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Thread: Singer 15-91 - FMQ question

  1. #1
    Senior Member DawnFurlong's Avatar
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    Singer 15-91 - FMQ question

    Okay, just saw a posting on Craig's List in my area for a Singer 15-91 in a sewing table ($100). I'll try to post pictures below. Just sent an email to see if it was still available, this seems like a good price (they indicate it comes with several feet, sews nicely - so sounds like it is in working order).

    Here's my question. I understand the feed dogs do drop on this machine. Can anyone tell me approximately how large the harp space is? Also - do you enjoy FMQing on this machine? Is it fairly easy to get the tension right to get going? Also - how does it work for doing things like stitching in the ditch (or cross-hatch work)? Are feet easy to find for this machine?

    I have to say that for stippling, right now I do that on my Janome 4800. And I find myself pedal to the metal, wishing for more speed - because I ultimately find it mind-numbingly boring to do a large area of meandering stitch. So am wanting a Brother PQ1500s (larger harp space, faster). However, after much reading on this forum, I find myself looking at these vintage machines. And - I saw my first FW in person last night. Loved, loved, loved it!! But am wondering at the speed factor for FMQing - and how that is on a 15-91. On the other hand - good indication that I need to branch out on my FMQing skills - and start trying some other patterns (which will slow me down).

    While I still want the Brother machine, this seems like a good price on this machine. If I get this machine, I am half hoping that I will so love it that I will no longer care about the Brother 1500 (or I will be content enough to put off that purchase for later in the year).
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    Super Member Havplenty's Avatar
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    i paid considerably less for two 15-91's (from CL also) without cabinets. i had bought a sewing cabinet for $8.00 at a yard sale over one year ago just need to get one of the machines in the cabinet. i havent started sewing on mine yet but that will soon change. i will look forward to the responses you receive.

    i received two boxes of parts/feet for both of the 15-91's i bought. there seems to be plenty of them on ebay so you may not have trouble getting parts or feet if you purchase this machine. i would see if they are willing to come down on the price some though. i got both of my machines for $65.00 along with the all the attachments. one machine is pristine and the other has some wear on the scrolls but the family said the mother used it often. good luck.
    Last edited by Havplenty; 01-24-2012 at 08:32 AM.

  3. #3
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    $100 does sound high for a 15-91. However it's a cute cabinet, and if the machine does what you want it to do then you will be happy. I think I would take along a small quilt sandwich and try it out before buying, if you can do that. At least test the stitching to be sure it is in working order.

  4. #4
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    The cabinet is adorable! You can always offer less . . . my father would shoot me if I never bargained when buying something! He taught me the fine art of it!!!!
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  5. #5
    Senior Member DawnFurlong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by auntpiggylpn View Post
    The cabinet is adorable! You can always offer less . . . my father would shoot me if I never bargained when buying something! He taught me the fine art of it!!!!
    Bargaining is so not my forte!!! I just need to remember - all they can say is no. Love that it already has a cabinet - so I wouldn't hassle with that. Still waiting on a response as to whether they still have the machine or if it has sold.

    Saw another 15-91 on Craigs List - an estate sale. With the cabinet. They are asking $165. Would definitely offer less. If this first one doesn't pan out - thinking I might pop in at the estate sale this weekend. They indicated they do not know if it works or not. It looks like it is a shop or some type of management business that runs these estate sales. Not sure how much they bargain there, never been to one of these. Seems like they have built in a very hefty profit though on this machine - especially since they don't know anything about the condition of the machine!

  6. #6
    Super Member virtualbernie's Avatar
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    15-91's have about a 7" space. They are wonderful machines. I think $100 is a little high and $165 is definitely too high especially if they don't even know if it works or not. Look on Ebay--that's where I got one of mine and I wouldn't trade it for the world!

    You can find feet for it online at various vintage sewing machine sites like http://www.sewingmachineplus.com or http://sew-classic.com. The feet don't usually cost very much.
    Last edited by virtualbernie; 01-24-2012 at 09:34 AM. Reason: adding additional info
    Bernie

  7. #7
    Super Member Havplenty's Avatar
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    yes i did take something to sew on to test both machines. be sure to do that. most the the poeple you buy these machines from know very little about them so they may tell you they think they sew or the last time nanna sewed with it, it worked. do test it. check under the bottom and the bobbin case for rust.

