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

Rhonda’s Favorite Quilting Needles


00rhonda-pierceSCHMETZ manufacturers 17 needle types so you have a great choice.  Sometimes technique will dictate  needle choice, other times, the thread or fabric.  I always like to say “it’s a dance between the needle, thread and fabric with YOU and your technique as the leader.”  If one needle is not performing to your expectations, don’t worry, needles don’t have feelings — change to a different needle type or size.  Here are my top four SCHMETZ needle choices for quilting:

• Microtex — For piecing and stippling in sizes 70/10 or 80/12.  The Microtex is my “must have” needle for sewing on batiks and for appliqué. Because this needle has a “very slim acute point” it wears out faster.  I can usually see an inconsistent stitch or hear a click when this needle is ready to be changed.   This needle easily creates a stitch of precision!

• Quilting — The taper of the needle point is more sever, so the sewing experience is a bit different.  Available in two sizes, I use the 75/11 for piecing and the larger size 90/14 for the actual

• Topstitch — The extra long eye on this needle is especially helpful when working with heavier, multiple or even aged (poor quality) threads.  There is less friction on the thread passing through
the eye resulting in less shredding and breakage.  I mostly use size 90/14 for quilting.

• Universal — This work horse of a needle works with nearly all fabric types to create a stitch with integrity.  This needle has the widest assortment of sizes from the finest 60/8 to the largest
120/19.  Yes, I have more Universals in my stash than any other needle type.