Green Sears Kenmore 158.17511 (Model 1751) Sewing Machine – A Review (Updated 11-14-11)

Green Sears Kenmore 1751 Sewing Machine


  • All Metal Gears
  • Front Loading Bobbin
  • Feed Dog Control
  • Push Button Reverse Stitching
  • Double Needle Stitching
  • Dual Purpose Needle Plate
  • Adjustable Stitch Length Dial
  • Decorative Stitching (with Cams)
  • Powerful 1.2 Amp Motor
  • Pretty Light Sage Green Color
  • Uses Standard Class 15 Bobbins and Standard 15×1 Needles
  • Low Shank Foot

The not so great:

  • No built-in buttonhole or decorative stitches
  • Weight

The Sears Kenmore 1751 (Model 158.1751) is a very sturdy, well-built sewing machine.  Built in Japan around 1968-69, possibly earlier.  Many machines shake while you are sewing but not this one, this one appears to be anchored to the table.  The stitching is really consistent and sews a really good straight stitch.  I also tried the 1 pattern stitch cam that I have (cam #1) and it sewed perfectly.  No loose or uneven stitching.  This sewing machine is an all-metal gear driven mechanical sewing machine so maintaining it is quite simple.  If you are diligent about cleaning and oiling it, you will avoid many trips to your local Vac and Sew.

The 1751 has a unique feature that I had not come across on other machines and that is the Dual Purpose Needle Plate.  With vintage sewing machines that do zig zag stitching, a needle plate with a wide oval hole is necessary.  If you are quilting and need a really straight stitch, you can change out the needle plate with the small round hole on it to make that near perfect straight stitch.  The Kenmore 1751 has both on one plate!  How neat is that?  Of course you will still need to flip the small center plate to use either opening but this avoids having 2 plates for one sewing machine.

The feed dogs on this machine can be dropped for free-motion sewing or drawing, it has a push-button reverse; handy for fastening a seam.  It uses regular Class 15 and Standard 15×1 needles which are readily available in most brick and mortar stores and online.  The 1751 can do double needle stitching which is great if you for example, wanted to mimic the double stitched hem of many RTW t-shirts.

A powerful motor is important when sewing heavier fabrics.  The Kenmore 1751 has a 1.2 amp motor which can handle sewing on sheer voile to vinyl.

Many people will tell you that you cannot or should not sew leather on these machines but I do.  I am not sewing leather too often and I have only made about four leather purses for myself but here are a couple of photos of a leather purse I sewed on my vintage pink Atlas straight stitch.

This purse is by no means perfect (due to my sewing skills of course) but it was the first leather purse I ever made on my Atlas which has a 1.0 amp motor.  So sewing leather on this sewing machine is possible.

Like many vintage sewing machines with all-metal gears, this machine is heavy, at least 35 pounds.  If you are looking for a lightweight “vintage” sewing machine to take to your sewing classes or group, you may need a different machine, perhaps a Kenmore 1020, 1030, or 1040 (read my review on my 1040 here).

Since this is an older sewing machine, it does not have built-in decorative stitches.  However it does use pattern stitch cams which could be  found online.

The following is the Blind Stitch Cam #2, #26842.

I located some very cheaply at the really large auction site everyone knows.  I did a search for these again and they are $9 + each!  Sears still sells many parts for vintage Kenmores and provide enlarged diagrams of the different parts of the machine here.  They still have some cams, priced at $2.99 each and others at $3.99 each.  You will need to enter the entire model number of the sewing machine in the search box, in this case of the 1751 the full number to enter is 158.1751.  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.

Need many more parts for your machine but unsure of the part number?  Here you go!  One page depicting an image and another page with the corresponding part number.

There are specific instructions for setting the stitch width and inserting a cam into the sewing machine.  The following is a much better reference rather than me trying to explain it.

For decorative stitching with cams, you will need a Satin Stitch Foot, set Stitch Width at 4 and Stitch Length at the red mark on the dial.  Stitch length will vary depending on the type of fabric being sewn.  It will also be necessary to adjust the upper thread tension for decorative stitching.

Below is a sampling of some of the stitches this machine can do.  Not only can this machine do a variety of stitches but it can also double up on the design.  You just insert a twin needle on the machine, thread 2 spools of thread, and select the cam for the design you want to do.  Of course, you will also have to adjust the tension, presser foot pressure knob, etc to achieve the desired stitch.  The Stitch Width control should be set at 2 1/2 or less and the Stitch Length at 1-4.

I have other sewing machines that can do twin needle stitching but they are limited to straight, and zig zag stitches only.  The 1751 can do these and many others if you have the stitch cams.

Cams 21-24 are Reverse Stitch Pattern Disks (cams) that produce the stitches pictured below.  Please note that these discs cannot be double stitched with a twin needle.

These stitches are special because they require the machine to stitch forward and in reverse to produce the pattern. There is a knob on the back of the machine that controls the stitch quality.

This knob functions as a sort of tension control knob just for these stitches which needs to be adjusted depending on the fabric, puckering, etc.  This is in addition to the machine’s front tension control knob.
For most materials this knob will remain in the upright position but can be adjusted left or right to produce the desired stitch.  When using these stitch patterns discs, the stitch length should be set at 4.

