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?
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!