Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame

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Vintage 15-91 Singer sewing machine on a quilt frameI’m sharing some info on my quilt frame today. This is a long post. Here you can see that I loaded my huge Easy Street quilt on it. This will be the biggest size I ever quilt on the frame. It is about 96 x 96.
Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame
The frame I have is by Handi Quilter, it came with the poles, tracks, sidebars and some other goodies. I know it is hard to believe that I have had this for…..gulp…..a couple years. I was looking for a new sewing machine that had some nice applique stitches and I saw a domestic machine setup with a quilting frame. I tried it out and it did a great job FMQ.  It wasn’t long before I realized I didn’t care for the free motion quilting on the machine. My quilt room wasn’t big enough for the frame, we were going to add on a room…but that didn’t happen. Then I decided to do most of my applique free motion so the frame stayed packed away and the sewing machine was just used to join batting.

Last week I was doing some spring cleaning and I kept thinking about setting up that quilt frame and trying to use the machine again. Builder Bob has always been telling me to set it up in the living room but I really didn’t want it out there. When my dad had heart surgery this winter we set up a treadmill in the living room and since he wasn’t using it anymore…..I decided to move it and set up the quilt frame.

Builder Bob had a heavy, sturdy table in his shop that he wasn’t using so…..I hauled it upstairs. It is only 5 foot long, I thought he had another one maybe in his work trailer so I proceeded to set things up. I had sets of 4 foot tracks and also 12 foot tracks. I tried the 4 foot but couldn’t clamp them on the 5 foot table so I put on the 12 foot ones which hung all over the place just so I could see how it would work. This was last Saturday and when Builder Bob came home……he has been working on his fishing boat for the last 3 weeks……he was all excited and started figuring out how to extend the table. It turned out he didn’t have another of the heavy duty tables.
Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame
Sunday after we had our Mother’s Day lunch we hit Menards and bought two 24 inch wide shelves that were 6 foot long. Then we bought 4 staircase spindles which only cost $3.97 each. Bob had to trim them down a little and also cut holes in the bottom of the white shelving. He screwed down the two shelves to the heavy duty table top and then we lifted the ends carefully and inserted the spindle legs into the holes he had made. Less that $60 and I had a large table!

Oh! I almost forgot…..remember I said the tracks were 12 foot long……well Builder Bob built the table for 12 foot and when we got it all setup and went to put the metal poles in……we found out they were only 10 foot 6 inches. I guess I should have read a little more carefully. Fortunately Builder Bob has lots of patience……especially with me and took the table apart and cut off one side of the shelving…..what a guy!
Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame
The next day I loaded my first quilt on the frame.
I spent about 2 hours with the “other” sewing machine and couldn’t FMQ more than 2 inches before I had problems. So I decided to pull the machine off and set it up on my kitchen table to figure out what the problem had to be. Then……….I thought hmmmmm…..my old 15-91 Singer…..could I use it?? YES!

Take a close look at the base of the sewing machine. The 15-91 Singer which is gear driven needs to be in a cabinet or a case in order to use it. There is a part on the bottom that will hit otherwise. I found this out when I took it into my quilt store to find out why it was locked up…..

Anyway I have been using 3 pieces of 1/4 inch plywood while I wait for Builder Bob to make a case for it…….no hurry.
Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame
I can use the handles to move with but use the foot pedal on the floor for my speed. This handle is setup specifically for the “other” machine. Then I asked for a way to use bigger spools of thread……Builder Bob came up with a “temporary” way of attaching my thread holder to the back of one of the plywood pieces.
Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame
My 15-91 Singer has a harp size of 7 inches but with the pole holding the finished quilt I ended up with about 5 inches of quilting space. I just did a medium size stipple quilting and I could do one and a half rows with one bobbin of thread. I was using So Fine from Superior Thread. It was so much fun to see the back as I quilted.
Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame
Here I am getting close to the end, you can see the border and the area I can quilt is now only 4 inches. Notice the different backing…….I had to piece it with 2 different fabrics. I don’t think I will be doing any feathers or fancy quilting on the frame with the small amount of space but I think I could do a pantograph.
Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame
Last row!! I was so tickled to get this far! You can see all the pins I used to pin the quilt top to the leader.
Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame
I couldn’t wait to take Easy Street off of the frame! I have it trimmed but haven’t put the binding on yet. This post is plenty long so I’ll save that for a “Easy Street” post.
Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame
Best part……the view I have while I quilt! Funny thing……my quilting room is feeling very confining….and small! I am going to have fun sharing what I make with this and if you have any questions….ask away. I’m not sure how well I like quilting from the back of the machine, I think it would be a lot easier to see better if I was working from the front side. I am going to have fun experimenting!
Vintage 15-91 Singer on a Quilt Frame
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31 Comments

  1. Mark strunk says:

    There’s no way you could sew a queen or a king size quilt on that

    1. I didn’t use this setup for very long as it was the space for quilting was too small. I have done queen/king quilts using my 15-91 with tables behind it. Recently I bought a longarm.

  2. Linda Jennings says:

    What a great post! This is the 1st I had heard about you quilt table . I have a Bernina longarm that my husband and I bought a week before he passed, if only we had known. I told the store to cancel it because I had no interest any more, but they didn’t, they kept it for a year and had me make payments. The owner told me if I still had no more interest, they would refund my money. They didn’t even order it until than, which I didn’t know
    Well to sum it up I’m glad they didn’t cancel it. I love the machine. I do a lot of pantographs. It’s hard for me to see over the top rail from the back. But I also made sure I got the hydraulics so I can lower it or raise it as needed due to my back surgery.
    You won’t be sorry, it’s better than trying to get the big quilts through that small space of the smaller machines, been there, done that. I wish I would have seen this post years ago.

