Thursday, February 27, 2014

I'm in love with Ken (more)

Home from a vacation but there never seems to be a vacation from my sewing machine hobby/business. My girlfriend knew all about my sewing machine business and patiently listened to my monologues about vintage sewing machines and how I got started so she introduced me to someone after church on Saturday night who she heard liked to sew and fix sewing machines. Here was Jack, with his wife, who just loved old cars and sewing machines. We looked at each others photos on our phones and talked about what brands and models were our favorites (his were Kenmores and slant needle Singers). But almost the best part was his "million dollar shirt" made with fabric that had dollar bills printed all over it that he made himself. A collector and a sewer. We checked with my friend about who had whose email because he and I wanted to continue our discussion. What fun in an unexpected setting!

As Jack and I discussed our favorites I thought about his comment on Kenmore sewing machines: they are under appreciated. I find this to be more than true: under appreciated and under priced. You can get a good Kenmore much lower than many other brands yet still have an excellent sewing machine. My longest running sewing machine was a Kenmore:
After nearly 35 years with this Kenmore 158-17812, I'm not sure I can sell it. It might be desired by someone else but I think I should keep this one just for old times sake. It has sewn many dresses for my daughters, jeans for my husband, quilts, mending, and even a wedding dress. The buttonhole attachment works well, the variety of stitches is good enough with a scallop stitch (my favorite), and in general works well. So why did I look for a new machine? It didn't like to hem jeans. That was my biggest complaint but I also had a niggling thought that just maybe it was holding me back, that I had learned to work around its idiosyncrasies rather than become a better seamstress. Now that I have tried out so many sewing machines I think this might be true and I do know that having a variety of sewing machines gives me the choice of performing different tasks on the machine that does it best.

Here are a few of the Kenmores I have collected, some low end, and a few high end:

Appeals to a younger crowd.
Very basic but still stitches well.

Left centering needles and probably the heaviest!
This model 16 came fully loaded with cams and buttonholer. She's a dream but heavy.
What is not to like: free arm, drop in bobbin, special stitches.

Love this beauty! Has it all and never will wear out.

1 comment:

John Thomas said...

My second machine I bought was a Kenmore 158.17570, top of the line machine with cams, built-in stretch stitch, etc., at GW for $20.

One of my first sewing projects was some 25 reversible, fleece hunting hats for hunting buddy Christmas gifts I started out trying to sew on my first machine, a Singer 401. The 401 really did not like the thick layers of fleece. With the Christmas deadline looming ahead, I decided to switch to the Kenmore to sew up the camo/blaze orange hats. I was really blown away at how much easier the Kenmore handled the thicker layers of fabric, the little zz stitch I used for seaming, and the double arrowhead decorative stitch I used for a logo/'back of the hat' mark. I really love Kenmores and have some 8-10 of them now!

John Thomas in NC