Kenmore sewing machine: models, history, value (2023)

Whether you're a home sewer looking for the perfect machine or an antique collector interested in the history of sewing machines, you've probably come across Kenmore branded machines. Many different models of Kenmore sewing machines have appeared on the market over the years.

Sears Roebuck sold Kenmore sewing machines from 1913 to 2013. Various companies made the machines that Sears called "Kenmore". These inexpensive sewing machines are often described as sturdy, affordable, and suitable for basic sewing tasks.

In this article you will learn about the history, models and value of Kenmore's vintage sewing machines.

Fast navigation

  • History of Kenmore Sewing Machines
  • Why can't I find any Kenmore machines today?
  • Popular models of Kenmore sewing machines.
  • Are Kenmore sewing machines worth money today?
  • Where can you buy an old Kenmore sewing machine?
  • What to look for when buying a Kenmore sewing machine?
  • Can I use my old Kenmore sewing machine?
  • Parts, Sergers and Accessories Kenmore
  • Conclusion

History of Kenmore Sewing Machines

Kenmore models had such a big impact on sewing history because Sears Roebuck sold them. Without delving too deeply into American history, Sears basically changed the way Americans shopped in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The company designed an extensive mail order catalog that could reach farmers and homesteaders in rural America. If you're imagining that sleek, glossy copy of People magazine that you can just slip in your pocket, think again! At the turn of the century, the Sears catalog was over 500 pages long!

Everything in the Sears catalog could be viewed by consumers across the country. Because of this, the Sears Kenmore brand quickly became very popular.

Sears released its first sewing machine model, the Kenmore, between 1913 and 1919. This pedal powered model sold for only $6.75! You probably pay that much for a cup of coffee at Starbucks today, but at the turn of the 20th century the price would equate to around $180 today.

World War I halted the manufacture of household items such as sewing machines, causing Sears to temporarily halt production. The company resumed the lucrative business in the 1930s, releasing some of its most popular electric Kenmore brands in 1933.

Sears began selling White machines in 1933. Some of these models were marked and sold aswhite sewing machines🇧🇷 However, some of them were branded Sears Kenmore.

The Second World War caused another interruption in production. Sears did not sell any machines between 1942 and 1948. After the war, the company continued to sell white models until 1958, some under the Kenmore brand.

In the 1950s, White lost his contract with Sears. Sears used the Kenmore brand on a new batch of foreign-made machines in Japan. These patterns included fancy new skills like buttonholes, zigzag stitches, and other fancy stitches.

Some people would argue that this batch of Sears Kenmores lacked the robust quality that characterized previous Kenmores.

Singer also briefly manufactured some models of Sears Kenmore sewing machines in the 1970s.

Janome was one of the Japanese companies that quickly rose to global prominence during this period. They made Kenmore models for Sears until 2013.

After bankruptcy in the early 2000s, Sears stopped selling Kenmore brand sewing machines.

Why can't I find any Kenmore machines today?

While you can still find Kenmore machines for sale on many places like eBay and Amazon, Sears no longer makes or sells sewing machines.

This change occurred sometime between 2013 and 2019. Sears stopped selling Janome models under the Kenmore brand and held a large sale around 2013 to get rid of its inventory.

(Video) Best Sewing Machine ever made. Kenmore 158.19411.Buy one. You’ll thank me very much. (Video 196)

During this time, Sears also filed for bankruptcy and ended its partnership with the companies that manufactured items sold under the Kenmore brand (at various times these companies included Whirlpool, Janome, and LG).

Sears department stores and their website no longer sell sewing machines, although you can find some models sold by third-party vendors through Sears Marketplace.

Can I buy a new Kenmore sewing machine?

You cannot buy a new Sears Kenmore sewing machine as it is no longer manufactured.

When did Kenmore stop making sewing machines? Well, "Kenmore" didn't exactly make machines to begin with. Kenmore was a brand name Sears used for various contract sewing machine manufacturers.

