Sewing Machine Mystery

Some very kind relatives gave me a sewing machine this weekend.  An old Kenmore.


It’s heavy as all get out and clearly all metal so I suspect that it’s a workhorse.  But I’m stumped.  It’s got a big 4 on the front (as you can see) so I thought that might be the model. But nope.

Kenmore detail

It’s in the 158 series, but somehow seems be the Kenmore missing link!  Try as I might, I can’t find ANYTHING online about this specific model.  Lots about 158 10… and 158 12… but nothing about 158 11…!  Anyone know anything about this specific model?  Any help would be appreciated.

I’ve figured out how to thread it and wind and out in the bobbin with no problems but I’d love to find an online manual for it.  Also, it sews really slowly.  Not sure why.  I think a visit to a sewing machine doctor would fix it right up though!

Block Party Quilt Along tutorial arrow-right
Next post

arrow-left Bees on the brain
Previous post

  • jacquie

    November 9, 2009 at 11:40 am | Reply

    have you tried here
    my mom has an old kenmore and that’s where we got info….i think they have the 158 manual.

  • Jamie

    November 9, 2009 at 11:54 am | Reply

    The last one on the link that Jacquie provided looks like the one! The numbers after 158 on the tag are 11101 and when you click that, the lovely picture looks like your machine.

    What nice family members to gift this to you! The brother of one of my neighbors is supposed to be giving me an unused serger. I can’t wait to try it out!

  • Alissa

    November 9, 2009 at 11:58 am | Reply

    Thank you Jacquie & Jamie!! I’d looked through this site but clearly not thoroughly enough. And there is it – down at the very bottom. Thanks!

  • Audrie

    November 9, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Reply

    I believe I’m going to have a sewing machine mystery of my own soon… a family friend offered me his late wife’s machine and I have no clue what it is. I’ll find out soon enough I suppose!

  • Amy (badskirt)

    November 9, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Reply

    You may also want to check the sewing machine reviews from SMS from a few months ago. You may find an owner or two there, if you are lucky!

  • Shea

    November 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Reply

    Here’s something I wonder… I am a teacher and wonder if the ‘4’ on the machine looks like it was added later on? Could it have been a machine in a Home Ec (FACS) classroom at one time? Maybe you have ‘Machine Number 4’!

    • Alissa

      November 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Reply

      Hi Shea! The four is definitely part of the original labeling. No idea what it is there for since it’s not the model number but oh well. Jacquie was nice enough to send me the link that has the manual!

  • Raven

    November 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Reply

    Hey Alissa, I am an old sewing machine addict as of 4 months ago. The old ones are just sooooo rad!! Check out I think, google ismacs and see what you find. the people at the site are very helpful and someone could tell you something. Good luck!

  • Allison

    November 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Reply

    I just got an old Bernina that sews slowly, and after talking to Bernina fixers they said its usually the foot pedal that is the problem. So hopefully that’s your problem since its an (somewhat) easy fix!

  • Becky

    November 9, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Reply

    Hi Alissa! Great gift! At least it will be a great gift if it sews as good as my Kenmore that I have now had for 32 years. It is metal and you can’t beat the stitches. It was never professionally serviced either. I sewed on it just the other day and the stitches were wonderful. I have 3 more Kenmores now and they are all awesome. Good luck with yours!!

  • Debbie

    November 10, 2009 at 4:30 am | Reply

    My machine is a 27 year old Kenmore still going strong. I hope your new machine works out as well as mine has!

  • Amie

    November 10, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Reply

    The 4 stands for the number of stitches. 158 is the series, 1970’s -1980’s. I have one that I use for purses and I take it to Florida each fall. It sews good but it’s kinda loud even after I oil it. But, it’s a great machine! Have fun with your new2u toy :o) Amie

  • Brantlea

    November 11, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Reply

    I too have an old Kenmore, 158.1946 and I just found a few good resources, there are 2 yahoo groups that are all for vintage Kenmore users-
    OldKenmoreSewingMachines and VintageKenmoresSew

    I also had been searching for the original manual and bought one from but it was total garbage, it was NOT the original manual, not even close. I just ordered an authorized reproduction from

  • Marie

    January 29, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Reply

    I’ve got about a dozen Kennies, I imagine the “4” referrs to something on the machine…number of stitch types, needle positions, etc. I can’t see well enough the other markings on the machine but that’s what I think. Any of my Kennies that have marks like that refer to something on/in the machine. For example an ‘Ultra 6’ referrs to the 6 stitches the Ultra 6 has.

  • Kenneth Abbott

    March 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Reply

    My wife was given a Singer Treadle machine with two drawer cabinet that we would like to restore number on machine 11881366 from what I have found production was in 1893. I am missing a slide plate by needle closest to the operator,also drive belt,and no manual. HELP

    • Kenneth Abbott

      March 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Reply

      thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *