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.

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.