10 reasons for skipped stitches

One common question I get is in regards to seam formation, specifically skipped stitches or breaking threads. So why are stitches skipped? I’ve included the basics below but do feel free to jump in with your experiences (I think Gigi is our resident in-house thread/needle expert so this may end up being a multi-part post). Other places to get help are the thread companies. American and Efird has a nice selection of technical support documents. One such document from their site is Minimizing Thread Breakage & Skipped Stitches which you may find useful; it includes a nice sketch of the basics of seam formation.

Below is my list of the most common reasons for stitch skipping and breaking, organized according to the most common reasons with an eye towards helping you prioritize troubleshooting. The list in order of most common occurrence:

  1. Improper threading.
  2. Poor clamping or insufficient pressure (flagging).
  3. The needle needs replacing.
  4. Wrong size needle.
  5. Wrong type of needle for the material.
  6. Lubrication.
  7. Wrong thread for the application.
  8. Poor quality thread.
  9. Needle size and thread weight are mismatched.
  10. Worn thread guides, paths or eyelets (burrs).

A note regarding 9 and 10: these are most common if the machine has seen a lot of use. If the machine is new, it could mean the above are defective. I’ve rarely found defects like these in new machines and I wouldn’t expect you would find these either unless you’ve bought a home machine from those traveling salesmen who sell out of hotel rooms on weekends. Have you ever bought one of those? I did, a Riccar, many years ago. Ugh.

Item #1, Improper threading is the most common reason for skipped stitches or breaking threads. There are so many factors involved with improper threading that this alone could be it’s own post. In order, these are the most common reasons related to improper threading:

  • The needle is threaded from the wrong side.
  • Machine or bobbin tension is too high.
  • The needle is set incorrectly.
  • The machines needs adjustment.
  • The material is fed improperly, either owing to mechanism, material or operator although the latter is less common.

Feel free to submit your questions and comments so I’ll know what -or whether- to cover next.

Related:
10 reasons for skipped stitches pt.2

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