Service Tip, March 2014

Trouble feeding fabric through your machine?

It may not be your fault!  Sewing machines vary widely as to how they feed, or guide, fabric through your machine.

This seemingly minor task is accomplished by a series of teeth, called feed dogs, that rise up out of the needle plate and move the fabric away from you as the needle rises and comes partially down.  The feed dogs drop below the needle plate just before the needle comes down and pierces the fabric.  We don’t want to be moving the fabric while the needle is buried in it!

If you are experiencing problems with feeding or guiding your fabric, here are some things to check:

Are the feed dogs coming up high enough? 
*  Is there built-up lint between the feed dogs that prevent them from raising high enough 
    to drive the fabric?  ( You can fix that one yourself by brushing the lint away.) 
*  Are the feed dogs worn out?  All those little points should be reasonably sharp.  
*  Do you have enough presser foot pressure to push the fabric tightly against the feed
   dogs?  You can adjust that one yourself, on most machines. 
*  Last, but not least: are the feed dogs down?

Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors in poor guidance of the fabric is:  Not enough feed dogs!  That varies from machine to machine, with most machines having only three, with none in front.  The winner is Janome, with as many as seven feed dogs.

If your machine is feed dog number challenged, you’ll just have to be careful with fabric guidance until you get to a point where you are ready to step into a new machine!

The bottom line here is: guidance problems may not be your fault at all.  If all is well with mechanical settings, as outlined above, your machine design may well be the culprit!

Definitely something to think about when you go shopping for your next machine.  --- Boone