It's no secret that I love vintage Singer sewing machines. From the 201 to the 301 to the 401 each model has its merits. But every time I sit down to test a 15-91 I realize that this is the one I love the best.
Not only is the 15-91 beautiful to look at, it's crafted from nearly indestructible steel. The rear-mounted potted motor and steel worm gears add up to tremendous punching power. It doesn't slip, stall, jam, or bog down. If you can fit the fabric under the presser foot, the 15-91 will sew it.
Singer produced myriads of 15-91's from the early 30's to the late 50's. Early models were highly decorative with fancy embossed scrollwork on the cover plates:
Later models had a simpler satin-stripe motif but are still graceful, elegant machines:
The 15-91 is a straight-stitch machine, but Singer produced a wide array of attachments for zigzagging, hemstitching, blind stitching, and buttonholing. There was almost nothing that couldn't be done with patience and practice.
Eventually the zig-zag models took over the market and the 15-91 became obsolete. But the surviving machines are a testament to Singer's heydey. The oldest 15-91's are upwards of 80 years old but still get the job done.
So if you need a heavy duty straight-stitch machine but don't have space for an industrial model, you can't go wrong with a 15-91.
OldSewinGear is the collaborative effort of retired repairman Gary and daughter Barbara. We love old sewing gear and enjoy sharing what we've learned in our vintage sewing machine adventures. We are located in Roseburg, Oregon.