Sears Kenmore 148.15600 (Model 1560) Sewing Machine – A Review

Features:

  • All Metal Gears
  • Front Loading Bobbin
  • Oscillating Hook
  • Low Shank Foot
  • Color: Lemon Smoke
  • Feed Dog Control
  • Free-Arm with Extension Table
  • Reverse Stitch Control
  • Double (Twin) Needle Stitching
  • Special Stitch Dial
  • Stitch Width Control
  • Special Stitch Variegator
  • Powerful 1.0 Amp Motor
  • Built-in Sewing Light
  • Uses Standard Class 15 Bobbins and Standard 15×1 Needles
The Sears Kenmore 1560 (Model 148.1560) is a very solid, well-built sewing machine.  Built in Japan between 1976-1978 by Soryu.  This sewing machine is an all-metal gear driven mechanical sewing machine so maintaining it is simple.

The feed dogs on this machine can be dropped for free-motion sewing or drawing, it has Reverse Stitch Control; handy for fastening a seam and bar tacking.  It uses regular Class 15 and Standard 15×1 needles which are readily available in most brick and mortar stores and online including Sears parts website.  The 1560 can do double needle stitching which is great if you for example, wanted to mimic the double stitched hem of many RTW t-shirts.

The Kenmore 1560 will also do the following stitches:

  • Straight Stitch
  • Zig Zag Stitch
  • Blind Stitch
  • Overcast Stretch Stitch
  • Buttonhole Stitch
  • Scallop Stitch
  • Diamond Stitch
  • Domino Stitch
  • Arrow Head Stitch
  • Feather Stretch Stitch
  • Darning/Mending
The following photo shows a sampling of some of the stitches.

In the next images, I point out the different knobs and levers on the machine in case your machine did not include a manual.

This machine is a Free-Arm but if you do not need to use it this way you can still access the bobbin by opening the shuttle cover.

Having a Free-Arm is a great feature on any sewing machine.  The Free-Arm feature came at a later date, so many vintage sewing machines you will come across will not have it.

One exception being some of the highly sought-after vintage Singer Featherweights, many prior to the 1960’s; they were ahead of their time with their introduction of a free-arm.

A Free-Arm is very useful when you need to sew cuffs, pant hems, or any other circular shape as it allows you slip the fabric around the arm.

A powerful motor is important when sewing heavier fabrics.  The Kenmore 1560 can sew through denim, upholstery, canvas, and leather as long as you use the proper settings and presser foot.  It uses needle sizes from 9 up to 18.

The 1.0 amp motor on this sewing machine will handle those fabrics just fine.

Like many vintage sewing machines with all-metal gears, this machine is heavy, at least 35 pounds.  My 1560 came in its original case and by the photo you can see that the plastic has yellowed but it has protected the machine very well.

This machine is in really great cosmetic condition.

As far as the size of the sewing machine, this is a full-sized machine; take a look at the following photos to get an idea of the measurements.

The following photos of the foot controller are just for reference in case you were wondering what it looks like.

Sears still sells parts for vintage Kenmores and provide enlarged diagrams of the different parts of the machine here.  You will need to enter the entire model number of the sewing machine in the search box, in this case of the 1560 the full number to enter is 148.15600.  The model number can be found on the nomenclature plate that is found on one of the sewing machine’s side.  By the way, the number on the motor is not the model number of the sewing machine.

Another thing I love about the Kenmore 1560 is that many vintage Singer (low shank) attachments and presser feet will fit this machine.

If you find this machine for sale in good working order, I would recommend you purchase it; it will not disappoint.

If you had purchased this sewing machine back in the late 1970’s the accessories included would have been a Zig Zag Foot, a Buttonhole Foot, a Straight Stitch Foot, a Zipper Foot and 2 small screwdrivers.  In addition, you would have  gotten a packet of Q Needles with blue shank used for stitching on certain knits and synthetic fabrics.

And how much do you think you would have paid for this sewing machine back in the day???

The original price was listed at $194.99.

My Kenmore 1560 is 32+ years old and still sewing up a storm. ♥

 

Missing a manual for this lovely sewing machine?  Read the comments section of this review down below for more info.

