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Thread: Older Sewing Machine

  1. #1

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    Hi All! I am interested in getting a older singer sewing machine. I am not really interested in getting a FW. I was wondering about the other older models, for example which one has the most throat space and what attachments are available for which ones? I basically want to get it to try to learn my FMQ as my brother machine (inexpensive model) seems to bounce around and have trouble with bulk. What type of feet were made for these machines or have been made to fit these machines to use for FMQ , Has a walking foot been made that will fit them for straight line quilting? There seem to be a number of different models available on craigslist most of the time...but how to know which one would be best. What would any of you who have a vintage machine recommend and why? Thanks for your input.

  2. #2
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    This is my favorite FMQ machine - a Singer 15-91. I've also had a treadled version (15-89) and a belted motor version (15-90) of this machine - all of them are fabulous, but I prefer this one.

    It takes a class 15 bobbin, a 15X1 needle and standard low shank attachments, so keeping it equipped is easy and cheap. :)

    My favorite hopping foot costs $3.00-5.00. You can get a modern repro even feed (walking) foot for $15-20. I use two different brands of these and don't notice any difference from one to the other. Both are effective.

    It's got a lot of room under the arm, more than any other domestic machine I own except for maybe the Singer 27. Lots of people like quilting on the 27, but I must be a thread hog because I feel like I no more than get started before I run out of bobbin thread. It's a spindle type bobbin, and it takes standard low shank attachments and 15X1 needle.

    Another one that's a favorite is a Singer 301. It takes slant shank attachments, a 221 bobbin and a standard 15X1 needle. It has a lot of room under the arm and a lot of people really love this machine for quilting and FMQ. I get acceptable results, but I just never really loved sewing with it the way I love sewing with my 15's.

    Several people say that they do all their quilting on their 201's. I have two that I need to put back together, but I haven't done enough FMQ on them to really judge. I think the results were acceptable, but not as nice as on the 15. And the class 66 bobbin holds considerably less thread than the 15. Standard low shank attachments and 15X1 needle.

    I've done quite a bit of FMQ on my Singer 401 - lots of skipped stitches, so the only free-motion stuff I do on that now is darning type repairs.

    My second favorite FMQ machine is a Kenmore 1803 (and I have an 1802 which is just as good at it) Super high shank attachments, class 15 bobbin and 15X1 needle. It doesn't have nearly the space under the arm as the 15.

    My third favorite FMQ machine is the one in my avatar - a Lady Kenmore 89 from the late 60's. It's also got quite a bit less space under the arm than the 15.

    I love all my old gals - but the 15 is really getting a workout in the last few weeks. :)

    Singer 15-91
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  3. #3
    Super Member Darlene's Avatar
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    A lot of the Singer older machines have a slant shank and the attachments are a little more expensive.

  4. #4
    Senior Member B. Louise's Avatar
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    There a similar Singer on Indianapolis Craigslist today--$125, I think.

  5. #5

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    Wow thanks, sounds like you know your machines! Great information, very helpful, and definatly appreciated!

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by thepolyparrot
    This is my favorite FMQ machine - a Singer 15-91. I've also had a treadled version (15-89) and a belted motor version (15-90) of this machine - all of them are fabulous, but I prefer this one.

    It takes a class 15 bobbin, a 15X1 needle and standard low shank attachments, so keeping it equipped is easy and cheap. :)

    My favorite hopping foot costs $3.00-5.00. You can get a modern repro even feed (walking) foot for $15-20. I use two different brands of these and don't notice any difference from one to the other. Both are effective.

    It's got a lot of room under the arm, more than any other domestic machine I own except for maybe the Singer 27. Lots of people like quilting on the 27, but I must be a thread hog because I feel like I no more than get started before I run out of bobbin thread. It's a spindle type bobbin, and it takes standard low shank attachments and 15X1 needle.

    Another one that's a favorite is a Singer 301. It takes slant shank attachments, a 221 bobbin and a standard 15X1 needle. It has a lot of room under the arm and a lot of people really love this machine for quilting and FMQ. I get acceptable results, but I just never really loved sewing with it the way I love sewing with my 15's.

    Several people say that they do all their quilting on their 201's. I have two that I need to put back together, but I haven't done enough FMQ on them to really judge. I think the results were acceptable, but not as nice as on the 15. And the class 66 bobbin holds considerably less thread than the 15. Standard low shank attachments and 15X1 needle.

    I've done quite a bit of FMQ on my Singer 401 - lots of skipped stitches, so the only free-motion stuff I do on that now is darning type repairs.

    My second favorite FMQ machine is a Kenmore 1803 (and I have an 1802 which is just as good at it) Super high shank attachments, class 15 bobbin and 15X1 needle. It doesn't have nearly the space under the arm as the 15.

