This is in specific regard to Vintage machines, and I know that you've probably been told that you shouldn't mess with the tension on your machine, and if you have a computerized machine I’m not advocating that you go about doing this, but little by little, I am finding *I CAN* do things to keep my machines running.
I came along on this trip with my School bus colored Featherweight, Missy.
Missy has had tension issues since I got her.
It was bad enough that I had taken her in to be "fixed" around Thanksgiving time. I trusted she was doing better, but really haven't sewn on her until this trip. Uhoh. Same problem.
When I started sewing on her last night, the tension seemed way too tight, even though I had the knob all the way to the right at the lowest tension possible. I thought it might be a case of tight bobbin thread ----so I got in there.
“Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty” I chanted to myself as I tried to discern whether the tension on the bobbin case was too tight….
Nothing I tried made any difference….the fabric looked wavy along the stitching line after coming out of the machine, and I knew enough to know that if the fabric is not laying flat – it HAS to be a tension issue.
It would sew an even stitch length…..and then it would skip a couple of stitches….and then it was sewing normal stitch length, and then it would skip just a couple --- even the skipping stitches weren't regular in any way shape or form. In the back of my mind I was hoping it was NOT a timing issue, because I do NOT know enough to deal with that yet ---
Really looking hard at my machine to see if anything was amiss, I noticed that the +/- symbols that were supposed to be on TOP of the tension assembly were rotated a bit to the right, and off center. Could this be my problem?
This is where the manual comes into play. if you have a vintage machine, you MUST locate a copy of the manual. Many old manuals are available online as free pdfs. Several are in the Smithsonian archives and you can read them online!
Hopefully ALL of you who have featherweights have also located a featherweight manual.
I opened it to the tension assembly page. Following the diagram, I unscrewed the nut and one by one removed all of the pieces and laid them out in the order that they came off on a hotel wash cloth I had placed next to me on the desk.
You will notice that there is a “split bolt” that everything sits on. This was rotated in the machine so it wasn’t straight up and down and so everything was crooked.
I had a screw driver with me, and I needed to unscrew that split bolt a bit to straighten it, but I didn’t want to splay the bolt halves apart because then the nut wouldn’t fit back on --- so, **brainstorm moment** I took the end nut, the very first piece to come off, and the last piece that would go back on ----and screwed it back in place on the end of the split bolt. THEN I could take the screw driver, carefully insert it into the slot in the bolt and carefully rotate the bolt into position to where it was straight without worrying that I was spreading those two halves of the bolt further apart to the point where the end nut wouldn’t go back on.
Once the bolt was straight, I removed the nut I had put on the end of the split bolt and simply followed the directions in the manual to realign and reassemble the whole tension unit.
It now sat straight! I started out test sewing with the number at zero and gradually increased it until I had it sewing a perfect stitch. My tension is now sitting moderately between 3 and 4 and my seams don’t pucker or flute the fabric. Before doing this, I had my tension as low as it could go and it was still too tight!
Could I would I do this on a plastic wonder machine that costs thousands of dollars? Probably not. I’d have to take it in and pay at least $100 to have someone else do it for me. Paying by check may be easy, and less scary --- but you also don’t LEARN anything in the process!
Beautiful stitches, great tension!
I was so happy it was fixed I spent the rest of the night sewing my brains out until the wee small hours.
I was up early this morning doing the same thing! ((Yes, the stitches stayed good!))
Tonight? Yep ----sewing and smiling all the way!