Troubleshooting Serger Skipping Stitches – 10 Causes and Fixes

Are you tired of your serger playing hide-and-seek with stitches? The frustration of serger skipping stitches can turn a creative project into a stressful endeavor. We get it – the thrill of bringing your ideas to life can quickly fade when your serger decides to skip a stitch or two. But fear not! In this journey of stitching triumphs, we’ll unravel the mysteries behind serger skipping stitches.

Discover the secrets to a seamless stitching experience, empowering you to turn your creative visions into reality without the hassle. Say goodbye to stitch interruptions and hello to a world of uninterrupted creativity!


  • Check for a dull or bent needle and ensure it’s the right size and type for your fabric.
  • Adjust thread tension settings to avoid stitching issues caused by too tight or too loose tension.
  • Control your sewing speed to match the capabilities of your machine.
  • Keep your serger clean and well-maintained to prevent lint buildup and other issues that can impact stitching.

What Is a Serger and How Does It Work?

A serger, also known as an overlocker, is a specialized sewing machine designed to finish fabric edges and create a professional-looking seam. Unlike a regular sewing machine, a serger trims the fabric edges, sews a seam, and overcasts the edges all in one step. Its primary functions include trimming, overcasting, and sewing simultaneously, making it an efficient tool for creating neat and durable seams.

The way a serger works involves multiple threads and loopers working together. Typically, a serger uses three to four threads: two needle threads and one or two loopers. The needle threads form the actual seam, while the loopers create loops that interlock with the needle threads, securing the seam and preventing fraying. The knife blade trims the fabric edge as it passes through, ensuring a clean finish.

To understand this process, imagine sewing a basic seam with a regular sewing machine: two pieces of fabric are stitched together, and then you need to finish the edges separately. A serger, on the other hand, combines these steps into one, providing a quick and efficient way to produce professionally finished garments. The versatility of a serger makes it an essential tool for those who want to achieve clean and polished sewing results.

Fixing the Issue: Serger Skipping Stitches

What are the Causes of Serger Skipping Stitches?

Skipping stitches on your serger can be frustrating, causing imperfections in your sewing projects. Several factors contribute to this issue, and understanding the common causes can help you troubleshoot and resolve the problem.

  1. Dull or Damaged Needles: Worn-out or bent needles can result in skipped stitches.
  2. Incorrect Needle Size: Using the wrong needle size for the fabric can lead to skipped stitches.
  3. Thread Tension Issues: Uneven or incorrect thread tension can cause stitches to skip. Check and adjust the thread tension settings according to your serger’s manual.
  4. Thread Quality: Poor-quality or old thread may not feed smoothly, leading to skipped stitches.
  5. Lint Buildup: Accumulated lint in the serger’s needle area can obstruct smooth needle movement.
  6. Improper Threading: Incorrect threading of the serger, especially in the loopers, can result in skipped stitches.
  7. Machine Issues: Mechanical problems, such as a misaligned needle or a damaged feed dog, can contribute to skipped stitches.
  8. Inadequate Lubrication: Insufficient lubrication can cause parts to drag, leading to stitching problems.
  9. Fabric Handling: Pulling or pushing the fabric through the serger can cause stitches to skip.
  10. Speed Control: Sewing too fast can overwhelm the serger, resulting in skipped stitches.

By addressing these common causes, you can improve the stitching performance of your serger. If needed, refer to your serger’s manual for specific guidelines on maintenance and troubleshooting.

Serger Skipping Stitches

What to Do if Your Serger is Skipping Stitches?

Here are the fixes that you can try if your serger is skipping stitches:

  1. Check Needle Condition: Ensure the needle is not dull, bent, or damaged. Replace it with a new, appropriate needle for the fabric.
  2. Verify Needle Size: Confirm that you’re using the correct needle size for the fabric. Adjust the needle size according to the fabric weight.
  3. Inspect Thread Tension: Check and adjust the thread tension settings. Ensure the tension is even across all threads.
  4. Use Quality Thread: Use high-quality serger thread to prevent thread-related issues. Replace old or poor-quality thread.
  5. Clean the Serger: Regularly clean the serger to remove lint buildup, especially around the needle area.
  6. Re-thread the Serger: Follow the threading guide in the manual to ensure correct and proper threading of all components, including loopers.
  7. Address Mechanical Issues: If you suspect mechanical problems, such as misalignment or damage, seek professional servicing for the serger.
  8. Lubricate Moving Parts: Ensure that all moving parts are adequately lubricated as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  9. Handle Fabric Carefully: Allow the serger to feed the fabric naturally without excessive force. Avoid pulling or pushing the fabric.
  10. Adjust Sewing Speed: Control your sewing speed to match the capabilities of your serger. Avoid sewing too fast, especially with challenging fabrics.

