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Viking Designer SE problem/question

DeniseH52 | Posted in Creative Machine on

Don’t get me wrong, this is a fabulous machine in so many ways. One of the reasons I (or actually my sweet hubby) dished out the big bucks is the beautiful even stitch this machine has. Lately though I can’t seem to get an even, balanced stitch while piecing fabrics for quilting.

I’ve taken it in for servicing. It comes back and the stitch is uneven and tension is spotty, and the bobbin thread cutter isn’t cutting. The service guy says it’s the thread I’m using….so I switched to Gutermanns thread. It’s doing the same thing. Took it back to the shop and he sews on it and it’s perfect. Come back home and ….well….you get the point. I’ve come to the conclusion I must be doing something wrong. I’ve been sewing since I was a child (I’m 56 now) and I haven’t considered myself a beginning sewer in decades! But, I must admit I’m feeling a bit helpless with this.

Does anyone have any suggestions or do I need to go back to the repair guy with my quilting strips and machine in my grubby little paws and insist he sit down with me and show me what I’m missing?

Thank you,


  1. jjgg | | #1

    Send your question to the Yahoo groups designerSE list. Jan there can probably help you

    It is a fabulous machine though! It took me a while to go from my designer 1 tot he SELE, but I'm so glad I finally did. The way the feed dogs drop when you raise the presser foot is so nice. The machine is flawless

    When you are having this problem are you piecing the fabric (just 2 layer of fabric) or are you quilting through 2 layers and batting? Are you using a walking foot? Are you having this problem with regular sewing?

    1. DeniseH52 | | #2

      Hi, and thanks for your reply!The problem happens when I'm piecing the quilt top. No quilting involved at this point. It is simply sewing a straight seam through two thicknesses of lightweight cotton fabric. I'm using a new, size 70/12 needle and size 50 100% cotton Mettler thread. So, in essence, this is regular sewing. Also, thanks for the suggestion about the Yahoo list.Denise

      1. DesignandSew | | #3

        I hate it when sewing machine repair people don't fix a problem with your machine and then blaim the owner!  I have a Designer 1 and have taught sewing classes on the Designer SE at a Viking retailer.  For what you paid for your machine the shop where you purchased it should be falling all over themselves trying to straighten out your problem or follow through with more teaching to help you.  My machine has been in the shop four times since last August and the problem still isn't fixed.  I've had the same problem with the thread cutter and the pivot stops working if the machine has been used for regular sewing for a few hours.  The shop had it for a month between Thanksgiving and Christmas so I didn't do any gift sewing.  I'm taking it in again to fix it for good or give they will need to provide me with a different machine.  Mettler is perfectly fine quality thread, you shouldn't need Gutterman.  Have you tried adjusting the upper tension?  I was having a lot of trouble until I called the store one day and got a salesperson who finally walked me through the process and it made a 100% difference.  Sometimes the ones who fix the machines aren't necessarily the ones who use them...there's a big difference.  Good luck:)

      2. jjgg | | #4

        Denise, This must be very frustrating. Have you sewn this out in the shop when you first brought it in for service? Have you tried sewing on different weights of fabric? Often in the shop they will sew out all samples on ####really heavy canvas like fabric, not at all the stuff we use at home!!
        Another BIG question is what thread are you using? and what color (black can be very sticky esp if it's Coats & Clark.Here is my story about my $1500.00 spool of black thread....I was working on a quilt for my niece, I had an old Sears Kenmore machine that I got in high school (about 15 yrs earlier) it was 2 am on a Friday night, Sat morning, I put in a new spool of black coats & clark thread, and suddenly I kept having tension problems. So, being somewhat mechanically inclined, I thought the tension discs needed cleaning (the old type of machine with the round tension gizmo in the front with one center screw). I thought I would take out the screw, there would be one or two parts in there, I would take them out in order, lay them on the table, clean any gunk and put them back.... WRONG!!!!I took the screw out, and out popped a gazillion springy pieces, I tried very hard to put them back but never could get it right, I finally gave up and went out the next day and bought a Bernina (now, this wasn't quite the spontaneous purchase it seems, I had been looking at them, and planing on getting one, just not quite that soon).I came home, set up my new machine popped in the spool of black thread and guess what - the tension kept messing up!!! That's when I realized I had bad thread. When I took the guide class for the Bernina, I learned all abut bad thread.But, I will never look back at Berninas again, not after having a Viking (I have a D1 & SE).I hope you get the thing working right

  2. MaryinColorado | | #5

    I think you may just need to loosen the thread tension 1-2 increments for the cotton 50 wt. thread.  Also you might try an 80/12 Schmetz Universal needle (the quilting needle won't be needed until you do the actual quilting through layers).  Did you set the "sewing advisor" for medium wt. fabric?  I only use the "fine fabric" setting for really lightweight chiffons and such on my Designer I. 

