Friends, as I've said in the past, when it comes to $20 sewing machines, I have no resistence. Anything over that and I get very picky -- and rational. But quote me $20 and I'm hauling that baby home.
I found this vintage (Sixties, I believe) Kenmore 158.141 at the flea market this morning in a table. In fact, the $20 included the table and I told the guy I'd be back to haul the table home but now I'm not so sure I will. I have two sewing machine tables already and if you think things are tight with the sewing machines, you can imagine how tight they are with the tables.
I hate to think that table is going to go to waste -- I'm sure it'll end up in the garbage -- but I don't have room for it. It had a neat spring action attachment that made the machine pop up easily, unlike my Pfaff table or my Singer treadle table. Unfortunately, it wasn't all that attractive -- made more for a basement than a living room.
I was actually going to the flea market in search of a straw bag for Cathy (which I didn't get), not a sewing machine. I really should be chaperoned.
But more about the machine...
Sewing machines in tables are almost always pristine, as this one was. But it probably hadn't been sewed with in forty years. When I say this machine was frozen, I mean it was frozen. Solid. But I've been through this before to varying degrees. You oil every place where metal touches metal. And sure enough, slowly but surely, it started to move.
This machine is a lot like my very first sewing machine, the Kenmore 158.1212, only with more stitches. It has two settings, one for regular forward stitches, and then one for stitches that go backward.
It takes regular Class 15 bobbins and uses standard low shank feet. I'll probably add a low-shank snap-on foot adapter and use my generic snap-on feet.
Even without changing the needle or fussing with the tension, the stitches look fine.
The one problem it seems to be having is stitching a plain zigzag; I think it just needs a little more oil and a little more use. It seems very unlikely that a machine that can do embroidery stitches like the ones above couldn't handle a simple zigzag.
UPDATE: problem solved! It just needed a longer oil soak:
Did I mention that this Kenmore has a 1.2 amp motor? That's strong, folks! The 158 Kenmores were made in Japan by Jaguar/Marzen and they are wonderful machines. Here's an interesting article I found about vintage Kenmores on eBay.
I'm especially happy not to have to deal with cams.
And speaking of cams, remember the Singer 401A from last week? Well guess what -- it's still at the flea market! I didn't ask what it was going for this week (less one would hope). I'm sure it's a wonderful machine, but I think I draw the line at machines that need their own special feet. I have too many attachments as it is.
Friends, that's it. If you're wondering about the 40's midriff outfit, we're on schedule. I hope to have Cathy here for a photo shoot tomorrow.
Yesterday I worked on the skirt, adding the contrasting fabric to the button placket to tie it in with the midriff top.
Here's how it's looking so far:
Shortly we're having lunch with Michael's folks, who are in NYC for the day with friends. Then it's back home to finish my outfit. New sewing machine, lunch out, sewing Cathy clothes -- life is good.
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!