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Oct 19, 2011

Happiness is a New Sewing Machine



Wait, have I used that title before?

Readers, there are two kinds of sewing machine purchases: the kind where the thing you're most excited about is the price, and the kind where the thing you're most excited about is the machine.  In my experience, one is rarely equally excited about both.

I am delighted to announce that my new Kenmore 158.1040 is the second sort of sewing machine purchase.  I am majorly into this machine.



This won't be a real review, but rather a list of early impressions, like you'd get after a first date.  Maybe I'll make a video later when I know the machine a little better. 

To be honest, we got off to a rocky start.  The machine was supposed to arrive on Monday, but it never did.  The USPS website said that an attempt at delivery had been made and a notice left behind.  Friends, I have very good reason to suspect that neither is true -- I think the delivery person was too something to carry the box to my apartment; this has happened to me before.  Rather than schedule a second attempt, I walked to the post office, with the tracking number and personal identification, and picked it up myself. 

Happily, this machine was very well boxed (in contrast to the Viking 6020) and -- how clever -- the seller thought to write fragile on the side of the brown paper wrapping the box.  Michael claims that this is nothing more than an invitation to USPS employees to fling it even harder against the floor.  I am more trusting.

Obvious care had been taken to make sure the machine -- which came in its hard plastic carrying case -- was securely boxed.





This machine fits very tightly in its rose-embossed case (see top pic) -- a nice design if a little gendered.  Obviously you're not going to find a Black & Decker drill inside.



The machine itself looked nearly pristine, with no discoloration on the plastic accessory box (common), and I have reason to believe it was hardly ever used.

Original padded packaging still lines the accessories case:



Many accessories still wrapped in plastic:



Original needles included:



The 158.1040 needed a lot of oiling.  It ran from the get-go, but the belt would slip and the motor strained a bit.  I knew that a barely-used machine was unlikely to have a worn-out (.8 amp) motor.

Thankfully, it's easy to get inside this machine, and the instruction booklet came with it and includes detailed instructions on oiling.   The oil did the trick: no more straining or slipping.





So, how does it sew?  Very nicely.

It's not as powerful as my 158.141, but it doesn't have a 1.2 amp motor either.  Like most of the other 158 Kenmores, this one was built by Maruzen/Jaguar in Japan.  The 158's (which refers to the first three numbers in the serial number) are highly coveted machines and solid metal.



Now, you know I think that zigzaggers are a bit of a fad, albeit a sixty-year-old one, but if I had to own one zigzagger that wasn't a Viking, I think I would choose this one.  The 158.1040 includes not only a special straight-stitch plate, moreover, it also includes a straight stitch foot that is virtually identical to the straight stitch foot on a straight stitch machine, as opposed to one of those wide straight-stitch feet one finds everywhere these days.


If the right "toe" is just as wide as the left, it is virtually worthless, imo.

This 3/4 machine is not exactly light (I'm guessing about 14 lbs) and not that small either.  It has only about 1" less harp space than a Singer 15-91.





There's a handy extension table at one end, and the accessories tray folds out to provide a wider sewing surface in front.  Clever, no?



In closing, friends, it has been a long time since a new sewing machine actually made me want to sew something, but My Kenmore 158.1040 is doing just that.  It may be time to start that next project. 



I think we're going to be very close, my little-if-not-quite-a-Featherweight Kenmore and I.   Could this be love?

More pics of the 158.1040 here.

Have a great day, everybody!

34 comments:

  1. Isn't she lovely! It's so nice to purchase,anticipate, and receive something that is wholeheartedly satisfying to you. Congratulations!

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  2. I have 2 of them and I love them both!

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  3. You know I'm a sewing machine junkie and I adore your new Kenmore, especially the embossed roses on the cover, I've never seen that before!

    My only gripe with older machines is that it's a struggle to keep the fabric going in a straight line, if you don't guide it, it's off to the neighbor's house. In comparison, my Juki F600 sews straight and true without having to manually guide the fabric. In fact, it's been a struggle to break that fabric guiding habit!

    Congratulations on your new love!

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  4. Now that Kenmore is a GORGEOUS machine!

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  5. I love it! It looks like it was made in Soviet Russia -- what a spare design. Very nice!

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  6. What time of life am I that someone's step by step of their new(old) sewing machine holds my attention like a nice sports cars used to? And the catcher? I'm totally jealous. Years ago I worked in a sewing establishment and all the ladies their were always about the latest and greatest in sewing machines, and I got caught up in that mindset and bought a pretty fancy computerized number with over 450 stitches, none of which I use. It cost me a mortgage payment even with my employee discount--I now I'm jonesing for a good, old fashioned (literally) heavy duty machine. My husband will kill me if he ever finds out....Anyway, thanks for sharing and have fun!

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  7. Congrats. I have been sewing on the same Kenmore since 1984 and it still sews beautifully! Enjoy

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  8. What a great find! Congrats! You'll love it!

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  9. Congrats on the new (old) machine! What a find! It was made when the Sears/Kenmore brand still meant quality and value -- well before the “K” in Kenmore stood for Krap, as in today’s Kenmore machines, imho. Wishing you many joyous hours of sewing on this most coveted machine. I am totally jealous.