    Another suggestion is to be sure the needle is all the way up in it's slot, rethread the machine, rethread the bobbin and be sure the thread goes through the little tension slot in the bobbin, and the writing on the bobbin is facing up.

    If you have to go back to the shop, be sure to take the thread and fabric you are using so they can troubleshoot it for you.  When I first got my machine, I was lucky the gals at the dealer helped me troubleshoot over the phone.  These really are dream machines once you learn them! 

    I own three H/Vikings and love them all!!!  Hope this helps.  Mary

  3. fabricholic | | #6

    I had crazy things going on with mine and took mine to Albertville Sewing Center in Alabama and the woman there said it was the timing was off on the pendulum. The other store didn't have a clue and kept saying it was the thread or they would have to send it to Viking. A good repair person that knows what they are doing can figure it out.

  4. MarieCurie | | #7

    I don't know what you did in the end, but last year I had to take my Viking Platnium 750 machine back to the dealer with my quilt project in tow and make him watch me do each and every step to figure out what was wrong.  At every stage he said "that's your problem."  I made every suggested correction in threading, tension, speed, etc.  Then I had him work the machine as I watched.  He had the same problem with the thread breaking.  He opened up the machine, and lo and behold, it was an internal problem he had NEVER seen before with my model.    Sometimes there's no substitute for a little in-your-face.

    1. Tnuctip | | #8

      I've got a QDesigner II and I have thread breaking problems all the time. My manual (and I had to buy a replacement book at £60 after tidying the original away in 'a safe place' to find this out) says nothing about changing tensions. Is this a secret? One of the things I miss most about old 'automatic' machines is the perfecting of  stitch and tension settings, before beginning a project.

      As for the 'in your face' aspect of failure to believe in mechanical problems, I think its a male thing. My machine cabinet refused to raise my machine, and I was told it was a build up of oil in the mechanism. After spending a couple of weeks apologising for my inability to operate the foolproof airlift system, a man came out and fixed the actual problem (which naturally never happened before).

      I hope none of these engineers end up on faulty life support machinery with only us incompetent females to appeal to.

      1. MaryinColorado | | #9

        I'm a retired nurse, so I really appreciate your comment about being treated as if women have no brains or mechanical apptitude!  That was a great metaphore about the life support!  I had many experiences of retraining nurses on mechanical and computerized equipment after the often pompous paid company "experts" failed to give adequate instructions after wasting everyones time with thier "training" seminars. 

        There are too many concientous people out there who need work who would gladly replace the incompetent employees so many companies keep on thier payrolls.  It's quicker and easier to just tag our machines and send them back home to us as if it's got to be our fault when something doesn't work right. 

        I empathize with your frustration and have been there myself a few times.  Mary

  5. dlikens95 | | #10

    I just bought a Viking  Designer SE. I love the sewing but the embroidery has me stumped. I had a brother before and its totally different. I was wondering if anyone could help me. My biggest questions are if I spell out a name how can I stop it from stopping for color changes between letters...and my brother had a button that when you had your design up you could hit it and it would outline your design so you can get it in the perfect spot, has this machine got one...HELP

  6. jsinger | | #11

    If you're trying to do a name (or any design) all in one color. press the "stop" button before sewing.  That will cancel the color stops.  Have you gone to the Designer SE Yahoo group?

  7. KBTsewer | | #12

    Really sorry to hear about your sewing problem.

    I've had my Designer SE for quite a while and here are the problems I've had with it.

    One item that does wear is the plastic insert inside the rotary hook. The green bobbin started jumping about when I sewed (what a noise it made).  Once I'd replaced that the problem disappeared. Apparently it becomes 'burred' on the underside. Dealer No 2 (see below) told me the noise was 'normal'. The look on my face must have said it all !!

    The other thing you have to watch out for is using the correct size needle.

    Try using an 80 needle as 70 does seem a bit fine for two layers of cotton.

    If your thread cutter isn't cutting (my machine came with this problem--could have been caused in transit) then the small knife, under the left hand cover near the rotary hook has dislodged itself or it might be blunt and need changing. The mechanism that moves the knife across also becomes worn and has to be replaced by a dealer.

    If I were you I'd go back to the dealer and sit with him whilst he sews and get him to sort out the auto scissors too.

    I've finally found one dealer (No 4) who knows how to service my machine and gives excellent advice.  The two before him were not good at all.

    1. Pattiann42 | | #13

      Designer SE

      You do realize the original post is five years old and since then nothing has been posted.  Guessing she either got it fixed or traded it in for a newer model or even another brand.

      1. jasonbrook | | #15

        Absolutely true. Nowadays there are many types of sewing machines are available in the market. So while getting the one, check for its functionalities, formats it accept etc. Reading its manual is also very important to fix such problems or to identify the problems.

  8. lindapare | | #14

    color change

    If you go into the panel where you change the colors of the threads, you will see an option to gray out all the letters. That way all the letters will be the same color without having to stop.

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