The Kenmore Sewing Machine: An Old But Gold Machine

April 6, 2022

The Kenmore machines have revolutionized the way we sew from the last century to the present. It is one of the oldest sewing machines ever created, and some of the models manufactured back in the 1930s are still available on the market today. 

The classic Kenmore sewing machine is heavy-duty. This sewing machine can handle any type of fabric; thus, it's very popular with sewists back then until now. 

If you are a hardcore sew artist, owning at least one Kenmore model is a must. Let's explore more about this old but gold sewing machine and why this brand has withstood the test of time. 

The History of Kenmore Machines 

Richard W. Sears founded the company Sears in 1886. In the company's early days, Sears traded jewelry and watches to earn profit and later on opened his first watch company. 

During the early 1900s, the company expanded and started selling various products such as patent medicines, clothes, and home furniture and appliances. The Sears catalog had over 500 items by this time, and it was fast breaking through the rural American market. 

By 1913, Sears manufactured its first sewing machine, which it called Kenmore. The first models of Kenmore were treadle-powered and cost only $6.75. 

The manufacturing continued until the year 1919. Then, when the First World War erupted, Sears halted all manufacturing processes. When the chaos cleared in the 1930s, Sears released newer models of Kenmore machines, this time powered by electricity. 

The popularity of Kenmore went on for many years. However, in the early 2000s, Sears slowly stopped manufacturing due to the bankruptcy of Kenmore brands. Then, they released new brand names of sewing machines, such as SINGER and Brother. 

Can I Still Buy Kenmore Machines Today? 

Although Kenmore is no more, you can still buy a sewing machine with this brand in the market. So whether you want one for your vintage collection or need a working sewing machine, Kenmore products will not disappoint you. 

Sears’ online catalogs don’t list Kenmore brands under their available products anymore, but you can easily find Kenmore machines on buy-and-sell websites. These products are usually listed under pre-loved or used because it is impossible to find a brand new Kenmore machine these days.

Also, since this brand is antique and limited, you can expect its price to be high. Secondhand Kenmore machines can range between $100 and $500, depending on how rare the model is.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about keeping your Kenmore machine running. Kenmore sewing machine supplies are still available in the Sears catalog if you are using a Kenmore machine for sewing. 

Kenmore Machines of the Present 

If you are eager to have your very own Kenmore machine, we listed the best models the brand offers. Unfortunately, these vintage sewing machines may have lost some of their functionalities. Nonetheless, you can still use them for your sewing needs.

Check out our buying guide below. 

Kenmore 117 

The Kenmore 117 is one of the oldest models ever released. It is also one of the first electric-powered models released around the 1940s. 

What You Need to Know Before Buying

This machine comes with a presser foot that activates the machine. Its handwheel rotates away from the user, unlike the standard modern handwheel that rotates toward the user. 

The Kenmore 117 can run perfect forward and backstitches. It also has a stitch length regulator, so the length of the stitches can be consistent. However, the length regulator does not offer a wide range. 

Kenmore 158 

The Kenmore 158 is one of the heavier models of this brand. This sewing machine comes with an all-metal plate casing. Because of this sturdy construction, the Kenmore 158 is capable of handling fine and lightweight fabrics as well as heavy-duty upholstery fabrics. 

What You Need to Know Before Buying

The Kenmore 158 was released between the ‘60s and the ‘70s, so it features more stitches. In addition, the Kenmore sewing machine threading feature is available in this model. It comes with different attachments, so it can make an assortment of stitches like straights and zigzags. 

This model needs regular oiling for it to continue running smoothly.

Kenmore 158.1941 

Kenmore 158.1941 was manufactured in 1975. This model, particularly its motor, is the upgraded, higher-quality version of the first 158 model, so it’s considered the most powerful 158 model.

What You Need to Know Before Buying 

This sewing machine has five standard and stretch stitches included in the knitting kit. This model is also double-belted, meaning this machine can handle thick and heavy materials. 

Kenmore 385  

The Kenmore 385 model was manufactured by the Japanese company Janome. This company was popular for manufacturing high-quality computerized sewing machines, and they started manufacturing Kenmore 385s in the ‘70s. 

What You Need to Know Before Buying

Although this sewing device can only perform the basic stitches, it is popular because it is very easy to use. It is also very sturdy. Some sewing machine owners have had the machine for over 25 years, and they can still use it for their sewing needs. 

In the early 2000s and until 2013, Sears released newer versions of the Kenmore 385 with upgraded functions. As a result, it is easy to find this machine model on buy-and-sell websites. 

Kenmore 30

The Kenmore 30 was manufactured in the 1980s before the rise of computerized sewing machines. This model is one of the best during the pre-computerized era because of the variety of stitches it can make.

What You Need to Know Before Buying

This sewing machine got its name because it can perform 30 stitches. One of the unique features of this machine is that it’s the quietest among the Kenmore models.

The Kenmore 30 is one of the last manual models manufactured by Janome, but it can still fix clothes and even make decorative stitches.

Kenmore: Every Sewist’s Dream Machine

The Kenmore sewing machine may be vintage, but the passing of time has only proved the quality of this brand. 

Search the market for your very own Kenmore machine. You will feel the difference of running your fabric through one of the finest sewing machines of all time. 

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