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"Thread mess" on Singer Slants

"Thread mess" on Singer Slants

Old 04-28-2015, 10:32 AM
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Default "Thread mess" on Singer Slants

For lack of a better description, I've called what was discussed on the thread http://www.quiltingboard.com/vintage...s-t241446.html, the "thread mess."

I've struggled with it for some time. It comes and it goes. I take some action against it and it goes away . . . but then it comes back. I have now come up with another attempt to tame it. Previously, I have been using the alternate threading suggested by T and T Repairs, http://www.tandtrepair.com/SlantOMat...ding_Chart.pdf.

I have added one little twist to this method of threading. And, so far, I haven't had any more thread mess. Here's a photo.


If anyone else has this problem, try threading your machine this way and report back here. I'd like to know if this works for others, or is it just a mirage that will dissolve away, like my hopes and dreams. (That's me being poetic.)

Attached Thumbnails threadmess.jpg  
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Old 04-28-2015, 10:50 AM
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Cool use of Yarn to illustrate!
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Old 04-28-2015, 01:49 PM
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My wife and I have several Singer 401A machines. She uses one at home maybe 1-2 evenings per week. It’s set up for immediate use next to her Singer 301A that gets used almost every evening. However, she uses a 401A at her mending and alterations shop every day, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9 and 5. She also tends to retail sales during those days, so she probably sews for half of the day, and the 401A is her main machine. We have three 401A machines there so that I can have at least one setup ready-to-go as a backup to the one she’s currently using. If she has a problem with a machine, she has another one green-tagged on the shelf in the back that she can swap out with to keep sewing.

We’ve struggled with the occasional bird nest under the needle plate problem for about 8 years. It just seems like it happens for no reason. We haven’t seemed to have much problem with the home machine, but the shop machines would sew along daily for months, and then suddenly have a problem. Changing needle and trying different thread are the usual first step, and sometimes those two things would be successful, and sometimes not. Usually, in either case, the machines would be swapped out to continue sewing, and I would later check the problem machine for some physical explanation of the malfunction. It may be a week or even a month before I would get around to looking into the problem machine, and I’ve never had one act up while I was test sewing it. Not ever. I do a service order each time that I fiddle with a machine to keep a service date record.

The first few years, I spent most of my time adjusting the thread clearances at the hook, mainly opening up the clearances. Some settings that I tried caused other problems I’m pretty sure, so about 3 years ago, I began setting the clearances with feeler gauges as close to what the Singer Adjusters Manual called for as I could get them. Checking the clearances later of a problem machine didn’t show any changes from the recommended settings. Then, I got to noticing that the thread-tangle problem seemed to be happening on a somewhat regular schedule once I quit experimenting. The problems are somewhat seasonal. I don’t think it’s the machine at all, but the thread. And, the same thread will work great part of the year, but then not. I think it has to do with the humidity level where the thread is located, or the amount of moisture in the thread. Our thread is on a rack, open to the air in the shop.

Now, don’t hold me to that, but I’m certainly looking into it. We’ve been in a drought here in Oklahoma for 4 years, and the machines have not been acting up much. The last few times that she’s had the thread-tangle problem, was right after we had high humidity, and weren’t using either the heater or the air conditioner, but instead taking advantage of the spring or fall air with an open shop door.

I can’t explain why the swapped-out machine can go ahead and finish sewing with the thread that was in use during the problem, unless it’s just luck or that she’s near enough to completing the task that it doesn’t occur before she’s done.

FWIW- We have had unusually hard rain here for the past couple of days (it’s been wonderful!) We got over two inches. The air in the shop is full of moisture, but the two machines that she’s had trouble with today are the Janome 3434D Serger and the Janome CoverPro 1000CP. Neither one of them wanted to sew right. She couldn’t get the tensions set good. She didn’t use the 401A much today, and it’s worked flawlessly when she did, but they all share the same thread, so we’ll see if the 401A gives her any problems in the next few days. I think humidity and thread moisture affects sewing machine performance. Anyone else notice this?

PS- We’ve been using the TnT method of upper threading, and we’re going to add Tate’s addition too.....

CD in Oklahoma
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Old 04-28-2015, 01:58 PM
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I had a lot of trouble last week with my 401. For the last month a little off an on. We've had a lot of rain during that time. Today it's been sunny and cooler and little humidity. The 401 is sewing really great. Never thought about the humidity affecting it but it affects so many other things, why not our sewing machines.
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Old 04-28-2015, 04:02 PM
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That makes sense to me. But, here's the kicker -- if I did, I would sure be in trouble with humidity in Florida. Especially in the summer -- rains, I mean real frog stranglers, almost every day. I've never had a problem with any of my machines, but then I don't turn off the air conditioning either. I guess we learn something every day!

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Old 04-29-2015, 05:05 AM
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you do start each time with the needle down, right? Never had a nest under the needle plate of my 301A (in 56 years) but the humidity here is like zero....worst drought in over a thousand years (they say, not sure how they figure that) Last night my machine started growling ... never has done that before ... but it was mid 90's all day and dry so maybe humidity does stress our little darlings.
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Old 04-29-2015, 05:08 AM
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We have several Singer slant shank machines. From the 401a to the 500s to a 4622a and T&S 778 and so far we don't seem have the troubles described here.

I've had to adjust the thread clearances around the hook like CD did but still no troubles like that. I live in IL where it's dry in the winter and sticky humid in the summer. Use different threads from different brands and the only problems were minor tension problems.

Am I doing something wrong?

Just curious cos I always wonder when I have the same machines others do and don't have the same troubles they do.

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Old 04-29-2015, 05:11 AM
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I just looked at your pics again. I just noticed that is not an OEM Singer top tension unit. I don't know if that would make a difference, but I thought I'd mention it.

I have two 500s and I thread them by the book. If I don't the tension goes all wonky.

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Old 04-29-2015, 11:54 AM
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This is an interesting discussion. I've noticed that humidity affects thread. When thread is too dry, I mist it with water and leave it in a plastic bag overnight, problem solved. Or I put it in the freezer for a day or so, and problem solved. I sometimes use Sewer's Aid, and that helps.

I have a Singer 500, 401, 301, 201, and 221 among others. They are my go-to machines. I use them frequently. (They are both upstairs and in the basement, so different humidity.) I used to have the thread mess on these machines and others, even though I had sewed for years at that point. Then I tried, and now routinely use, a hint a quilting teacher gave me. For years now, I have had no thread mess on any machine whatsoever.

The secret? Take a small piece of fabric, a small scrap no more than 2 inches by 2 inches, the type of fabric you are using for the project or just 100 percent cotton, double it (even leaving it single works) and take your first four stitches in it. Use the hand wheel if necessary. Leave it attached. Sew one or two stitches on air. Start your seam as normal. Remove the thread starter (the small fabric) when you are done and re-use it until it is full. No thread nest!

I also keep my machines clean, oiled and lubed, and in good repair.


Last edited by cricket_iscute; 04-29-2015 at 12:02 PM.
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Old 04-29-2015, 04:10 PM
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Folks, this isn't about thread nests. And it's probably not about tension or holding onto the thread tails when you start a seam. I'm not sure what is the cause: thread path clearances, burrs on the hook, bad bobbins, humidity, or phases of the moon.

Take a look at the thread I linked to in the first line of the original post. On the second page, halfway down, I posted a photo. The thread is wrapped around part of the feed dogs or something under the needle plate. Usually it looks even worse because you can't stop quickly enough when it happens.

And it seems to happen only to Singer Slants, or at least I haven't heard anyone else complain of this affliction.


Last edited by tate_elliott; 04-29-2015 at 04:13 PM.
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