So apparently the 158.1941 is one of the last - if not THE last - of Kenmore's high-quality, all-metal machines. You've got to hand it to Kenmore, though, they held out at least a decade longer than Singer which rolled out its last all-metal geared machine* in the late 1960s (the early 600 model Touch & Sews.)
Kenmore 158.1941 - a quality, well built, all-metal machine and the end of an era.
- 1.0 amp motor
- Vertical oscillating hook/Class 15 bobbin
- Super high shank/Center-homing needle
- Convertible flat-bed to free-arm
- 10 built-in stitches, including reverse stretch stitches
- Presser foot pressure adjustment
- Feed dog drop
- Twin needle stitching
- Dual belt system (gives better torque, eliminates slippage, and maximizes punching power)
- Easy "slot" threading
- Pop out clutch release
What it DOESN'T have:
- L-C-R needle positions
- Integrated buttonhole stitch***
- Cams for decorative stitches**
- Chain stitching**
This machine doesn't take the place of my beloved 158.1774, but it gives me another option with the free-arm feature. For example, if you hem jeans, this an excellent machine because it can power over the thick seams and the free-arm makes it even easier.
It does well with heavy threads - no complaints about stitch quality.
Although I didn't particularly want a super high shank (SHS) machine, I am okay with this one because it did come with all the basic feet. There are limitations, though. For example, a SHS walking foot or other speciality feet can be hard or impossible to find.
Basic accessories that came with the machine include a straight stitch needle plate insert, a variety of feet, and Q-needles!
This machine has SHS feet, but one nice thing is that they are very easy to switch out - just pop down that lever in the back and it releases the foot. Slide the new one in and pop it back up. (So why do you have to use a SCREWDRIVER to change the needle???)
BOTTOM LINE: While this is an excellent, high-quality, all metal machine, it does have a few limitations. It comes with the clumsy Kenmore buttonholer which involves installing a plate with a pinion gear and then attaching the plastic buttonholer guide and inserting a template for your buttonhole sizes. I've never been crazy about that system, and wish this one had a built-in buttonhole stitch.
But overall a nice machine, very well built, and sews beautifully - what's not to love?
*the "all-metal" refers to the feed, hook, and top gears, but there were fiber gears in the handwheels of some of these older machines which was almost never an issue
** I have these features on my 1774
*** I have this feature on my 1050