Lavender Kenmore Sewing Machine (148.281) – A Review

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Kenmore Model 148.281 (Model 28)

Features:

  • 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!

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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.

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Bobbin Winder

 

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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.

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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.

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Stitches

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.

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Sewing Machine Motor 

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

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Foot Controller

 

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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.

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Side View

 

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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Back View

 

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Kenmore 148.281 (Model 28) Sewing Machine

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

Pink Sears Kenmore Sewing Machine (159.110) – A Review

Features:

  • All Metal Gears
  • Top Loading Bobbin
  • Reverse Stitch Lever
  • Stitch Length Regulator
  • 1.0 Amp Motor
  • Hot Pink Color
  • Uses Vibrating Shuttle Bobbins and Standard 15×1 Needles
  • Low Shank Foot

This girly pink Kenmore sewing machine is a straight stitcher only.  It was made in Japan, possibly between the mid 1950’s to late 1960’s; I have not been able to verify the exact manufacture date.  This small tank of a sewing machine makes a really good straight stitch, the stitching is really consistent and just about perfect.  This sewing machine is an all-metal gear driven mechanical sewing.

My machine came with the original case, however I have not been able to remove all the marks from it.  I am sure this creamy ivory & pink color combination looked lovely when it was new.  Also included was the foot controller, and a pink cardboard box with 2 bobbins.  The base that the machine sits on has a nice little compartment on the right side to store bobbins, thread, needles, etc.

The feed dogs on this machine cannot be dropped for free-motion sewing or drawing.  😦  Not a biggy but it is nice to have.  This machine  has a reverse stitch lever; handy for fastening a seam.  You just lift it up all the way for reverse stitching.  It uses very difficult (nearly impossible to find) shuttle bobbins and Standard 15×1 needles sizes 11 through 18.

After searching everywhere, I have officially ended my search for the proper bobbins for this machine – the bobbins required are of a very specific type.  Take a look at the shuttle bobbin carrier area:

Interesting.  Have a look at the shuttle and bobbin!

I came across some interesting information by a former Sears salesman regarding this pink sewing machine.  Apparently this machine was a “Bait Machine”, not meant to be sold, and Sears saw to it that only a few be made/sold.  It is not a rare machine, there are a few of these out there.  Each store only got one and that one machine was expected to last through many “sales”.  The ads for this sewing machine ran in black and white and listed the machine for a modest price.  In addition, the plates were made in such a way that they resembled a standard 15 type sewing machine so that people thought that it was what they would find when they got the store.

At that time, pink was not a popular color.  This, and the way the demos were conducted by the salespeople, led to the customer leaving the store with a “better” model.  When a customer wanted to see how this machine ran, the sales rep would purposely run it wide open and at high-speed so it sounded like farm machinery (pretty accurate comparison) and almost jumped off of the table.

Now I know why this sewing machine is so noisy AND no wonder I cannot find those bobbins!  It was built for a very specific purpose.  Anyway, back to the machine….

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

Per the Sears website, the purchase of a machine like this (if you could wrestle one out of the sales rep) back in the day included a hot pink box like the one pictured above with a package of needles, s small screwdrivers, 3 shuttle bobbins, 2 spool pins and 2 felt washers for the spool pins.

Unfortunately, Sears does not carry what I need – the bobbins!!!  They only have a few items available for this machine such as a belt, motor bracket, needles, spool pins, hand wheel, and some screw drivers and that is it. 😦

I do not sew on this machine regularly but I do take it out once in a while and sew up a project just to keep all its parts moving properly.

Here is a close-up picture of a very funky bobbin winder.

and a close up of a cute medallion badge attached to the front of the machine.

A good strong motor is good to have especially when sewing heavier fabrics; the Kenmore 159.110 has a 1.0 amp motor which can handle sewing silk to woolen coating fabric.

Like many vintage sewing machines with all-metal gears, this little machine is heavy, 30 pounds (with the top of the case attached)!!!

This is a 3/4 sized machine so if space is an issue in your home this one will not take up a lot of space.  Due to its weight, you may want to have a sturdy table to place it on though.  Take a look at the next couple of photos to get an idea of the size.

And a booty shot.

This machine did not have a light attached to it but I purchased one and had my local hardware store match the sewing machines color so I could paint the light fixture.  I could have left it white but I’m nerdy like that.  Besides, who can sew without a light on their sewing machine?

I attached the light to the plate on the back.

Lights on!

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 buttonholer 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.

I love the color and size, however, I cannot say that I highly recommend this machine if serious sewing is what you really want to do.  Here are the reasons why:

  • The machine is LOUD while sewing
  • Even though it is a heavy machine, it will shake if you sew at a high-speed
  • Cannot drop the feed dogs
  • The last and most important reason:  the shuttle bobbins are nearly impossible to find.  I only have two and take care of them as if they were gold.