 

 

31 thoughts on “Sears Kenmore 148.15600 (Model 1560) Sewing Machine – A Review

  1. Thanks so much for this review, I really appreciate it! I have this exact Kenmore 1560 model and I love it. It is giving me some tension issues, but it’s a strong and gorgeous machine. It was picked up at a garage sale for $15 and it came with everything such as the manual and a little box with all of the sewing feet attachments you described :) Mine doesn’t look like it was used much or gently at least, and I’m surprised it came with everything including the case.
    This review has actually made me more fond of this machine, and your pictures are really helpful. I’ve been sewing for about 3 years now and have 4 machines in total, but this one and my modern Janome are my favorites.

    Your sewing machine collection is so gorgeous, love the durability and look of vintage sewing machines! It’s good to see a seamstress who has passion for them.

    Thanks again!
    – Dalya E.
    P.S: Any tips on how to deal with the tension of the Kenmore 1560? :)

    • Hi Dalya,

      Thanks for visiting and you’re welcome! Your purchase was a steal at $15.00, lucky you. I love my old sewing machines and just have not had any interest to buy a brand new, fancy sewing machine ….yet.

      The tension on this machine and many others is a tricky thing. I find myself adjusting the tension on each of my machines every time I use different fabric. The tension for cotton may not necessarily work for silk, or corduroy. If the upper thread is too tight then I decrease the tension, if the top thread is too loose then I increase the tension but I am sure this is common knowledge for most sewists.

      Often times I have forgotten that the bobbin case tension can also be adjusted but I do it only if after adjusting the top tension, it is still not stitching properly. Another thing I have messed with is the presser foot regulator; incorrect pressure can cause skipped stitches.

      I also check all the other standard items like using the correct needle for the type of fabric being sewn, the correct type of thread, I make sure that the machine is properly threaded, and I also check between the tension disks for loose threads and/or dust – fibers can also collect in that space.

      I once had of my sewing machines give me so many tension problems that I almost took it in to get serviced at the local vac and sew shop. I checked everything I mentioned here and guess what the problem was? A thread nest buried deep in the bobbin/feed dog area. Now I make sure to check for these when the tension is not balancing out.

      I hope this was of some help as this is all pretty basic information, but really, this is all I have done to get the tension balanced and my machines stitching properly.
      Sonia.

      • Hi again!

        Thanks so much for your tips. I’m used to doing what you mentioned, hehe!

        I adjusted the tension and it was absolutely perfect, gorgeous, immaculate…until the bobbin case broke and pieces flew :( The bobbin case was acting really weird before it broke. The tension was perfect, no problems at all, but right before it broke the thread was snapping, then as I was putting the bobbin case back in, it broke! I sat there for a few minutes in shock and disbelief, lol.

        I’m going to go to a local sewing machine dealer who services vintage sewing machines to see if they have the bobbin case. If not, I’ll order directly from Sears. Thanks so much for that link and the info!

        Just wanted to say thanks for the wonderful review and helpful tips! I love this machine, it gently hums and doesn’t struggle like my modern Janome sometimes does! The reverse stitch button and the foot controller run so smoothly like butter. It’s not like that with my modern machines :/
        Sorry for my babbling! Thanks again!
        – Dalya E.

      • Sorry to hassle you again! I do have one problem left..it is the clutch knob! It’s the inner smaller knob on the big knob that moves the needle up/down. It’s used to rotate towards you to wind the bobbin, and then rotated back for sewing.The inner clutch kob is very tight. It’s too tight to loosen :( I would appreciate any suggestions to fix it myself.
        I looked into the machine, removed the plates and such, there is no rust or anything suspicious.

        Thanks again for all of the help!
        – Dalya

      • Hi Dalya,

        I have had this problem once and was able to loosen the clutch successfully with heat and a little bit of PB Blaster (mentioned on my (Frozen Feed Dogs” post). I may do a post on this one day but this is what I did.

        I removed the small screw on the knob and sprayed just a tiny bit of PB Blaster in it. (I have read that one is supposed to be careful with the hand wheel (fly wheel) disc area in regards to adding oils, lubricants, etc. but I was desperate.) Once I sprayed in the tiny hole, I heated it with the blow dryer (heat directly into the tiny hole). I put the screw back on and wiggled the knob to loosen it. It took a couple of times of doing this but I got it freed up.

        Hope that works for you.