More recently, Janome has manufactured models sold under the Kenmore brand. These are currently not for sale. Newer models sold in 2013 included modern options such as computer assisted capabilities and machine embroidery capabilities.

Popular models of Kenmore sewing machines.

Kenmore sewing machine: models, history, value (2)

Although the list is not exhaustive, here are some highlights of the most popular Kenmore sewing machine models. Sears has sold many different models over the years andany sewerAnyone who uses a Kenmore model claims their model is the best!

Each model has its own quirks and abilities, so it's up to you to decide!

How to Identify a Kenmore Sewing Machine Model

First, a quick word on model numbers. All Sears Kenmore sewing machine models have a stamped model number. This number begins with a three-digit code, e.g. B. 117 or 385. If you have a Kenmore machine, look up that number and you can find out what year Sears sold that model.

Kentmore 117

The 117 models are some of Kenmore's earlier models, produced in the 1940's. White, a company known for their simple but reliable machines, made all of the Kenmore 117 models.

These models were powered by electricity, but performed only basic functions. They were also built into a sturdy wooden desk cabinet!

Kentmore 158

The 158 models were manufactured by foreign companies during the 1960s and 1970s and later marketed and sold under the Kenmore brand. Users describe these templates as so simple that a child can easily understand them!

Most of these models offered a solid, robust build without a lot of frills.

Modell Kenmore 158.1941

The Kenmore 158.1941 is sometimes ranked as the best Kenmore model ever made. It had a more powerful engine than many other machines at the time.

Kentmore 385

Janome, a Japanese company now known for its high quality computer controlled machines, manufactured all Kenmore models with numbers beginning with "385". Sears began selling Janome models around 1965.

This can be confusing because the last few Kenmore models made in the 2000s are also 385s!

O „Kenmore 30“

The Kenmore 385.1884180, also known as the "30 Stitch", was sold in the 1980s. This solid machine makes an exceptional number of stitches for a pre-computer era model! Users also like the zigzag stitch in this pattern.

Are Kenmore sewing machines worth money today?

Kenmore sewing machine: models, history, value (3)

old Kenmore sewing machineFuente: TheLivingRoominKenmore(2)

Vintage and vintage Kenmore machines typically sell for between $100 and $500 depending on collector value. In general, old and used sewing machines are not worth a lot of money. Some newer Kenmore machines, particularly those made by Janome, can cost around $400.


Kenmore machines offered an economical option for domestic wastewater. They never claimed to be top notch or the best machine ever made. However, many of their models were built from metal parts up until the 1970s, making them strong and often still usable today.

Unique features of Kenmore sewing machines

Each Sears Kenmore sewing machine model has its pros and cons, making it difficult to determine if Kenmore models are good or not.

Many home seamstresses love their old Kenmore models and still use them today. That being said, the Sears Kenmore models were "everyone's machine" in many ways.

Sears focused on affordability and wide distribution rather than creating a unique handcrafted product. Because of this, many people would call the Kenmore a budget machine.

Every brand and model of sewing machine has its slight variations. Some Kenmore sewing machine models feature a unique high presser foot. This allows the gutter to easily penetrate thick fabrics such as denim.

Are old sewing machines valuable?

Few old sewing machines are very valuable. Some rare models become expensive collector's items, but older machines generally cost between $100 and $500. Even so, you'll likely find many more machines in the $100 area of ​​the spectrum.

What Makes a Sewing Machine a Collectible? Well, anything made before 1900 is really old. That means it's likely to be rarer, and potentially worth more money, than a sewing machine made after 1900 (technically, 20th-century machines are considered antique, not vintage).

A machine in good condition will sell for more than one in poor condition. Likewise, a machine that still works is likely to sell for more than a broken one.

Here are some examples of older Kenmore sewing machines and their typical prices to give you an idea of ​​the market.

First, let's take a look at an old Sears Kenmore sewing machine in a closet. Several pre-1960s models were built into wooden desk cabinets. On eBay, you can find these models for sale for as little as $100, probably because Sears has been selling these popular models in large numbers.

