Bernina 830 won't zig zag, won't buttonhole, no decorative stitch
I only use the machine a few times a year, mostly for straight stitching. 2 years ago I had the same problem and to fix it, I took it in for servicing ($120). Today is the first time since then that I needed to use the zig zag or buttonhole. I have had the machine for over 20 years and it never did this before.
Basically it is a matter of a stuck part. Flip open the top by prying up on the front or ends of the lid. You already noticed the hinges on the back. When you get it open, exercise the right hand lever on top (marked ZZ at bottom and 1-20 at top. If you look just to the right of this lever against the back wall you will see that it moves a little part back and forth into triangle shaped grooves. The part is not going completely into the grooves so drop some oil in there and exercise it a few more times, using your fingers if necessary to make the part move into the triangle grooves at the front and back. After a while it will loosen up where it should operate by itself smoothly . Hope this helps, I know it will.
If your machine has not been professional serviced recently or you have not cleaned and oiled it lately, then you might refer to your owner's manual instructions for oiling. I would suspect that perhaps the oil has hardened and is preventing the machine from operating properly--perhaps some of the selector lever/dial mechanics are not moving internally. Use liquid Tri-Flow Synthetic Oil (usually available at the hardware store) and put a drop or two every place that the manual recommends. Direct a hot hair-dryer into the internal works of the machine. (I usually let it get pretty warm to the touch - but make sure to stop periodically because your hair dryer may overheat.) Test your machine. If you can determine that the selector lever/dial mechanics are not moving, you can try putting a drop or two of oil in its metal joints and working it gently back and forth to loosen. Depending on how hardened the oil has become, you may have to repeat oil/hair-dryer process several times before things loosen up. Once it is working again, be sure to clean and oil regularly. (I recommend a good quality oil, ie Bernina oil for mechanical machines. It may seem expensive but it lasts a long time if you use only one or two drops each spot and, IMHO, is worth it in the long run. I do NOT recommend 3-in-1, WD-40, cooking oil, or the cheap sewing machine oil from fabric departments.) You have a wonderful machine and it will continue to serve you well if you treat it well. Suggest cleaning/oiling every time you change a bobbin, every 8 hours of continuous use, or every six months if it is not in regular use.
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Most likely because your machine has not been serviced (oiled & cleaned) in a long time and the old oil has turned to glue and seized. This is probably the most common problem with mechanical sewing machines. A mechanical sewing machine should be regularly maintained..ie every 40 hours of sewing use or at least every six months when not in use. You may want to take it to a Bernina service technician. Ask for a bottle of Bernina oil for CB hook machines and ask if they will show you how to oil it.
it's very possible that the machine is slightly out of time & needs to be service at a sewing machine shop is the fabric & thread & needle compatable with each other? did you use every thread guide when threading the machine? is the bobbin in correctly? is the bobbin warped?
THis problem occurred as I was sewing on Neoprene. I was using Gutterman all-purpose thread and a size 80 needle. Tried switching to a size 70, then to size 90. Still unable to zig zag. After inserting a test sample of cotton, the zig zag worked perfectly, so I knew it was not a mecahnical problem. I switched needles again. This time to size 90 for stretch fabric. Voila! Problem solved.
Check to see if the cam stack gear does not have a crack in it. The other problem is the cam engager lever is does not engage the cam stitches because it is gummy. To solve this, lift the lid and follow the lever to where it make contact, add a penetrant oil. More the lever back and forth as fast as you can and work the penetrating oil into the area. It should click back and forth and snap between the back and front V's. One is for the zig zag and straight stitches and the other is for all cam patterns. Once it is clicking and snapping back add regular oil. Thensew out your pattern stitches. If the machine binds then you could have a cracked cam stack gear and has to be change by a Bernina service center.
I also have a Bernina Activa 125 w/o a manual. (is it contagious?)! I figured it out by experimenting:
Use a #3 foot
Hit the "0" to make a buttonhole
On the LED you can see the left vertical blinking
Start stitching your first line, stop when you want
Now press the reverse pad
It will stitch in reverse w/ a straight stitch only
This provides you with a "guide line" next to your first one
When you stop at the end, push the reverse pad
It will make 2 small zig zags and then automatically make the end of the hole (wide)
Then it starts moving up your guide line in a mini zig zag
Stop at the end, then push the reverse pad, it will make the wide end of the hole.
Now a keyhole end ... haven't tried it yet, but I think this is the other one the Activa 125 makes
I do not have a buttonhole foot, but I can tell you how I do it with the zigzag foot on the Singer 132Q machine.
1. Mark the spacing and size for the buttonholes with chalk or marking paper. This consists of a straight line with a perpendicular line at the top and bottom that lets you know how big to make the hole. There is probably a pattern piece to let you know what the spacing should be, and you can get the size of the hole for the top and bottom line by laying the button you are going to use on top of the line you draw with the pattern.
2. Make sure the bobbin has plenty of thread.
3. Put the zigzag foot on the machine.
4. Set the stitch size to 1 or maybe a little less. You want a tight stitch to hold the hole together.
5. Start at the top of the buttonhole with the perpendicular line barely visible in the zigzag foot. Think of it as placing the "T" made by the mark in the "T" made by the opening in the zigzag foot.
6. Set the needle pattern to #1 of the buttonhole pattern (2nd from the top). Make sure it is toward the top of the number to insure you get a wide zigzag stitch. If you are getting a narrow stitch, you may have to fiddle with it, but it will work. Stitch 4-6 times making sure the stitch is wide, and end on the left side of the stitch.
7. Change the needle pattern to #2 of the buttonhole pattern and zigzag stitch down to the bottom mark. Do not pull the fabric or you will stretch the stitch. Make sure your last stitch is on the left hand side.
8. Change the needle pattern to #3 of the buttonhole pattern (same as #1), and zigzag stitch 4-6 times ending on the right side this time. Make sure the stitches are wide.
9. Change the needle pattern to #4 of the buttonhole pattern and straight stitch back to the top mark. Be prepared to hand roll the needle the last few stitches to make sure you do not pass the top stitches you have made.
10. Change the needle pattern to #5 of the buttonhole pattern and zigzag stitch back to the bottom mark. Hand roll the last few stitches and end on the left side.
11. Raise the foot and remove the fabric. You are now ready proceed to the next buttonhole or cut the buttonhole open with a small pair of scissors or a seam ripper. Make sure you do not cut any of your stitches.
Make sure you practice on some scrap fabric of the same thickness (2 layers of fabric plus pellon) to make sure you have the size right before you sew the buttonholes on the garment.