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Singer 281- thread will not go through upper tension discs

The thread is either resting on the outside rim of the upper tension discs (resulting in no tension) or it goes in between the discs (like it should) and it gets locked in tight. No amount of pulling on the thread will get it to pass. The foot is up when I try to pull it. Turning the knob has absolutely no effect either way. Everything is threaded right, the lower tension is o.k., etc.

It is a refurbished machine that I just bought, and the first time I used it, it locked tight like this. I took it back and they literally messed with it for a little while, and it worked, but they didn't know what had gone wrong, or what they did to fix it. But it worked, so that was o.k. So I took it home, and it worked fine for several days and a lot of sewing. But all of the sudden it does what I just described in the first paragraph. I would really like something to suggest to the guys in this wee little father & son repair shop, because I don't think they'll know any more the next time when I bring it in.


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  • caya123 Oct 13, 2008

    Thank you so much- I did check all that before, and it was definitely stopping at the upper tension discs. I know what you mean about it being wrapped around the spool holder- that's a good thought. Sometimes it gets caught in the little notch on the spool itself, too. But that wasn't it.

    I think maybe it was lint or a piece of thread caught in the discs?? I took the thread out and blew on it & generally messed with it- and finally got it to work!! Till next time- but maybe that was it? Is that a possibility? Thank you again!!


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You need to find out where the thread is binding.To do this:
Remove the thread from the needle and pull on it, next remove the thread from the take up lever and pull on it( By the way, all of this should be done with the foot in the UP position). Remove the thread from the tension and pull on it. Remove the thread from the thread guide and pull on it. Remove the thread from the guide with a hole in it, if there is one. Keep doing this all the way back to the spool of thread until you locate where the thread is hanging up. I think you will find the thread is wrapped around the spool holder but I've been wrong before. Good luck.


Posted on Oct 13, 2008

  • John Free Oct 13, 2008

    A piece of lint in the tension would only make the tension loose, not tight. Disassemble the tension assembly(diagram it) and look for grooves or rough spots on the tension discs. You may have to replace them or the tension itself.

    If at all possible,use large cones of thread not small spools. They cost much less and will give you less trouble.


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