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Thread: Know a great electric, gear driven straight stitcher?

  1. #1
    Super Member BuzzinBumble's Avatar
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    Know a great electric, gear driven straight stitcher?

    Hello! I’d like to tap all this amazing vintage sewing machine talent here on the QB and ask for some advice.

    Ever since my daughter permanently borrowed our shared Singer 401A, I’ve been hankering to get myself another vintage machine. We just bought our other daughter a beautiful Singer Rocketeer and I learned to give it a simple servicing. This could get addictive. My DH is now talking about taking it up as a hobby and actually told me to buy myself a vintage machine!

    For my purposes, I only need a simple machine that can handle lots of straight sewing. I'd like to find one with a terrific straight stitch with reverse / electric motor / metal gear driven / ability to use a walking foot / and maybe a larger throat space / something I can FMQ with / good visibility of the needle and good lighting. That doesn't necessarily mean the feed dogs have to be droppable, because I currently prefer simply setting the stitch length at 0 on my BabyLock, even though the feed dogs can be dropped. And as for the throat (harp?) space, the Rocketeer didn't have any more than my Babylock, which has a workable 7.5inches.

    I was drooling over 301’s but don’t know if there are others I should consider as well.

    Does anyone have a favorite or two that meets a lot of these wishes?
    Last edited by BuzzinBumble; 05-22-2012 at 07:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Check out the 201s. They fit your criteria.

    Joe

  3. #3
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    The 301 is awesome but all the walking feet currently sold on the market are too large and no matter what people will tell you the don't work like the feet are engineered to. The feed dogs on the walking feet don't mesh properly with the 301 feed dogs. Will they 'work'? Yes, they will fit, but not work properly. I own 5, 301's because they free motion quilt wonderfully. You can lower the foot pressure for straight quilting and you may not need a walking foot. The 301 would be my first Vintage Singer for all around large throat space and stitch quality.

    My second pick would be a class 15 machine. It will give you great FMQing, and the ability to use any low shank feet or walking feet on the market.

    The 201's have a horizontal bobbin case and are not the best machine for free motion quilting.

  4. #4
    Senior Member harrishs's Avatar
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    If you could find a collector of vintage machines to try out different machines----You are a little far from Iowa-----I think I like my 301's for straight stitching but I do not quilt on it (I have a mid arm hobby quilter) I also love the 201---especially with several layers....but I should warn you, one vintage is never enough.

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    I have a 15-91 in a cabinet that I'm setting up for this purpose. One with a potted motor. I just need to rewire the plug and she will be all set.

  6. #6
    Super Member wesing's Avatar
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    I agree that a 15 or 15 clone would fit your requirements. They are all metal, have a generous throat space, have a reverse stitch, and use low shank feet. Billy says that some of the clones are actually better machines than the original Singer 15. My clone has a 1.0 amp motor and is the quietest machine we own - even quieter than the FW. It was made by Brother and is badged as a Compac.

    You might try poking around in thrift stores, antique stores, yard sales, and estate sales and just see what is available. You may run across something that speaks to you. You can usually pick one up for a very reasonable price, and if you don't like it you can probably sell it here or on ebay or Craigslist.

    I also have a Rocketeer (503) in a cabinet with knee bar and love it. I have pieced two quilts with it and so far it is my favorite vintage machine that we own.

    Good luck in your search.

    Darren

  7. #7
    Super Member BuzzinBumble's Avatar
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    What a lot of great input! I'm now looking at all three of these models! They are all beautiful and you're right harrishs that it would be nice if i could try them out first. Darren I LOVE my daughter's Rocketeer, but don't really need all those fancy features. Also I read on here somewhere that a machine dedicated to straight stitch tends to do a more perfect straight stitch than a machine that also does zigzag stitches.

    I found an interesting article about FMQ on vintage machines: http://reviews.ebay.com/Free-Motion-...00000003585145 She did not recommend doing a lot of quilting with the 301 or the featherweight, stating that they were too lightweight and the harp space was too small. Candace and harrishs, do you agree?

    Are the terms harp and throat used interchangeably?

    I do have what is probably a silly question about the 15-91. Does the light and cord on the back get in the way very much? And does it provide ample illumination over the stitching area in the front? Joe and MissKira, what do you think about your machine's lighting? Is that a 201 in your icon Joe, because it is gorgeous!

    Would any of you be so kind as to measure your machine and let me know what the size of the space under the throat/harp is? (width and also height under the throat would be quite helpful information)
    Thanks everyone!
    On to craigslist!

  8. #8
    Super Member jljack's Avatar
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    My 301a is a remarkable straight stitcher. And yes, I agree that a zz machine does not produce a perfectly straight seam like a machine that sews only straight. I have done some FMQ on my 301a, and I really like how easy it is to slow down on this machine. It gives me great control. It's not the largest of the full size machines, but it has plenty of harp space to do most of the projects I would do on it.

  9. #9
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    No, I don't agree with the review on the 301. The throat space is decent and because it is internally belted it's very powerful. Lightweight is a plus for the machine and it doesn't hurt the ability to FMQ. If you google you can find answers to all your questions on throat space. It's out there if you look. I have FMQ countless quilts on my 301 and the stitch quality is wonderful and I have received many compliments on the quilting.

    Many purists cringe at the term "harp" space and say harp space is for harps only. So, I stick to throat space as to not ruffle any feathers:>

  10. #10
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    Here is a good picture of a 201's throat space. I will measure my 15-91 in a bit.

    http://www.quiltedcupcake.net/2009/0...episode-8.html


    Actually I just googled it and this thread came up. It has the throat space info and some other interesting discussion on bobbin set up for FMQ.

