The Kenmore sewing machine model 385-16231, built by Janome for Sears, has all the features that make this a great quality machine that is easily affordable.
If it looks familiar that’s because it is twin to the Janome 11590 – the refurbished and rebranded for Janome model. The 16231 comes with 31 built-in stitches, 90 stitch functions and simple electronic features; it has many of the qualities that make Janome a popular brand.
And what’s not to love, as one reviewer has stated: “If you sew, do NOT pass this machine up! This is a true workhorse, capable of doing more sewing than you can imagine…” (By icewolf of So happy and grateful in Indiana.)
In This Review:
Quick Stats for Kenmore 16231 (Back To Top)
Notable Features and Highlights (Back To Top)
The Kenmore 16231 is an introductory, mechanical machine that runs smooth and quiet. It has easy electronic/automated features, and also includes many features that quilting enthusiasts find handy.
The Internal Frame is made of Die-Cast Metal. What’s that mean? Well, the Die-casting process uses high pressure to mold steel into specific shapes and that makes for a solid piece of sewing machinery; sturdy enough that it won’t bounce around when you’re sewing at top speed!
THE STITCH PANEL and CONTROLS
31 Built-in stitches/ 90 Stitch Functions
According to the manual the 16231 comes with 31 built-in stitches. On the stitch panel across the top are the utility and decorative stitches. The straight stitches (#6, #7 and #8: left, center and right) count as 1 stitch. Across the bottom are the stretch stitches. The straight stretch stitches (again #6, #7 and #8: left, center and right) also count as one, and this makes up the total of the 31 built-in stitches. Then add the the one step, 1-style button hole stitch (BH) to the mix.
Selecting a stitch is really easy, and here’s where the mechanical side of the machine comes into play. No electronic push-buttons, just turn the mint green stitch selector dial, located on the side of the machine, until you reach the stitch that you want. The black bar between the top and bottom stitches contains the red indicator that moves along as you turn the dial so you can tell which stitch is selected.
To access any of the stretch stitches across the bottom row, the Stitch Length Control Lever (see below) must be set to the stretch stitch position. The Recommended stitch width and stitch length are shown in the Sewing Guide Display, two little windows directly above the stitches panel. When you turn the stitch selector, the information in the Sewing Guide Display changes automatically.
Stitch patterns are also color-coded:
Red: Straight, Zigzag and Utility stitches
Green: Geometric decorative stitches
Blue: Built-in buttonhole
Gold: Stretch stitches
The color in the Sewing Guide Display will correspond to the color of the selected stitch.
And, by the way, only the stretch stitch is available for stitch pattern #9. You just need to set the Stitch Width Control at S. S.
Stitch Width and Length Control Lever
Stitch Width Control
Slide the Stitch Width Control lever to the desired stitch width number. The higher the number, the greater the stitch width. The mark shows the adjustment range when using the twin needle. The blue zone is the appropriate adjustment range for buttonhole sewing.
Stitch Length Control
Slide the stitch length control to the desired stitch length number. This is where you set the Stitch Length Control at SS when using a stretch stitch. The higher the number, the greater the stitch length. The mark shows the adjustment range when sewing the buttonhole
Adjusting Stretch Stitch Balance
When you sew stretch stitches on particular fabrics you may find that the stitch patterns are uneven or unbalanced. One way to correct this distortion is with the Feed Balancing Dial, located under the Stitch Selector Dial. Simply turn the dial, using the screwdriver or even a coin, in the appropriate direction (check your manual) until the pattern stitches out correctly. This is great feature and it allows you to maintain perfectly-balanced, professional-looking stitches.
Reverse Stitch Control
Press the Reverse Stitch Control to sew in reverse.
MACHINE OPERATING BUTTONS
Although Kenmore’s 16231 is basically a mechanical machine, it does include some easy automation, including features that beginners especially appreciate.
(1) Start/stop Button – Press the button to start or stop the machine. The machine starts running slowly for the first few stitches; it then runs at the speed set by the speed control lever. This is a perfect feature for a beginner who just wants to take it slow or a seamstress working on a detailed project.
(2) Up/down Needle Button – You can set the needle position with this button, up or down when the machine stops.
(3) Speed Control Lever – Sewing speed can be varied by the speed control lever according to your sewing needs. Move the lever towards the left (where you see the picture of the turtle), to slow down sewing speed; or towards the right (where you see the picture of the rabbit) to speed things up.
SUPERIOR FABRIC FEEDING & CONTROL
7 Piece Feed Dog System
Kenmore’s 16231 has a superior 7-Point Feed Dog System. Essentially, the feed dogs have 7 points of contact with the fabric above giving it a better grip on the fabric and ensuring that the the fabric flows smoothly and precisely for any fabric thickness.
Presser Foot Pressure Adjustment Lever
*Free-Arm: Pull the table away from the machine for “free-arm” sewing of cuffs and sleeves.
*Additional Spool Pin: for winding the bobbin without unthreading the machine, and for twin needle sewing.
*Buttonhole Pitch Balance Adjusting Lever: If buttonholes or stretch stitches are not even use this lever to adjust the density of the stitch; It’s all about creating professional-looking stitches!
Tip: This machine requires oiling. Please follow the directions in your manual.
Reviewer Feedback (Back To Top)
This machine is awesome! if you are a quilter be sure to put the pressure foot pressure at 2-you will have no problems with bunching or sucking into the needle plate. Remember to have your bobbin winder off so your needle up/down will work! This is a …(Read more)
If you sew, do NOT pass this machine up! This is a true workhorse, capable of doing more sewing than you can imagine. I have made quilts, jackets, curtains, purses and many fabric art projects on this machine. The needle up/down feature is worth …(Read more)
I have found NOTHING about this machine that I do not like! The light is bright, the work area is great. The needle threader is fast and efficient. If you are looking for a really great mechanical machine, that is more than worth the price, this one is for…(Read more)
I mostly do repairing of jeans and coveralls for my husband, so I wanted a machine to easily handle heavy denim and twill fabrics. So far this Kenmore has filled the bill quite well! It’s also very nice to have a quiet machine, and one that’s simple to…(Read more)
this machine is easy to use but had 2 uncomfortable features..the reverse is push button and has to be held while reversing and the bobbin winding mechanism is adjustable and adjusts too easily, so can adjust to allow bobbin to overfill, unintentionally.
|Click here to read the reviews For Kenmore 16231|
Videos (Back To Top)
Here’s a video to show you a little bit about how this machine runs. There’s also a little “tour” of some of the machine’s features.
And while we’re at it, just in case you need a demonstration, here is a great video instruction for loading the bobbin thread.
Manual and Warranty (Back To Top)
Kenmore Sewing Machine Warranty
25 Year Limited Warranty on Sewing Machine Die-Cast Metal Internal Frame; 10 Year Limited Warranty on Internal Mechanical Components; 2 Year Limited Warranty on Sewing Machine Exterior Components; 90 Day Limited Warranty on Mechanical Adjustments and Specified Parts
Kenmore 16231 Extras (Back To Top)
Spool pin felt
Assorted needle set
Additional spool pin
Quilter (quilting guide)
Seam ripper/Buttonhole opener
Large spool holder
Small spool holder
7 Included Snap-On Presser Feet
There are 7 snap-on presser feet included in the box. Press the red button located on the back of the foot holder to snap-off presser foot
*H:Straight stitch foot
*F:Satin stitch foot
*R:Automatic buttonhole foot
*C:Over edge foot
*G:Blind hem foot
*214872011 Walking foot
*200030108 1/4″ Seam foot
Products (Back To Top)
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