Why Does My Sewing Machine Skip Stitches?

Working on a sewing project only to have your machine suddenly start skipping stitches can be incredibly frustrating for novice and expert sewers alike.

Skipped stitches are unsightly and weaken the integrity of the final product. Usually, the problem is something minor that you can troubleshoot and fix yourself without too much hassle.

You can also prevent this problem altogether by doing regular maintenance on your machine, such as replacing old needles and using high-quality products and materials in all aspects of your project.

If you bought an inexpensive sewing machine when you first started, you may want to upgrade to a better model.  The quality of the machine isn’t always the issue, but a better machine sure does help 🙂

If you do end up with some skipped stitches, it is very easy to resolve so you can get back to your sewing project quickly.

Here are the 5 most common causes of skipped stitches and solutions to fix them quickly and easily.

1) A bent or dull needle

Whenever you start a new project, it’s a good idea to replace your needle. Sewing machine needles usually become dull after 7-8 hours of sewing, so keeping up with this maintenance will help avoid your machine skipping stitches and save you time in the long run. Even if you can’t see any obvious dents or think your needle isn’t ready to be changed out, even the smallest dent or slightest dullness can create skipped stitches.

You should also consider the quality of needles you are using in your machine. Cheaper needles tend to dull quicker and bend more easily than higher quality needles. Invest in some high-quality needles and replace them in your machine often to avoid skipped stitches and other issues stemming from problems with your needle.

2) Using an incorrect needle for your fabric

Each fabric requires a particular type of needle to use it to its optimal performance and appearance. If you are working with a broad range of fabrics, you should have a variety of needle types on hand, so you are ready to change the needle on your machine quickly without having to run out to the store to pick up a special needle.

You are most likely to see skipped stitches on jersey or knit fabrics if you are using a needle other than a stretch or ballpoint tip needle. Sewing with jersey, knit, or spandex fabrics tend to increase the instances of skipping stitches, so if you are using one of those fabrics, make sure you have covered all your bases before beginning your project.

Universal tip needles are best for most woven fabrics. If you’re using a specialty fabric, such as leather, denim, or metallic you need to purchase a corresponding needle for your machine to avoid skipping stitches or even damaging your sewing machine. Double check that you are using the correct needle for the fabric you are using and replace it if needed.

​3) Incorrect threading

Even the most experienced sewers need to re-thread their machines occasionally. Rethreading will solve a variety of problems with stitching, including skipping stitches. Often the bobbin is the source of the problem, so make sure it is wound and placed correctly into the machine.

It’s also useful to verify that the needle has been inserted correctly, with the flat side facing the back of the sewing machine and has been inserted all the way. The best way to make sure your machine is threaded correctly is to re-thread from start to finish. Thread slowly and deliberately to ensure the thread has been placed through the markers and needle correctly.

​4) Poor quality thread

You absolutely get what you pay for when it comes to thread. There are so many options out there for you to choose from, so it’s easy just to pick the least expensive, but by skimping on your thread quality, you end up paying for it later with your time and energy spent fixing problems that could have been avoided with a higher quality product. Low quality thread is prone to breaking and skipping stitches.

Using the correct size thread for your fabric is also critical. If your fabric is thick, you will need a thicker thread than you would with more delicate or sheer fabrics. Just like with your machine needles, matching your thread to your fabric is essential.

5) Incorrect tension settings

There are various causes of incorrect tension settings when using a sewing machine. You should try all other at-home solutions before adjusting the tension settings because it is the most complicated and easiest way to get into a bigger problem with your machine. Consulting your users manual, adjust the tension setting in very small increments, with a test run after each adjustment. The top thread shouldn’t be too tight or too loose, and neither the top nor bottom thread should be pulled to the opposite side of the fabric. Keep doing test stitches before starting back on your project to make sure you have the correct setting and won’t damage your garment.

If you have tried all of the strategies listed and your machine is still skipping stitches, bring it in to a qualified sewing machine mechanic to have them take a look at it. It’s probably a more complicated problem that you should not attempt to fix yourself.

It’s also a good idea to get a tune up on your machine every once in a while, so have them check to make sure all the parts and functions are in good working condition. Just like your car, your sewing machine needs to get maintained frequently.

Skipping stitches is a very common problem for every level of sewers and nine times out of ten, it can be fixed with a few minor tweaks or adjustments. Invest in high-quality threads, fabrics, needles, and other products to reduce the likelihood of your machine skipping stitches, and you will save time and money in the long run.

Your machine skipping stitches should not deter or discourage you from your sewing, especially with so many easy solutions that you can do right at home.

Happy sewing!