Kenmore 15516 Mechanical Sewing Machine

I’m going to guess this model is a mid-to-late 1990’s vintage. It reminds me so much of Old Faithful, the Kenmore I had for 20 years before one of my students accidentally dropped it on the concrete floor at school.

Anyway, she’s definitely a happy girl – all clean, oiled and sporting a new red spool pin doily! Hard to believe this was the same machine that sat on the top of the display cupboard in Miss Pat’s shop for so many years. It literally purrs now. There’s just something so satisfying about stitching on a well-built mechanical sewing machine!

General notes:
(1) A free pdf manual (with no watermarks) is available from the Sears Parts website.
(2) Trading metal class 15 bobbins for plastic class 15 bobbins made the machine run quieter.
(3) This model has left to center needle adjustment. There is no way to move the needle to the right to achieve a scant 1/4″ needed for patchwork. Solution: Borrow the scant 1/4″ foot I use with my 221 machines. Problem solved.
(4) Switching to an LED bulb brightened up the workspace considerably.
(5) The machine sews zigzag stitches from the left needle position, rather than from the center. I use small zigzag stitches for machine applique (settings: 1.5 L x 1.5 W). They got lost when using the regular satin stitch foot. An open toe foot with a wide scoop at the top improved visibility.

Will I keep this machine? Although it would be a great machine for travel, I prefer some features that this machine doesn’t offer (needle down, fully adjustable stitch length and width, availability of a straight stitch needle plate) – that my Elna STAR does. I have a sewing friend who needs a solid, uncomplicated machine like this one. That’s one reason I took so much time to clean it up and outfit it with all the accessories she would need to be able to make projects for her grandkids.

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