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Thread: New sewing machine

  1. #1
    Member Rebie's Avatar
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    I'd like everyone's input. I need to buy a new sewing machine. Right now I have a Singer I bought at Wal-Mart for $89. It's not cutting it for quilting. I'm wanting to machine quilt my own stuff. I have a queen size quilt that I tried to put through it. Bad idea, it was way too thick to fit through the machine.
    I'd like something fairly simple to use, that I can machine quilt with up to a king size. I figure on spending around $500. What do you think? What brand is best? Does it matter? Singer? Janome? Is one supposed to be better than the other? Any help would be appreciated, thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member kwendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rebie
    I'd like everyone's input. I need to buy a new sewing machine. Right now I have a Singer I bought at Wal-Mart for $89. It's not cutting it for quilting. I'm wanting to machine quilt my own stuff. I have a queen size quilt that I tried to put through it. Bad idea, it was way too thick to fit through the machine.
    I'd like something fairly simple to use, that I can machine quilt with up to a king size. I figure on spending around $500. What do you think? What brand is best? Does it matter? Singer? Janome? Is one supposed to be better than the other? Any help would be appreciated, thanks.
    Personally, I'd get a old Singer 15-91 machine. And here is why I'd buy an old Singer machine of that type, over a new machine.

    1. Price. The black Singer 15-91's can be had for anywhere from FREE to $250 if they are reconditioned and serviced by a sew shop. Beats the $1,000's of $$ a 'quilting machine' from Janome, Babylock, or others. (oh, and I HAVE both a Janome and a Babylock machine... they are great but cost as much as my CAR).

    2. The Singer 15-91 is all metal, everything. gears too. So there are no plastic parts to wear out. Newer machines strain to push the needle through even 4 or 5 layers. When I'm putting a binding on my quilt, I'm going through 7 or 8 layers of fabric. The old Singers will do that, because the all metal gear ratio's were built to do that. Kinda like the difference in pulling a boat and trailer behind a Honda civic or a Yukon. lol.

    3. The Singer 15-91, uses a slightly larger bobbin (means more thread on it, less bobbin changes). But the best part is that it's a vertical bobbin feed (bobbin goes in so that it's vertical, not laying down horizontally). That means that to actually create the lock stitch, the thread does NOT have to make an extra 90 turn. The horizontal drop in (top load) bobbins have to take that extra thread turn and it makes a difference in the quality of the quilting. The 15's stitches are tighter and more balanced.

    4. The Singer 15-91 has a single screw on the bottom that when turned, drops the feed dogs. Easy. (Please note, that not all black Singers are 15-91's. Singer made several black models, so be sure you're getting what you want.)

    5. Price. Did I mention price?

    6. The all metal machines need to be oiled with sewing machine oil (available at any sew shop, Joannes, Walmart, etc. for $2). The metal gears need to be lubed. The oil does not get on your cloth. The Singer 15-91 is totally user servicable. You do you own lub, your own oiling and your own cleaning of it. No costly visits to the sew shop, for a yearly overhaul of your machine (unless you choose to, of course.) You cannot kill them, they are built like tanks.

    7. The Singer 15-91 IS a tank. It weighs a 30lbs or so. You can use it in a cabinet (best way) or by setting in on top of a surface. That weight is GREAT for Free Motion quilting. If you're doing a Queen/King sized quilt, the machine will NOT budge! You can push the quilt all around and up to it, and the machine's weight is enough to balance it out/handle it. No 'machine' walking while trying to quilt! Ask me how I know!

    8. The Singer 15-91 has an incredible amount of harp space. Much more so than most regular machines. From needle to column is between 8 and 9"! And the height is great too. You can get a big ol quilt under there no problem. Roll it or not, your choice. Flip the 'tail' over your shoulder and GO.

    9. The 15-91 takes a regular sized needle (15 x 1). Use any regular ol needle you want. It has a friction bobbin winder too.