    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    $100 does sound high for a 15-91. However it's a cute cabinet, and if the machine does what you want it to do then you will be happy. I think I would take along a small quilt sandwich and try it out before buying, if you can do that. At least test the stitching to be sure it is in working order.

  8. #8
    Super Member Havplenty's Avatar
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    i would be hesitate to offer $165.00 for a 15-91. you can find them at goodwills for considerable less. i'm not sure why they have that priced so high. sometimes i think these estate sale companies just want to see what the market will bear. just for interest, i would take other ads for 15-91's with me to use as a bargaining chip if you become interested in the machine.

    i went to one estate sale and they had a pristine featherweight that was overpriced ($325.00) and had not sold in two days of the sale. the estate sellers were surprised and i told them is was overpriced. it sold for less in a bid auction. good luck with your 15-91 search.

    Quote Originally Posted by DawnFurlong View Post
    Saw another 15-91 on Craigs List - an estate sale. With the cabinet. They are asking $165. Would definitely offer less. If this first one doesn't pan out - thinking I might pop in at the estate sale this weekend. They indicated they do not know if it works or not.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ncredbird's Avatar
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    In my area sewing machines at thrift stores are becoming harder and harder to find and more expensive when you do find them. I used to find quite a few of them but haven't seen one in months now and when I do find them they are seldom in good working condition. Also, because these older machines work so well and are still working after years and years of service people are coming to realize what a deal they are. After all how many of the expensive plastic machines or those with computer chips are still going to be around and working in 50 years? Another nice feature about the vintage machines is that they don't have to go to the dealer to be serviced unless it is really something big. The instructions for oiling, lubing, and cleaning them are available on the internet and it is simple to learn to do it. I wouldn't hesitate spending $100.00 for a 15-91 if I were in the market for a machine that I knew would sew through anything and has the ability to drop the feed dogs. (I have 2 of them downstairs.) That being said, be sure and take it for a test drive and be sure to try and drop the feed dogs while you are still there. This is a heavy machine and it will sew through leather if you need to have it do so. You couldn't find a new machine for a comparable price that would do that and most of them would bounce around on the table while you were sewing pedal to the metal. They certainly don't sew as fast as the Juki machines but they are as fast as I need one to be. (Until I got used to the speed of a Juki it made me nervous) Ann in TN

  10. #10
    Senior Member DawnFurlong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncredbird View Post
    In my area sewing machines at thrift stores are becoming harder and harder to find and more expensive when you do find them. I used to find quite a few of them but haven't seen one in months now and when I do find them they are seldom in good working condition. Also, because these older machines work so well and are still working after years and years of service people are coming to realize what a deal they are. After all how many of the expensive plastic machines or those with computer chips are still going to be around and working in 50 years? Another nice feature about the vintage machines is that they don't have to go to the dealer to be serviced unless it is really something big. The instructions for oiling, lubing, and cleaning them are available on the internet and it is simple to learn to do it. I wouldn't hesitate spending $100.00 for a 15-91 if I were in the market for a machine that I knew would sew through anything and has the ability to drop the feed dogs. (I have 2 of them downstairs.) That being said, be sure and take it for a test drive and be sure to try and drop the feed dogs while you are still there. This is a heavy machine and it will sew through leather if you need to have it do so. You couldn't find a new machine for a comparable price that would do that and most of them would bounce around on the table while you were sewing pedal to the metal. They certainly don't sew as fast as the Juki machines but they are as fast as I need one to be. (Until I got used to the speed of a Juki it made me nervous) Ann in TN
    I have to say, in my searches in my area (a larger metropolitan area) - I am hard pressed to find these type of machines for less than $100. There are a few listed on ebay, but I am hesitant to do that, because this is my first foray into vintage machines - and I am hoping that I don't have to tackle the rewiring thing right away. And this one comes with a cabinet. I still have not heard from the person who listed it for sale, so I am not sure if it is still available. But it is within an hour - so I can test drive it. I actually love the look of the cabinet. Doesn't match anything in my home, but I like it.

