Lavender Kenmore Sewing Machine (148.281) – A Review


Kenmore Model 148.281 (Model 28)


  • All Metal Gears
  • Side Loading Bobbin
  • Reverse Stitch Lever/Stitch Length Regulator
  • 1.2 Amp Motor
  • Pearly Lavender Color (unofficial color)
  • Uses Class 15 Bobbins and Standard 15×1 Needles
  • Low Shank Foot

A very basic 3/4 size Kenmore sewing machine; this one is a straight stitcher only.  Machine was built in Japan, possibly between 1963-1965. I have not been able to verify the exact manufacture date.   This sewing machine is an all-metal, gear driven, mechanical sewing machine, it is very simple underneath. Take a look!


Underside of machine

I purchased this sewing machine at a flea market for $10 dollars.  The tension unit had been taken apart, the foot and the needle clamp were missing; the machine also needed a good cleaning.  I snapped it up because Kenmore machines were built to last and I knew this one would be fairly simple to whip back into shape and sewing well.  I bought the missing parts on eBay and put the tension unit back together.  Cosmetically it looks great, there is a bit of yellowing on the paint and just a few minor scratches here and there but that’s expected with a sewing machine that is about 50 years old!

The wooden base came with the machine.  I believe that a carrying case was not originally part of the purchase because the base of this machine does not have any latches on the side.  I could be wrong but it I think these machines were offered on this simple wooden base or one had the option of buying a table to go with the machine.

The feed dogs on this machine cannot be dropped, so no free-motion sewing or drawing for me.  Machine has a reverse stitch lever;  handy for fastening a seam.  You just lift it up all the way for reverse stitching.

Winding a bobbin is fast & easy.


Bobbin Winder



Bobbin Winding

It uses Class 15 bobbins and Standard 15×1 needles sizes 11 through 18.  Placement of the needle is flat side faces to the right.


Class 15 Bobbins

This machine can make really tiny stitches, here is a photo of the different stitch lengths on a piece of cotton twill.



Per the Sears website, the purchase of a machine like this back in the early 60’s would have included  the following:

  • Accessory box with 2 felt pads for the spool pins
  • Screwdriver
  • Package of needles
  • 3 Bobbins
  • Instruction book

The motor on this little machine is a 1.2 amp motor which can handle sewing silk to heavy woolen coating fabric.  I’v sewn jeans on this machine without any problems.  Actually this is the highest amp motor I’ve seen on vintage sewing machines.  Motors on my other machines range, from 4 to 1 amps.


Sewing Machine Motor 

The foot controller is a basic one with a 3-prong connection.


Foot Controller



3-Prong Connection for Foot Controller

Believe it or not, this little machine weighs a good 30 pounds or so.  If you buy one of these, you may want to find a permanent spot for it as moving it around may tire you out!  Below you can see this machine’s approximate size.


Side View



Front View

Every sewist needs a light on their sewing machine so I purchased one on eBay, and attached it to the plate on the back of the machine.  Does not match the machine but it works.


Sewing Light Attachment

As mentioned on the features list above, this is a straight stitch machine so if you are looking for decorative or buttonhole stitching this machine does not include either.  Although I have not tried yet, a vintage low shank buttonhole attachment could work just as well on this machine.  There are also vintage zig zag attachments out there on the web for sale that may be used.  I have a small collection that can be viewed here on my Vintage Sewing Machine Attachments page.

Have one of these machines already & don’t know how to thread it ?   Here’s a diagram:

Threading Guide

Threading Guide

Be nice to your machine and oil it here:

Oiling Points

Oiling Points



Oiling Points

I really like the color and size of this Kenmore.  This model is not rare but I’ve seen one for sale online only once in the last 4 years.  Maybe people who own these are not selling.!?  A machine like this would be really great for a beginner as it is really simple to use and you don’t have to worry about breaking anything.


Back View



Kenmore 148.281 (Model 28) Sewing Machine

What do you think, would you buy a machine like this?

Vogue Patterns Magazine and Stuff

A bit late but thought I’d share anyway, Stitch Nerd products made it into the pages of the February/March 2014 Vogue Patterns Magazine!  I am so happy & grateful.  🙂

I have so many things going on behind the scenes (all good!) in addition to my online shop and Etsy shop, that I have not had the time to post new content for you.  I promise there will be another sewing machine review up really soon.  A few more sewing machine resources may be added to this blog as well.  As you may have expected, a couple of new “vintage” sewing machines have made their way into my home, as well as some vintage sewing tools.  Stay tuned for those.

Looking for some needles, an invisible zipper foot, or maybe some oil for your vintage sewing machine, these are now available in my online shop here or click on the photo below.

Stitch Nerd Custom Shop

I will be stocking more sewing and pattern making related items.  I hope you visit me there soon.

Please know that I read all messages and will try to answer if time permits.  Thanks for reading and commenting.  Now go rescue another vintage sewing machine!


I Am Back and Some Exciting News!

Stitch Nerd is back and well rested from a much-needed vacation!  The exciting news is that Stitch Nerd Custom Shop has been included in the Fall 2013 Threads magazine, Sew Stylish!  My pressing hams are in the “Cool Tools” page of the magazine and the nice folks at The Taunton Press made my products look amazing!  The magazine is available today at your local newsstand.