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May 12, 2013

A New Sewing Machine!

It's big.  It's metal.  It sews!

Readers, it's not what you think: the Bernina isn't scheduled to arrive for a few more days.  This sewing machine is the one that belongs to Michael's mother.  His parents are moving and she doesn't want to take this (easily 35 lb.) solid metal behemoth, which she bought herself at Sears in 1969.   We were down at his parent's house today for Mother's Day and she was thrilled that I was interested in it -- one less thing to find a new home for.

It's a Kenmore 158.330, also known as a Kenmore Model 33.

This is another one of those wonderful Japanese-made Kenmores that were manufactured by Jaguar/Maruzen.  It's an extremely powerful (1.2 amp motor) basic zigzagger, with a blind hem function.  Like I said, it weighs a ton.  I can barely lift the thing.

It must have been one of the last Kenmores with an external motor.

It's a high shank machine, with a very high clearance.

One unusual feature of the 158.330 is that the basic straight stitch needle position is on the left rather than in the center of the zigzag foot.  That might take a bit of getting used to.

I also got some other sewing-related goodies:

Needles and basic accessories for the machine (like a zipper foot).

A boxful of bobbins.

A handful of patterns.

Assorted notions:

The Kenmore sews very smoothly, this despite the fact that, in the forty-plus years she's owned it, Michael's mother has no recollection of ever oiling it! 

Egads, where am I going to put it?

Readers, we have a big week ahead -- fabric shopping, dressmaking, sewing machine testing, maybe even a photo shoot -- so I want you to get lots of rest if you can.

I do hope you've had a productive weekend, and a big shout out to all you mothers out there.

You can check out more photos of my Kenmore Model 33 here.

Oh, one more thing --  The Great British Sewing Bee is casting its second season!

If you're a UK resident and you're interested in taking part -- men, men, they also need MEN -- please visit the Love Productions website, where you'll find all the info you need to apply:

Good luck!


  1. Consider bunk beds for added space, or wear those inversion boots of old to sleep.

    As for your machine count, Peter; kindly reconcile the "as advertised" with what's in stock.

    That Kenmore is envy-inducing.

    1. Honestly, I've lost count. Should I include my serger?

    2. think of them as "specialized machines" for black thread, one for basting thread, one for button holes, you don't actually have to count them at all....

  2. If you think the Kenmore is heavy, wait'll you get a load of Bernie 930 ;-)

  3. What a great machine to luck into! I still have issues with the styling not being quite what I like to be staring at as I'm stitching something up, but I have the same thing with my Berni 930 which wins extra points for sheer strength of performance, as a good Kenmore 158 also would.

    I hope you fully enjoy both new additions!

    Try not to count the machines too closely, I've found it detracts from one's mystique ;)

  4. Seriously envious of your beautiful machines Peter.

  5. That's a fantastic sewing machine! I just finished refurbing the exact one for my sister, and it's amazing! I wanted to keep it for myself, but I got "the look"!

  6. I've applied for the second series in the hope that one of the researchers might come down with the flu and accidentally put me through :)

  7. Good luck, Samantha!

  8. I adore your posts about sewing machines. Glad to hear you have another one to explore.

  9. I love your "new" Kenmore! I learned to sew on my mom's that was about 3 years older than yours. They are a tank of a machine. My dad even sewed vinyl on it when he recovered truck seats. Mom's is still going strong, and I think it may have been cleaned and oiled once since 1966.

  10. I accidently bought a high shank invisible zipper foot which will not fit any of the machines I own. If you are interested in having it, please email your addy to me at and it's yours.

    In appreciation for all the giggles and thought provoking posts.

  11. Kenmores are great too. People I know who have them say they are their work horses. You sure get your hands on some great machines

  12. This is one of my all time favorite Kenmores! VERY robust, smooth running, extremely quiet for a Class-15. You can bind carpet with this beast!!

    That left needle position makes it easier to make buttonholes since all the zig-zags are "registered" from the left side.

  13. This is a terrific machine! I inherited the same machine from my great aunt this past May. It was in super condition, and she used it up to the day she had to have surgery/entered a nursing home. I took it in for servicing and it works like a gem. She purchased a cabinet for her machine as well as some awesome accessories like binders, rufflers, etc., as well as a vintage buttonholer. Those are the bomb! This machine is awesome!!! Enjoy.

  14. Oh, and I'm so glad you posted about the left needle position :) . I thought I did something wrong and was extremely puzzled why I couldn't get it back to the middle (never noticed it was permanently on the left because I had it serviced before using it. Couldn't find anything in the manual about it either. Thanks for posting that tidbit, very helpful.

  15. Hi Peter! I just stumbled upon your post in my search for the manual for this machine. I found this beauty at a thrift store for only $40!!! But it didn't come with any accessories or a manual. I have been looking for weeks and nobody has that manual, not even for sale!

    Would you please, please, PLEASE send me a copy of it? My email is I would really appreciate it. Also, in regards to zippers, what kind of foot do you use? I am in need of one too because I use this machine to sew bags.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi, Ceci. Unfortunately, I no longer own the machine or the manual. But you can download a PDF of the manual for $10 here:


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