Let’s discuss these fixes in detail now.

Check Needle Condition

When your serger is skipping stitches, the first aspect to investigate is the condition of the needle. A worn-out or damaged needle can significantly impact stitching quality. Here’s a step-by-step guide to address this issue:

  1. Turn Off the Serger: Before inspecting or changing the needle, ensure that the serger is powered off. This prevents any accidental injuries during the process.
  2. Raise the Presser Foot: Lift the presser foot to release tension on the needle and make it easier to access.
  3. Remove the Needle: Use the appropriate tool to loosen and remove the needle from the serger. Pay attention to the needle type and size for future reference.
  4. Examine the Needle: Inspect the needle closely for signs of wear, bending, or damage. Look for any burrs or irregularities on the needle’s surface.
  5. Replace with a New Needle: If the needle shows any signs of wear or damage, replace it with a new one. Ensure that the replacement needle is the correct type and size for the fabric you’re working with.
  6. Secure the New Needle: Carefully insert the new needle into the needle holder, making sure it is fully seated and tightened securely.
  7. Lower the Presser Foot: Lower the presser foot back into position, ensuring that it applies gentle pressure on the fabric.
  8. Power On and Test: Turn on the serger and perform a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure that the new needle resolves the issue of skipped stitches.

Verify Needle Size

Using the incorrect needle size for your fabric can lead to skipped stitches. Follow these steps to confirm and adjust the needle size:

  1. Identify Fabric Weight: Determine the weight of the fabric you are working with. Light, medium, and heavy fabrics require different needle sizes.
  2. Consult Serger Manual: Refer to your serger’s manual for the recommended needle sizes based on fabric weight. Manuals often provide a handy chart for quick reference.
  3. Select the Correct Needle Size: Choose the needle size that corresponds to your fabric weight. Use a finer needle for lightweight fabrics and a thicker needle for heavier fabrics.
  4. Turn Off the Serger: Ensure the serger is turned off to safely make adjustments.
  5. Change the Needle: If the current needle size doesn’t match the fabric weight, replace it with the correct size. Follow the steps outlined in the previous fix.
  6. Perform a Test Stitch: After changing the needle, conduct a test stitch to verify that the corrected needle size resolves the issue of skipped stitches.

Inspect Thread Tension

Inconsistent or incorrect thread tension is another common culprit for serger skipping stitches. Follow these step-by-step instructions to verify and adjust the thread tension:

  1. Identify Tension Dials: Locate the thread tension dials on your serger. There are usually separate dials for the upper and lower loopers and needles.
  2. Refer to Manual: Consult your serger’s manual to understand the recommended thread tension settings for different fabrics and stitches.
  3. Set Tension to Default: If you’re unsure of the optimal tension, set all tension dials to their default or midpoint positions. This serves as a baseline for adjustments.
  4. Perform Test Stitches: Stitch a sample on a scrap piece of fabric. Check for any signs of skipped stitches, and observe the stitch quality.
  5. Adjust Tension Incrementally: If skipped stitches persist, make incremental adjustments to the tension dials. Increase tension slightly if stitches are loose, and decrease if they are too tight.
  6. Check Stitch Quality: After each adjustment, perform test stitches to evaluate the stitch quality. Continue adjusting until you achieve balanced and even stitches.
  7. Balance Upper and Lower Tensions: Ensure that the tension is balanced between the upper and lower loopers. Imbalanced tension can lead to skipped stitches and other stitching issues.
  8. Refer to Troubleshooting Guide: If you encounter difficulties, refer to the troubleshooting guide in the manual for specific tension-related issues and solutions.

Use Quality Thread

Thread quality directly influences the performance of your serger. Poor-quality or old thread can lead to skipped stitches. Follow these steps to ensure you’re using high-quality thread:

  1. Inspect Thread Quality: Examine the thread on the spools. Look for any signs of fraying, uneven thickness, or discoloration. If the thread appears compromised, it may be affecting stitching.
  2. Choose Suitable Thread: Select thread that is specifically designed for use in sergers. Check the thread type and weight to ensure compatibility with your fabric.
  3. Avoid Old or Weak Thread: If the thread on the spool is old or has been exposed to excessive light and humidity, it may weaken. Replace old thread with a fresh spool.
  4. Thread the Serger Properly: Ensure the thread is threaded correctly through all guides and tension discs. Proper threading minimizes the risk of thread-related issues.
  5. Perform a Test Stitch: After addressing thread quality and threading, perform a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric. Check for any improvements in stitch consistency.
  6. Consider Thread Lubrication: Some threads benefit from a light coating of thread lubricant. Consult the thread manufacturer’s recommendations and apply lubricant if needed.

