Singer 401A Free motion

agnesdJuly 30, 2007

The manual for the 1957 machine states that free motion is possible with no presser foot and feed dogs not engaged. I cannot seem to be able to quilt this way. Do I need a slantomatic free motion foot or am I doing something wrong. The machine is in good working order. I picked it up for the purpose of quilting.

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I think you'd need a presser foot to hold fabric down but just release the pressure on it. My old Singer is gone or I'd try it for you.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 7:36PM
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I have a a Singer 301A that is also supposed to usable for drop feed for FMQ. I know how to drop the dogs, but I have not been successful with it working properly. I've tried thread adjustments, tension adjustments, etc. There is a man in town that specializes in the old Singers, so I may take it to him to see if there is some "magic" technique.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 7:45PM
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Are your feed dogs lowered? They have to be manually put in the down position (or disengaged) below the throat plate for you to be able to free motion quilt.

My mom's old Singer 15-91 has a screw underneath the bed of the machine which must be turned to lower the feed dogs. I'll check a few places and see if I can find out about this for you.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 8:09PM
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Here is one answer from the Vintage Singer Sewing Machines Yahoo Group:

"The feed dogs do not drop on a 401. You have to raise the plate to eliminate the feed dogs. You will need a slant darning foot for FM. I understand the originals are hard to find. I don't know how well the currently available slant darning feet work on a 401. Someone else will have to chime in with that information."

Could it be that you need a cover for the feed dogs rather than lowering them? The cover may be referred to as a darning cover?

Your machine is a slant shank make. That is important to know when looking for additional feet. There are 3 types of shanks for modern and vintage machines: 1) low shank like the Featherweight and older Singer machines 2) high shank like the modern Berninas and Vikings and 3) slant shank like your Singer 401a. That machine is about the last one Singer made with all metal parts. Everything I have read said it is an outstanding sewing machine.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 8:54PM
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I forgot to add that you can set the stitch length to "0" and leave the plate in the sewing position so that it is level with the surface and do FM that way. The feed dogs just go up and down. I do that sometimes, but have not done it on a 401. It does work best with a darning foot as the it helps to control the up and down of the fabric.

I do free motion and my machine feed dogs don't lower- here is the foot I use- costs around $5.00 - see link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to darning foot

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 6:59AM
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Call Singer Customer Service: 1-800-4-SINGER
They have been extremely helpful to me when I have had questions. Sadly, I parted with my 401A at tradein, and have regretted it ever since. They sure don't make them like they used to.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 8:10AM
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Thanks. I have called Singer and they directed me to a parts company. I ordered the presser foot. She, slso, said not to move the stitch to the fine area. Just leave it as is. They said that recently these machines are becoming quite valuable both for their sewing capabilities and because they are vintage. Guess I was lucky to buy it for $25.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 10:23AM
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