Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Everyone who regularly reads this blog knows that Italian-made Necchis are my favorite sewing machine. However, a long-time collector like myself needs periodic infusions of new machines to tinker with and the Italian Necchis are now in the 60-year-old range and getting more scarce. To fill the gap, I have been picking up Janomes. Several years ago, my wife bought a Janome 6500P. she was so pleased with it that I bought one for myself. Since that machine has performed so well for both of us, I decided to add Janomes to my list when I am scouring thrift shops and auctions for new finds. While Janomes are not that plentiful, Kenmores having "385" as the first three digits of the model number are also made by Janome.
Pictured above is my latest find, a Kenmore 17881. The photos are a bit fuzzy because I took them in low light with my cell phone. At first, I thought, "this is not a vintage machine" but then I realized it was manufactured around 1988, which makes it 25 years old! That probably brings it just barely into the vintage arena.
The machine was starved for oil and took a fair amount of lubricating and exercise to accomplish a zig zag stitch; the stitch selector indicator needle was bent back 180 degrees so it didn't even show in the window (I still haven't figured out how that could happen); and I am still working to free up the stitch length mechanism. The stitch length is changeable but it's so hard to twist the plastic knob that I'm afraid I will break it. It also had some small droplets of teal paint in several places on the front, but headlight lens restorer took care of that quickly.
The machine sews smoothly and quietly and forms a perfect stitch. It has a nice size throat opening, both width and height. I will keep looking for Janomes and 385 Kenmores to fill the gap until the next Necchi shows up. In the meantime, I have to select another machine from my collection to sacrifice to keep the number constant and my marriage happy.