Clean the Serger

Lint buildup in the serger’s needle area can obstruct the smooth movement of the needle, leading to skipped stitches. Follow these steps to clean your serger:

  1. Turn Off the Serger: Ensure the serger is powered off to prevent any accidents during the cleaning process.
  2. Remove Needle Plate: Refer to your serger’s manual to safely remove the needle plate, exposing the interior of the machine.
  3. Use a Small Brush: Gently brush away any visible lint or debris around the needle area, loopers, and feed dogs. Pay attention to hard-to-reach places.
  4. Compressed Air: If available, use compressed air to blow away stubborn lint from intricate parts. Hold the presser foot down to prevent the loosened lint from falling into the machine.
  5. Inspect for Residue: Check for any residue from previous sewing projects, such as adhesives or stabilizers. Clean any residue using a lint-free cloth or a cotton swab.
  6. Reassemble the Serger: Once cleaning is complete, carefully reassemble the serger by placing the needle plate back in position.
  7. Perform a Test Stitch: Power on the serger and conduct a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure that the cleaning has resolved the issue of skipped stitches.

Re-thread the Serger

Incorrect threading, especially in the loopers, can contribute to skipped stitches. Follow these steps to ensure proper threading:

  1. Refer to the Threading Guide: Consult your serger’s manual for the correct threading sequence. Follow the step-by-step instructions provided in the threading guide.
  2. Turn Off the Serger: Before re-threading, turn off the serger to ensure safety during the process.
  3. Remove Existing Thread: Carefully remove the existing thread from all loopers and needles. Follow the thread path as outlined in the manual.
  4. Inspect Thread Guides: Check all thread guides for any residual thread, lint, or knots. Clean out any obstructions using a small brush or compressed air.
  5. Thread in the Correct Order: Begin re-threading by following the correct order specified in the manual. Typically, you start with the upper looper, then the lower looper, and finally the needles.
  6. Ensure Proper Tension: Make sure the thread passes through all the tension discs and guides according to the manual. Improper tension can result in skipped stitches.
  7. Perform a Test Stitch: After re-threading, perform a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to verify that the serger is now producing consistent and even stitches.

If interested you can read the reason behind Brother sewing machine skipping stitches here. Moreover, you can read the potential reasons of Bernina sewing machine skipping stitches here.

Address Mechanical Issues

Mechanical problems within the serger, such as misaligned needles or damaged feed dogs, can contribute to skipped stitches. Follow these steps to address potential mechanical issues:

  1. Turn Off and Unplug the Serger: Ensure the serger is turned off and unplugged to guarantee safety during inspection and adjustment.
  2. Refer to the Manual: Consult your serger’s manual to identify the key mechanical components, such as the feed dogs, needles, and other moving parts.
  3. Inspect Needle Alignment: Verify that the needles are correctly aligned and inserted into the needle holders. Misaligned needles can cause stitching irregularities.
  4. Check Feed Dogs: Examine the feed dogs for any signs of damage or misalignment. The feed dogs should move smoothly without obstruction.
  5. Look for Loose Parts: Inspect the serger for any loose screws, nuts, or parts. Tighten any components that may have become loose during use.
  6. Examine Stitch Formation Mechanism: If possible, observe the serger in action while manually turning the handwheel. Ensure that all components involved in stitch formation move smoothly.
  7. Seek Professional Servicing: If you identify any significant mechanical issues or are unsure about making adjustments, it is advisable to seek professional servicing. A trained technician can address complex mechanical problems.
  8. Perform a Test Stitch: After addressing mechanical issues, perform a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure that the adjustments have resolved the problem of skipped stitches.

