Sunday, August 1, 2021

Common Causes of Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine Trouble

Deloris Pickens Thoughts on Common Causes of
Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine Trouble

#vintagesingersewing #singer221 #singer221K #singerfeatherweight #singerfeatherweight221

Causes of Upper Thread Breaking
  • Machine improperly threaded (see instruction book).
  • Tensions too tight.
  • Needle bent or having a blunt point.
  • Thread too coarse for size of the needle (see instruction book).
  • Needle too fine for the size of thread and material to be sewn.
  • Burr on needle hole in throat plate (caused from sewing over pins or breaking needle).
  • Burr on needle hole in throat plate (caused by breaking needle when pulling material from the machine).
  • Needle incorrectly set.
  • Needle too long for the machine, or not all the way up in the clamp.
  • Take-up spring bent or broken (see adjuster for repair).
  • Tension disks are worn so that thread works in the groove.
Causes of Lower Thread Breaking
  • Improper threading of bobbin case (see instruction book).
  • Tension too tight.
  • Thread wound unevenly on bobbin or bobbin wound too full.
  • Spring on bobbin case is worn to a sharp edge.
  • Burr on the underside of throat plate (sometimes caused by sewing over pins or breaking needle).
To Avoid Breaking Needles
  • Do not sew heavy seams with a needle to fine.
  • Use proper size needle for thread and material to be sewn.
  • See that the presser foot or attachments are securely fastened to the bar and that the needle does not strike the edge of the hole or slot in the presser foot or attachment.
  • Do not pull the material to one side when taking it from the machine. The needle may become bent and strike the back of the needle hole.
  • Do not bend the needle when pulling out the needle before cutting the thread.
  • Do not leave pins in the material after basting and sew over them with the machine.
Skipping Stitches
  • Needle not correctly or accurately set into the needle bar, blunt, or bent.
  • Needle too small for the thread used.
Stitches Looping
  • Looped stitches are usually caused by improper tension. If the loop is on the upper side, it may be corrected by tightening the under tension. If the loop is on the underside, it may usually be corrected by tightening the upper tension.
For Average Sewing Keep Your Tension Set on 4.

Before trying to adjust a tension problem:

  1. Be sure the machine is properly threaded.
  2. That the bobbin is inserted correctly
  3. That the needle is inserted correctly
  4. That the needle is good and the brand of thread is of good quality.
Other reasons for tension problems are any kind of chemical contamination caused by fusible interfacing or things that have glue involved in the sewing process. If you feel that you need to adjust the tension after checking all these things then only adjust the top tension. To increase tension on the top side of your stitching lower the top tension a little at a time until the tension balances. To increase the tension on the bottom side of the stitching increases the top tension until the stitch balances.

Always insert the needle with the flat side to the left.

Be sure the bobbin turns counterclockwise when you pull on the thread with the bobbin inserted in the bobbin case.

If you have skipping or broken threads, try a new needle inserted properly.

Use Schmetz needles for best results. Universal point needles for average fabrics. Ballpoint needles for stretch fabrics. Sharp point needles for dense fabrics. You can also use Quilting needles. Topstitch needles and Leather needles. Remember you cannot change your needle too often. A good rule of thumb is to change needles every other project. When in doubt change it! The size of the needles is important. Use a 70/10 for delicate fabrics. Use an 80/12 or a 90/14 for average fabrics. For heavy fabrics use a 100/16 or 110/18.

It is very important to use good threads such as Gutermann, Mettler or Signature. This is especially true for skipping and broken thread problems.
#singerfeatherweight #singer221 #singer221K #singerfeatherweightfreearm #singerfeatherweightcrinkle #sewingmachine #vintagesinger


DollZandThingZ said...

Thanks so much for this info!

Yoga with Gaileee said...

You are welcome!

Yoga with Gaileee said...

I'm not an "expert" on thread tension, but you could give my mother a call, Deloris Pickens (the one who I do this website for) at
580 765-6125, and she can give you some good information in solving your problem! Thank you for your inquiry!!


brenly said...

I haven't used my FW for a few years, and I just took it out of the box again. It sews a stitch that looks fine from the top of the fabric (I only know this by manually turning the wheel), but on the bottom there are large loops of the top thread hanging down. The loops get stuck in the bobbin below, and then the machine jams and is solid. I've tried playing with the tension for the top thread, but it doesn't seem to do the trick.

Any idea what's going on?

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I love my featherweight and have several friends that own them as well... Our only complaint is the foot pedal...It tends to be hard to control...When we press the pedal, it's all or nothing so to speak..very hard to control the speed until it's actually going, then it's not bad...Is there a way to correct this? Are there new styled foot pedals that can replace the one that came with the machine?

rinie84 said...

I have a 221J (it was my grandmothers) and I have used it for several months.Just last this past sunday the original needle that it came with broke. I don't have the manual it came with but a called a specialty store and they said they had replacements for my machine. But ever since then it does not sew right. The thread keeps getting caught up on the bottom causing the top thread to stop. I did everything I could even change the bobbin but it keeps getting stuck.Does anyone know what it is that is causing this.

The King said...

Thank you!!! This site has saved my Singer again!!!!

Anonymous said...

Help! I have borrowed a FW Singer and while sewing got the thread bunched up on the bottom. To get it loose I loosened the needle until it fell out. I now have a needle and a small metal part that has a thread guide on one end and a small round piece on the other end. The needle will go up into the shaft but when all screws are tightened the needle falls out. Help!

JoLynn said...

Hi, I have a 1934 Featherweight that my Mother gave me(She has passed now)and I can get the Motor to spin but it wont work the needle.Would it be because it has just been sitting for years and I need to oil it or ? She kept excellent care of it so I know it did work?Im afraid to take it to someone who doest know about such an old machine. Thanks, JoLynn

Yoga with Gaileee said...

Contact my mom, Deloris Pickens at 580-765-6125 and she can answer your questions!!

Anonymous said...

To JoLynn- There's a small wheel (silver) inside the bigger hand wheel (black). Turn it away from your body to tighten it. That's probably why your needle is disengaged.

Jess said...

I've recently begun sewing on my grandmother's 221 FW, and just oiled is for the first time in years. (Didn't realize sewing machines needed to be oiled... shame on me!) I'm having a problem with the upper thread breaking after a few stitches, and an ungodly amount of thread coming out from the bobbin. I had pulled a TON of old (very old) thread from inside the bobbin case- wrapped around the inner workings - when oiling. I think I've screwed up the timing. Help?

Yoga with Gaileee said...

Call my mom ASAP!
Deloris Pickens at
580 765-6125.

Tell her, her daughter sent
you to call her!