    My third favorite FMQ machine is the one in my avatar - a Lady Kenmore 89 from the late 60's. It's also got quite a bit less space under the arm than the 15.

    I love all my old gals - but the 15 is really getting a workout in the last few weeks. :)
    wow great info! Sounds like you know your machines well! Greatly appreciate the info!

  7. #7
    Junior Member ladyinpurple135's Avatar
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    Glad to hear so much great info on the 15-91. One is sitting up in upstate NY in my in-laws house - which we inherited from them. I've been wanting to try it out for a long time - just forget to take sewing stuff along. It's been a long time since it was used - my MIL passed away in 1992 and I am sure that she hadn't used it for many years before that. I'd love to bring it back home to NC but just do not have enough space for another cabinet sewing machine. My grandmother's 201 in a cabinet is still in storage for that very same reason.

    I also own a 301, a few 99Ks and a few featherweights - collecting is a real disese!!!

    Thanks again for all the 15-91 info.
    Sandy in cold Mooresville, NC



    Quote Originally Posted by thepolyparrot
    This is my favorite FMQ machine - a Singer 15-91. I've also had a treadled version (15-89) and a belted motor version (15-90) of this machine - all of them are fabulous, but I prefer this one.

    It takes a class 15 bobbin, a 15X1 needle and standard low shank attachments, so keeping it equipped is easy and cheap. :)

    My favorite hopping foot costs $3.00-5.00. You can get a modern repro even feed (walking) foot for $15-20. I use two different brands of these and don't notice any difference from one to the other. Both are effective.

    It's got a lot of room under the arm, more than any other domestic machine I own except for maybe the Singer 27. Lots of people like quilting on the 27, but I must be a thread hog because I feel like I no more than get started before I run out of bobbin thread. It's a spindle type bobbin, and it takes standard low shank attachments and 15X1 needle.

    Another one that's a favorite is a Singer 301. It takes slant shank attachments, a 221 bobbin and a standard 15X1 needle. It has a lot of room under the arm and a lot of people really love this machine for quilting and FMQ. I get acceptable results, but I just never really loved sewing with it the way I love sewing with my 15's.

    Several people say that they do all their quilting on their 201's. I have two that I need to put back together, but I haven't done enough FMQ on them to really judge. I think the results were acceptable, but not as nice as on the 15. And the class 66 bobbin holds considerably less thread than the 15. Standard low shank attachments and 15X1 needle.

    I've done quite a bit of FMQ on my Singer 401 - lots of skipped stitches, so the only free-motion stuff I do on that now is darning type repairs.

    My second favorite FMQ machine is a Kenmore 1803 (and I have an 1802 which is just as good at it) Super high shank attachments, class 15 bobbin and 15X1 needle. It doesn't have nearly the space under the arm as the 15.

    My third favorite FMQ machine is the one in my avatar - a Lady Kenmore 89 from the late 60's. It's also got quite a bit less space under the arm than the 15.

    I love all my old gals - but the 15 is really getting a workout in the last few weeks. :)

  8. #8
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    I'm loving this thread!! I have 2 FW, a 66, 201,301, thought I was done, but now I want the one you're all talking about lol
    Yes, it IS a disease!!!!!!!!!! :D
    I love even READING about them!!!!!!!!

  9. #9
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    Yep, "disease" is a good word for it! :D

    I have a 66-1 in a treadle that's still waiting for me to refurbish it. The wood is falling apart and fabric catches on the wood. The paint and decals are shot on that machine, too so I had planned to strip it and paint it and re-plate the nickel parts. I bought a good solid cabinet without the irons on it - the irons had been used to make a table or something.

    I was going to sand and paint the wood black and put brass pulls on the drawers and do the machine in fire engine red with antique fire engine gold leaf decals. I was thinking of trying to electroplate all the nickel parts with gold, too. A fire chief's badge would go on the pillar to finish the fire truck theme.

    But, as usual, what I plan to do and what I actually accomplish are two different things. Maybe after Christmas, I'll find the gumption to drag it out and get started on it.

    It's got a full set of back-clamping attachments and it sews through absolutely anything. I'm not much good at FMQ while treadling, but piecing is so peaceful and easy. :)

  10. #10
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    You guys might want to check out estate auctions in paper also they sell for around $350.00 on ebay and I found one in a cherry cabinet in working order for $35.00 I plan on having it cleaned and serviced I was so excited haven't really got to try it out yet.Good luck in your search it is half the fun.

  11. #11
    Super Member raptureready's Avatar
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    I think mine's a 15. The same walking foot, darning foot, etc. that worked on my newer Brother and Singer machines work on it. My advise is to find a vintage machine that will fit the accessories that you already have.

