Free Motion Quilting Skipped Stitches – Causes and Solutions

Coming up with neat and perfect stitches should always be the goal of every sewer. However, the sewer is most likely to experience challenges here and there, such as skipped stitches.

Skipped stitches come to be when one is carrying out free motion quilting, and usually, you may miss a couple of stitches here and there.

If you find that you are missing some stitches, then it could be that you are doing some things wrong when sewing. In this free-motion quilting post, you will learn about the causes of stitch skipping and how to fix it.

Why Do I Have Skipped Stitches When Free Motion Quilting?

When coming up with a stitch, a loop of thread forms behind the needle, and the rotary hook grabs it. If anything prevents the sewing needle from doing its work, it will skip a stitch.

Also, In case anything is preventing the loop from forming, it will create a skipped stitch. Below are some causes of skipped stitch:

1. Failure to Thread the Machine Well

This issue is one of the most common reasons why there will be skipped stitches during free motion quilting. If you do not thread the machine well, then it will end up missing some stitches.

Threading the machine well involves turning the device on and off to adjust it if you feel there is an issue somewhere.

Solution – Apply the Right Way to Thread a Machine

Before you start threading, check your machine’s manual to give you an idea of how the threading should appear. You also need to select the color you want to knit and wind the bobbin; then, you can go ahead with the threading.

Step 1: Place the Cotton at the Top Spool

Start by placing the cotton on the spool, which is at the top part of your machine. Use a plastic disk to hold the spool in place if your device has one.

Step 2: Pass the Thread Through the Guide

All machines will most probably have a guide that you should follow when threading. Pass the thread through the first thread guides.

Step 3: Pass the Thread Around the Tension Knobs

Pull the thread downwards and wind it around the tension knobs.

Step 4: Pass the Thread Through the Second Thread Guide

Pull the thread up and ensure that it passes through the second thread guide.

Step 5: Bring the Thread to the Needles

You should then bring the thread down and pass it through the hooks if any. Drive it into the needle and thread it from front to the back.

Step 6: Insert the Bobbin

Follow your bobbin manual on winding the bobbin and inserting it to its place in the machine. You should then join the bobbin to the top thread.

To do so, find the loop on the bobbin and pull it up towards the upper yarn. Finally, pull these two threads towards the back.

To finish off, test whether the thread is working well by making some stitches.

2. Using the Wrong Needle

If the needle you are using is of the wrong size, say it is way too big than the fabric you are sewing, it may result in skipped stitches.

Also, if the needle you are using does not match the thread’s size, it will still skip stitches. In addition, a blunt or bent needle will make you miss some stitches when sewing.

Step 1. Determine the Kind of Fabric You Are Sewing

Ensure you study the kind of fabric you will be using before you start threading the machine. When buying a needle, it is essential to inquire which material you can use on it.

Step 2. Determine the Type of Thread You Will Be Using

Make sure that the needle you use matches your thread.  You must ensure that you use the right size of thread and sewing needle on your fabric to ensure it does not skip stitches.

Step 3. Ensure There Is No Bending on the Needle

If your needle is dull or has any bending, ensure you replace it.

Step 4. Make Sure the Needle Is Tight

Ensure the installation of your needle is okay and that it goes all-in in the machine. Also, it needs to be tight enough; otherwise, it may cause skipped stitches.

To make it firm, make the screws looser and place the needle back again in a better position.

3. You Are Using the Wrong Thread

If you are using a low-quality thread, it will result in skipped stitches. If the yarn does not match with the needle or you notice wearing, it will also make you miss some stitches when quilting.

Solution – Ensure the Thread Does Not Cause Skipped Stitches

Step 1. Use the Right Size of Thread

Your thread size should always match the needle you are using when stitching. Also, it should be an excellent fit for the fabric you are using such that it is neither too big nor too small for it.

Step 2. Ensure the Thread Is of High Quality

A high-quality thread will ensure that there is no lint around the machine and will make neat stitches. Also, ensure that the yarn you use is in perfect working condition.

4. Issues With the Pressure Foot

Skipped stitches may also be a result of an issue with the pressure foot. Depending on your machine, there is a specific foot that you can use for free-motion quilting.

Some pressure feet may not have the right surface area, making the machine skip some stitches when performing motion-free quilting.

Solution – Identify and Solve Issues With the Presser Foot

Step 1. Increase the Presser Foot Pressure

The skipped stitches may result from flapping, and the best way to solve this is by increasing the pressure on the presser foot. When the pressure is high, it helps minimize the space that the quilting fabric will flap up and down.

Step 2. Use Smaller Measurements on the Presser Foot

The measurements will depend on the kind of sewing machine. Some will work well at a default setting of 50 and others at 85.

5. There Is an Issue With Your Machine

Another possible cause of skipped stitches is when there are lubrication issues in your machine. When the device lacks proper lubrication, it will be having some hiccups here and there when doing free motion quilting.

Typically it may be stopping in the middle of sewing, which can make it skip some stitches.

An unclean machine is also another cause for skipped stitches. If such is the case, ensure you take proper care of your device.

Solution – Maintain a Machine

Step 1. Oil It Regularly

Ensure you apply the proper lubrication on your machine more often.

Step 2. Clean It

After a session of sewing with the machine, ensure you remove all the debris in it. Also, regularly dust it off to prevent the accumulation of dust.

Step 3. Inspect It From Time to Time

You can get a technician to check the state of the machine regularly.

How to Prevent Skipped Stitches During Free Motion Quilting?   

1. Take Time to Know the Needle and Thread That Your Project Requires.

Different fabrics will require different needles and threads for them to come out great. Ensure that you research the thread and needle that makes the perfect suit for your project.

2. Change Your Needles Regularly

Needles wear out regularly hence the need to change them from time to time. You need to ensure that after every 8 hours, you insert a different sewing needle.

Also, ensure that you use another sewing needle for your projects by selecting one that fits the project best. Moreover, ensure you have extra sewing needles around you if you want to make a quick change.

3. Repair Your Machine Regularly

It is vital to ensure that you take your machine for inspection more often. If there are any breakdowns, ensure you take them for repair immediately.

4. Rethread Your Machine

Failing to thread the machine properly is one of the top reasons why the machine skips stitches. You need to ensure that the knitting is perfect, and if you doubt this, you can always rethread it again to see if the machine still produces skipped stitches.

5. Use Silicone Spray

You can always spray your thread and fabric using silicone spray. The spray comes in handy if you want to eliminate skipped stitches.

6. Follow Your Machine’s Manual

If you don’t recognize what to do relating to your machine, say threading, you can always refer to the machine’s manual. This guide will be beneficial to solve any issues related to your specific sewing machine model.

What Are the Best Threads for Free-Motion Quilting?

There are various threads you can use for free-motion quilting. But the best for this process must be that with 100% cotton. Such yarn will bring out neat and even stitches on your fabric.

Moreover, you can use nylon threads with 40 percent and polyester threads with about 50 percent. When carrying out this process, you should choose a yarn that can suit your bobbin and needle well.

What Are the Best Needles for Free Motion Quilting?

When doing free motion quilting, the best needle to use will be the round one. One of the best needles is the Aurifil 50wt and sulky 45wt threads.

Also, you can use a universal 80 needle that features around points. This needle is pretty cheap and usually stitches between the stitches, so it does not damage the fibers.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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