make / manufacturer: Kenmore
model name / number: 1641
QR Code Link to This Post
Here is a beautiful Kenmore model 1641
convertible zig-zag and cam free-arm sewing
This sample has seen almost no use. I have given it a deep and
thorough servicing and it is ready to work. It is identical to the model
1941 except for the design of the table extension.
This machine was made in the mid seventies, back when Sears was a
much better place than it is today. The machine carried a 25-year
parts and labor guarantee, and most seventies-era Kenmores were
the last sewing machines to offer all-metal construction of the cams,
gears, shafts, and linkages.
Included are the original manual, six bobbins, and a set of four presser
feet – the general purpose zig-zag foot, a satin-stitch foot, button-
hole, and the zipper / cording foot. It uses high-capacity Class-15
bobbins and standard home needles. I am including 2 each high
quality Organ brand needles in sizes 11, 14 and 16. There is also a
seam-ripper and the small screwdriver used to adjust bobbin tension.
As a “Top-of-the-Line” Kenmore sewing machine, the 1641 originally
used “Super High Bar” presser feet. With the more common low-
shank presser system, extra feet are easier to find, so I routinely
convert some Kenmore Super-High-Bar machines back to Low-Shank
for the sake of convenience. It requires replacement of the presser
bar, but in the long run it is nice if you use a lot of different presser
feet in your work. Low shank presser systems have been in use
since the late 1800s, so there are a lot of low-cost pressers floating
around. (Some Kenmore Super-High-Bar machines have an ultra-
wide 7mm zig-zag, and these machines must use the SHB presser
foot system. Standard low-shank pressers aren’t wide enough to
accommodate this wide stitch, and the needle will smash into the
The needle plate is nicely designed with an insert that can be easily
popped out for convenient cleaning of lint build-up around the feed
dogs. The needle plate is in excellent condition.
Many Kenmore machines from this era have the most advanced cam
systems of any machine ever made. Most are “reverse-mode” cam
stitchers, sometimes referred to as “stretch stitches.” The machines
have a “Modifier” control that allows the user to vary the degree of
reverse ratio in each stitch.
This Kenmore 158.1641 offers 12 built-in functional stitches. Each
stitch has a “plain” forward mode function, but each stitch can also be
used in reverse-mode by turning the stitch “modifier” lever from the
red dot to the white dot. Samples of most of these stitches can be
seen in the stitch-sample photo.
The modifier control can be set to the red dot for normal, the white dot
for “stretch-mode” or anywhere in between for intermediated effects.
The eighth photo (B) shows some of the many variations available
from a single one of the stitches, the so-called “box stitch.”.
The third photo shows the control layout. The upper round dial has
two purposes. The outer dial ring is turned to set the zig-zag width,
zero being straight stitch. The inner dial is rotated to select any of the
12 built-in stitches. The second round dial below that is rotated to
select the stitch length. Above both is a small silver lever. When it
points at the red dot, the machine is in normal mode. As you swing
the lever over toward the white dot, the machine switches over to
reverse mode, and full-reverse stitches are shown in white on the
visual stitch guide (upper left).
I have precisely adjusted this machine to allow it to sew in light
two-way stretch knits. In the photo with the dime, you can see a
small, stretchy zig-zag seaming stitch. Very few sewing machines can
sew lightweight and stretchy knit materials.
This machine has received a very deep and thorough functional
cleaning, adjustment, and re-lubrication with high-performance, long-
lasting, non-varnishing modern synthetic lubricants.
This Kenmore machine uses an advanced two-belt motor drive
system. The two-belt system effectively puts the machine in lower
gear, and increases the effective torque to the needle. This gives
extra strength with difficult loads such as denim, canvas, Sunbrella,
and heavy natural and synthetic upholstery materials. I test sewed in
8 layers of canvas, and a piece of belt leather, and the machine
handled it with great ease.
The bobbin winder is nice, just pull back on the silver handwheel to
wind a bobbin, then push it back in to sew again. No jam-nut to
loosen and tighten.
I have sold a number of machines on ebay, so if you go there and do an
advanced search for user "chalkblue" you can read my feedback record for
sewing machine sales. Following are a few of the feedback comments…
“Chalkblue set the bar high. Best ever seller. Real professional in
every aspect.” Morse Toyota Zig-Zag Sewing Machine
"Great seller that works with his buyers. I would definitely buy again.”
- Janome 444 Custom Sewing Machine
“I have been so busy sewing with this machine. He has done an
excellent job.” - Customized Kenmore 1601 Sewing Machine
“The machine arrived in beautiful condition, and it sews like a dream!
Thank you.” - Singer 15-125 Sewing Machine
“Luv the Singer! Works well & pleasure 2 sew with. Seller
knowledgable & helpful!” - Singer 201-2 Sewing Machine
“This man is the most amazing seller I have ever met in 12 years.”
- Adler 189A INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH 1958 German Sewing Machine
If you went to check my entire ebay feedback record, you can paste
the following into your web browser…
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via Craigslist
I'm in Jefferson, about an hour south of Portland. But I’m close to I-5
and easy to find, so it might be worth your time.