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Forum > Sewing Machines > Older-model Kenmores ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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Older-model Kenmores
What is the best for daughters learning to sew?
Liolla
Liolla
Beginner
Minnesota USA
Member since 7/3/13
Posts: 7
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Date: 7/3/13 1:01 PM

I am wanting to purchase an older-model Kenmore for my daughters. I want something dependable and easy to use. I see it is important to get one with a good buttonholer. I see Kenmore had 8- 10- 12- stitch models- are those ones with interchangeable cams? I'd rather not deal with cams. How are the 158's compared to the 385's?

tgm and Kittys
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tgm and  Kittys
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USA
Member since 3/8/10
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In reply to Liolla <<


Date: 7/3/13 1:33 PM

Welcome to PR.
My sister has the Kenmore Ultra 10 stitch & it does make good buttonholes. They are 4 step buttonholes. It does not have cams, you just turn the dials to use different ones. It has stitch length. Vertical bobbin. I am not sure if you want drop in bobbin. Those I think would mostly be in the 385 series. The ultra stitch was before the 385 machines. Hope this helps a little.

------
Home of the adorable Baby & Mittee girl >^,,^<

Oh my..here we go again, no job...Sighing allot..


Liolla
Liolla
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Minnesota USA
Member since 7/3/13
Posts: 7
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In reply to tgm and Kittys <<


Date: 7/3/13 1:40 PM

Yes, this does help- I was wondering where the "Ultra-Stitch" models fit in among the 158's & 385's. May be someone could tell me if changing out the cams is a big deal. My daughter doesn't want to deal with them, but she (&I) are complete novices.

tgm and Kittys
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tgm and  Kittys
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USA
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In reply to Liolla <<


Date: 7/3/13 3:10 PM

The Ultra stitch I believe is 158 models.
I am sorry I cannot help you about cams. I think part of it is a personal preference maybe. I myself prefer to just dial the stitch in.
I have a Janome 2212 that I really like, but it is a newer model & is also vertical bobbin. My Kenmore 385.16321 is a newer model Kenmore & has many many features that I like, it is a mechanical machine but does not have metal gears like the older machines do. I have not used the buttonhole feature on yet... I myself prefer the 4 step buttonholes.. that is how I learned to do it & I guess I just like it.
The newer machines have to go to sewing machine shops for service ... the older models you can oil & clean yourself if you want to.
I hope others will chime in here..
Best wishes!

------
Home of the adorable Baby & Mittee girl >^,,^<

Oh my..here we go again, no job...Sighing allot..


Marie367
Marie367  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Ohio USA
Member since 5/28/11
Posts: 2359
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In reply to Liolla <<


Date: 7/3/13 3:40 PM

I love my older Kenmore that I bought in 1980 (158 series machine). The basic stitches were on the machine itself. The cams had all kinds of embroidery like stitches on them which I used alot when I was making my children's clothes. I think it depends on what you think your daughters might want to sew. Wovens like denim and home dec fabric is great on my old Kenmore. The buttonholer is fantastic. Knit material is a nightmare however and was one reason I stopped sewing for myself. I didn't have a walking foot and that might have helped.
I have a 2 yr old Kenmore/Janome mechanical (18221) which is fantastic with everything including knits. I would recommend it over a vintage machine for a new sewer unless the new sewer really wants a vintage machine. Newer machines are easy to use and most will do whatever a new sewer wants it to do plus you can find models with lots of cool stitches on it.

Ubik
Ubik  Friend of PR
Beginner
North Carolina USA
Member since 6/2/13
Posts: 197
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In reply to Liolla <<
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Date: 7/3/13 4:04 PM

