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Re: Singer Stylist 834
It needs a good cleaning of lint, thread etc. take your bobbin case out and make sure that there is nothing in there. DO NOT TURN YOUR HAND WHEEL BACKWARDS! It will mess up your timing. If you cannot free it up take it for service
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Consult the owner's manual. There should be instructions for how to darn with your machine. It would require either the feature that lowers/raises the feed dogs or a cover plate that attaches over the feed dogs.
If your machine came with the cover plate accessory, and the feed dogs are not rising to feed the fabric, then I suspect the machine has not been cleaned & oiled in quite some time and perhaps the feed dogs have seized. When you run the machine (remove the needle and presser foot), watch if the feed dogs actually drop below the needle plate, move toward the front of the machine, then rise above the needle plate and move toward the back of the machine. This is a repetitive motion that actually pulls the fabric through the machine. If this is not happening with your machine, it needs service.
... Singer Stylist 776 Manual Page 8
I just downloaded the manual for your serger from the Singer site, and on page 30 under Troubleshooting, it says that either the presser foot isn't set with enough pressure, or the differential feed is not set correctly.
After flipping the lever, button, or dial (whatever brings it up on your machine), you must ALSO turn your hand wheel TOWARDS you (ALWAYS turn it towards you for anything) at least one revolution, but it can be up to three revolutions before it will raise. You will hear it snap into place.
This is true of every sewing machine manufactured by anyone, by the way.
Mostly what causes that problem is incorrect threading of the upper tension. If you rethread, then pull the upper thread as you lowerr the presser foot there should be a big change. Foot up...little or no drag on the thread. Foot down..it should be tighter, almost enough to break the thread.
The other stuff to look for is.......marks on the needle plate that catch threads, a rough or misaligned bobbin case.....poor quality or too big a upper thread.
Here's a review for the 834. http://zigzaggers.typepad.com/zigzaggers/2008/07/singer-stylist-834.html
Although it mentions you cannot raise and lower the feed dogs, you can change the throat plate to cover the feed dogs when you don't want to use them.
I couldn't find any reviews for the 518. I think the higher the number, the newer the machine although I may be wrong about that! I have a Singer Stylist 416.
I would look at how easy and expensive it is to get replacement parts for both machines before making your choice.
This is a good site for Singer Stylist parts. http://www.tandtrepair.com/index.html
Why don't you email the guy who runs it and ask him what his preference would be?
Hope this helps, Hazel