets difficult to achieve a finished look on a garment if the stitches keep skipping. Stitch skip generally results from worn or old needles that no longer support strong and durable stitches for joining fabrics together. 

Overtime using a sewing machine, there is some friction between the needle and thread stitch point caused by the repetitive action. This is the source of abrasion on the needle making the needle dull, which can be the cause of skipped stitches and is an issue that cannot be ignored as it impacts the strength and integrity of sewing.

This posts explores why sewing machines skip stitches and the best ways to identify the cause for concern. Answered below are frequently asked questions about the causes for skipped stitches with sewing machine so that you can understand the problem quickly.

What causes skipped stitches on a sewing machine?

Ensure the thread in the spool and the tension disk are appropriately placed on the sewing machine. Remember to double-check if the bobbin is threaded tightly and placed in the correct way. 

At times, even a badly wound bobbin could be the cause of skipped stitches. A good quality thread and proper stitch length can also be checked when you are encountering skipped stitches.

The most common causes of skipped stitches are a mismatch of thread weight and needle size, worn eyelets or path, and worn thread guides. 

Review the manual and sewing pattern instructions for correct sewing needle and quality thread suggestions. Adjust the upper and bobbin tension on the sewing machine and test on scraps of fabric to see what setting work. 

Some more reasons why sewing machines skip stitches include:

  • Improper and poor quality threading on sewing machine and bobbin
  • Insufficient pressure/poor clamping
  • Replacement of old needle
  • Wrong size needle
  • Wrong needle and thread for sewing the fabric material
  • Lower needle placement on the machine
  • Lack of lubrication on the sewing machine

Use this checklist to review the condition of the sewing machine to fix the skipped stitch issue. If you see it requires lubrication, consult with sewing machine brand, specialist or professional technician to get additional help.

Why does my sewing machine skip stitches on thick fabric?

If you are sewing denim or leather fabric, it is hard to avoid skipping stitches. The primary cause of skipped stitches on a thick fabric could be either the needle is bent, dull or could have a nick.

Other reasons for skipping stitches on thick fabric include:

  • Needle bar is too high.
  • Pressure foot tension is inappropriate, minimizing the loop size.
  • Improperly oriented needle.
  • Wrong needle for the fabrication.
  • Sticky thread/improperly lubricated thread unable to form a loop.
  • Wrong twist is used with the needle thread to unravel the thread.
  • Improper looping above the eye of the needle.

The best sewing machine for heavyweight fabric is Singer heavy duty. This is the model I use for sewing thick and heavy materials.

However, if you are debating whether Singer or Brother is better in general sewing, understand that these two brands offer high quality machines. The stitches are superb and both require specific tools to execute thick fabric to sew professionally.

Why does my twin needle skip stitches?

When sewing knits, twin needles are a great tool to hem stretchy fabrics to create a professional look. It consists of parallel decorative stitches that resemble store-bought knit garments. 

However, you may experience skipped stitches when using this needle as well. 

The twin needle may be skipping stitches due to improper tension settings. Set your tension to a second setting or alter as per the fabric for getting good results. 

Try the stitch on scrap of fabric to confirm the correct tension. Reinsert by removing the bobbin and also rethreading the needle for tangled threads or skipped stitches.

More reasons why a twin needle skips stitches include:

  • Burr: A twin needle can result in skipped stitches if the skipping side has needle burr, which means that the tip of the needle is frayed or bent due to needle tip hitting harder than itself. Simply eliminate by rubbing the needle on a cotton pad. If the needle catches the cotton pad, then there’s a burr. If not, there could be a burr on the bobbin carrier or the needle plate. If that’s the case, the thread will keep breaking and result in skipped stitches.
  • Tension/Needle: A skipped stitch with a twin needle could also be due to weaker upper tension and dullness of the needle. If the tension is too high then the fabric will make a tunnel between the two threads, but when the thread tension is too low, you won’t see tunneling. However, when stretching those stitches would break, so keep the tension setting standard at 4 as per the manual recommendations.
  • Puckering seam: If you see puckering along the stitches, try fusing a lightweight and narrow interfacing fusible strip along the fabric insides upon which you are stitching. This way the fusible strip will tear instead of the seam when it relaxes and stretches later.

Cover stitch skipping stitches

If you are hemming knit fabric, cover stitch is done by a specialized sewing machine that uses one, two, or three needles and a thread looper under the machine. All the threads weave together to create a chain stitch that allows stretch, which is perfect for knit.

However, it can skip stitches when the wrong needle size is used for stitching the garment. An improper needle type that does not match the fabric type can also result in the cover stitch skipping stitches.

The primary reasons for cover stitch skipping stitches are:

  • Needle size: The wrong-sized needle will not move back and forth properly through the needle eye and along the groove of the shaft front part. With the correct thread and needle type, the movement glides through multiple fabric layers. Checking the needle size is of utmost importance when you encounter skipped stitches. Needle size 90/14 is good for woven fabrics while knits use ballpoint needle to prevent from making holes.
  • Needle type: If the fabrication and needle type are not matching, it can result in a skipped stitch. Choose overlock, stretch or jersey needles. If you are sewing lycra fabrics such as activewear or swimwear, select ballpoint needle to get maximized results.
  • Stitches: Too short of stitches suggest improper feed, which eventually results in skipped stitches. Keep the stitch length at 3.0 and adjust the tension on left needle as 3.2 and right needle as 5.0 to get the perfect cover stitch on knit fabric.
Why is sewing machine skipping stitches

Why Stitches Skipping with Sewing Machine: Conclusion

Whether you are sewing and hemming knit or thick fabric, figuring out why a sewing machine is skipping stitches is an unavoidable problem for every sewer. Fixing this issue does not require additional tools and ultimately depends on what you are working on and type of stitches you are making in order to determine to solution for the problem.

For general sewing, most common cause of stitches skipping on machine is due to old or bent sewing needles. The sewing needle has only 7 hours of life expectancy, which means new sewing project equals new sewing needle.

If you are working on heavyweight fabric such as denim or leather, use a correct needle size, type and quality thread

Next, adjust the tension accordingly, re-thread the sewing machine and re-wind the bobbin if needed. These simple task can solve this unwanted problem in a blink of an eye. 

Working with knit significantly increases potential of skipping stitches on twin needle or cover stitch. Look at the condition of the needle first. If the needle point has burrs or the incorrect needle type may result in stitches skipped. 

In order to avoid skipped stitches on a sewing machine, check the threading, needle size, needle type, type of thread, tension settings, and match the thread and needle as per fabric you are sewing to avoid this issue. 

This checklist is a great starting point to prepare your sewing project. Follow the steps to prevent and stop skipped stitches from happening before the sewing project even begins. 

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