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Thread: 301 - help me tweak it, please

  1. #1
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    301 - help me tweak it, please

    Spent the afternoon getting my 301 ready for a new quilt project:

    brushed out lint, including under the feed plate
    oiled, including the bobbin raceway
    changed needle (double checked height of needle and flat side left) These are schmetz 130/705 aka 75/11
    cleaned upper tension discs
    adjusted upper tension so threads are locking in the right place
    mounted walking foot
    adjusted needle bar pressure for even feed
    doubled checked bobbin orientation in bobbin case
    changed top thread, double checked threading, needle right to left

    started sewing samples (diagonal seams to join 2.5" squares to 2.5" strips)

    and she's skittish at the start of the seam, either not feeding through (not catching in dogs?), or clotting up at the beginning of the seam on the bobbin side. Double checked, I am starting with the bobbing thread guide at the top of the stroke.

    Aack! What am I missing? (A heartfelt thank you for your help!)
    Lori

  2. #2
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    One thing that the 221/2 and the 301 seem to insist on is holding the thread tails or it will snarl underneath a little or sometimes it even sucks the threads down and winds up around the hook/race. That may help, as might leaders and enders. It sounds like you've covered everything else.

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    On my 401 I have to have a handle on the threads and I use a leader and/ender. I cut some pieces for leaders and enders and it's like putting 2 quilts together at same time. With me it's automatic.

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    Hmmm. I wasn't holding the thread tails. Usually if they are long I have less of a problem, but your comments helped me realize this was happening on the last project, too...which was why I dusted off the Pfaff 6074 to finish. I think I will have to do some fine searching w a flashlight in the bobbin area...perhaps some thread stuck deep. What is a leader? And will it work with starting a seam that splits a corner? Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WIChix View Post
    started sewing samples (diagonal seams to join 2.5" squares to 2.5" strips)

    Aack! What am I missing? (A heartfelt thank you for your help!)
    As ArchaicArcane said, hold the thread tails or use a scrap or what Bonnie K. Hunter calls Leaders & Enders. Picture it, you are beginning a seam without fabric under the feed dogs. That little point where your needle is working is getting jammed down into your bobbin area. I've always worked with older machines so that holding the thread tails is second nature.
    Last edited by elnan; 01-03-2016 at 04:39 PM. Reason: tried to change wording, then tried to delete double post. Go with the second one.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WIChix View Post
    started sewing samples (diagonal seams to join 2.5" squares to 2.5" strips)

    Aack! What am I missing? (A heartfelt thank you for your help!)
    As ArchaicArcane said, hold the thread tails or use a scrap or what Bonnie K. Hunter calls Leaders & Enders. Picture it, you are beginning a seam without fabric between the feed dogs and presser foot. That little point where your needle is working is getting jammed down into your bobbin area. I've always worked with older machines so that holding the thread tails is second nature.

  7. #7
    Senior Member quiltedsunshine's Avatar
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    When you say, "adjusted needle bar pressure for even feed." Does that mean you tightened or loosened the presser foot tension? If you tighten the presser foot tension, it may feed better.
    Annette in Utah

  8. #8
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    Tightened it. In searching for stuck threads in the bobbin area, I started to wonder about the bobbins. A few of mine are old, the rest are new. Some seem taller than others, and I thought the old ones were shorter. Got out DH's dial caliper to check. They ranged from 88 to nearly 94 microns tall (thick?) The oldest one was right about 90/90.5, so that sunk that theory. Then started looking at the bobbins, where the axle, if you well, joins the rims. The oldest bobbin was nearly smooth. Some newer bobbins had an inset bevel, effectively making it smooth. The bobbin I did most of my testing with tonight, .had a slightly raised joint. I did a bit more testing, not conclusive, but I think the raised joint may be interfering with the spin of the bobbin in the case. The thread snarls started at the close of my last project...likely with a freshly wound bobbin. Perhaps one of the knobby ones. That and that machine likes really long thread tails...about 6-7 inches, to start. I keep wanting it to like 3" tails! I will try to do more testing tomorrow after work, and will get pics of the bobbins to post.

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    Yes, the 301 are very fussy about the bobbins. I was advised to get Singer bobbins and not a generic type bobbin. So far, no problems. And you need to hold the ends of the threads to start off or use leaders and enders. Don't give up as the 301 makes beautiful stitches.

  10. #10
    Super Member Cari-in-Oly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WIChix View Post
    that machine likes really long thread tails...about 6-7 inches, to start. I keep wanting it to like 3" tails! I will try to do more testing tomorrow after work, and will get pics of the bobbins to post.
    Along with holding the thread tails, make sure the take up lever is just over the top of its travel when you start to sew. Should cut down on the super long tails. This is something else that used to be taught back in the day but isn't any longer, it's not necessary on todays machines.