  12. #12
    Senior Member kat13's Avatar
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    Can you tell me what the difference is between the 15-91 and the 99k? Does the 99 do FMQ? Are they both 3/4 size?
    I have a treadle base and want a machine for inside, the one in there doesn't work, its german and measures 12-1/2 x 6-1/4.
    Thanks

  13. #13
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    The 99 is 3/4 size and takes a class 66 bobbin - you can do free-motion quilting on it, but I think the horizontal bobbin would mean that you'd get a lot more skipped stitches than with a vertical bobbin.

    The 15 is a full-size machine and the treadle-able versions of the 15-91 are the 15-88 and 15-89. One of those is the model number for a hand-crank - can't remember which one - but converting it to a treadle is easy. You just remove the handcrank and put the machine into the treadle cabinet and put the belt on it. There are earlier models of the 15 (the 15-30 is the only model number I can think of) that were also sold as treadles and handcranks.

    As to what machines will fit into your treadle, you need to know the dimensions of the bed of the machine, the diameter of the hinge pins and the measurement between the hinge pins from center to center.

    Do you know what's wrong with the machine that's in there now? Some of these machines are unbelieveably easy to restore to working condition. :)

  14. #14
    Senior Member kat13's Avatar
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    Thank you Elizabeth, you are just a wealth of knowledge!!
    I am really good at taking things apart but putting them back together...not so good. The machine was damaged when shipped to us so pieces are broken off and it locks in one spot when turning the wheel. No parts can be found or info on the machine, we tried several sources and even the museum did not have this mach or info on it. The manual we have from the 1800's in all in german.
    Kat

  15. #15
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    I'm sorry to hear that your machine got so damaged in shipping. Packing a machine for shipping is not a job for the faint-hearted - it's a lot of work to do it right.

    You might try joining the treadleon mailing list if you could post some pictures of your machine on picturetrail or webshots or something, someone with a similar machine might be able to provide a manual or replacement parts?

    Or, if yours is well and truly dead, maybe someone with the same machine is looking for replacement parts that you might provide? :)

  16. #16
    Senior Member kat13's Avatar
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    My hubby spoke with someone from treadleon who directed us to a couple of sites but had no luck. Thanks for the post ideas, had never heard of those sites. If we can't get it workable I'm thinking I might donate it to the museum.
    thanks!

  17. #17
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    I started using vintage machines in treadles this summer for sewing quilts when I purchased my first treadle Singer 66-1. All my machines have been found on CL or free. I have around 10 machines now, but there are only three that I sew with, and yes, they are in treadles. I took their external motors off of them. My all time favorite machine is my Singer 201. It is the smoothest and quietest machine with the prettiest stitches I have ever seen in a machine. It is great for piecing and straight stitching quilting, but I don't use it for free-motion quilting. My 15-90(in treadle) is the machine I use for free-motion quilting. It too is a great machine for piecing and straight stitching, but not as nice as my 201 for this type of work. Why the different machine for free-motion use? It has to do with the bobbin area and the way the pick-up of thread for this type of quilting. The 201s and the 66s have a horizontal bobbin area while the 15s have a vertical bobbin. It seems that the 15s are better for free-motion quilting because of their vertical bobbins. I would hunt for Singers since parts are easy to find for replacement, and I wouldn't pay more than $50 for treadle and machine that you are going to sew with. I picked up a free treadle with a crappy cabinet(with machine Singer 9W1) and later a free cabinet. They can be found, just keep watching CL. Yard sales are great too for cheap but awesome finds. Also, reading the Vintage Sewing Shop that Billy started here on this site is very informative and educational. Plus, fun to see other folks machine finds and projects.

    My 201 has a walking foot on it that I use all the time. It is designed to fit the feed dogs of the vintage Singers.

    Singer 201 Tension in front, longer thread holder
    Name:  Attachment-143235.jpe
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    Singer 15-90, tension on side
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    Singer 66-1 with brown Lotus decals
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  18. #18
    Senior Member kat13's Avatar
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    wow...beautiful machines! I'm pretty sure the 201 is what my Dad taught me on and the cabinet is identical to what he had. I've been on Billys site, haven't quite recovered from when my butt fell asleep trying to catch up. I can't believe all the machines, I definately have the bug and am learning alot...like I wish Billy was my neighbor! Hopefully after xmas I'll have more time. I live out in the middle of nowhere, nearest lg city is 3-1/2hrs away. I do have a cousin in WI who loves estate/garage sales so she is keeping an eye out for me!

  19. #19
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    Oh, those are really gorgeous machines! I'm putting a 201-2 back together right now, but it's electric. I wish it was in as beautiful condition as yours. I'm going to have to paint this one if I ever want it to be pretty, again.

    My 66-1 was the twin of yours a hundred years ago - but its decals are sadly almost gone. :(

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