Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kenmore 158.96

I really like this machine.  It is a class 15 (meaning it takes standard "15" bobbins, such as the Singer 15-91 takes.)  It is a front loading, vertical oscillating shuttle machine.  It does not have the tendancy to make thread nests the way the Singer 221 or 301 does.  You can sew anything, almost, on this machine and the tension holds true.  This one is a low shank machine, which is an advantage in that there are many many attachments commonly (and cheaply) available.  It does not have stretch stitches, though.  But it does take cams which will provide many different decorative or utility stitches.  Just not the stitches that require reverse motion, such as the stretch stitches.  It does not have a built in button holer.  It requires an attachment.

There are no plastic parts on this machine.  The gears for the shuttle are metal. this zz assembly is also all metal.  It weighs a ton so it is best in a table but you can see that it can sit on a table without a base.   It tends to crawl if you run it too fast, though.  I plan to build a little base for it.  I hope.

This machine is quieter than the 158.1813 (1803) but not nearly as quiet as Lila.  Lila is the smoothes, quietest Kenmore I have ever sewn with.

"Lila"  Kenmore 158.511
I haven't named recent acquisitions.  But I named Lila when I got her last year.  She's a keeper.  I guess that's why.


  1. Lila is BEAUTIFUL!!! The paint looks good. I'm jealous.
    I love lilac Kenmores. I think the model I really like is a 523? It's lilac & with a cream top & takes cams.

  2. Great review on the 158.96 (by the way) Buttonhole attachments are easy to find on eBay.

  3. I just inherited a Lila from my mother-in-law. I am not sure how to use it exactly yet but I am trying and I keep having a problem with the thread getting stuck down by the bobbin? Any help. I think it is in desperate need of a cleaning and I think the bobbin case is bad but I'm not sure.

  4. Meg
    Make sure the machine is cleaned and oiled and that you have threaded everything correctly. I think you should be able to find a threading diagram on line. Check that the bobbin area is clean and free of dirt and lint. The end loader bobbin case, race, shuttle and hook are similar to the front loaders. ( Good luck. You can email me (see contact me above) for more specifics.

  5. Does anyone know what year the 158.511 was manufactured?