Monday, September 7, 2009

Meeting the machine

Alright!  I'm bringing another post over from the dearly departed blog.  Maybe I lied when I said I was too lazy to transport them to the blogspot address.  Maybe I will, just in bits at a time.

Back in June one of favorite websites, Sew, Mama, Sew!, hosted sewing machine month.  They had a meme all about sewing machines (drool!) and since I said this blog was the stories behind the creations, how could I think about leaving out the most important part of that story.

Meet my machine.

What brand and model do you have?

Kenmore 18221.  Yes, I had to look at the manual before I could type that.

How long have you had it?
About a year now.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
I THINK it was $175, and I also THINK it was on sale.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
Anything that strikes my fancy!  I've been stitching up handbags lately, but some garments and few other gift-ish items are made regularly.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I try and sew at least a little bit every day.  Sometimes I can fit in 3 or 4 hours, sometimes I grab 30 minutes before bed.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
I really like my machine.  I know that there are better models out there, but it's what I could but at the time I dearly needed it.  So far she hasn't let me down at all, so I certainly can't complain.
What features does your machine have that work well for you?
There are quite a few stitch functions, a one step buttonholer is a must-have, I love the drop in bobbin so that I can change it quickly, and I can see how much bobbin thread I have left.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
I wish I could change the sewing speed.  I like to really mash the foot control, and I'd like to have less of a surge.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
I got this machine when another machine that I had received as a gift failed miserably after about three hours of use.  I fully believe that I just got a lemon of a machine, but taking it back to the store was one of the most HORRIBLE EXPERIENCES that I've ever had.  I ended up so upset in the store that I started to cause a scene without ever realizing that people were watching (I mean, I was REALLY MAD).  The manager ended up coming over and tried to placate me with an "upgrade credit", and I picked out a new machine.  15 minutes later I find out that one it out of stock.  Fearing I'd cause another uproar, the manager gave me the "upgrade credit" on a gift card so that I could come back a few days later to check to stock.  On my way out of the store this machine was sitting on a endcap because it was on sale.  It caught my eye, I grabbed the box, and one trip to package pickup later I had a new machine.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
I would.  I've sewn on a lot of machines, and for the price of this machine, it really is the tops.  I've not had any trouble with it at all.  It's a breeze to clean, simple to use and it a little workhorse!

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
Price, for one, at least if you're me.  Keep in mind what you want to use it for.  I know quilters like a larger throat, stich selection in important to some, but each project has it's own special needs.  Find a machine that fits the type of sewing you'll do most.

Do you have a dream machine?
A serger.  Someday soon I'll take the plunge.  All those threads and loops and such are intimidating, but I'd really love one.


I have two vintage machines, too.  They're beautiful and I love to look at them, but they don't get as much use as this girl here.  I'll introduce them one day.


  1. Thanks so much for posting about the kenmore 18221!

    I am looking to upgrade from my cheapy, tempermental, beginner singer machine I bought last year. I wanted to ask you, I read your making handbags(very cool!) I am too, I am making thick tote bag type purses with the thick interfacing.My singer couldnt handle the thickness of the fabric. Do think this machine can?? I am in a pinch right now, tons of purses and quilts to make for x-mas and my singer is dead! I need to order a new machine.

  2. If you're working with a budget, and can't go and get a super-grade machine, then yes, I think this would work pretty well.

    I've thrown quite think stuff at this machine with minor hiccups. Most often it's actually my needle that's the trouble, and either getting a better needle for thick stuff or just changing the dull old needle to a new one takes care of that.

    Everything that I've read and seen points to Kenmore machines being the best for their value. The other option is to look for a higher end machine that's used. The worst part of owning a Kenmore is having to deal with Sears' customer service, in my opinion.

    Feel free to email if there is more information you're looking for. I'm not an expert on other machines, but I know this one pretty well... detailspecialtygoods (at) gmail (dot) com


I'd love to hear what you think! If you didn't leave an email address I'll answer in the comments, so check back!