Thursday, June 11, 2009

Feed Dogs

The title is not in reference to any animals, but to sewing machine parts. Are you with me now? :)

I had a little trouble with my sewing machine this afternoon and called a sewing repair center. The guy made a few suggestions, one of which solved the problem (for now). I had called the repair center because I couldn't find any information online regarding my problem. So after I solved it, I wanted to share my experience with others who have the same machine. However, there doesn't seem to be an easily-found forum or other place to share my knowledge, so I figured I'd blog about it instead and hopefully others can find the information (if they need it) through the search engines.

About 4 years ago my mom bought me a fabulous sewing machine. I could list all its wonderful features, but I won't. It's a Bernette 80e for Bernina. I've been very happy with it. This afternoon I was sewing on buttons (not by hand!) which required dropping the feed dogs. So I dropped the feed dogs, sewed on the buttons, all was fine, until I was done and ready to put the machine away. The lever that dropped the feed dogs did not bring them back up. It moved back and forth like it's supposed to, but it felt like it wasn't attached to the mechanism anymore. I took off the faceplate and was greeted with such a collection of lint I figure that was the problem. After an application of pressurized air the feed dogs still would not come back up. So I turned to the internet.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my internet searches were fruitless. I'm not one for making phone calls, but for some reason I decided to call a sewing repair center. I quickly located (the only) one in my city and called them up. The guy who answered wasn't immediately familiar with my particular machine, but it sounded like he'd heard of the problem before. He confirmed my fears that to fix the problem may require taking the machine apart, which meant paying someone to do it. But he had a couple suggestions first. He recommended fiddling with the reverse lever while using the handwheel, since the reverse lever is connected to the feed dogs in some way (it makes them go backwards).

After I hung up, I sat down and gave it a try. And it worked! The feed dogs came right up. Then I decided to tempt fate: I dropped the feed dogs again, and again, the lever did not bring them back up. But I was able to bring them up again just by using the machine in slow motion. So it seems that my feed dogs and lever need a little tweaking. It's something I'll have to be careful of until we have a repair budget. But at least I know how to manage the problem. And I hope my experience can be helpful to someone else.

So to summarize (and this is probably applicable to most machines, not just the Bernette 80e): if the feed dogs are stuck down, just use the machine in slow motion (i.e., use the hand wheel) to bring them back up. If that doesn't work, try fiddling with the reverse level as you continue to turn the handwheel/push the pedal slowly. If THAT doesn't work, the machine probably needs to be taken to someone who knows how to repair it.

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