Ensure Adequate Lubrication

Insufficient lubrication can lead to parts dragging and contribute to stitching problems. Follow these steps to ensure proper lubrication:

  1. Refer to the Manual: Check your serger’s manual for recommendations on lubrication points and the type of lubricant to use.
  2. Identify Lubrication Points: Locate the designated lubrication points on the serger. Common points include moving joints, gears, and other rotating components.
  3. Use Recommended Lubricant: Apply the recommended lubricant sparingly to each designated point. Avoid over-lubrication, as excess lubricant can attract dust and lint.
  4. Manually Operate the Machine: After applying lubricant, manually turn the handwheel to distribute the lubricant and ensure smooth movement of the components.
  5. Wipe Excess Lubricant: Use a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe away any excess lubricant. This helps prevent the accumulation of lint and debris.
  6. Perform a Test Stitch: Power on the serger and perform a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to confirm that the lubrication has improved the overall performance and eliminated skipped stitches.

Handle Fabric Carefully

Inappropriate handling of fabric while using the serger can lead to skipped stitches. Follow these steps to ensure you handle the fabric correctly:

  1. Choose Appropriate Fabric: Select a fabric that is compatible with your serger and needle. Lightweight or delicate fabrics may require a finer needle to prevent skipped stitches.
  2. Check Fabric Alignment: Ensure the fabric is aligned correctly under the presser foot. Misaligned fabric can cause uneven feeding and contribute to skipped stitches.
  3. Avoid Excessive Force: Allow the serger to feed the fabric naturally. Avoid pulling or pushing the fabric forcefully, as this can disrupt the stitching process.
  4. Support Excess Fabric: If working with a large piece of fabric, support the excess fabric to prevent it from pulling on the needle or causing uneven tension.
  5. Use Proper Stitch Length: Adjust the stitch length according to the fabric type. Extremely short stitches on thick fabric or long stitches on delicate fabric may result in skipped stitches.
  6. Perform a Test Stitch: After making adjustments to fabric handling, perform a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure that the fabric is being fed smoothly without skipped stitches.

Adjust Sewing Speed

Sewing too fast can overwhelm the serger, leading to skipped stitches. Follow these steps to control your sewing speed:

  1. Start at a Moderate Speed: Begin sewing at a moderate speed, especially if you are working with challenging fabrics or intricate stitching patterns.
  2. Observe Stitch Quality: Pay attention to the stitch quality as you sew. If you notice skipped stitches, slow down the sewing speed to allow the serger to keep up with the stitching process.
  3. Practice Controlled Foot Pedal Use: Use the foot pedal with control. Gently press and release the pedal to maintain a steady and controlled sewing speed.
  4. Experiment with Speed Settings: Some sergers have adjustable speed settings. Experiment with these settings to find the optimal speed for your specific project and fabric.
  5. Avoid Rapid Changes in Direction: When sewing curves or corners, avoid making rapid changes in direction. Gradual turns allow the serger to adjust more smoothly.
  6. Perform a Test Stitch: After adjusting the sewing speed, perform a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to verify that the serger is stitching consistently without skipped stitches.

By systematically addressing these steps, you can troubleshoot and resolve the issue of skipped stitches on your serger, ensuring smooth and reliable stitching.

Troubleshooting Common Serger Issues

A serger is a valuable tool for finishing seams and creating professional-looking edges on fabrics. However, like any machine, it can encounter common issues that may hinder its performance. In this section, we’ll discuss some common problems and how to troubleshoot them effectively.

IssuePossible CausesTroubleshooting Steps
Uneven StitchesUneven tension on thread or fabric1. Check and adjust the thread tension for consistency.
Dull or damaged needles2. Replace needles regularly to ensure sharpness.
Thread BreakageIncorrect threading1. Re-thread the serger following the correct sequence.
Tension too tight or too loose2. Adjust the tension settings according to the fabric.
Fabric PuckeringIncorrect differential feed setting1. Adjust the differential feed to match the fabric type.
Dull or damaged blades2. Replace blades if they are not cutting smoothly.
Skipped StitchesNeedle not properly inserted1. Ensure the needles are correctly inserted and tightened.
Thread caught in the tension disc2. Check for and remove any thread caught in the tension disc.
Thread LoopingIncorrect serger settings1. Verify the correct settings for the desired stitch type.
Thread not in tension discs2. Ensure the thread is correctly placed in the tension discs.

Remember, regular maintenance and proper usage are key to preventing these common serger issues. If problems persist, refer to your machine’s manual or seek assistance from a professional.

Serger Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your serger is crucial to ensure its optimal performance and longevity. Follow these simple tips to keep your serger in top condition.