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    1. Although Kenmore no longer badges them, the more recent computerized Kenmores are made by Janome and are identical to Janome's own machines. I prefer vintage Kenmores to just about every other sewing machine modern or vintage but Janomes are an excellent value and sew very well. (I own two.) My $0.02.

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  10. I grew up sewing on one of these. I didn't know how good I had it until I left home and started sewing on other second-hand machines. By contrast to the Kenmore they seemed like massive thread-snarling, tension-losing, rattling, and neck-scrunching devices. It has the nicest zig-zag stitch I've sewn with.

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  11. OMG...it looks ABSOLUTELY brand new!

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  12. Wow, it is so pristine - maybe it was a present to someone who never took up sewing in the end. At least now it will have a happy life!

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  13. My vintage Kenmore is my preferred zig-zagger too. I can't wait to see what you have planned for her.

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  14. I have always loved the looks of these, looks like a perfect simple and compact machine! Waiting to see what this muse inspires you to make.

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  15. Do you do different things on all your machines? I only ask because I recently bought a new machine and almost instantly reverted to my old one because I didn't like the new one. I gave it to my mum. SO apart from machines that do different things (overlocking, embroidering), I have just the one.

    I guess what I'm trying to say (at the risk of having my hair set alight) is, How many sewing machines does a boy NEED?!!

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  16. Congratulations Peter! I'm so delighted your Kenmore arrived well packed and in pristine condition. What a terrific machine. Enjoy it! Are you returning the damaged Viking for a full refund?

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  17. Tammy, the situation should resolve itself by Friday, I believe.

    Kate, I think everyone should have a backup sewing machine, preferably a straight stitcher. These can be found so easily and affordably (often less than $50 for an old black Singer or Singer clone), so I guess the answer is two.

    Certainly nobody NEEDS seven or eight sewing machines. I think I've moved into the realm of collector.

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  18. Looks just like mine! I inherited it from my grandmother-in-law years ago and I'm still really happy with it. It's my primary machine.

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  19. Blasphemy!! Of COURSE we need 7 or 8 or a couple hundred sewing machines. (You should see my basement.) Very nice looking machine; love the design. Hope it sews as great as it looks. My latest purchase is a back-wheel Wilson treadle, ca. 1880's. Wish I could figure out where to put it so I could get it out of the van!

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  20. Maybe it can be your van machine...

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  21. Hi Peter
    These machines were marketed in the uk as Frister Rosmann Cubs 3&4 the later machines have a concealed type upper tention which gives better visibility of your work,might be worth hunting one out if you like the machine,they work well , i have a cub 4 and tweek the stitch settings, rather than use those in the book.Regards Cris

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  22. This looks like a perfect machine to leave set up for buttonholes with a Singer/Greist attachment on it.

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  23. Oh wow! This is so similar to my Mum's Globe Club that I learn't to sew on! Right down to the accessory holder and the way it folds open - it must be from the same mould: http://thecuriouskiwi.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/a-little-reminiscing/ I want it bad!

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  24. I love the Globe Cub 3! Amazing how similar it is -- must have also been manufactured by Maruzen/Jaguar and badged with another name. Thanks for sharing the link!

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  25. I TOTALLY understand your excitement on this machine. In September, I scored a Kenmore 1050. I almost wet myself I was so excited. Then a few weeks ago, I saw that 'familiar' case again, and nearly knocked someone over getting to the shelf to see which model it was. It was the 1030. Ok, so now I want the 1040 and I read where there is a 1020, a 1045, and a 1060. The 1060 is a slightly larger machine which is a free arm model with removable bed/accessory box. I think I'm going to have to start getting REAL creative as to where I store all my machines. I'm addicted!

    Love your blog!

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  26. I'm digging around your blog looking for suggestions for a vintage zig zagger (for sewing knits and lingerie) and found you have one of these too! I have this machine. And used it quite a bit this last year. But, I hadn't really thought of it for my zig zag machine. Yet, you gave it a pretty glowing recommendation!

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    1. I'd choose a full-size Kenmore myself (one of the 158 models like this one) -- those 60's-70's era Kenmores are terrific!

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  27. Oh, thanks! I'll keep an eye out for one here (in Baltimore). While I'm trying to keep my collection from spiraling, I'm obsessed with getting a Singer 201 from my repair guy and finding a good zig zagger. I am giving away a Morse straight stitch in anticipation of a new machine in 2014 :-) Thanks, Peter!

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    1. Oh, the 201 is a great machine -- excellent choice!

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  28. Hi , I own the Exact Same Machine, it's For Sale email me at Mtreadway8107@yahoo.com for details! I'm getting ready to sell it on eBay!

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  29. I have one! My gorgeous old Elna burned in the Big Sur Fire this past December and a friend gave me this darling (DARLING) 1040. I'm in love. Just oiled her and she's so beautiful.

    I do have one question-- a favor really-- I was able to find the general manual online (the one that includes instructions for models 1020-1050) and I was wondering if you could photograph one page of your specific-to-the-1040 manual: The one that shows how to engage the bobbin winder.

    The general manual says you either twist the clutch nob, or pull on it (depending on model) and neither is working for me.

    Thanks in advance and if you have no time to photo, please accept my thanks for your amazing blog. I'm going to try jeans next… (hopefully this baby can handle them).

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    1. You should be able to view it here:

      http://homeappliance.manualsonline.com/manuals/mfg/kenmore/1040.html?idRes=16670643

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