Common Sewing Questions & Answers

Item # X-HT-200285

Here at Sailrite®, we believe in not only being a one-stop shop for all your sewing and DIY project needs, but we also pride ourselves on being a sewing authority. We frequently receive the same questions from our customers about sewing problems, so we’ve compiled a list of your most frequently asked questions along with our top our answers and recommendations. Hopefully, the information in this blog will help solve some of your sewing mishaps so you can get back to your project.

We'll answer all your sewing questions.

Q. How do I stop my needle from gumming up when I sew with basting tape?

A. When you sew through basting tape, it's inevitable that your needle will get gummed up with the adhesive residue. But, there are a few things you can do to to prevent constant needle gumming. Before inserting your needle in the sewing machine, run it through a bar of Ivory® soap. The soap residue will help keep the adhesive from sticking to your needle, and it doesn't affect your stitching at all.

For more tips on how to prevent needle gumming when sewing with basting tape, read our full-length blog on the topic. Search #300515XHT on our website.

Q: My thread is flaking and appears to be leaving dust or powder on my machine. What does this mean?

A: Thread dusting simply means the thread batch you have has more bonding than normal. This will not cause a problem with the quality or strength of the thread, but it may be a nuisance to clean up from time to time. Using a sewing silicon lubricant on the thread and needle will generally reduce the dusting.

Q. Why do I sometimes get three loops of thread when I try to remove my fabric from under the presser foot?

A. This common sewing problem is very easy to fix. This extra loop of thread also prevents you from pulling your fabric free from under the presser foot. If you are sewing with a Sailrite sewing machine, rotate the balance wheel toward you by hand until the extra loop of thread is set free from the bobbin area. You should also verify that the needle is fully out of the fabric assembly and the take-up arm is at its uppermost position.

Q. My thread is shredding, balling or breaking. How do I fix this?

A. The most common reasons for thread breaking is that the needle is in backwards or the machine is not threaded correctly. Check your sewing machine manual for instructions on how to insert a needle and thread your machine. Make sure your thread is not snagging anywhere along the thread path from cone/spool to needle.

If the issue is still not resolved, check to make sure you are using a compatible thread weight and needle size. If the thread is too thick for the needle, it will not pass through the needle eye and form a loop and will instead ball at the needle.

For help with matching up thread weight and needle sizes, refer to our blog on the topic. Search #XHT300032 on our website.

Q. Why does my machine keep skipping stitches?

A. There are a number of causes for skipped stitches. First, check your needle. Make sure it isn't installed incorrectly or bent, and that it's free from any residue like basting tape adhesive.

Another reason you might be skipping stitches is you have the wrong needle type. If you're sewing with a Round Point (Sharp) needle, try switching to a Serv7 needle. Serv7 is a specialty needle designed to prevent skipped stitches when sewing stretchy or slippery materials (such as sailcloth, elastic ), or when sewing heavy and thick assemblies. The needle has a reinforced shaft, which makes it far less likely to bend when sewing through thick, dense assemblies.

Q. Why do knots appear on the top or bottom of my fabric assembly?

A. This is a thread tension issue. If your tension is set correctly, the knot formed by the top and bobbin thread should be buried in the middle of your fabric assembly. Adjusting your thread tension is different with each sewing machine. Refer to your sewing machine manual for information on how to adjust your thread tension.

If you have a Sailrite sewing machine, refer to this blog for more information on how to adjust your machine's tension: #XHT200138.

Q. How do I match up a patterned fabric?

A. If you're sewing something wider than your fabric's width, you'll need to match up the pattern when seaming so the pattern continues seamlessly without a visible break in the pattern design. Don't let this intimidate you from working with patterned fabrics! We have a very helpful video with lots of tips on how to join patterned fabric. Just search #XHT300205 on our website to watch the video.

We hope this question-and-answer blog answered some of your questions about sewing machine issues. If your question was not answered above, please post a question in the comment section below and we'll try to help. Sailrite is your one-stop shop for all your sewing supplies, project ideas and support.