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f1...a-t112159.html
    Last edited by misskira; 05-23-2012 at 08:20 AM.

  11. #11
    Super Member BuzzinBumble's Avatar
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    Thank jljack and Candace! That is great to know how much you love quilting with your 301s, because I really love those slantomatics. It's quite a thrill how powerful they are and how well you can see the needle! I've been googling for the last 5 days until my brain feels pretty much fried from reading. Surfed all over the QB too. Actually it left me with more questions, since the more i learned, the less I knew! So that 's why I turned to my fellow QB members.

    I must have been looking wrong Miss Kira, because I couldn't find throat space measurements on these machines. So I could just hug you for these links!

    Got it Candace - Throat, not Harp!

  12. #12
    Super Member BuzzinBumble's Avatar
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    Found another goodie: http://www.quiltingboard.com/vintage...ml#post5211048

    So the vertical bobbin case (instead of drop-in) is a great big plus for FMQ on the 301 and the 15-91
    Last edited by BuzzinBumble; 05-23-2012 at 09:41 AM.

  13. #13
    Super Member Teacup's Avatar
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    Well, it will be interesting to see what you decide! My prediction...you'll start with one and eventually, as you find some machines at great prices, you'll end up with a 301, 201 and 15-91. What's nice is if you get bargains, you'll spend less on all three combined than you would on a new computerized machine. Enjoy your hunt!

  14. #14
    Senior Member greywuuf's Avatar
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    One other thing to consider would be an industrial say a 31-15?
    Maybe nursekitlaura would care to comment. Beautiful straight stitch and WAY generous throat space. Just an option to look into.

  15. #15
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Rain Noe has a lot of info on his blog - he is a QB member - he even has a tutorial on rebuilding wiring on the machines with potted motors: http://vssmb.blogspot.com/search/label/rewiring
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  16. #16
    Junior Member Brynn's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that the horizontal bobbin is really the issue it's made up to be; I've been quilting exclusively on horizontal bobbins, and I've yet to have an issue that wasn't caused by some other setting being wonky. I would suggest you try a 201 and go from there.

  17. #17
    Super Member BuzzinBumble's Avatar
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    Teacup, I have a feeling you have predicted exactly what will eventually happen. Sooner than we think, because it is just too hard to choose! I seem to be catching the vintage sewing machine bug and my husband is too. I had SO MUCH FUN doing the simple tune up and cleaning on the Rocketeer for my daughter and DH got more and more interested the more he saw.

    Miriam I feel like you just gave me treasure - thank you for that wonderful link!

    Greywuuf - a 31-15 industrial model eh? Does that mean the motor is mounted below the machine? I will have to look for that machine.

    And Brynn, I am really, really glad to read what you wrote about the horizontal bobbin never causing a problem for you, because that was my only concern with the beautiful 201. They have the biggest throat space of the 3 machines we've been discussing too.

    So!.... i found a couple of goodies on Craigslist, but their listers have not identified them and don't know a thing about them. I’m not sure, but I think the first is a 15-91. It was owned by the lister's mother and always well cared for. He’s asking $175. We're hoping to go see it this weekend and if it is a goodie.....


    The second listing we didn't hear back about yet. It is way off topic – a treadle machine, but a possible fixer upper for my husband to play with... I'm pretty sure it is a Red Eye Singer 66. Only $35 but needing a ton of work. What do you all think they are? If you were to hazard a guess, do you think the red eye is too frustrating a project for my hubby to take on as a total newbie?

    Thanks!
    Attached Images Attached Images

    Last edited by BuzzinBumble; 05-24-2012 at 07:26 AM.

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    I agree with Candace. The 301s were kind of hiding in the weeks, but have now been discovered for the great machines they are. There are several on Ebay right now. Some of course are over priced. Watch Ebay to get an experience factor. Try running an ad in your loal paper. Maybe you can apprehend one in the wild and not have to pay shipping. Ask all your friends. Networking works very well. They will be calling you from garage and yard sales with outstanding "finds". They are still out there. The 301s are far more plentiful than 11s. I want an 11 myself, but they are too pricey on Ebay. Maybe I will take my own advice and run an ad.
    Donna Quilts
    We help the wounded soldiers.

  19. #19
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    About the horizontal vs. vertical bobbin. I have about 17 vintage machines and maybe 6 are drop in, horizontal bobbins. If you compare ease of stitching, the feel and the quality of the stitches during FMQ, it is clear the horizontal machines give a better end product and win out. And that's why they have a better reputation for FMQing. I'm certainly not the only one who believes this is the case. Now, I'm talking FMQ only. There is an extra turn in the drop in bobbins that makes them not as great FMQing machines. The stitches tend to be not as even as nice and have more tension issues. If you don't have other vertical bobbin machines to compare to or don't have the experience with a huge amount of machines to refer to, then you probably won't notice a difference. I have a hoard of machines and many years of sewing experience to draw from. I love my Janomes and Elnas with drop in bobbins for piecing, but always go to the vertical bobbin machines for FMQing.

  20. #20
    Senior Member greywuuf's Avatar
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    Here is a link to some more info on the 31 series machine a member here has. Yes the motor is under table mounted, or I hear they treadle nicely. http://www.quiltingboard.com/vintage...3881-3467.html

  21. #21
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    That Redeye Singer 66 or a Singer 15 should be an easy to learn to fix machine except for the wiring on the Singer 15. I would contact Rain and ask him what to look for on the wiring - how do you know you have a good one, well cared for or not?
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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