Singer 500a with sloppy stitches...

Today I had a revelation and we'll see what people think of it. I get at least one or two questions a day in my email box and I certainly do try to answer most of them. Why am I not putting this information here for everyone to read? Doing a sewing Q & A page sounds a bit overwhelming but I do like the format.

Let's start with this first one, I'll remove any personal identifiers and correct any typos I see fit. I think I'm not going to follow the comments but please fell free to leave suggestions as you wish.

Subject singer slant 500a

Hi Brian,
    I have two vintage singer slants. When I first got them they sewed like a top. I have them serviced regularly about once a year. Now when I sew I spend as much time adjusting the tension as I do sewing. This is not fun. I do mostly quilting, but I also sew all the window treatments for my home. Sewing straight stitches are no problem. I am having trouble with decorative stitches. The bottom thread is loopy or just sloppy or doesn't look like the stitch I'm supposed to be sewing. The top is inconsistent as well. I switch thread weights constantly as I'm using different threads for different techniques on my quilts. I am mostly doing applique but did complete my first machine quilted wall hanging on this machine. I've always loved this machine, BUT I'm falling out of love with it. I've actually had thoughts of selling them both and getting a modern machine. Please advise.

Dear Loopy Sloppy,
Let's assume you know the basics as you've pretty much stated that. I have a few questions to consider. Why would the stitching be fine for straight stitching and not decorative? Do you adjust both top and bottom tension? I wonder if you have dirty tension disks? Is it an issue with stitching speed?
Something I do know of the 500a is that the thread does tend to fall out of the tension disks especially when stitching fast so I used to use an alternative threading technique that helped tremendously. I just happen to have a photo of this in my collection. The thread goes under that post before going around the tension disks. This insures that it will not slip out. Notice that the pretensioner (I have no idea if that's a word or what that's called?) on the right is bypassed with this threading but you can also include it to see what you results might be.
These are great machines but I do find them quirky.  Singer really was being innovative in trying out new ways to do the same old things as far as sewing machines go.  The 500a is an example of their success.

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