    Cari

  11. #11
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    To continue the bobbin discussion... could have been, maybe has been...a thread of it's own. I'm concerned about the rims and total smoothness. When I test for tension by pulling thread off, I try to detect unevenness. I worry about little jerks and snags in the action that imply something worn or imperfect.
    Obvious nicks and warps can be detected, polished and straightened, but any snaggy bobbin that I can't fix, is out. I don't care how nice and shiny it is, if it snags, it's out.
    I know a lot of people consider vintage steel bobbins far superior to modern ones, and won't consider plastic. I will not argue with that. However, I prefer a smooth, good quality plastic one to a bad steel one. Especially in the Singers with the drop in bobbins, I usually get smoother delivery from plastic bobbins than with the steel ones that come with the machine.
    A steel bobbin will retain any warp or unevenness it suffers, sometimes very small and hard to spot. Plastic will either break or bounce back.
    Another factor my local retired mechanic is adamant about, is that steel bobbins, especially imperfect ones, will wear the housing more than plastic ones.
    The proof of the pudding is in the stitch quality and consistency. Maybe I'm on the wrong track, and would love to hear what experienced sewers think.
    I'm not suggesting the problem that started this thread is in the bobbins, I think that has been covered by experienced sewers and quilters.
    Last edited by steihy; 01-04-2016 at 02:32 AM.

  12. #12
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    You can probably get away with much shorter tails if you just hold them - even if using a leader. As someone else said, used to be taught 'back in the day' (when I learned to sew) and I still just do it out of habit.

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    WIC...I never use anything but SINGER needles in my 301's !!!!

  14. #14
    Member mawmaw's Avatar
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    I have 2 301s. They both require the same size bobbin as the Featherweights.

  15. #15
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    I call my leaders spiders, because by the end of the project they look like a web.
    HelenAnn

  16. #16
    Senior Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    Wow! My 301s are much less fussy than this post appears - try an Elna. Did you remove the bobbin part that holds the case? The one you have to remove the screws from the top? If you did, that finger has to be exactly in the grooves in the removed plate before you tighten the screws. It will pretend to be correct, but do just what you describe. My 301s sew with any needles and without holding thread tails, but not with that finger out of place.

  17. #17
    Super Member purplefiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoprigmom View Post
    Yes, the 301 are very fussy about the bobbins. I was advised to get Singer bobbins and not a generic type bobbin. So far, no problems. And you need to hold the ends of the threads to start off or use leaders and enders. Don't give up as the 301 makes beautiful stitches.
    Most of my elderly machines don't like the new bobbins, fortunately they all have vintage bobbins. Don't ever turn the hand wheel backwards on the 221 and 301, you'll get thread behind the hook; requires "surgery" to remove them.
    Sharon in Texas

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    WOOHOO! She sews again! Sat down this afternoon to try again...same thing. She literally pulls the tails out of my hand. After sitting, she does get stiff in the tension, so re-threaded the top. Took out the needle, checked flat side and re-inserted. Same thing. Thinking about what IrishRose said, took another look at the bobbin case. Pulled it out, checked for direction of wind. Re-inserted...fussy, hard to seat. (I had oiled that bobbin race bearing & had been moving that hook around.) Shouldn't be that way. Rotated that hook to where, oh yeah, it's supposed to be. Inserted the bobbin/case (easy!) Grabbed the fabric & away she goes. Easy on the tails, catching the corners just right (I am chain piecing). SO happy, she sews like a dream again. (She does communicate, I just have a hard time understanding). Thank you so much for everyone's help! Everyone here is so helpful, kind, & patient. I am fortunate to know you all.

    I am working on a queen size quilt for DS's 25th birthday...in March...of this year. I wanted to piece it on the 301, and these are the first seams I've been able to sew. I am far behind, but I may be able to get the top done in time.

    Feeling lucky...might have to tackle that serger I was going to murder a few months ago!
    Lori

  19. #19
    Senior Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    Lori, did you remove the plate under the presser foot and put the 'finger' in the groove? It won't stay pointed up and will act up again if you don't. The screws are on the top of the plate. So happy your vintage lady is behaving for you now.

    We can work on sergers together. I have one belonging to the church that is giving me fits. My own has a broken looper, but this seems to be intact, just bratty.

  20. #20
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    Love my 301's.. .but they too are a bit picky about the bobbins I use, no freshly minted Chinese ones please.

    It's funny you mention sergers that are acting up. Went to use mine today and it wouldn't form a stitch... upper looper is broken at the very tip.... sigh... have to track down a replacement. Moral of the story is I need to stop lending my sister my machines.... she always manages to break something but never say a word about it.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    I had forgotten that I used pliers and did a little reshaping on the newer bobbins. Works fine for piecing, but I make sure I have an original for FMQ.

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