    10. The old singers have the straightest, most even straight stitch you've ever seen. I mean, really even. I have two 15-91's and both of them sew a better stitch than my Janome computerized machine! No zig zag though. Of the Singer 15 series, the 15-91 had the totally enclosed motor (no belts) and also had a true reverse stitch. Some of the earlier 15's did not have reverse.

    11. They are just cool to sew on.

    12. Oh yeah... the price! You can find them in excellent condition for next to nothing!

    When I picked up my first 15-91... I bought it and it's mahogany cabinet for $125. Then I was too scared to fix the electric in it (always a good idea to replace the wires in the machine that old). It's a really simple task to do, but I didn't think I could. So I had the sewing shop do it. They charged me $100 to 'clean' it and do a 'motor service'. Since then I found the tutorials on cleaning, etc. here on this board! Now I do it myself for nothing!

    My latest 15-91 I got from a thrift store for $20. Needed new wires. (easy fix). Needed to be cleaned. (easy fix). Needed to be oiled (easy fix)! Now, it PURRS. I haven't FMQ'd on that one yet, but it's just as good a stitcher as the other one. I've sewn car seat leathers and boat canvas on it. lol.

  3. #3
    Senior Member kwendt's Avatar
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    In thinking about it.... I probably should mention:

    There are many folks who sew quilts on some of the other old black type Singers: usually 66-16s, 201s and even the industrial black singer 31-15's. They each have their merits.

    Some sew quilts on the newer 301's (the er...'big' featherweight) or the slant needle machines (400s, 500s, etc.). Those I would not recommend for FMQ. For piecing tops, they are great.

    The 301's and the newer 400/500/600 series machines, many of them... were made from cast aluminum, not cast iron. So they weight much much less. The gearing is not as tough as the older machines, so the torque in sewing seems to be less. Aka less piercing power. At least, that is my experience with them.

    I have a 66-6 (straight stitch only), a 301 and a 403 (slant needle zig zag/decorator stitches with cams), and both I use for piecing, dress making, home dec and stuff like that. They are good machines, and none of them cost me over $150, even including the cabinets, chairs, extra parts/accessories. The 403 uses cams for zig zag and other specialty/decorative stitches. The slant needle machines give you more of a view while sewing... that can be a big plus when I'm paper piecing a compass or other triangular bits.

    Check out the Vintage Sewing Machine Shoppe section of this board, and you'll find a lot of people doing quilting on the old machines ... and why. Lot's of good information.

  4. #4
    Member ohiobuckeye's Avatar
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    I bought a new Kenmore machine at Sears about a month ago...They were on clearance because the new stock was coming in....I got the higher priced one with 215 or so stiches, needle up/down and touch screen stitch selector/regulator regularly $450 for $269. I LOVE it! How did I ever live without the needle up/down feature?

  5. #5
    Senior Member kwendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohiobuckeye
    I bought a new Kenmore machine at Sears about a month ago...They were on clearance because the new stock was coming in....I got the higher priced one with 215 or so stiches, needle up/down and touch screen stitch selector/regulator regularly $450 for $269. I LOVE it! How did I ever live without the needle up/down feature?
    A lot of those Kenmore's are actually made by Janome. Janome tends to make a good, all around machine. The Kenmore's I've seen are pretty good machines for regular, light duty sewing. With care, they can do heavy stuff like leathers, canvas and things. FMQ they don't have such a great time with mostly because of the number of layers and the small space. But then, I haven't looked at the latest Kenmore's.

    If you go on the Sears website, you can find the machines. Then click on Janome USA's website and you'll likely find the exact same machine in there somewhere. My Sis in law bought a top line Kenmore about 2 years ago, she loves it. I had her buy that one, because it was almost an exact match to my Janome 4000 (a 12 year old machine). It was exactly the same, so I knew it would work well for her. And it has. She has since, though... bought a 'real' Janome Jem for going to classes, AND a Gammell Long Arm! :shock:

    Ohio, How big is the harp space on your new Kenmore? Congrats on finding a 'steal' deal, btw. That's a great price for them.

