Teaching a 301 to FMQ…or a tale of three feet

This is my Singer 301.  She’s one of the first vintage machines I bought.  She weighs 17 pounds and is made of aluminum with all steel parts inside.  She has all the strength of a full steel machine without all the weight.  They call these machines the big sister of the featherweight, because of the weight.  The full sized throat makes it appealing to me to FMQ with this machine, but she just would not do it.
This machine is a slant shank machine that uses the same bobbin case as the featherweight.  I had the foot that came with the accessories on the right and I bought a foot in the center and the foot on the left came with another machine.
All three of these feet were advertised that they would fmq, but only one does.  Wanna bet now which one? 
I started out just trying.  I loaded a sample quilt in and played and played.  When it wouldn’t quilt, I tried adjusting the tension because I know that if there isn’t sufficient tension, the stitches won’t form.  But, no matter how much adjusting I did in both the top and the bobbin, I could only get stitches to form in one or two directions.  I could not quilt a loop or circle. 
As I quilted, I noticed the thread bumping around in front of me.
See all that slack in the upper thread?  That’s what it would look like.  Weird, huh? This machine normally has perfect tension, so what could be wrong?

So, how do these “hopping” feet work?  A bar sits atop the needle screw of the machine.   As the needle goes up and down, that bar causes the foot to go up and down and “hop”.  They all have that in common. 
This one is wire and can be bent, but not far enough and the plastic foot is not adjustable.  No matter how much I raised that wire on this one, there wasn’t sufficient distance in the rest of the foot to accommodate how high the needle screw rises in a normal stitch.  What was happening was that when the needle went up, it raised the bar, the spring…and the presser foot bar that the foot attaches to.  It raised the presser foot bar just high enough to disengage the tension.  So, when the machine pulled thread, it pulled extra top thread from the spool, not up from the bobbin area and because of that, the hook didn’t catch the top thread and the stitch didn’t form. 
That took three hours to figure out. 
The foot on the left above was actually made for a Singer slant shank machine and came with a Singer 401A.  There is sufficient distance so that the needle bar doesn’t raise the presser foot bar and doesn’t disengage the tension and the stitches can form.  It was like a miracle.  I did have to bend the metal bar over a bit to accomodate a screw on the side of the needle bar, but that was easy.

Okay, so the only other thing I did was adjust the timing, lowering the point at which the needle passes the hook to allow just a tiny bit larger loop to form for the hook to catch.  If you’re not familiar with adjusting timing, your repair man should be able to help.  It was about a 16th of an inch downward adjustment, so very little and I’m not sure how much that helped because I had done it before I tried the good foot.  It helped with the other feet, but did not solve the problem.  Another thing I tried was tightening the presser foot pressure screw on the top of the machine to as tight as it would go.  That helped, but I could still only get the machine to consistently make a stitch with that one foot.

Now, I can show you pictures of that table runner I made for my friend Suzanne.  Suzanne and I both had our Jubilee birthdays this year and I sorta missed hers.  I had the best of intentions, but a good gift just wasn’t working out for me.  It took several shopping expeditions to get what I wanted and even that didn’t seem like enough.  See, Suzanne has a heart as big as Texas and she has done for us and encouraged my family and taken to Sydney so much and I wanted to do a little something special for her.
I got this idea for a table runner from another blogger (and of course, I can’t find the posts now to give you credit) and I knew it was what I wanted.  And, I made it happen.  The gift started with this inspirational fabric, covered with quotes from famous women.
Next, I found a bundle of scraps in the scrap bin at the LQS that were the perfect colors, all bundled together.  Just enough to make a runner out of.
This is my gift for a good friend.  She got it in the mail yesterday, so I can share it with you today. 
Happy birthday Suzanne.  Know that you are so special to me and to my family.
Everybody have a great Tuesday.  Life is good today.  And, as Ellen says, Be kind to one another.


lw said...

Thanks for sharing the results of hours of frustration-- this makes so much sense. I don't own the right foot for a slant shank, so I need to go shopping.

Emilyplays said...

I know this is an old post, but thank you!! I am going to try your suggestions on my 301 - skips stitches everytime I try FMQ - makes me crazy!