Monday, November 25, 2013

Kenmore's Finest... back in 1949 - Kenmore 117.959

I have a JPG file of an old Kenmore ad that states the model 95 was Kenmore's Finest. Well, what was once the finest machine Sears sold some 64 years ago is now an outcast Goodwill relic.

I was browsing the aisles at the immense Seattle Goodwill by I-90 and came across a small chair that had a couple drawers that slid out to the side. I thought to myself that it looked a lot like a sewing cabinet chair. I slid out one of the drawers and, lo and behold, there were some old Kenmore attachments and an owners manual. I thought it strange that someone would donate just a sewing cabinet chair to Goodwill and not the whole machine.

Just about then my wife asked, "Did you see the sewing machine over here?" She was just on the other side of the shelf unit I was at, so the sewing machine and chair had gotten separated by about 8 feet. I went over to the machine, looked at the cabinet, looked at the chair, looked at the cabinet again. Yep, they go together.

I just couldn't pass up this little treasure trove of history, all in one neat little package, and one neat little price of $12.99 plus tax.

The person that owned this machine way back in the late 40's must have thought they had the epitome of high tech (at least Kenmore high tech) sitting in front of them. I can see it now......

"Honey, you want me to sew you a new shirt? I can whip one out on my new Kenmore 59."
"Buttonholes? No problem with my handy dandy buttonhole attachment."
"You'd like some zig zag decoration? I can do that too with this nifty Kenmore zig zag attachment."

 I don't think a domestic sewing machine with zig zag capability came out until the early 1950s and they were probably quite a chunk of change, so the zig zag attachments were a cheap, if somewhat inferior, alternative. And as soon as zig zag machines were the norm, the ubiquitous buttonhole attachment was relegated to the bottom of the drawer.

This old Kenmore 59 will most likely not see regular sewing duty ever again, but just seeing it with its original cabinet/chair and so many original accessories conjures up memories of a simpler time.


  1. I really like this cabinet. I have a similar one but the styling is more 1950s modern. Yours is much nicer. I purchased mine at a garage sale. The woman selling it, bought it at a flea market thinking her new sewing machine would fit into didn't. I got the cabinet and a vintage badged Japanese machine that takes cams. The cams, manual & presser feet were in the seat.

  2. I have a similar model and still use it regularly. I find it to be much more reliable than the newer model I own. It has all the attachments, and yes, they work. I even have an embroidery attachment. The attachments are pretty easy to use. Love the chair. It would have been hard to sit there for hours, but if you could sew, I suppose you would have made a cushion. :)

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  4. I just inherited one of these from my grandma. It seems to be running okay, but the pressed foot bar is stuck in the raised position. I have tried loosening it with Triflow, and whacking it with a rubber mallet. No movement whatsoever. I thought maybe it was stuck in the bobbin winding position, but I don't think that's the problem; but maybe I'm wrong- the two pieces of the hand crank are tight enough to move together, but I can't get them to lock (maybe they don't? My other machines do, but this one is different in several ways.). I have now removed the needle bar and pressed foot bar. Any suggestions? I'm planning to try heat next. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristin,
      When I started reading your comment, I immediately thought, "heat, that would maybe do it." So then I got to the end of your comment and you mentioned heat. That's what I would recommend next.

  5. I just bought the same model in a similar case with a blond finish and different chair detailing. Do you have any idea in which years this model machine and your case model were manufactured? Are there any sites that cross reference model numbers with production years?

    1. I'm afraid I don't know much about how to figure out when a machine was made. I just guestimate usually if I don't have something like a user's manual that has a date listed inside, or search online. Maybe someone else will chime in with more info.