What To Do For Skipped Quilting Stitches // Works in Progress

I have had an interesting sewing week–I have done a lot of experimenting, and let’s just say most of it will not end up on the blog.  Late Saturday night, I had a spark of inspiration and started immediately cutting into my low volume stash and sewing it together. I’m still on crutches (an appointment this week!) and had a little cutting/ironing/sewing station set up so I didn’t have to move.
I really love the outcome, and I’m looking forward to remaking Low Definition in the next week or two. I am using it as a sample for my upcoming Intro to Improv Piecing Seminar at Capital Quilts on April 13.
What I did not love was trying to quilt this baby on my new machine. I kept getting skipped stitches, and I ended up using a myriad of needles, thread brands and weights, etc. on this quilt. I was soooo frustrated. Jeni came to the rescue on Instagram and suggested I leave the feed dogs up and change the tension.
So, what do you do if your machine is skipping stitches??? Hopefully passing on these suggestions from Instagram friends will help someone out.
–Change your needle! (Krista was the first person to teach me this)
–Did you use spray baste? Sometimes heavy spray baste can cause skipped stitches
–Clean your bobbin case–the extra lint can cause skipped stitches
–If its a Janome, they actually make a free motion quilting bobbin case
–Try a different type/weight of thread
–Cry (sort of kidding)
–Send out a sewing sos on social media. Hopefully someone can help. :)
Note: If you have a Janome Horizon, Monika has shared some quilting tips.
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  1. Posted March 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I have a 23 year old Singer. With my machine it helped to set the stichlength on 4 instead of 0. That is the largest stitch it can make.

  2. Posted March 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I have a Janome 6600 and this will happen when the thread on my spool is low. I will change to a new spool and it goes away.

  3. Posted March 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    My Janome 6500 has not done this but it is currently struggling with loopy bobbin stitches – I believe this may be due to me whipping the fabric around too fast with FMQ. Looking for an FMQ bobbin case…maybe it’ll work on mine. Your quilt looks so great!

  4. Posted March 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I have a Bernina 550 with a stitch regulator and just started FMQ so I’m new. I usually don’t have an issue but poor quality products sometimes will result in skipped stitches. As quilting isn’t expensive as it is already, it is well worth it to have good thread, batting and even basting spray. I stitched up samples too with different tension settings and stitch lengths and then made note of them.
    Good luck! You make beautiful quilts! :)

    • Posted March 13, 2013 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      It’s a smart idea to stitch up samples with different tensions and make a note of it. I never remember what changes I have made.

  5. Posted March 13, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I love the colors so much. Great job!
    I agree, I love that social media is so helpful when in an emergency sewing situation :)

  6. Posted March 13, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I always give my machine a thorough cleaning and new needle when this happens. I don’t know if it’s the cleaning or the rethreading or the new needle, but it always works for me!

  7. Amy
    Posted March 13, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I really love the fabric selection and improv piecing on this! It’s gorgeous.

  8. Posted March 13, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I love this quilt, the low def palette is so restful and pretty.
    My Horizon skips stitches if the bobbin is running low or has been wound loosely. Other than that I keep the dogs up as I followed Leah’s advice when I started FMQ 😀

  9. mysweetprairie @gmail.com
    Posted March 13, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi – I disagree with Leah Day’s recommendation b/c you end up with hideous eyelashes on back. That should not ever happen. I have the same machine and FM hours a day for the past 3 years. ***You need to engage the needle plate, use a topstitch needle and drop the feet. It’s all in the manual (that no one reads). Also, you need to lower the darning foot as low as you can where it will not cause drag. Because this machine does not have a hopping foot, (it floats), skipped stitches occur when the quilt area under the needle is bouncing or instable. Lowering the darning foot with the sidescrew (see manual) & engaging the needleplate (see manual) makes everything stay where it should. Using the blue arrow bobbin case means the back will also look PERFECT. You don’t want to do all that work on a quilt and then end up with a horrible back.

    It frustrates me when people think something is wrong with the horizon. I teach classes on using the machine, and before anyone comes to my classes, I tell them they have to read the manual : )

    who loves her Janomes ; )

    • Posted March 13, 2013 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your tip.