  1. Clean the Machine Regularly:
    • Remove lint and debris from the serger’s feed dogs and tension discs after each use.
    • Use a small brush or compressed air to reach tight spots.
  2. Change Needles Appropriately:
    • Replace needles regularly, especially if you notice skipped stitches or fabric snagging.
    • Use the right type and size of needles for the fabric you’re working with.
  3. Oil Moving Parts:
    • Apply a few drops of serger oil to the moving parts, such as the loopers and needle bar, as recommended in the user manual.
    • This prevents friction and ensures smooth operation.
  4. Check and Adjust Tension:
    • Regularly inspect the tension settings and adjust them as needed for different fabrics.
    • Incorrect tension can lead to uneven stitches and thread breakage.
  5. Inspect and Replace Blades:
    • Keep an eye on the serger blades for any signs of dullness or damage.
    • Replace them if necessary to maintain clean cuts and prevent fraying.
  6. Use High-Quality Thread:
    • Choose good-quality serger thread to minimize lint buildup and reduce the risk of thread breakage.
    • Low-quality thread can cause tension issues and affect stitch quality.
  7. Protect Your Serger:
    • Cover your serger when not in use to shield it from dust and environmental factors.
    • This simple step helps prevent unnecessary wear and tear.
  8. Follow User Manual Guidelines:
    • Refer to the serger’s user manual for specific maintenance instructions and recommended products.
    • Adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines ensures proper care and avoids voiding warranties.

Remember, regular maintenance not only extends the life of your serger but also ensures consistent and high-quality stitching.


In conclusion, mastering how to fix a Serger Skipping Stitches is an invaluable skill for any sewing enthusiast. With the right techniques and attention to detail, you can elevate your serging projects to professional standards. Remember to regularly maintain and clean your serger, and always use quality threads and needles. 

Let this guide be your trusted resource in conquering serger stitch skips and achieving flawless results in your sewing endeavors. With practice and patience, you’ll transform your serger into a reliable tool that consistently delivers impeccable stitches, making your creations stand out with precision and finesse.


  1. Mechanisms of sewing machines
  2. Association of individual and work-related risk factors with musculoskeletal symptoms among Iranian sewing machine operators
  3. Reduction of work-related musculoskeletal risk factors following ergonomics education of sewing machine operators
  4. A randomized controlled trial evaluating the effects of new task chairs on shoulder and neck pain among sewing machine operators: the Los Angeles garment study

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use a Regular Sewing Machine to Fix Skipped Stitches Instead of a Serger?

Using a regular sewing machine for skipped stitches can be an alternative method to fixing them instead of using a serger. It is important to ensure that the sewing machine is properly adjusted and that the correct stitch length and tension are used.

What Should I Do if My Serger Keeps Skipping Stitches Even After Adjusting the Tension?

When a serger keeps skipping stitches despite tension adjustments, troubleshooting common serger issues is necessary. This may involve examining the stitch settings, checking for thread or needle problems, and ensuring proper threading techniques are followed.

Are There Any Specific Fabrics That Are More Prone to Causing Serger Skipping Stitches?

Certain fabric types can be more prone to causing serger skipping stitches. Troubleshooting this issue involves adjusting tension, needle size, and using appropriate thread. Factors such as fabric thickness, stretchiness, and texture should also be considered when working with a serger.

Can Using the Wrong Type of Thread Cause Serger Skipping Stitches?

Using the wrong type of thread can contribute to serger skipping stitches. Different threads have varying thicknesses and properties that may not be compatible with the serger’s tension settings, resulting in skipped stitches.

Is It Possible to Prevent Serger Skipping Stitches by Using a Different Stitch Length or Width?

Using a different stitch length or width may potentially prevent serger skipping stitches. Adjusting the stitch length can affect the tension on the thread, while changing the stitch width can alter how the fabric is fed through the machine.

Why is my machine skipping stitches?

Ensure proper machine function by correctly placing the thread in the tension disk and positioning the spool accurately. Confirm the bobbin is inserted correctly and tightly threaded, as poorly wound bobbins can cause skipped stitches. The use of high-quality thread is crucial for achieving consistent and even stitching.

Why do Overlocker skip stitches?

Common reasons for sergers or overlockers skipping stitches include insufficient needle height, bent or dull needles, improper thread tension, and dull knives. Attention to these factors is essential for maintaining smooth and accurate stitching.

How do I stop my stitches from skipping?

To address the issue of skipped stitches with double needles, it is recommended to replace dull needles and increase upper tension. Utilizing a walking foot can help avoid problems associated with twin needles. Another potential cause is an ill-fitting needle for the material, emphasizing the importance of choosing the right needle for the job.

Leave a Comment