Surefire Way to Avoid Skipped Stitches

Use the Right Needles!

Handi Quilter recommends only one needle system for its machines. Compatible needles will have the following designations: 134, DP X 5, 135 X 5, 135 X 7, 797, SY 1955.

Handi Quilter machines are timed to use this style of needle only. The needle features a machined scarf. The letter R refers to the needle point — a sharp needle. We have tested sizes 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 in this needle type.

When you buy needles online, from a Handi Quilter rep, or from a local quilt shop, make sure you get the right needles. For example, do not buy needles with the MR designation because they have a cranked, or bent, shaft and Handi Quilter machines are not timed to work with these needles.

What about titanium needles? As long as the titanium needles match the parameters listed above, feel free to use them. Our Handi Quilter educators have successfully used them, although they aren’t available for purchase from Handi Quilter.

You may also choose compatible light ballpoint (FG) needles for use with knit fabrics or T-shirt quilts.

If you have difficulty finding the right needles, you can always get them from Handi Quilter.

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28 Responses to Surefire Way to Avoid Skipped Stitches

  1. Lois Calvin says:

    I have HQ16. My problem is not so much skipped stitches as birds nests underneath the quilt and loopy stitches underneath the quilt. I’ve tried everything I can think of and I still get these problems. Very annoying.

    • Nancy says:

      Lois: I assume you are already familiar with adjusting the bobbin and top tension for the machine. If you feel like you need a refresher, there’s a great video called “TNT — thread, needles and tension” you might want to watch.
      Also, double check that the thread is fully “flossed” around the top tension disk.
      As the video describes, first get the bobbin tension right (using the “drop test”) and then adjust the top tension (which may take several full rotations of the knob). Good luck.

  2. Kathy Lawson says:

    OK gang….I have checked my needles, cleaned out the machine, oiled it, sang to it, using great thread, repositioned needle and my attitude, but still getting skipped stitches. I am truly at wits end, I have a steady business for others but can not provide them with so many repairs. Help…Help…Help.

    • Nancy says:

      Kathy (and others): I checked with our educators. Two things to do if experiencing skipped stitches.

      First, make sure the quilt isn’t “tensioned”, or pulled, too tight on the frame and with the clamps. You don’t want it tight like a trampoline; there needs to be some gentle give to the quilt.

      Second, they also suggest slightly turning the needle so rather than having the needle face straight (at 6:00, so to speak), turn the eye slightly to the left (i.e. at 6:30).

  3. susan sendelbach says:

    Hi I just checked all of my needles and they are the correct size. However, I still get skipped stitches. What do you suggest?

    • Nancy says:

      I’ll ask our educators to provide some guidance and I’ll do a future blog post (probably in the next couple weeks).

      • susan sendelbach says:

        After quilting half a quilt with skipped stitches, I switched to the tried and true Monopoly invisible thread. It worked great. Then I got brave and switched to other threads- they worked great as well. Did it heal itsellf?????

    • Nancy says:

      Susan: Be sure to check out the reply I made to Kathy’s comment. It contains the suggestions from our educators.

  4. Jeanne Surber says:

    I bought 10 packs of Titanium needles from you a while back and now in reading this I see that none of them are appropriate. I have noticed skipped stitches in using them and now this confirms it. I feel a bit disgruntled about having been sold all these needles that won’t work.

    • Nancy says:

      Did you buy them directly from Handi Quilter or from a rep? I checked and we don’t stock any titanium needles. I would expect you should be able to return them.

    • Nancy says:

      Jean: As mentioned in the blog post, we have tested titanium needles and they do work provided they are the specs in the blog (R, . We only carry needles that match the specs. I’ll see what else I can find out about using titanium needles from our educators. They might know some tricks for using them.

  5. LINDA says:

    Which video on the needle movement…I saw it once and cant remember where it was
    I am using Superior Threads Metallics and usually do pretty good.

    changed needles, 30% speed, oiled, changed bobbins, ATE CHOCOLATE, tightened needle again, ran it on a practice area, stared at needle and then it just started doing ok…

    • Julia says:

      I LOVE your attitude . . . . you sound like a wonderful person with many friends! ! ! !
      God Bless You!

  6. Susan Henyon says:

    Somewhere there is also information about changing the orientation of the needle slightly to avoid skipped stitches. It’s in one of the educational videos as I recall.

  7. Kathy Starling says:

    What about needles that have all the same numbers (ie 134…) but instead of R they say FG/SUK, are these the same thin? Thanks!

    • Nancy says:

      If they are labeled FG, they are ball point needles for use with knits. Only those with R are sharps which is what you want for cottons.

  8. MJ says:

    Can you explain the difference between SAN 6 and SAN 11 please.

  9. Sue Bone says:

    They’re the only needles I use and I still get skipped stitches occasionally.

  10. Amy says:

    Wow, what a timely tip! I was working on a wall hanging last night on my HQ-16 and was getting all kinds of skipped stitches. I had changed my needle right before starting this new project, and was upset that I was having problems. I will go down to my quilt room and look at the needle packaging to see if I perhaps ordered the wrong kind of needle.