Second, let's take a look at a Sears Kenmore Model 1120 sewing machine. This older model, made in Japan from solid metal parts, also costs about $100 (give or take among sellers).

Where can you buy an old Kenmore sewing machine?

Kenmore sewing machine: models, history, value (4)

old Sears sewing machineSource: mollystevens(4)

The easiest way to buy a vintage Sears Kenmore machine is to search eBay and Craigslist. Because of its focus on crafts, Etsy also has a few models for sale.

If you want a real antique, possibly with an interesting history of provenance, you should try to visit the antique shops. Please note that collectors often sell more valuable models in good condition but at a higher price.

Some seamstresses report that they can also find old Kenmore models very cheaply at thrift stores, although they are not guaranteed to work in good condition there.

The bottom line is that if you are looking to buy a vintage or vintage Kenmore machine, you should look to see where you can find vintage and used items for sale.

What you should consider when buying a vintage

Kenmore sewing machines aren't worth a lot of money these days, but the silver lining is that you can often buy an older machine for less money!

Ideally, you should ask the seller for the model number of the machine, or examine the machine itself to find that number. That way you can look up what decade this machine was built in.

Once you know what model it is, you can find out what features the machine has and what kind of sewing it can do. You can also surmise that if it was made before the 1970s, its interior is likely metal and not plastic. This means it will be more durable.

Finally, you need to know if you intend to resell the machine or use it yourself! If you want to sew with the machine, you need to make sure it works.

(Video) Fancy & Powerful: The Kenmore 158.904 Full Featured Sewing Machine for 1963 With All the Extras!!

How can you determine the value of the former?

Once you know the model number of the machine, a quick search on eBay will give you a good idea of ​​the average price range for that machine.

However, you should also consider the general condition of the machine before you buy it. Beautiful decals, immaculate paintwork, and an intact wood cabinet or table (if you have one) indicate that the machine is likely worth more money.

What to look for when buying a Kenmore sewing machine?

Here are some questions to consider when deciding whether or not you want an antique sewing machine. Many sewing enthusiasts love the reliability of old-fashioned tools!

First, what are the pros and cons of the old versus the new?

Old machines are generally durable and made from sturdier materials than their modern counterparts. Their simple design makes them easy to understand and use. Older machines are also usually cheaper than computer-controlled models.

On the other hand, old machines do not have the functionality of a new computerized device. They tend to weigh a lot and are therefore not particularly mobile. They also usually require more repairs and maintenance.

Do you need mobility?

If you're planning to take your travel machine to a sewing circle or class, or even if you're packing your house for a move, you might want a newer machine. Old machines are heavy because they are made of metal. Some of them are also equipped with built-in wardrobes!

Finally, what condition is the machine in?

Before you buy an old machine, you want to make sure it works. Many old machines seem to last forever, but that only happens if they are well cared for!

Can I use my old Kenmore sewing machine?

Kenmore sewing machine: models, history, value (5)

Old Kenmore sewing machine.Quelle: Kellyhogaboom(3)

Many household drains keep old Kenmore machines running with a little extra care. They find their old machines worthwhile because these old "workhorses" can do things that modern machines can't.

For example, it can be useful to have an old-fashioned sewing machine on hand for tasks like quilting that require sewing through multiple layers of fabricCotton wool.

Older models of Kenmore sewing machines have limitations. For example, some can only sew a straight stitch. Others can make fancy stitches and buttonholes.

No matter what model you have, to use your old machine you need to know how to set it up, what it can do and how to take care of it.

How to thread your machine

Whenever you use your sewing machine, you should start threading it. His machine was designed to pull thread through a series of gears and levers to the needle. The cable routing is usually quite simple, but unfortunately varies from brand to brand and model to model.

When threading your vintage machine, the first thing you should do is consult the owner's manual. This wonderful little booklet almost certainly has pictures showing where to put the thread before you start sewing.

If you bought a used machine that didn't come with this important document, don't panic! Kenmore manuals are available for free on the Sears website.