    Ann - I was wondering how you found stippling to be on your 15-91? It sounds like you have a Juki too. Have you liked your Juki as well? So many sewing machines, so many decisions!

  11. #11
    Super Member deedum's Avatar
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    I love love love my 15's! I have two and looking at buying a third. A girl can't have too many of them. I do all my FM on my 15. I have one set up for FM and I piece on the other. Of all my machines (8 of them, new and old), these are my favorite. You just can't beat these! I got my first Singer 15 in cabinet, 37 yrs ago for $20. I bought my other 15 in cabinet last year for $50 and looking at a portable for $50. $100 might be a tad high, depending on yr area, I do know the prices are going up on the vintage machines though.

  12. #12
    Super Member deedum's Avatar
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    Speed is no issue on the 15, plenty of power, so easy to maintain. Doesn't ask for much at all. I haven't even missed my Janome that has been in the repair shop for the last TWO MONTHS! Who know when I will get that back and the cost. My old vintage singers have never had to be in the shop, what does that tell ya..

  13. #13
    Senior Member DawnFurlong's Avatar
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    Okay and here is another machine in a cabinet posted to Craigs List (and this person lives within 5 miles of me). I am thinking this looks like a 15-91?? Can anyone confirm? He is asking $135 - said he got it at an auction. I would offer less on this one.

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  14. #14
    Super Member Lucky Patsy's's Avatar
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    That is not a 15. Looks more like a 66 to me. The tension knob is on the side face on the 15, whereas it is on the front of the machine in this picture. The 66 does not drop feed dogs and has a drop-in horizontal bobbin which may cause some problems in FMQ. Good luck on your search. Around here estate sales are often marked down half price on the last day.

  15. #15
    Super Member quilt addict's Avatar
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    I have not started sewing on my 15 as it is in line up to get cleaned. Ususally the give away for them is that the tension is on the faceplate, or left hand side of the machine instead of the front.

    The second machine looks to me like a Singer 66. It does not drop the feed dogs so may not be a good investment if you are looking for a machine to FMQ. But for me this one is also overpriced. Looks like it may be missing a plate and it does not show the cord and controller in the picture.
    Lisa

  16. #16
    Senior Member DawnFurlong's Avatar
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    Thanks for the ID and the tip on Estate Sales Lucky Patsy's!

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    Senior Member shnnn's Avatar
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    Love quilting on my 15... the bed may be 7" but you have a little more space there because the neck of the machine is much thinner. It uses standard low shank feet, and class 15 bobbins - I took the snap-on adapter off my Brother and use the 1/4" I bought for it. If I found one in a cabinet for $100 here and it worked I'd grab it!! I bought mine off ebay for over $100 in a wooden base built out of 2x4s. It's just not something you find often here... I did find an ugly cabinet at the thrift-store... paid $25 for the empty cabinet alone. I have seen ONE for sale here, in a cabinet, for $200 and it needed to be rewired (but, it had the "rare" knee controller ).
    Don't forget to check the wiring for cracks - and when you thread it, the needle threads right to left, and the flat side of the needle faces left.

  18. #18
    Senior Member DawnFurlong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shnnn View Post
    Love quilting on my 15... the bed may be 7" but you have a little more space there because the neck of the machine is much thinner. It uses standard low shank feet, and class 15 bobbins - I took the snap-on adapter off my Brother and use the 1/4" I bought for it. If I found one in a cabinet for $100 here and it worked I'd grab it!! I bought mine off ebay for over $100 in a wooden base built out of 2x4s. It's just not something you find often here... I did find an ugly cabinet at the thrift-store... paid $25 for the empty cabinet alone. I have seen ONE for sale here, in a cabinet, for $200 and it needed to be rewired (but, it had the "rare" knee controller ).
    Don't forget to check the wiring for cracks - and when you thread it, the needle threads right to left, and the flat side of the needle faces left.
    shnnn - how do I check the wiring for cracking? Hoping for a response from the seller tonight. It was posted on 1/20/12, so not that long ago. But it seems like these machines get snapped up fast.

  19. #19
    Senior Member shnnn's Avatar
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    Just look at the wires to see if the plastic coating is cracked - especially where it bends the most... cracked wires are not a death sentence - but they are a safety concern, and do need to be replaced, so that would affect the price a lot.

