Skipped stitches can be frustrating to deal with and even more annoying to diagnose. They can be caused by a few different issues, so we’ll cover some of the most common causes and how to diagnose them for trouble-free sewing. If you’d like you can follow along on with our YouTube video to diagnose your machine!
1. Using an Incorrect Needle
There are a variety of different machine needles on the market and they are all designed to be paired with certain fabrics, thread sizes, and techniques. For example, a ball point needle is best used with jersey fabrics as the ball helps to part the stretchy fibres aside rather than to try and pierce through them. Using a needle designed for piercing, such as a quilting needle, could result in skipped stitches when sewing on this type of material.
However, needle size is also important. Always follow a thread manufacturer’s recommended needle size as a needle that is too large or too small for the thread you’re sewing with can also result in skipped stitches, or even thread breaks and tension issues.
For a complete breakdown of what needles work best with certain types of materials you can view the Schmetz® Needle Guide Here! https://www.schmetzneedles.com/learning/pdf/schmetz-needle-chart.pdf
2. The Needle Isn’t Seated Correctly
Another cause of skipped stitches is how the needle is seated in the needle bar. If you are using the correct needle for your fabric, thread, and the technique you’re doing but are still getting skipped stitches, try pulling out and reinserting the needle.
Ensure that it’s not inserted the wrong way, slightly rotated, or not firmly inserted all the way to the top. Any of these things can cause the bobbin thread to not hook correctly with the top thread and cause skipped stitches.
3. Sewing With the Same Needle for Too Long, or a Damaged Needle
It’s always recommended to change your needle after every medium-sized project, or more frequently if you’re sewing with a thicker material like canvas or leather that can cause the needle to dull faster. A good rule of thumb is to swap out the needle after 8 hours of sewing. A dull needle can cause a host of issues, one of the most common being skipped stitches, as the needle won’t be able to pierce the fabric easily anymore.
However, a bent needle can lead to the same issue. A bent needle can cause the bobbin to miss catching the thread since it’s no longer correctly aligned, so if you run into a difficult patch in a project where the needle may have been pulled on a lot, you may need to replace the needle if you suddenly find yourself confronted with skipped stitches.
4. The Machine is Too Dirty
It’s important to use the brushes that come with your sewing machine to give the machine a good cleaning on a regular basis. A machine that gets too dirty can actually cause the mechanics to have difficulty moving, which will result in skipped stitches. To properly clean your machine, check the manual it comes with. This will likely include removing the needle, presser foot, throat plate, and bobbin casing to access it properly.
To reduce the lint build up in your machine, we always recommend using a low lint thread, preferably one that has been double gassed. This is a process cotton threads undergo that results in an extremely low lint thread that will make a good impact on the health of your sewing machine.
Feeling like your machine needs a really good deep cleaning? Follow this guide to give your machine a sewing-spa day! https://www.sewcanshe.com/blog/2018/4/12/how-to-clean-a-sewing-machine
Beware threads that haven’t been gassed but look like they are low on lint. They may appear this way because the manufacturer applied a glue or residue onto the thread that packs the lint down and giving it the appearance of being low on lint.
However, this glue can come off in your machine, which can be even more difficult to clean out than lint. Always choose a top thread and bobbin thread that is free of glues and residues to treat your machine well and keep it running long and healthy.
Do you need some low-lint threads to treat your machine to? You can shop our thread lines such as Konfetti™ for solid colours https://wonderfil.co.uk/collections/konfetti-50wt-3ply-egyptian-cotton
And for the perfect bobbin thread try DecoBob™! https://wonderfil.co.uk/collections/decobob-pre-wound-bobbins-80wt-2ply-cottonized-polyester
5. The Needle Bar Is Set Incorrectly
A needle bar that is set too high or too low will result in skipped stitches. If you haven’t adjusted it yourself, it can happen on its own if it was loosened over time or if it was knocked out of place due to the needle striking the needle plate or something too hard to penetrate. This issue can occur more frequently on serger or overlocker machines than it will with others.
To diagnose this problem, remove the bobbin case and put your needle in the down position as low as it will go. Look directly into the bobbin area, ensuring your eye is perfectly level with it. You should see your needle coming down.
As you can see, most of the needle eye is visible with only a small portion at the top hidden when the needle bar is set correctly. If the needle bar is set too high, then just the tip of the needle will be showing. If the needle bar is set too low, then the entire eye of the needle will be visible.
If re-setting the needle bar is something you’re unfamiliar with, you can bring your machine into your local service to have this corrected.
6. The Timing on the Machine Is Off
Sometimes the timing on your machine can become mistuned. What this means is that the hook on the bobbin case that is supposed to catch the thread from the needle misses it, either being slightly too early or too late, which will result in skipped stitches as the stitch won’t form. This can be caused by the needle striking the needle plate or something in your project it couldn’t penetrate easily. Sometimes things end up loosening or getting jiggled over time within the machine, or sometimes with newer digital machines, there could be an issue with its circuit board.
If you checked for every other scenario in this guide and you are still getting skipped stitches, then you may need to take your machine in for a service to correct the timing on your machine.
We hope this guide helps you better understand the causes of skipped stitches and how to correctly diagnose them so you can get back to sewing problem-free!
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