Second, remember that you don't have to invent the wheel yourself. There's a whole community of sewing enthusiasts out there, and no doubt someone has posted a video or blog showing how to thread their special vintage machine.

Unless you're very good at visualizing, you probably shouldn't try to simply follow the written directions for this task. It's easier to have a picture to look at!

(Video) How to Use a Vintage Kenmore 148.1215 Sewing Machine

Is it easy to use an old machine?

Some people find the old machines very easy to use because of their simplicity. Others find the lack of advanced features frustrating. Like any device, old machines have advantages and disadvantages.

People who enjoy using their old machines rave about their durability. It's true that modern machines are literally not built the way they used to be. Companies built older machines, especially those made before 1970, with metal parts. Today, most household machines have plastic components.

Some seamstresses also appreciate the simplicity of the old machines. While most Kenmore machines are electrically powered, the older machines are not computerized and generally perform a limited range of stitches.

On the other hand, some people don't use old machines for various reasons. Some of the most common concerns are noise levels and repair costs.

Older machines can make loud noises during operation. Some machines were built into wooden cabinets to deaden these sounds. You can usually mitigate this by cleaning the engine well.

Not everyone needs to bring in their old machine for specialized repairs, but as with any small and somewhat complex piece of equipment, things can age or break and need adjustment from time to time.

How to repair your Kenmore machine

If you rely on your mechanical skills, you can try to repair your machine yourself!

Here are some simple tasks to try before taking your machine in for repairs:

  • Clean and lubricate. The manual should indicate which parts need to be lubricated. Normally everything that moves needs oil!
  • Replace the needle. Professional seamstresses recommend changing the needle after each sewing project because it dulls so quickly.
  • Go through everything including the coil. You might think you got it perfect the first time, but it only takes a few seconds and doesn't hurt to try!
  • Replace the lamp. Not all older machines have a needle light, but this is a simple fix that can save you up to $100 in repair costs!

kenmore sewing machine instruction manual

Sewing machine manuals contain diagrams showing how to clean, thread, and make basic repairs on your sewing machine. These tasks will keep you going for as long as possible.

These manuals also detail what features your machine has. Because of this, they're a great resource to consider before you buy!

Have you ever opened a new product, taken it out of the box and thrown away the instruction manual that came with it? You probably don't think you need help installing a toaster or hair dryer.

Here's the thing: you need the manual for your sewing machine. On this point everyone agrees. Even experienced household drainers regularly refer to the manual!

Kenmore users are in luck. Do itSears-Websiteand sign up for free. In the top search bar you will see an option to select "Manuals". After that, all you have to do is enter your model number in the search!

Parts, Sergers and Accessories Kenmore

Since Kenmore models have only recently been discontinued, Kenmore fans are fortunate to have plenty of support from Sears. The Sears website even provides access to various parts suppliers.

Of course you have to pay for these parts! But you might find that repairing your trusty old device is cheaper than buying a fancy new one.

As with most vintage items, you can also search for pieces on eBay or Etsy.

Sears sold Kenmore for more than a century. During this time they also sold various accessories. You can findTable cabinets for your sewing machine, refined feet and buttonhole extensions. Of course, this accessory should only be combined with the model for which it was made!

You can also find new models of Kenmore overlock and embroidery machines for sale. Janome made most of them. They tend to have good reviews despite being more expensive than your average home sewing machine.


I hope you're now feeling like a Kenmore vintage sewing machine expert! Learn all about the history of these Sears products, where to buy them today, and how much they typically cost.

You'll also get some tips on using an old-fashioned sewing machine, including easy DIY repairs.

Thinking of buying an old Kenmore machine? Do you have one at home that you would like to learn? Leave a comment below to let us know!

(1), (2) Photos under aLizenz Creative Commons (BY)
(3), (4) photo shared under aCreative-Commons-Lizenz (BY-SA)

(Video) Sears Kenmore Sewing Machine model#158.13580


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