  2. My daughter in law was given this machine recently but has never sewn before. I have just been thru it to be sure it works. It was a little stiff, but seems to be working fine. There is no book and I am not sure how to set the dials for the decorative stitches. I curently have a straight stitch and can get a zig zag. Could you help me with this please? I will try to use your tip in the feed dogs also, her’s is frozen and I think this machine has not been used recently at all. thank you for your help. This is a great site! Sincerely Sue L

  3. I just picked up a Kenmore Model 148 (1560) sewing machine as pictured in this website to give to my daughter who has just purchased her first home.

    http://stitchnerd.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/sears-kenmore-148-15600-model-1560-sewing-machine-a-review/

    It appears in great shape, execpt for one missing part. After carefully going over the machine, I find I need a STITCH LENGTH KNOB (to control the stitch length). Do you know where I would get such a part?

    I’m also looking for a FREE Manual that I might download ONLINE.

    Can you help?

    Deb

    • Hi Deb,

      Regarding the Stitch Length Knob, sometimes parts for old Kenmore sewing machines like this one appear on the Sears Parts Direct website here. You will need to enter the entire model number of the sewing machine in the search box, in this case of the 1560 the full number to enter is 148.1560. The model number can be found on the nomenclature plate that is found under the sewing machine. By the way, the number on the motor is not the model number of the sewing machine.

      They also have diagrams of the specific parts that can be enlarged and may make it easier to know what you are looking for as they provide a part number to go along with the part image. I could be wrong but I believe the Knob you need is (#25) Dial, PART NUMBER: 214471, however, it seems the part is currently unavailable.

      I would keep an eye out on ebay for it. Sometimes sellers will disassemble old sewing machines and sell the parts individually when the machines are no longer repairable.

      There are many online sellers that you can purchase a copied/pdf manual from however, you can obtain a free manual if you register with the Sears website ManageMyLife at http://www.managemylife.com/. I updated my review with a photo of the website page, they carry manuals only for Kenmore sewing machines.

      Once you register, you can search for the manual by entering the entire sewing machine model. The manual is a downloadable PDF file of a copy of a manual.

      Original manuals sometimes pop up on ebay and there is one currently listed, it is an original.

      Hope this helps! :)
      Sonia

  4. My wife uses my mother’s old Kenmore Model 158.19412 It stitches like a champ but lately it has a problem. The needles do not go in straight. They angle a little bit instead of straight up and down. Perhaps one of the kids did something whe we were not watching. Problem is I can’t fix it and I do not have a manual for this old machine. Do yo have any easy fixes or know where I could get a manual online?

    Thanks

    Desperate HouseHusband

    • Hi Desperate HouseHusband,

      Make sure you are inserting the needle correctly; raise the needle bar to the highest position by turning the hand wheel then insert the needle with the flat side away from you.

      If you think the needle clamp may be damaged Sears Parts Direct website may carry it eventually but it seems that they currently do not. To search on their website, enter the entire sewing machine model number. Some ebay sellers part out sewing machines and will list many of the useable parts for sale.

      If you need a manual for this Kenmore machine you can register at the Sears website, http://www.managemylife.com and enter the sewing machines full model number. You can print it out and/or download it to your computer. I just checked and they have a manual for your machine. :)

      Sonia

  5. Hello, I am completely new to sewing machines and recently bought this Kenmore 1560 at a thrift store. All the parts work and it runs great but after looking it over and doing some online research (where this site greatly helped!) I found that I don’t have a bobbin. This may seem like an amateur question, but how many bobbins do I need? And where can I get them?

    Thanks,
    Alyssa

    • Hi Alyssa,

      This sewing machine uses Class 15 bobbins. You can get these online on Etsy and ebay, about 20 of them for under $10 including shipping. Most local Vac & Sew shops keep them on stock too.

      How many you need is really up to you, I always have at least 12 but you can get by with less. It really just depends on how much sewing you are going to do. It is really inconvenient to only have one bobbin that you fill then have to empty out and re-fill because you need to sew with a different colored thread.

  6. I just found a box of old Kenmore parts and accessories that belonged to my mother. 608.34 is the part number on the box. Is there some way I can find out what model Kemore machine these go to? Thanks

    • Hi Dave,

      Sears Parts Direct allows you to search by part or model number and the part number you provided shows a list of Rotary Accessories which could only be used on a rotary sewing machine.