I have a Kenmore model 385.12492. I like it well enough. It has straight, zig zag, blind hem and a few stretch stitches. I think, but I'm not positive, that the only plastic parts are some decorative plates on the body. It's Janome made and weighs about twenty or thirty pounds.
I got it on Craigslist for $50. At first I couldn't get the clutch to disengage for bobbing winding but following a sewing machine mechanic's tutorial helped that. It still winds the bobbin in a cone shape though, but it's getting better. I do like the machine and it's relatively easy to use but that's mostly because I have the original manual.
I don't know the age or sewing level of your daughters but I'm going to assume that they are young beginners since you are buying one for them, so my following thoughts are with that in mind.
I have the vintage sewing machine bug definitely, but I don't know if I would recommend one for a young beginner. Constantly messing about trying to get right tension isn't fun for non-machine types (like me) who just want to learn to sew in an un-tedious and non-miserable way. And you have to play with it every time there is a thread change or a needle change etc. Also, I have some issues with the bobbin. It just won't deal with some kinds of thread. I could see this really annoying kids. Even though this machine works and sews a fine stitch, I rent time at a sewing studio where the machines accept different types of thread when I have something like buttonholes or I need to use heavy duty thread. For the price of this machine and a service, I could have had a Janome Magnolia.
I hope my ramblings on the subject have helped. I like having a vintage machine in the house and I do hope to get a model from the 40's or 50's that just for straight stitch some day, but I do think kids should have access to a jam-free bobbin etc. It just makes it more fun. I think vintage machines are only money-savers if you get one from a relative who can show you how to use it. People always exaggerate on Craigslist. I've never bought an old one from a dealer, but I imagine it might not be cheap.
SM Mechanic Bobbin Post

Link to a Janome that has a good rep

a.rose.sews
a.rose.sews
Advanced
Utah USA
Member since 6/14/13
Posts: 83
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In reply to Liolla <<


Date: 7/3/13 6:18 PM

Those old Kenmores are great machines. I've got a few that I've rescued from the thrift store. The Kenmore 6,8,10 and 12 machines have the built-in cams. The one thing you should be aware of, is that not all of them have stitch WIDTH control. Another thing to consider is if you want a flat bed or a free-arm. You want to avoid the older drop-in bobbin Kenmores (can't remember the model #'s). They have a strange cam system that freezes up and acts possessed. LOL! We got 2 in the shop with the same problem, within a week of each other. We tried everything, but couldn't get either one working. The newer Kenmores are pretty good, too. Not as solid as the older ones, but they sew nice and have some nice bells and whistles, without being extravagant. And they make them so you can get inside ans service them -- unlike some cheaper Janomes, Singers and Brothers.

Good Luck!

------
Annette -- Sewing Machine Mechanic
Bernina 230, Bernina 800DL serger, Kenmore (60 lbs), Singer Treaddle 1901, White serger, Mercury MO111 industrial, shell-stitch machine, plus several to fix and sell or use for parts.

Ubik
Ubik  Friend of PR
Beginner
North Carolina USA
Member since 6/2/13
Posts: 197
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In reply to a.rose.sews <<


Date: 7/3/13 7:59 PM

I'm so glad to hear about new model Kenmores!! Do you have a link for them? I was originally interested in buying a new one but couldn't find any. I thought they had stopped making them.

Mufffet
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Mufffet  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Vermont USA
Member since 8/14/05
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In reply to Ubik <<
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Date: 7/3/13 8:28 PM

Kenmores for the last long time were made by Janome, and now Kenmore has been discontinued for a couple years. Now and then you can find one from some vendor and some are sold rebranded as Janomes by online people but most are now sold.

SO, if you want a dependable machine - go with a low priced mechanical Janome or whatever Janome you would like. In addition other brands have sensibly priced entry level machine that are dependable - it is worth reading reviews here and doing some home work, as there are a variety of preferences. It is good to get familiar with the whole scene and then ask questions on the forums.

Welcome to PR!

------
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."
--Dalai Lama

I have sewing machines

Ubik
Ubik  Friend of PR
Beginner
North Carolina USA
Member since 6/2/13
Posts: 197
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In reply to Mufffet <<
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Date: 7/3/13 9:04 PM

It's sad Kenmore has been discontinued. I guess I had gotten my hopes up for a minute!
I've feel like I've read every review on this site and all the reviews about Janome tell me that's the one for me. I look at the machines they make now for Hancock Fabrics as being similar to the Kenmore machines, in that they are lower in price than the ones that are dealer sold. However, they get solid reviews, even the Mini machine.

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