What Causes a Skipped Stitch?

Posted by on September 12, 2017


A skipped stitch looks like a long stitch when compared to the other stitches.  There are two main causes of skipped stitches.  One is a problem with your encoders.  Encoders are little wheels that roll left to right and back and forth to tell the machine how fast you are quilting.  These are used when you are using the regulated stitch that will run the needle at a pace to achieve the desired stitch length.   The encoders require a smooth, clean surface to roll consistently.  If they roll over any debris on the rail it will hesitate and assume you have paused, resulting in a longer stitch.  If the encoder has hesitated there will not be a needle hole punched in the fabric because the needle has hesitated as well.  Other reasons an encoder may hesitate is oil on the rail, the spring action has become loose or the electronics need repair.

Another reason for skipped stitches is a timing problem.  Timing refers to the synchronization between the hook and the needle.  The hook picks up the thread from the needle, pulls it around the bobbin and picks up the bobbin thread to create a stitch.  If the hooks is not coming around at the correct time to pick up the thread, no stitch will be formed.  The needle will still move and create a needle punch in the fabric where no stitch was formed.

There are several reasons why the timing may be off.

  1. There has been an event where the needle hit a foreign object and broke.  This may cause the needle bar to be in a different position in relationship to the hook.
  2. There has been a thread jam where you had to force the handwheel to get the thread out.  This may also cause the needle bar to be in a different position.  These two examples will require your machine to be put back in time.  Other reasons include:
  3. The needle has flexed away from the hook and it did not pick up a stitch.  Make sure you are using the appropriate needle for the weight of fabric you are using.  If you are stitching over a heavy seam, sew slower to help the needle to penetrate the fabric rather than flex away from it.
  4. The needle is bent and the hook is unable to pick up the stitch.  Change the needle.
  5. The needle is in backwards or not all of the way up in place.  Check the needle installation.
  6. The take up rail is too high. This makes it difficult for the hook to hold on to the thread.  Often the rail is raised up for a previous quilt and left in that position for a new quilt.
  7. The quilt is too tighton the rails.  Loosen the quilt slightly so the hook will not have the thread pulled away by the trampoline-effect of a quilt loaded too tightly.

The more information you have the better you will be able to trouble shoot.  Happy quilting!


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