      If these are in fact rotary accessories, then you may want to include that information on a listing if you plan to sell them. You have a better chance of selling them if you take good close up photos of the pieces as many sewing machine accessories are interchangeable. If you notice any numbers on each piece, you should also include those numbers in the listing.

      You can register with ManageMyLife.com, also a Sears website, and ask questions regarding their products. They may be able to provide you with an answer as to which sewing machine is compatible with the attachments.

      I hope this information helps you.

      Sonia.

  7. I have too many machines at my house. My mom likes to buy a new one and give me her old one. If anyone is really wanting mine let me know.

  8. I too have this beauty of a machine and have had it since I was 13. My newest project is to attempt machine quilting. Do you happen to know if there is a free motion quilting pressure foot that fits this machine?
    Thank you!

    • This machine is a low shank sewing machine. Look around for “low shank free motion quilting foot”
      May need to get one myself..including a quarter-inch foot. Lots of sewing shops should carry these feet attachments. I have a Janome dealer near me who carries a lot of sewing machine attachments and parts. You can also look online.

  9. Hello Dalya, I don’t know anything about sewing machines, but I found a Kenmore Model 1560 Zig Zag sewing machine in my basement. The machine is still in the box and has never been used. It comes with a foot pedal and a manual as well as a little box with a bunch of different attachments, as I said, I no nothing about this machine! Obviously I am not going to use it, do you know what this machine is worth, or know someone who might be interested in it?

    • It varies if they are listed on ebay, but I think I remember one on ebay that went around $175. I’d start at $100 considering the condition of the machine you described. It’s a gorgeous machine and I plan to use mine as a backup machine in case my other one needs servicing. It’s a great machine for beginners and has all the basic stitches one would ever need even after years of sewing.

    • John,
      I am looking for a Kenmore model 1560 to replace one that I had a few years ago.
      ( I actually wore it out after 20+ years ) If you are interested in selling your machine and will consider shipping it to California please let me know. Every machine I have found on craigslist was quite a distance away and the sellers were not interested in shipping even if i was willing to pay the freight. Contact me if you are interested in selling and shipping yours…assuming you are not 3 blocks away. Thanks, Jean

  10. Hello. I just started sewing and am using the Kenmore 148 15210 that my grandmother gave me. It is in good condition; I did have to take it to the repair shop because the stitch length were all the same no matter where the dial was turned. I just got it back from the shop, was very excited to start sewing on it, and soon realised that the soft knit fabric I love to sew with was too delicate to move through such a heavy, sturdy machine. Everything I want to sew for myself will be made from similar knit or lightweight fabric so I am sorely disappointed! Is this a common problem with older heavy machines that were made before knits were produced, or do you think there’s a chance my machine just needs further fixing? Another problem is that even though the stitch lengths are now different, they are all very very tiny. Even at the longest setting, it is still too tight and small for knits. Help! Any suggestions? Should I just go out and buy a new machine if I want to sew primarily with jersey knits?

    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,

      I do not believe your machine needs further repair.

      Old sewing machines can sew many types of fabric. When sewing knit fabric or thinner fabric, you may need to adjust the pressure on the presser foot as insufficient pressure causes poor feeding of the fabric. You may want to register with Manage My Life website (a Sears website), so you may get a free download copy of the manual. The manual explains very clearly how to make the presser foot pressure adjustment, it is very easy.

      Having a copy of the manual will also guide you in adjusting the Stitch Length and Stitch Lengths on your sewing machine.

      You have a very good sewing machine and I believe you should try this first before running out to get a new machine.

      One more thing, when sewing with knits, you should use a special needle. For Kenmore sewing machines, back in the day they used to sell a “Q” needle (Sears part #6746) which was designed for sewing with knits, this was a ballpoint needle. Sears no longer sells or call it a “Q” needle, the equivalent of the “Q” needle is the needle with a blue shank (Sears part 200917108).

      Hope this helps you,
      Sonia.

  11. Hello, I received the 1560 model years ago and just barely pulled it out of storage to use it. I”m a novice sewer and can’t get the tension on my bottom stitch tight enough. How do I tighten it?

  12. Hi!

    Thanks so much on the review of this machine. I’m just starting the “family tradition” of sewing (third generation, even if I did pick it up late at the age of 24). My mom found this exact machine for me at Goodwill for $40, clean with everything except the manual. We were having a little bit of an issue with the tension, so thanks for the advice on that! Happy sewing!

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