  6. #6
    Super Member sharoney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwendt
    Quote Originally Posted by Rebie
    I'd like everyone's input. I need to buy a new sewing machine. Right now I have a Singer I bought at Wal-Mart for $89. It's not cutting it for quilting. I'm wanting to machine quilt my own stuff. I have a queen size quilt that I tried to put through it. Bad idea, it was way too thick to fit through the machine.
    I'd like something fairly simple to use, that I can machine quilt with up to a king size. I figure on spending around $500. What do you think? What brand is best? Does it matter? Singer? Janome? Is one supposed to be better than the other? Any help would be appreciated, thanks.
    Personally, I'd get a old Singer 15-91 machine. And here is why I'd buy an old Singer machine of that type, over a new machine.

    1. Price. The black Singer 15-91's can be had for anywhere from FREE to $250 if they are reconditioned and serviced by a sew shop. Beats the $1,000's of $$ a 'quilting machine' from Janome, Babylock, or others. (oh, and I HAVE both a Janome and a Babylock machine... they are great but cost as much as my CAR).

    2. The Singer 15-91 is all metal, everything. gears too. So there are no plastic parts to wear out. Newer machines strain to push the needle through even 4 or 5 layers. When I'm putting a binding on my quilt, I'm going through 7 or 8 layers of fabric. The old Singers will do that, because the all metal gear ratio's were built to do that. Kinda like the difference in pulling a boat and trailer behind a Honda civic or a Yukon. lol.

    3. The Singer 15-91, uses a slightly larger bobbin (means more thread on it, less bobbin changes). But the best part is that it's a vertical bobbin feed (bobbin goes in so that it's vertical, not laying down horizontally). That means that to actually create the lock stitch, the thread does NOT have to make an extra 90 turn. The horizontal drop in (top load) bobbins have to take that extra thread turn and it makes a difference in the quality of the quilting. The 15's stitches are tighter and more balanced.

    4. The Singer 15-91 has a single screw on the bottom that when turned, drops the feed dogs. Easy. (Please note, that not all black Singers are 15-91's. Singer made several black models, so be sure you're getting what you want.)

    5. Price. Did I mention price?

    6. The all metal machines need to be oiled with sewing machine oil (available at any sew shop, Joannes, Walmart, etc. for $2). The metal gears need to be lubed. The oil does not get on your cloth. The Singer 15-91 is totally user servicable. You do you own lub, your own oiling and your own cleaning of it. No costly visits to the sew shop, for a yearly overhaul of your machine (unless you choose to, of course.) You cannot kill them, they are built like tanks.

    7. The Singer 15-91 IS a tank. It weighs a 30lbs or so. You can use it in a cabinet (best way) or by setting in on top of a surface. That weight is GREAT for Free Motion quilting. If you're doing a Queen/King sized quilt, the machine will NOT budge! You can push the quilt all around and up to it, and the machine's weight is enough to balance it out/handle it. No 'machine' walking while trying to quilt! Ask me how I know!

    8. The Singer 15-91 has an incredible amount of harp space. Much more so than most regular machines. From needle to column is between 8 and 9"! And the height is great too. You can get a big ol quilt under there no problem. Roll it or not, your choice. Flip the 'tail' over your shoulder and GO.

    9. The 15-91 takes a regular sized needle (15 x 1). Use any regular ol needle you want. It has a friction bobbin winder too.

    10. The old singers have the straightest, most even straight stitch you've ever seen. I mean, really even. I have two 15-91's and both of them sew a better stitch than my Janome computerized machine! No zig zag though. Of the Singer 15 series, the 15-91 had the totally enclosed motor (no belts) and also had a true reverse stitch. Some of the earlier 15's did not have reverse.

    11. They are just cool to sew on.

    12. Oh yeah... the price! You can find them in excellent condition for next to nothing!

    When I picked up my first 15-91... I bought it and it's mahogany cabinet for $125. Then I was too scared to fix the electric in it (always a good idea to replace the wires in the machine that old). It's a really simple task to do, but I didn't think I could. So I had the sewing shop do it. They charged me $100 to 'clean' it and do a 'motor service'. Since then I found the tutorials on cleaning, etc. here on this board! Now I do it myself for nothing!

