Solutions to Common Sewing Problems




Upper Thread Breaks



  • Incorrect threading
  • Knots or twists in thread
  • Tension too tight
  • Damaged/old needle
  • Needle too small
  • Re-thread machine properly
  • Replace thread
  • Reset bobbin and top thread tension
  • Replace needle
  • Use correct needle for thread and application

Bobbin Thread Breaks
  • Bobbin case incorrectly threaded
  • Bobbin case incorrectly inserted
  • Bobbin does not turn smoothly in bobbin case
  • Lint in bobbin case
  • Bobbin tension too tight
  • Remove bobbin and re-thread with bobbin turning clockwise
  • Remove and re-insert bobbin case
  • Check that bobbin case and bobbin are in “round”; replace if necessary
  • Clean bobbin case and surrounding machine area
  • Check and reset bobbin tension

Skipped Stitches
  • Thread tension too tight
  • Needle damaged
  • Needle wrong size
  • Sewing machine out of adjustment
  • Reset top and bobbin tension
  • Replace needle
  • Use correct needle size
  • Have sewing machine adjusted for timing; hook to needle clearance; needle bar height

Frayed Stitches
  • Needle too small
  • Tension too tight
  • Damaged thread
  • Increase needle size
  • Reset tension
  • Replace thread

Thread Loops on Bottom
  • Thread not in top tension
  • Machine incorrectly threaded
  • Top tension too loose
  • Burr on hook mechanism
  • Re-thread machine with presser foot “up”
  • Re-thread machine incorporating take-up lever
  • Reset top tension
  • Remove burr

Irregular Stitches or Malformed Stitched
  • Wrong needle size
  • Incorrect threading
  • Upper tension too loose
  • Operator pulling fabric
  • Bobbin wound unevenly
  • Ensure correct needle for fabric & thread
  • Unthread machine and carefully re-thread
  • Reset lower and upper thread tension
  • Check presser foot pressure
  • Rewind bobbin

Fabric Puckers
  • Excessive stitch length
  • Needle point is blunt
  • Excessive thread tension
  • Fabric is too soft
  • Thread displacement – too much thread in a small area
  • Fabric not feeding
  • Decrease stitch length
  • Change needle often
  • Check bobbin and upper tension
  • Use stabilizer
  • Decrease field density; scale embroidery designs; increase stitch length
  • Check presser foot, needle plate, feed dogs


  1. Bonnie Riley says

    I was recently looking for stretch needles for a coverstitch machine (Babylock BLCS2). Manual states I’m supposed to use the ELx system. My local sewing shop said I could use HAx needles instead, and that the only real difference was in the scarf of the needle. Is this true, or are there other differences such as length? I’ve searched the internet and could’t find an answer. Thank you.

    • SCHMETZneedles says

      130/705 H is a needle with single groove for use in “normal” home sewing machines (lockstitch machines). HAx1 is just another name for that needle type.

      130/705 H and ELX705 needles are not interchangeable. ELx705 is a needle with a double groove and is used for home overlockers. ELx705 has a nickel surface like most household needles, ELx705 CF has a chrome surface like industrial needles (CF stands for Chrome Finish). The wear and tear of chrome plated needles at high sewing speed is less than nickel plated needles. The measurements of ELx705 and ELx705 CF are exactly the same. The only one that would be perfect for stretch material would be ELx705 CF SUK.

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