Vintage Kenmore ~ Circa 1970s
For a long time now, Gaia has been sewing on a small, portable machine that really has not served her purpose very well. I have a relatively new Brother sewing machine with lots of bells and whistles, as well as a beautiful restored Singer (probably made in the 1940s) which was all I sewed on for a number of years. The Singer is in need of some maintenance now, but still in working condition.
Since her little portable machine wasn’t always adequate to her needs, Gaia has often of late been coming down to the Craft Room to use my Brother. Last time my mother was visiting, the subject came up, and she asked Gaia if she would like her old sewing machine. My mom once sewed a lot, but has not for several years now. Mom’s old Kenmore 8 Stitch has resided in a closet in her guest room for a long time. Gaia and I picked it up over the weekend, and brought it home.
Other than being a bit dirty and dusty from sitting for so long, the vintage Kenmore machine was in fine shape. My mom had not located the manual however, so we set about finding that before we did any maintenance on the machine. I found many horribly rendered and incomplete versions online, and many of these were being charged for. I did end up purchasing a PDF of the manual I located at Sewing Educational Warehouse. The price was reasonable (for more money, I could also have elected to receive a printed copy.)— the manual was thorough, and it was of good quality. Also, if you are just in need of threading diagrams, those are available from this website as free downloads.
After downloading the manual, I checked out the diagrams provided for how to oil the machine, and began the maintenance.
To oil and clean a sewing machine properly, you will need:
- Oil for lubricating machine (I used 3-in-One Multipurpose, but there are a great many oils specifically for sewing machines— you should use what your manufacturer recommends.)
- A soft brush for loosening dust, lint and debris.
- Q-tips for cleaning hard to reach areas.
- A soft cloth and a mild cleaner for the outside of machine.
After oiling all the areas specified in the manual, including removing the bobbin case and shuttle (where bits of thread and dust tend to accumulate) and cleaning thoroughly, we reassembled everything and cleaned all outer surfaces with the cloth. There will be spots where the oil runs over and through, so you should make certain to wipe that up completely. We turned the machine on and listened to the motor— it was running quietly and smoothly.
It is in Gaia’s domain now, and she has threaded it, put in a bobbin and is running scrap material through, not only to get rid of any residual oil, but to test her new treasure. She tells me it runs smoothly, and she is looking forward to learning to use it. She says “Thank You, Nina (her grandmother)“!