      I actually read the manual cover to cover (I’m on crutches so I have a bit of time on my hands) before I even got the machine out of the box 2 days ago.

      I like my horizon. Even with reading the manual and then implementing the adjustments recommended in the manual, i.e. lower the darning foot (which I did), lower the feed dogs, new needle, the right type of thread, etc., i had troubles.

      Sometimes it takes time to learn a new brand of machine. I am happy that so many are willing to give me pointers.

  10. Posted March 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I love this quilt! I have recently begun stocking up on low volume prints to use them more like this. It adds such a different depth to a project. Excellent work! Sorry about the skipped stitches…that stinks!

  11. Posted March 14, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I love these prints all together! So pretty! And FYI, I’ve been working on a similar post for a while as I’ve learned how to FMQ on my new-to-me Juki, and I couldn’t agree more – different brand machines often need different tweaks for FMQ!

  12. Posted March 15, 2013 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    I’m learning lots from reading the comments! Had no idea there was a Fmq bobbin case.

    I was having trouble with my Horizon last week and finally realized I had out the bobbin in upside down. Der.

    PS Congrats on the book!!! Can’t wait to get a copy!

  13. Posted March 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    your quilt looks wonderful! No tips from me, I’m a newbie on this subject. :)

  14. Posted March 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Monika’s advice is sound – I’ve taken one of her classes. And the topstitching needles help a lot! My Janome tends to skip stitches if I’ve sewing through something too thick, so I change to denim or topstitch needles when tackling heavy seams but stick to top-stitching needles when quilting. Also, sometimes a skip is caused by something in the batting or a convergence of seams.

    What did we ever do before we had the internet to talk to each other about this stuff???

  15. Posted March 29, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I also have a Horizon and am currently FMQing a quilt with rayon thread. I had two problems: the bobbing thread looping up on the top but only when I stitched backwards (away from me) and the skipped stitches.

    Found to my surprise that the solution for the two problems were to reduce the top tension (tested on a scrap quilt sandwich) and to lower it to 1 (anything higher than that brought the thread up) and I had to stitch slower! I am used to running my machine really fast to get even stitches when FMQing with cotton thread but this rayon just doesn’t like that at all. When I slowed the speed down all the problems were eliminated (takes way longer though!).

    In the past I’ve also found that using the plastic “big foot” style darning foot instead of the open toe helps when stitichng over blocks with a lot of seams. I’d get skipped stitches because the open toes would “catch” as I moved around. The plastic foot floats over things more evenly.

    Thanks for the link to Monika–definitely going to check out what she has to say. I’ve still got a lot of UFOs to stitch up this year!

  16. Posted July 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    So glad I found this post I have a Janome Horizon (new to me from another Janome model) and am having trouble with skipped stitches – terrrible! I have read the whole manual – twice and watched the DVD and did everything it said to do! So glad I am not going crazy. My test sample worked fine but my quilt -spray basted is not :( Thanks for the tips!

  17. pjscraps
    Posted August 8, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    thanks so much for the reminder. the straight quilting worked fine, so I was frustrated by the skipped stitches with the loop-de-loops. But the needle needs changing and the bobbin could use a cleaning. Can’t undo the spray basting

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted August 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      I hope you get it figured out. there is nothing more frustrating!!!

  18. Posted January 20, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to say thanks for making this list! It is the only one I’ve seen on more than 15 sites that includes “heavily spray basted”! I have two quilts with two layers of batting, and spray basted, and kept having issues with skipped stitches–and all my normal fixes weren’t working (including every single other one you listed–even a free motion bobbin case!). After reading that it was probably the basting spray (and the double batting layer), I changed to a larger needle (universal 80/12 to a topstitch 90/14) and have much, MUCH fewer issues! Glad to know it is an issue with the quilt and *not* on my machine! :-)

  19. Liz Hamilton
    Posted June 14, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I have a Janome 8200 and it skipped stitches, I put in the “purple tip” needle – the one that came with the machine, and hey presto, no more skips. Don’t ask me why, but it works. I think that Organ make the needles, but an Organ one won’t work. It has to be the purple tip. Another expense, but hey…….

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted June 15, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      i just recently heard about the purple needle. So weird! I’m glad you found something that worked.

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