  20. #20
    Senior Member DawnFurlong's Avatar
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    I sometimes see Singer 15 clones. Are these comparable to the Singer 15-91 machines? I found a Seam Master Class 15 clone for sale, $40. But having trouble finding info about this particular machine. Thought I did see that some say that the clones made in Japan are comparable.

  21. #21
    Senior Member shnnn's Avatar
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    I say if you like it go for it... I have heard good things about the clones as well... and if I find a pretty one (teal or pink) for a good price it will come live with us (we'll say it's for dd )

  22. #22
    Senior Member 1000projects's Avatar
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    I have the 15-91 and I love it. I use it mostly for chain piecing with a 1/4" foot.

    I have tried it with the FMQ foot. It is really easy to lift the machine up and loosen a screw drop the feed dogs. The bobbin size is HUGE... I really appreciate that. I also enjoy the large size of the sewing table.

    The one issue I had was the presser foot had a little too much pressure. I think you can turn the knob up top to reduce pressure, maybe someone can confirm this?

    I got my fmq foot from sew-classic.com, they have nice machine parts!

    I have been spoiled by a quilting frame and a 17" Voyager, so I only did the one project FMQ on the 15-91. More throat is better for full size or queen sized quilts.
    Long arm quilting in Carmel, Indiana http://quiltcycle.blogspot.com/

  23. #23
    Senior Member ncredbird's Avatar
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    I don't have a Juki. A friend has a Juki and I play on it occasionally. I am still apprehensive with the speed with which it sews but otherwise it is a great machine. I am sure it would be easy to get used to if you had one but I am very happy with my vintage machines. I am not sure which one it is but I think the TL98Q (?).
    To be honest with you I don't do a lot of stippling and no micro stippling. What I have done requires more practice but that is not the machines fault, it is operator inexperience. FMQ requires practice and if your machine has the ability to do FMQ and you take the time to practice you will eventually be able to conquer the skill. There are quite a few quilters on this forum that use these vintage machines exclusively for their FMQ and they swear by them. For the money I don't think you can go wrong. Ann

  24. #24
    Super Member Havplenty's Avatar
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    dawn check the www.shopgoodwill.com online shop too. i have seen quite a few vintage machines for sale here. try the ft. wayne, in and the two wisconsin store sites. they seem to have frequent sewing related titems in these stores.

    i dont know what state you are in but i just checked cl in my area (st. louis) are there are several vintage machines for sale. are you far away? wanna go on a road trip?

    i just saw this vintage domestic in a red case for $15.00. i might check it out just for the red case.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DawnFurlong View Post
    I have to say, in my searches in my area (a larger metropolitan area) - I am hard pressed to find these type of machines for less than $100. There are a few listed on ebay, but I am hesitant to do that, because this is my first foray into vintage machines - and I am hoping that I don't have to tackle the rewiring thing right away. And this one comes with a cabinet. I still have not heard from the person who listed it for sale, so I am not sure if it is still available. But it is within an hour - so I can test drive it. I actually love the look of the cabinet. Doesn't match anything in my home, but I like it.

    Ann - I was wondering how you found stippling to be on your 15-91? It sounds like you have a Juki too. Have you liked your Juki as well? So many sewing machines, so many decisions!

  25. #25
    Senior Member DawnFurlong's Avatar
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    Thank you for the Goodwill tip, I'll have to look there. A bit afraid to start with one that looks like it probably needs rewiring off the bat - but such a good deal - worth thinking about! I am in North Texas. Wish I could go on a road trip. That's okay, if this one doesn't work out, somewhere in the future one will. I think I have asked enough questions to get a good idea of some of the differences between the 301, the 201 and the 15-91 (which is the one I prefer).

    Thank you all for the additional info on FMQ! I do mostly stippling - but that is because I am comfortable with it, so have gotten faster. However, I do want to branch out to other things. Which will take more practice, and will also require me to go slower than stippling. I do have an almost king sized quilt top complete, have the batting and backing, ready to sandwich. Not ready to tackle it on my current machine though. But aside from that, I would say most of my quilts will probably be of the lap top variety, with an occasional larger quilt (such as - I know I want to make myself a Christmas themed quilt - so that will be another queen to king size).

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