  3. This is wonderful! I have a Grace GMQ frame that was given to e and NONE of my machines like it. It has been serving as a catch all table. Modern machines tend to block the view of the needle more than the vintage ones. How did you deal with the foot peddle? Sew a little, move the peddle, sew a little more? And the feed dogs, did you cover them or set the stitch length to zero? Inquiring minds….

    1. I don’t use this setup anymore but when I did I dropped the feed dogs on my sewing machine and then set the stitch length to zero. For the foot pedal I had a strap around it so I could move it as I stitched.

      1. Janet Fagan says:

        Could you explain more about how you deal with the foot pedal??

  4. Susan Bailey says:

    I have a vintage Necchi that might work like this. Your set up seems to work fine. Love the quilt and your ingenious quilting frame. Wonder if my handy-Tom could fashion something like this for me?

  5. Theresa Shuman says:

    I have the same set-up, but cannot get the machine to work. Would like to know what needle you use ,what foot, and how to lower feed dog. I do a lot of quilts for children’s homes and Quilts for Kids. I thought this may be faster.

  6. Thank you for sharing. I have been wondering if I could mount my 15-91 as a short arm, and now, based on your experience, I think I'll give it a shot. Would you be willing to answer a few questions about your set-up?

  7. Thank you for sharing. I have been wondering if I could mount my 15-91 as a short arm, and now, based on your experience, I think I'll give it a shot. Would you be willing to answer a few questions about your set-up?

  8. Betty Lou says:

    Just read the post on turning your Singer into a mid arm machine. I don't understand one thing BuilderBob did to set up the table but I do like the results. I do believe he could make or fix just about anything. I bet it won't be long until you have a new mid arm or long arm machine, Looks like you are headed that way. Good luck with your new quilting experience.

  9. Kati from Kati's Quilting says:

    WOW, Connie, thank you so much for sharing this! I have a Singer 201-2 and would LOVE to have something like this. My Easy Street is even bigger than yours since I expanded it with 1 more row and 1 more column… 🙂 It'll be a pain to quilt I know, but I'll try to get it done. Your view is spectacular!

  10. With your 'other machine' were you having trouble quilting right to left by any chance? With my setup, and my friends who have the same setup, we quilt left to right, cut the thread, slide the machine back to the left, roll the quilt top, and quilt left to right again. I think with the bobbin being a vertical bobbin, it is like petting the cat backward. The machine does not like it, so if it likes going left to right, then that is what we will do! I love that you are using your frame!

  11. Kevin the Quilter says:

    What a wonderful post Connie! You give me hope that I may be able to do a larger quilt like that? I am still waiting for a video though! LOL

  12. So VERY cool Connie. I'd have a very hard time getting anything done with that view. I'd sit and watch the water and boats and whatever else wandered past on the river if it were me.

  13. Why do you have to show such clever ideas when I have 5 vintage machines in my house? You are one clever lady with a wonderful handyman husband. You quilt you did looks just perfect to me. Now I will have sleepless night scheming.

  14. Dora, the Quilter says:

    I'm glad this is working for you. (I don't like quilting from the back of the machine either. I understand that it's necessary for pantographs, but since I love free motion, I do like watching the patch and my needle.) I'm sure it's nice not to have to bunch and move the quilt.

  15. Excellent. Love the idea of putting the frame in the living room… I mean why not, right?! B.Bob is such a keeper. You two sure came up with some clever ideas to make it all work! Congrats.

  16. Siouxzq64@gmail.com says:

    Thanks for sharing. Gives me hope that Dh will be able to use the old quilt frame we found, and his poles, carriage he has created will work. He read your post and was excited to see what was designed.

  17. Wow what a new prospective! You are always coming up with wonderful ideas. I love the view too! It sure helps to have a Builder Bob to help you with all your great ideas! Have fun and will be looking forward to seeing all you work on this new way of quilting.

  18. Quilting Babcia says:

    Connie, Have you ever thought about possibly having one of your 15-91's stretched so the harp space is much larger? Might be worth looking into. I've seen photos of stretched Singer 201's and the 15-91 is so similar I'm betting it could be done and would make that machine on the frame so much more versatile!

  19. Boy, you two are just too, too clever. That is super.

  20. Wow! I am so impressed! I have seen the frames but had no idea how they work. You really helped me a lot. I do have a question. As the quilt rolled up into a bigger roll, can you break thread and turn it around to have less in your harp space? Or roll both ends and work from the middle to edge, then reverse and work middle to edge again? Anyway … I love your blog!

  21. I'm not sure which I envy most…..your view or the quilting set up. I'm joking. Not at all envious. 🙂 I'm very happy to see that you have hopefully devised for yourself an easier way to quilt.

  22. You have a supportive and handy man in your life – just like I do! It is so important and great that you both get to enjoy your hobbies so much. Mine loves his garage and tinkering in there. It keeps everyone sane. Looks like a fun but very large peice of kit you have there.

  23. Kelly Young says:

    Connie, that is amazing! You seem to be able to troubleshoot anything. and yes- that view is gorgeous (as is the quilt!) 🙂

    -Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  24. It looks like a great set up. Is your rejected machine a Viking Sapphire? I have the Sapphire 870 and can't seem to use it for free motion quilting.

  25. Oh I am so envious…..Enjoy

  26. Kiera Vanella says:

    I love that and it's got me to thinking…one of those might fit in my new sewing room….hmmmmm

  27. Deborah Hamilton says:

    That is so ingenious! You and Bob Builder make a great team.

  28. This is so cool Connie! I can't wait to see the quilts you do on your new frame. And you are right, the view is stunning!!!