Overall it is a decent sewing machine in a cute color but finding replacement parts or bobbins will make you want to pull your hair out of your head.

Pink Atlas Deluxe Straight Stitch Sewing Machine – A Review

Features:

  • All Metal Gears
  • Side Loading Bobbin
  • Reverse Stitch Lever
  • Built-in Front Beam Light
  • Telescopic Spool Pin (Top)
  • 1.2 Amp Motor
  • Pretty Milkshake, Mid-Century Pink Color
  • Low Shank Foot
  • Drop Feed Knob
  • Self-Adjusting Automatic Bobbin Winder

The pink Atlas straight stitch sewing machine is one of my favorite machines in my collection.  These sewing machines were built in Japan by Brother Sewing Machine Company and sold in the states as a badged sewing machine.  This means they arrived here without a name and who ever sold the machine put their name (badge) on it.

Atlas nationally advertised guaranteed quality on their products and their sewing machines were advertised in Good Housekeeping Magazine.  The “Guaranteed by Good Housekeeping” badge guaranteed that if a product was not as advertised in the magazine, legitimate complaints would be taken care of by replacement of the product or refund of the purchase price to the consumer.

If you google an image of a Brother Citation you will see great similarities with the exception of the bobbin winder which is on the top on the Citation.  Another machine almost identical to the pink Atlas is the Brother Deluxe Sewing Machine; the difference with this one is the tension unit which is on the side instead of on the front like the Atlas.  I believe the pink Atlas series came on the scene as early as 1956 and my machine might date to 1957.

My machine came with its original pink foot control and with its original case but the case was destroyed in transit during shipping.  This was the fault of the seller and their flimsy packaging but more on that in a future post.  Luckily the sewing machine survived but it still makes me angry that I do not have the original case.  If anyone out there has one, I would love to have it, please e-mail me.  I found the pink base on ebay.

This is an all-metal gear driven, straight stitch mechanical sewing machine.  The Atlas is very simple to operate with its straight forward design, minimal knobs, and levers it is great for beginner sewists.

My machine came with its original pink foot controller; here is a photo of it if you are looking for one for your pink machine.

The feed dogs on this machine can be dropped for free-motion sewing or drawing.  This machine  has a reverse stitch lever; handy for fastening a seam.  You just lift it up all the way for reverse stitching.  It uses Class 15 bobbins and Standard 15×1 needles sizes 11 through 21.  To replace the needle, you slide it up as far as it will go with the flat side toward the balance wheel.

The stitching on this pink beauty is very nice and consistent.  I apologize for the lack of a photo of the stitches but I will have to update this review with one very soon.

I came across a machine like this one from a seller who was the original owner and was selling all the original goodies that accompanied her sewing machine.  Her listing included a box of Greist attachments with its manual, a sewing machine manual, foot controller, and the carrying case.

The box of attachments included:

  • a cloth guide
  • zipper foot
  • cording foot
  • scissors cutting gauge
  • gathering foot
  • quilting foot
  • narrow hemmer foot
  • edgestitcher foot
  • binder foot
  • ruffler foot
Since low shank machines are very common, feet and accessories can be easily obtained.  If you already have a low shank sewing machine, you could use those accessories on this machine.  I have used feet from other machines such as a roller or teflon foot and they worked just fine.
Here are some close-up photos of some of the machines features.

The built-in light is a front beam light that illuminates the work at the stitching point only which reduces shadows while stitching.  The Atlas has a telescopic spool pin which can be lowered when not in use.  No more broken, bent, or lost spool pins!

A good, strong motor is best especially for sewing heavier fabrics.  The Atlas has a 1.2 amp motor which can handle sewing silk to denim fabric and even plastic.  I have sewn lighter weight leather on this machine a few times and the machine did not miss a beat.  I just made sure to use the correct foot, thread, foot pressure and stitch length.

I have also sewn cotton, wool, and voile without any trouble.

According to Atlas, the machine has a specially engineered hook and race for “Jam-Proof” central bobbin action. This just means that when thread gets into the race assembly, the thread will simply break and not jam.  The thread should be swept out of the race by turning the balance wheel.

Like many vintage sewing machines with all-metal gears, this machine is weighty; 30 pounds plus.  This is a full-sized machine; take a look at the following photos to get an idea of the dimensions.

The size of the bed of the machine is approximately fourteen and 1/2 (14.5) inches.

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 do either.

I have mentioned in other reviews that a vintage low shank buttonholer attachment could work just as well on this low shank 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.

Look at the neat decals on the machine!  The decals spell Atlas on the machine, notice the S?

If you had purchased this machine in the mid 1950’s, you would have paid $219.50 for it and I am unsure if this price included taxes.  Probably not.

I think this is a beautiful sewing machine worth picking up if you can find it at a reasonable price.  There are other really great straight stitch only sewing machines out there by Kenmore, Singer, and many other brands I do not currently own but why not have one that is pretty enough to always have out on display?!  ♥