Why Is Your Sewing Machine Skipping Stitches and What to Do

Jean Chaney
Jean Chaney
Research Writer
Jean is the brains behind her fashion label. She's a whiz with a needle and thread, and has been sewing since she was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. Jean has always read more
Reviewed By
Isabel Misner
Isabel Misner
Expert Consultant
A professional seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step read more
Last updated: September 07, 2023
JustToSew is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Even the best seamstress with the best sewing machine can experience a sewing machine skipping stitches. This can be very frustrating to the user and cause damage to the fabric being worked on. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why a sewing machine skips stitches and what you can do about it.

What Does it Mean When Your Sewing Machine Skips Stitches?

Why Is Your Sewing Machine Skipping Stitches and What to Do

If you’re lucky enough to never have experienced the problem of your sewing machine skipping stitches, you might not be too sure what they are.

Skipped stitches are places in a row of stitches where the thread and needle have not made a complete and consistent stitch pattern. It then creates a bald spot, which makes a weak area in the sewing piece. Skipped stitches will cause the other stitches to come loose as well.

Why is my sewing machine skipping stitches? The most common reasons

One of the most frustrating questions a seamstress can ask is, “Why is my sewing machine skipping stitches?” Usually, the most common cause has to do with the state of the needle, but there can be a few other causes as well.

Let’s look at some of the reasons that could be causing your sewing machine to be skipping stitches and shredding thread:

  • Incorrect threading
  • Wrong size needle
  • Incorrect needle for the type of material
  • Poor quality thread
  • Wrong thread or cotton for the specific application
  • Insufficient lubrication
  • Poor clamping or insufficient pressure while sewing
  • Needle is worn and needs replacing
  • Needle size and thread weights are mismatched.
  • Worn thread guides, paths, or eyelets.
  • The needle could be threaded from the wrong side
  • Machine or bobbin tension could be too high
  • The machines need adjustment
  • The needle has hit a pin that may still be in the fabric

How to fix skipping stitches

Why Is Your Sewing Machine Skipping Stitches and What to Do

While having your sewing machine skip stitches can be quite a common problem, it can, fortunately, be fixed at home in a few simple steps.

Let’s have a look at a few steps you could check to rectify the problem.

Regular service: Ensure that your sewing machine is serviced or maintained regularly, especially if you use your sewing machine a lot. Ask the manufacturer to assist you in finding a reputable service agent in your area.

Needle type and size: Use the correct needle for the type of material you’re using. Ballpoint needles are used for knit fabrics and sharp all-purpose needles are more geared for woven fabrics. Invest in specialty needles for tougher materials like leather or denim. Consult your user manual for an indication of the needles required for different types of material.

Thread type: Use a stronger, better quality thread. Make sure the thread you’re using is compatible with the material or fabric you need to sew. The thread shouldn’t break easily; if it does you might need a sturdier type of thread.

Machine tension: An easy way to check if your machine tension is correct is to compare the stitches on the top of your fabric to the ones on the bottom. If there’s a difference, it means the tension is incorrect. Your user manual will easily guide you in fixing the problem.

Worn out parts: If you’re sewing machine is old, and haven’t been serviced in a while, that could be part of the problem. Replace old, rusty parts as soon as possible. These can include thread guides, paths, or eyelets. The plate could also have a few nicks caused by the needle hitting the side of the plate. This will cause the material to snag and skip stitches.

Bent needle: You might have the right type of needle in your sewing machine, but due to constant use or thickness of certain materials, it might be bent. Change needles after about 8 hours of use. A trick here is to keep extra needles on hand so that you don’t have to put your work on hold.

Lubrication: Ensure that your sewing machine is cleaned and oiled regularly. Remember to sew a couple of rows on scrap fabric to get the oil worked through the parts. This will ensure that you don’t end up with oil on your fabric.

Correct insertion: Ensure the needle you use is put into the slot correctly. Usually, the flat side should be set at the back.

Bobbin: Check that the bobbin is wound correctly. Uneven tension could cause skipping stitches.

Clean sewing machine: Ensure there aren’t any small pieces of thread or fluff jammed in the needle plate or bobbin house. Give your machine a good cleaning and dusting before every use. This will clear it of lint or fluff.

Sticky material: Sometimes, the type of material you’re using could be heavy or sticky. This causes the material to drag underneath the sewing machine’s foot. Ideally, you’d want to change to a Teflon foot, but if that’s not possible, we have a tip for you. Simply stick a little piece of sellotape on the bottom of the foot to help it glide over the material more evenly.

Remove pins: As a more experienced sewer, you might think you can maneuver the foot around pins in just the correct way. While that may be true, it’s still advisable to not sew with pins in your fabric. Take a few minutes to tack the fabric in a different color thread. This will avoid any damages caused by rogue pins. Using a different color will make it easy to remove later.

In conclusion

Having a sewing machine skipping stitches can be very annoying. Fortunately, by following our simple and easy steps and recommendations you might be able to avoid the problem altogether. Regular maintenance is the primary step to follow. The second most important step is ensuring you use the correct needles and thread for the correct types of material. By doing that, you’ll soon be back on track and sewing up a storm of beautiful creations!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *