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Kenmore 385.1500 sews only in reverse. it is stuck in reverse sewing.

Kenmore 385.1500 is stuck in reverse, won't sew forward.

Posted by diane olson on


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-- Amender

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Problem: Your Vintage Mechanical Sewing Machine with a Reverse Button or Reverse Lever "Only Sews In Reverse"
Answer: An owner's manual will not help, and a service manual may assist a little, but not walk you through the process necessary to fix a machine that only sews in Reverse. That is why you ask Fixya. I have fixed this on several machines and have researched on internet YouTube videos also, and this is the summary of what you need to do to fix a machine that only sews in Reverse. The most likely cause your machine only sews in Reverse is that it has sat, unlubricated and unused for many years, and internal mechanical linkages have frozen up in the Reverse mode. Before you start to address the actual problem, eliminate a bunch of factors that may help contribute to the malfunction, namely, do a general Cleaning and Oiling of the machine at all regular Oiling Points. TOOL NEEDED: (a). Good Lighting, (b) Flash-Light, (c) Sewing Machine Oil, (d) Pointed Probe, thin (less than 1/8 inch diameter, with a pointed end), a thin Bamboo Skewer stick (looks like a giant tooth-pick) works very well, or just a straight length of Coat-hanger wire with one pointed end and one rounded end will also work fine. REPAIR STRATEGY: Follow the entire Reverse Button linkage, working (Pressing-And -Releasing the Reverse Button) and lubricating every adjoining part in the linkage, from the Reverse Button to the Feed Dogs. Expect to Press-And-Release the Reverse Button for dozens or even 100 or more times before the linkage totally frees up. REPAIR PROCESS: (1) Remove the top of the machine, by removing any screws on top (usually two). (2) While looking down into the top of the machine, repeatedly press the Reverse Button, observing what parts move and how they form a linkage toward the Feed Dogs. (3) While continuing to Press-And-Release the Reverse Button, place a drop of Oil in the crack where the Reverse Button mounts into the front of the machine. (4) Place pointed tip of Probe on the first moving part of the internal Reverse Button linkage, then place a drop of oil onto the Probe, so the oil slides down the Probe to lubricate only the exact place where the tip of the Probe rests. (5) If the Reverse Button does not retract on its own, that means the linkage is very frozen/gummed-up and will need to be freed by successive pressing and releasing. You may have to assist the Button to retract by assisting with pressure from the inside. (6) Continue the process of oiling every successive part of the linkage, while Pressing-And-Releasing the Reverse Button. (7) You may have to use a Fash-Light held at the proper angle to illuminate every successive part of the linkage. (8) You may have to push a part of the linkage, to free it up so it can move while you press the Reverse Button. (9) Every so often, Test the machine, to see if the machine is normally sewing Forwards, and only sews in Reverse when the Reverse Button is pressed. (10) Continue the process, oiling every part of the Reverse Button Linkage, all the way back to the Feed Dogs. To do this, at some point, you will need to work from the underside of the machine; leaving no stone unturned. (11) In severely jammed /frozen machines, you may need to allow the machine linkages to soak in Penetrating Oil for a while, then manually push and tug the linkage till it starts to free up. If you do need to use Penetrating Oil, removed it as much as possible before re-lubricating with Sewing machine Oil. (12) In rare cases, a part of the linkage is bent or moved out of place, or possibly a spring (if applicable) may be disconnected or there is some-other linkage malfunction. This is a machine model specific, so you may have to consult a "Service Manual" to see where things are supposed to be. (I3) Some repair Blogs or YouTubes claim a Hairdryer may be used to warm-up the inside of the machine to help the lubrication get everywhere it needs to go. (14) At some moment, when you see the Button pop-out all the way, the machine will be able to naturally sew Forward, and obey the Reverse Button to sew in Reverse on command. Hope this helped. Sincerely, Amender 2020-NOV-13.

Posted on Nov 13, 2020


Andrew Steipp

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The reverse mechanism lube us going bad. It is accessed from under the machine under the free arm. Usually indicates that the machine is due for a service and oiling. It shouldn't be a problem to get it done at a good sewing machine dealer/store.

Posted on Nov 15, 2016


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May 19, 2012 • Singer 7422

Will only Sew in reverse.

Could be several things -- motor hooked up backwards, reverse is stuck, etc. Is there a Reverse on the machine? If so, what happens when you activate the reverse. If it then sews forward I would say someone hooked the motor backwards. If there is no change, it would be a problem with the feeding motor or the circuit board. Suggest taking to a reputable service center for analysis. Good luck.

Will not sew in reverse.

sometimes it is the spring, open the machine up and take a look at the spring, it may be broken or stretched. It should be located right where the reverse lever is, inside.

Machine sews only in reverse

Be sure you are in the correct stitch pattern...if you are on a buttonhole stitch or a stretch stitch it normal for the machine to sew backwards. Be sure your length is to the right of 0 and not in a strtch stitch model or buttonhole mode.


Machine will only sew in reverse

Does the machine only feed in reverse?
Will the machine feed as normal(forward).

If the machine will only work in reverse, then it is highly likely it is stuck in reverse and needs a good service to free it off.

It is very difficult trying to diagnose the problem without looking at the machine. A reasonable sewing machine tech should be able to sort the problem in no time at all.

Stuck in reverse

The reverse button is attached to link that moves a lever to make the machine sew in reverse. The lever is spring loaded so it returns to forward sewing when the button is released. Either the spring has come off or there is a bind in the lever(oil it). In order to solve the problem, the covers must be removed.
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