What Causes Skipped Stitches When Quilting?

Quilting is a sewing process that is meant to be intriguing and enjoyable, but in a blink of an eye, it can be frustrating and annoying when your sewing machine suddenly begins to act up and begin to skip stitches.  

Skipping stitches is one of the most common issues sewers face with their sewing machines. In some cases, the machine skips just a stitch and follows it up with a perfect stitch pattern while in others, multiple stitches will be skipped. Both scenarios are a nightmare for quilters as it reduces the integrity and strength of your stitches. 

If you’ve your machine suddenly begins to act up and skip stitches during a quilting process, you don’t have to panic. In this article, we will be discussing the causes of skipped stitches and how you can prevent and fix it to achieve an outstanding quilting result. 

What Causes Skipped Stitches When Quilting?

Skipped stitches have an unpleasant look and cannot be overlooked in other not to undermine your quilting project. There are many factors that could have triggered your sewing machine to start functioning in this particular way. Some of these factors include.

1. Skipping Stitches Caused by Bad Needles

Your sewing machine might have been skipping stitches because the sewing needle is damaged. If you have been making use of the sewing needle for a long time without changing it, the sewing needle tends to become dull or slightly bent. Once your sewing needle has a dent, it finds it impossible to perfectly loop with the bobbin thread to create proper stitches. 

You also have to make sure the sewing needle attached to the sewing machine is a perfect fit for it. Making use of an incorrect needle with your sewing machine will make your sewing machine inefficient which will result in low-quality stitching and skipping stitches. Check out your sewing machine user’s manual to find out the perfect sewing needle for your sewing machine.

It is also important to make sure the sewing needle is properly positioned and fixed to the sewing machine as this can also be the cause of skipped stitches.

Carefully check the position of the needle, when you are certain the needle is sitting perfectly in place, make sure the screw holding the needle remains tightened to prevent the needle from moving around. 

2. Skipping Stitches Caused by Bad Thread

When you’re making use of a low-quality thread, your sewing machine can begin to skip stitches. To prevent this you have to make sure your sewing thread is of high quality. High-quality threads are lint-free and create neat stitches. You should also make sure the thread size compliments the sewing machine needle and your quilting project. 

3. Skipping Stitches Caused by Tension Issues

If the skipping stitches are not caused by needle and thread, it might have been a problem caused by the sewing machine tension. The only time most quilters experience skipping stitches is when performing free motion quilting which is why the problem might have been from the feed dog’s position. 

The sewing machine is designed to be balanced with equal tension while the feed dogs are engaged, once the feed dogs are off the sewing machine loses this balance. If this is the case, you will have to adjust the tension of your sewing machine making use of the tension adjustment dial on your sewing machine. 

If the tension is perfect but the machine is still skipping some stitches, you should stop lowering the feed dogs. While it is believed that free motion quilting requires your feed dogs to be down, it really doesn’t matter as long as there is a good grip on your quilt you won’t be feeling the feed dogs’ presence under your quilt. 

4. Skipping Stitches Caused by Foot Height

The height of your darning foot can also be the cause of skipping stitches on your sewing machine. If the darning foot has been set to drift over your quilt, you should consider adjusting the darning foot to rest too high.

The darning foot resting too high will provide your quilt to bounce around too much underneath. Excessive movement can limit the ability of the sewing needle to make a connection with the needle thread. You can also consider trying out other types of the darning foot to make sure your sewing machine works perfectly. 

How Can I Fix Sewing Machine Skipped Stitches?

There are different reasons why your sewing machines have not been producing perfect stitches, some of these causes can be fixed by yourself while some will require professional help. 

  • Before seeking professional help, check out the sewing machine needle and inspect for dents or damages.
  • You also should make sure the inserted needle is perfect for the sewing machine and the project. Old, worn out and dull needles will result in skipped stitches, you should replace the sewing needle with a new one and ensure it is perfectly fixed.
  • You also have to ensure the sewing machine bobbin is correctly positioned and threaded tightly. When the bobbin thread is not properly wounded, it will cause skipped stitching. You also should make sure you’re making use of a high-quality sewing thread and make use of the tension adjustment feature on the bobbin case should be used correctly. 
  • Improper threading might also be the issue and the perfect way to fix this is by totally rethreading the sewing machine. While rethreading the sewing machine, make sure the tension disk thread and the spool are perfectly positioned in the sewing machine.
  • If all the above steps don’t fix the sewing machine from skipping stitches, you should check out the tension settings as improper tension settings are capable of causing skipped stitches.

Cautiously move the tension dial and increase the tension gradually testing the tension status on a fabric piece. You can make use of the sewing machine user’s manual to find out the correct tension setting for your sewing machine. 

If the issue still can’t be fixed after trying everything out, you might want to seek the help of a professional for proper servicing and maintenance of your sewing machine. If you are not willing to go through the stress and process, you can get yourself a new sewing machine to complete your quilting project. 

What Tension Should My Sewing Machine Be On?

Most sewing machines are equipped with a tension dial that comes with an option of 0 to 9. To carry out a normal project and standard stitches, your sewing machine’s tension should be in the range of 3, 4, or 5. 

If you noticed the tension of your sewing machine is not perfect enough, you might want to carry out a thread tension test. This is a process where you perform a couple of stitches to evaluate and adjust the sewing machine’s tension to the perfect position. 

When carrying out a thread tension test, it is advisable to make use of different thread colors for the top and bottom thread which would make the problem easily spottable although, you can also make use of the same thread color for both the top and bottom thread. 

There is no required number of stitches needed when carrying out a thread tension test, you can make as many stitches as needed to make a proper evaluation of the machine’s tension.

You should also make sure you use the fabric pieces of the fabric you will be using for your project so as not to go through the process of adjusting the tension all over again when starting your project. 


While skipped stitches on your sewing machine can be fixed, its unwanted effect is what troubles all sewers.

Skipped stitches is an issue that all sewers will face occasionally which is why we have provided the needed information about what could have caused this issue and how it can instantly be fixed.