In all types of sewing there will be times when you will either need to start sewing before the fabric is under the needle or after the needle has cleared the fabric. In quilting, for example, it can happen while sewing leaders and enders, as well as while chain piecing. In garment sewing it can happen when sewing points, such as for darts or for starting techniques such as a rolled hem. All single needle sewing machines that use a bobbin form a stitch in basically the same way. Once you understand the formation of a stitch, you will be less likely to have trouble with these “sewing off the fabric” techniques.
Remember, a sewing machine is all about timing and thread tension. When the top thread and needle intersects with the bobbin thread is the key to everything. Thread tension needs to relax at just the right moment to be ready to pick up the bobbin thread and form the stitch. Since the stitch is not stable on its own, it needs to have a piece of fabric or stabilizer between the presser foot and the feed teeth to be able to stay formed. This is why sewing in the air is just not practical and why it gets so many sewers into trouble. It is very easy to create a thread nest when “air sewing”. The best way to avoid this is to make sure there is tension on the thread as you begin to sew. You may do this a few different ways such as holding the threads for the first two stitches with your fingers or by placing the threads under the presser foot, but making a habit of this small act will eliminate the lion’s share of thread nesting issues. When working with fabric weights such as quilting cottons or lighter, a straight stitch needle plate and a straight stitch presser foot will help keep the fabric from getting sucked down into the stitch plate hole, keeping the fabric from following the top thread as it is on its way down to meet the bobbin thread. If you are using a straight stitch presser foot and/or needle plate, remember to tell your machine by selecting “Stitch Width Safety” in the Set Menu.