    My latest 15-91 I got from a thrift store for $20. Needed new wires. (easy fix). Needed to be cleaned. (easy fix). Needed to be oiled (easy fix)! Now, it PURRS. I haven't FMQ'd on that one yet, but it's just as good a stitcher as the other one. I've sewn car seat leathers and boat canvas on it. lol.
    I couldn't have said it better myself!

    One more thing- you can buy feet for it, too- new ones at the Singer store or on Ebay. I bought an embroidery foot for mine and use it for FMQ.
    I have two Vikings that I piece with, but for quilting, NOTHING beats my 15-91. I paid $230 for it on Ebay, it's completely refurbished, and that included shipping.

  7. #7
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    I'm with kwendt - if you're looking for a machine that will "cut it" for piecing and quilting, you can't beat a 15-91 (or even the belt driven version, which I think is the 15-90, but I sometimes get the different flavors of 15 mixed up) The belt driven version has plenty of power for quilting tasks, including sewing on the binding and quilting over very thick seams.

    You can find them on craigslist really cheap, and even by the time you've replaced all the electrical components and had the motor re-wired by a pro, (about $110-120, all together) you've spent less than it costs for a plastic machine that won't last you two years.

    Some models of Kenmores from the 70's are just as wonderful and most will be capable not only of FMQ, but zig-zag utility and decorative stitches, monograms, buttonholes, machine applique - all kinds of stuff. I would recommend the 1802 and 1803, although there are many models of this basic machine that are only slightly different. (1702, 1703, 1940, etc) All of them will be as heavy as tanks and having it in a cabinet will make wrestling with a large quilt much easier. :)

    Cleaning and refurbishing the old machines turns into a hobby of its own - it's a lot of fun and so rewarding to take a noisy, barely-turning hulk into a quilting machine. :)

  8. #8
    Senior Member RUSewing's Avatar
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    I have a 39 yr. old White sewing machine that sounds a lot like the Singers. It's all metal, user servicable. The only part I've had to replace is the motor ($65.00 from a used machine)- I had completely worn out the first motor. And it still has the most beautiful stitch - better than my computerized machine - and I find rhythm in the sound it makes.

  9. #9
    Super Member chuckbere15's Avatar
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    I just received the Janome Horizon 7700 along with my mom. I named my machine Sunny Horizon and mom named hers, you probably guessed by now, Cher. I traded in my Singer 7470, a so called quilting machine. I was fortunate that I did not pay for the new machine, it was a birthday gift. Yes, someone loves me very much.

    I am starting to quilt a quilt now and all I can say is, "Wow, the 11 inch throat is the absolute best feature along with the built in walking foot." I have not done FMQ yet, but can't wait to learn. In my humble opinion, I would by the best machine you can afford after test driving them.

    Some of the features I can not live without:

    10. Easy threading of the needle
    9. Needle up/down
    8. Locking stitch, and I don't mean reverse
    7. Thread cutter
    6. Walking foot
    5. Extension table, or the ability to have a flat surface
    4. 1/4 inch guided foot
    3. Knee lifter
    2. A few decorative stitches, I don't need all that cakes with my machine, just the ones used for quilting.
    1. Throat size. Women say that size doesn't matter, in this case the big throat makes it really easy to move the bigger size quilts threw the opening.

    Just my two cents

  10. #10
    Super Member montanajan's Avatar
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    I have an older Kenmore - probably 30 yrs old, & it is a workhorse! Very heavy, takes anything I sew - I've made backpacks, hubby's suits, winter coats, upholstered furniture, made draperies, wedding dresses, you name it. Ebay has many old, sturdy working machines, but I'd try locally first - maybe an ad in local paper.
    I also use a Babylock Quilter's Choice (won the grand opening prize at LQS), & I like the variety of stitches it offers.
    My next hunt is for a Singer 15-91 - just cannot beat the old Singers & wish I had Mom's old machine. I'm even considering a treadle machine - not that I actually need it!
    Good luck with your search - please post a followup & let us know what you decide.

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