Below is a photo of the actual stitched patterns on a scrap of 100% cotton fabric.  Aren’t they cool?

By the way, stitch cam/disc #21, also makes the stretch stitch by setting the Stitch Width to 0 & the Stitch Length to 4.

If you are looking to obtain these Reverse Stitch Patterns, here are the numbers for each:

Disc 21 – #26861

Disc 22 – #26862

Disc 23 – 26863

Disc 24 – 26864

And, this is what they look like.

Speaking of stitches, this sewing machine does not have built-in buttonhole stitching and the original buttonhole attachment parts for this machine are a bit difficult to find.  Check out the parts list images I included in this review, may be you can locate these online or at Sears Parts Direct website.

Although I have not tried it yet, a vintage low shank buttonholer attachment may work just as well on this machine. Vintage buttonhole attachments can look intimidating but they are very simple to use and they make really nice buttonholes.

Overall this is a great sewing machine and I am glad that I will be keeping it.  If you are looking for a sewing machine that will last a really long time, consider this one if you come across it.  This one is 42+ years old and still going strong AND escaped the landfill.  ♥

17 thoughts on “Green Sears Kenmore 158.17511 (Model 1751) Sewing Machine – A Review (Updated 11-14-11)

  1. I have one of these that works I have the parts and the book. The cabinet needs some work. What is it worth in average condition?

    • Hi Rick,

      I am no sewing machine expert nor do I have experience in appraising sewing machines so value is in the eye of the beholder. Some would pay $10.00 for an old machine like this. I have paid up to $100.00 for one of my machines (without a cabinet) but that was because of the color, the condition and the fact that it was so hard to find; I just had to make the best and highest offer that I could afford. The value really depends on how badly a person wants a machine.

      Obviously a machine like this Kenmore may be easier to sell as you have the manual and accessories for it. Many people will sometimes not bother with an old heavy machine if accessories and a manual are not included. I think that having the cabinet is nice regardless of the condition if one has the room for it.

      The highest price I would pay for this machine is about $65.00 and that is because I love these old machines. I was just lucky to find this one for $20 as most vintage sewing machines in my area are priced from $45.00 and up, and most without cabinets. If you do a search on Ebay or your local Craigslist for a comparable Kenmore and watch the listings for a while you may get a better idea of how to price your machine and how much it should sell for, that is if you are looking to sell it.

      Not sure if this helps but good luck.

  2. Hi

    Lovely machine. Yeah, I love these older Kenmores — built to last. Can you tell me if this model has a blind stitch cam? I do a lot of hemming and would require a machine that can do this kind of sewing. Thanks!


    • Hi Lorraine,

      This Kenmore model will do a blind stitch hem with a cam. If you do not have the cam and plan to search for one online, it is a light green cam [Stitch Cam #2 (#26842)]. I just updated the post of the review on the machine to include a photo of it.


  3. I am looking for the manual for this sewing machine. I acquired it at a estate sale and I love the color. I have cleaned and oiled the machine. It has a nob on the back of the machine with a plus and minus and I was wondering what this is and what does it do. Thank you for this review of this machine. so far your review is the only one I have found. Thanks for sharing and if you could tell me what that nob is, I would appreciate it. Thanks

    • Hi Margaret,

      That is a great question and I cannot believe that I failed to include it initially in my review. I have updated my review to answer your question. This is a pretty cool sewing machine.


  4. Thank you for answering my questions and I was curious about it because I had never seen this on a sewing machine before. Thank you for your blog and for sharing this information with me. I really appreciate it. I am going to put it in the shop to have a tune up and I am happy with it. I only paid #5.00 at an estate sale after cleaning and oiling it, I made 2 pillow covers. Thank you so much for your blog and sharing. Blessing to you and yours. Happy Sewing!!!!

  5. This is a great review and I learned a lot from it. I just picked up one of these machines for $10, has a lot of cams with it, sews like a dream. It unfortunately did not come with a manual, and I don’t know how to use the cams, or what settings it has to be on to get the design. Would you be able to tell me how to get the fancy stitching on the cams to come out, as I haven’t figured it out yet. Thanks so much. holly

  6. Hi
    I found this machine with all the cams but can not find a buttonhole attachment to fix it. Is there a parts number that maybe I can reference to so maybe I might get lucky and find it one day.

  7. Thanks so much for all the great information on this machine. We just found one today (for my daughter) at a thrift store for only $20, but it had no attachments. Now we can shop with confidence on eBay thanks to your photos.

  8. I am looking for a Sears zig zag sewing machine I bought in 1966. Green. With the cams and acessories.
    Hope someone will sell this one.

  9. I’m also looking for the manual for this model. I would like to print it off, so I have it with me.

  10. I love this information. I grew up sewing on my “green” machine but through the years have lost my zigzag cam no. 1 as this was the most used. Any ideas for replacement? I’m done searches but all come up dead ends!!

    • Hi Sherrie,
      Thanks! Unfortunately Sears Parts Direct website is not currently stocking it but sometimes they pop up on ebay. If I had an extra cam, I’d sell it to you. Good luck,

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