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Thread: Adjusting bobbin tension on 201

  1. #1
    Senior Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    Adjusting bobbin tension on 201

    I'm working on learning how to do FMQ on my "new" 201, and have already had some great advice from Polyparrot and others here. I want to adjust the bobbin tension, as I'm getting loops on the bottom, and even turning the top tension to 9 doesn't completely get rid of them.The bobbin thread is difficult to pull out, so I'm guessing the tension's too tight. The manual says turn "the larger" of the 2 screws on the bobbin case - as far as I can see, they're identical. Which one is it please? Next problem -neither of them will move...

  2. #2
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    Singer 201 isn't the best machine to FMQ with since it has a horizontal rotary(bobbin area) vs the vertical rotary that a the Singer 15s, 301, or FW. The pick up of the bobbin thread on those machines (vertical rotary) make such a nicer stitch for FM. I own a 201 and 15-90. The 201 isn't the machine for FMQ that I use.

    Since your question is a help me on my 201 and not which machine is best for FMQ, you need to make some adjustments.

    First, can you post picture of your 201 rotary/bobbin area so that we can see the screws that you are talking about.
    Your bobbin thread shouldn't be difficult to pull out since the bobbin just drops into the rotary area. Could it be getting snagged on a metal burr? Feel that area for burrs.

    Second, realize that different threads behave differently in different machines, and that the 201 may not like the thread you are using. Also make sure the bobbin thread is the same as your top thread.

    Third, sometimes it is the speed of machine to how fast you move the fabric that will result in thread loops.
    Playing with different threads, tension level with those threads, and rate of machine speed to hand motion speed are sometimes the issue.

    I have also found that if you have sprayed basted your quilt, that basting will effect the FMQ with these old machines. Sometime the needle gets gunk up with the basting spray glue and the result is loops and skipped stitching.
    Last edited by vintagemotif; 01-10-2012 at 09:16 AM.

  3. #3
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    Added resource to help you with your stitches.
    Leah Day's link to FMQ with loops issues: http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.c...-or-speed.html

  4. #4
    Senior Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    Thanks for the help. Unfortunately some of the other Singers that might have been better for FMQ, eg the 301, and I think also the 15-91, weren't sold in the UK, so my choice was limited. I have a FW, but obviously the size limits the quilting that can be done on it (by me, anyway - someone posted and said she'd quilted a double bed quilt on a FW, but I don't think I'll be trying that anytime soon). I bought the 201 partly because I just wanted another beautiful vintage machine, but also because my modern machine has never been good for FMQ so quilt tops are piling up. I wanted to see if I could find a solution that didn't involve another expensive modern machine.
    The good news is that after I posted, I moved on to a bigger practice piece that had different batting, and managed to do some quite creditable FMQ, with accurate tension. My stitch lengths weren't very consistent, but that's because I'm still adjusting to the machine and to controlling the speed with just the foot pedal.
    I was also unsure about where to set the pressure of the foot on the fabric. When I first put my darning foot onto the 201 and tried to sew a quilt sandwich, I could hardly move the fabric once I'd put the pressure foot down. So I altered the pressure, but probably went too far the other way. I've now studied how the darning foot sits on the fabric on my Janome, and tried to replicate that on the 201.
    Of course I'm dealing with a combination of challenges here: getting used to the 201, as I don't have a lot of experience of vintage machines, and finding the right speed and rhythm for this machine. Consequently I was thrilled when I found that some of my stitching had come out well!
    So the bobbin tension question is no longer so urgent, but I might do as you suggest and post a photo. Sorry not to have done so in the first place, but I assumed that all 201s would have very similar bobbin cases, so people would know what I meant.
    Incidentally, I failed to understand the instructions in the manual for removing the bobbin case - it seemed to involve inserting a screwdriver at a particular point, to lever the case out, and as I couldn't really follow what they meant, I decided I'd better leave well alone in case I caused some damage. If anyone can give me a clearer explanation, I'd be grateful.

  5. #5
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    I don't think you want to mess with taking the bobbin case out. I think it was Purplefiend, Sharon, who did that once, and she stated it wasn't an easy items to put back in.

    I use my 201 for straight stitch quilting, piecing, and sewing clothes. Awesome machine for sewing clothes!

  6. #6
    Senior Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagemotif View Post
    I don't think you want to mess with taking the bobbin case out. I think it was Purplefiend, Sharon, who did that once, and she stated it wasn't an easy items to put back in.
    You may be right. The manual says it's easy to take the case out - and I can't follow the instructions for that at all - but it makes no promises for getting it back in!

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    Well I am really really new when it comes to any type of sewing machine repair...but I am proud to say I fixed tension problems on my new to me 301A. Totally different machine I know : )

    Here is a link that might help you with the bobbin case-
    http://vssmb.blogspot.com/2011/07/20...g-ring-re.html

    I took apart my tension unit, cleaned it and put it back together. At first I was having trouble getting the bobbin tension correct. I took it out and cleaned it too. Eventually out of frustration I tightened the screw all the way and it seemed to fix the problem. However, a few days ago I got to thinking about it and it seemed to me that having the screw tightened all the way couldn't be my real fix, I figured it was like fixing my tension by having the thread tension set on 0 or 9. So I took out the bobbin case screw, which is very tiny and easy to drop. I screwed it back in and voila, with a tiny bit of adjustment the tension is now perfect.

  8. #8
    Senior Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janeite View Post
    Well I am really really new when it comes to any type of sewing machine repair...but I am proud to say I fixed tension problems on my new to me 301A. Totally different machine I know : )

    Here is a link that might help you with the bobbin case-
    http://vssmb.blogspot.com/2011/07/20...g-ring-re.html
    This is a really helpful link - thankyou. And even better, it gave me another link to a blog by someone who's dissembled and reassembled a 201, with lots of accompanying pictures.

  9. #9
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annesthreads View Post
    This is a really helpful link - thankyou. And even better, it gave me another link to a blog by someone who's dissembled and reassembled a 201, with lots of accompanying pictures.
    I'm happy that you found this person's excellent blog. I totally forgot about this helpful blog. IF you follow his tutorial on removing the bobbin case on the 201, please post how the process went for you. Thanks!

  10. #10
    Super Member purplefiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagemotif View Post
    I don't think you want to mess with taking the bobbin case out. I think it was Purplefiend, Sharon, who did that once, and she stated it wasn't an easy items to put back in.

    I use my 201 for straight stitch quilting, piecing, and sewing clothes. Awesome machine for sewing clothes!
    Getting that #%$@&^ bobbin case back in was a study in frustration!! It was no fun at all, my friend and I finally got it back together 4 days later. I don't ever want to attempt it again in this lifetime.
    Sharon W. in central Texas

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