Frolic

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Kenmore 158.1941 - An All-Metal Wonder Machine

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.

A rare all metal American branded free-arm machine


The 1941 has 10 built-in stitches, including reverse stretch stitches (in white) but doesn't take cams

Here are the specs for the Kenmore 158.1941

  • 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**
 
I've gotta say, this machine has some serious chops when it comes to heavy sewing projects.  Looky here...


This is eight layers of denim, and the machine stitches effortlessly - perfect back and front

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.


I didn't bother to use a hump-jumper to go over the seams, but even so the machine managed perfectly.

(If you watch to the end of this clip, you'll notice another unique feature of this machine which is that the bed slopes down towards you.  This does help the fabric flow more smoothly while you're sewing but it takes some getting used to since anything you try to put on the bed will slide right off - like those snips!)

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

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