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Problem with vintage Singer buttonholer
Not moving fabric properly
lareine
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lareine  Friend of PR
Intermediate
NEW ZEALAND
Member since 11/10/06
Posts: 1070
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Date: 4/19/12 3:11 AM

Help! I have a 201K and an old Singer buttonholer and template which has been a joy to use up until recently. I hadn't used it in ages, but this week I've tried it on two different garments and the results were inconsistent on the first one and consistently awful on the second. I must be doing something wrong but I don't know what that something is.

Here are the steps I'm taking:
1. Thread machine as usual.
2. Attach cover plate to feed dogs.
3. Put template into buttonholer.
4. Attach buttonholer to machine.
5. Adjust buttonholer so that it starts sewing at the bottom left of where I want the buttonhole.
6. Begin to sew.

This is how I remember doing it before, but the results are awful where they used to be delightful. It seems that the buttonholer is not moving the fabric backwards and forwards the way it should, so the machine sews over and over on the same spot and eventually creates a rock-hard ball of thread (the side-to-side zig zag motion seems to be fine). This happens whether the fabric is being moved forwards or backwards. If I help it on its way, things look okay for a little bit and then it balls up again.

This has led to three broken needles tonight as I tried to resolve the problem, and I am on my last one now so I've called it quits for tonight. I get the same bad results on fabrics ranging from wool coating, to satin, to woven cotton. Fabric thickness doesn't seem to make any difference. I tried a couple of different templates and that didn't change anything either.

If I remove the buttonholer and feed dog cover, and don't touch anything else, the machine sews like a dream, purring along just the way it should do. So I think my threads and needle are okay. Something else is wrong.

Any ideas??

misschris
misschris
AUSTRALIA
Member since 2/3/06
Posts: 1573
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In reply to lareine <<


Date: 4/19/12 4:49 AM

If you're doing everything correctly, it probably just needs a clean and oil. There could be fluff or a thread jamming, or it could just need lubrication.

------
chris

Melbourne

lareine
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lareine  Friend of PR
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NEW ZEALAND
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Date: 4/19/12 5:56 AM

I took it apart and looked into the works. It is clean, no fluff or lint, and has grease that still seems greasy and not caked. I can't see anything visibly wrong, but maybe there is a secret screw that needs turned or something. Or maybe something in the sewing machine itself needs to be adjusted so that the fabric moves the way it should...

jadamo00
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jadamo00
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New York USA
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In reply to lareine <<


Date: 4/19/12 6:14 AM

Did you try out all the templates?

I have one of these attachments, too.

j.

lareine
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lareine  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/19/12 6:16 AM

I tried two of the templates, both of which are made of solid metal so aren't likely to have changed since I last used the buttonholer The problem was the same with both of them.

jadamo00
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jadamo00
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In reply to lareine <<


Date: 4/19/12 6:24 AM



I figured you already tried a coupla templates. Just wanted to give you a little support because I'm amazed that I'm not the only one still using this ancient attachment! The only time I had a problem with it, taking it apart and cleaning it and greasing it up again helped.

And I have this FEELING that whatever's wrong with yours -- it's not something BIG! Did you have an earnest but firm discussion with it?



j.

lareine
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lareine  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/19/12 6:44 AM

Ha ha, yes, I swore vigorously at it and then poured a glass of wine and left it to think about what it had done.

Those attachments are very popular still because they make amazing buttonholes, and I've never had a bit of trouble with mine in the last two years. I suspect I changed something accidentally either in the buttonholer or in my 201K that messed things up, because I know the attachment in general is a joy to work with.

I do have one of the non-template buttonholers in the garage so I'll dig that out tomorrow in daylight and see if it works any better. That might help to narrow down the problem. The only gotcha there is that I've never actually used the non-template buttonholer so it might just confuse things!

lisalu
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lisalu
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Date: 4/19/12 9:40 AM

Since you've used this before I'm sure this isn't the problem, but the only thing I can think of would be that you don't have the fork arm over the needle clamp. That is what transfers the motion from the template to move the cloth back and forth.

------
Jim (Singer 301), Margaret (Singer 201-2), Betty (Singer 15-91), Bud (Singer 503), Kathy (Singer 221), Liz (Singer 221 Centennial Edition)
http://runningstitches-mkb.blogspot.com/

Soolip
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Soolip
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Date: 4/19/12 12:12 PM

I wish I knew more about the innards of these things. I was going to suggest a cleaning and oiling too. It's possible something is broken. Luckily these things are not rare, and if you're willing to plop down $10 or so you can get another one.

If you have two, it will be easier to determine what is wrong. If you're into tinkering.

lareine
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Date: 4/19/12 6:50 PM

Well, I got to the bottom of the problem. I could not have done so if I didn't have two other buttonholers of the same make and model, but luckily the garage provided a good stash!

In the front of the buttonholer, just behind where the needle is positioned, is a little metal finger that presses down onto the fabric just before the needle does, to hold it where it should be. The finger on my rogue buttonholer is positioned slightly too high, so it doesn't hold the fabric as firmly as it should do with every stitch. This was causing the fabric to slip out and not move when it should have moved. The movement was so small that I could not pick up on it last night. Comparing the rogue buttonholer to the other two showed that the finger was maybe 2mm higher than it should have been.

I was surprised to find that I have three of these buttonholers in varying states of rustiness. I can only assume that somebody gifted me with a third one which was in the best condition cosmetically, so I kept that one in the house and put the other one, which I had been using, into the garage. I must not have tried out the third one before deciding it was a keeper. It is NOT a keeper! To the bin it goes.

Anyway, I wanted to post about the cause in case anybody else comes up against a similar problem. If this had been my first experience of using one of these buttonholers I would have been sorely disappointed in its performance, and wondered why other people raved so much about it and how low their standards must be.

My blouse now has eight perfectly worked buttonholes that took only a few minutes to make and are a joy to behold. This is such a great attachment when it works properly

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