Imperial Sewing Machines

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Imperial sewing machine, model 535: I am looking for an owner's manual and other info on this machine

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: I am looking for an owner's manual and other info on this machine

An exhaustive internet search yielded very little about these lovely sewing machines. From information from Needlebar.org I found parts of other machines were similar but not exactly the same. Parts of these machines were built in Japan after WWII and imported to North America for final assembly and badging. Here are the few links I found. If you have an owner’s manual for a model 535 please let me know.

Note: Since this posting I have found a user manual for an Imperial Model 535, compliments of Gord Bestwick, and have posted it for free download from my site. If you have any other user manual for another Imperial machines, please contact me. My other manuals include the deluxe, 4500, the 562, and the Deluxe Zig Zag, for a total of 5. How is that for internet cooperation! These manuals have been donated to me by gracious people, all for free download. Please leave a comment if you download these manuals.

There is little on the internet about Imperial’s history, and from what I have gathered, it is next to impossible to find any. The best we can do is to try to find as many sewing machine user manuals as we can, and continue on looking.

A re-post to all those asking the value of their vintage Japanese sewing machine:

At the end of WWII, Japan had: A large labor force of machinists looking for work, Idle small-scale machine shops in the Osaka area, A surplus of machine tools from the war industries, and the Japanese government was subsidizing up to 50 percent of the cost of imported machine tools. They quickly realized that sewing machines could be manufactured as parts and subassemblies in separate businesses, saving the final assembler the costs of real estate, factory space, labor, and machinery. Dozens of companies sprang up to feed the American and European demand for high quality, low cost sewing machines.

Many of these assemblers shipped their machines with no name to distributors in other countries where the distributors applied brands like Kenmore (Sears), Signature (Wards), Penncrest (Penneys), Gimbals, Western Auto, etc. Even small department stores were able to order sewing machines with their own brand name. Others were badged with American-sounding names and retailed directly to the public. Kinston, Remington, Universal, Wizard, and Fleetwood are just a few of the hundreds of names that machines of that era could bear.

All this does not mean that your machine is second-rate; manufacturers who specialized in only a small number of parts would tend to produce a better end product than one factory that made everything. Of course, I could be all wet and your machine might have been made totally by Brother or Koyo.

As for value, because Japan flooded the U.S. market with low-cost sewing machines built to last a long time, many are still available today. The low cost of garments from third world countries has diminished the popularity of sewing and Japanese machines have not caught on with collectors. Therefore, there is a large supply of Japanese sewing machines and little demand to drive up prices. I see Japanese machines from the 50s and 60s selling in the $5 – $25 range, mostly depending on condition. -Ed

12/29/2011 source

Imperial sewing machine, from Anosognosia

Imperial sewing machine, from Anosognosia

Anosognosia has a few photos of his machine. This machine is similar to the 535 with its darn and sew toggle switches and stitch length selector. The bobbin winds differently. The foot pedal looks identical.

Imperial sewing machine, by LauraJ_sews

Imperial sewing machine, by LauraJ_sews

LauraJ_sews also has a photo of her Imperial.

Imperial sewing machine Model 708, by NauticalAcronym, Penticton, BC

Imperial sewing machine Model 708, by NauticalAcronym, Penticton, BC

Imperial sewing machine, model 562, by panhandlephillips, Toronto, Canada

Imperial sewing machine, model 562, by panhandlephillips, Toronto, Canada

Imperial 518-J from Woodenshoe in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He's looking for an owner's manual. May 18 2010. The attachments box, pedal and Imperial badge match my Imperial 535

Imperial 518-J from Woodenshoe in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He's looking for an owner's manual. May 18 2010. The attachments box, pedal and Imperial badge match my Imperial 535

Imperial sewing machine Model 520 advertised on Kijiji, London, Ontario, Canada, April 23 2010

Imperial sewing machine Model 520 advertised on Kijiji, London, Ontario, Canada, April 23 2010


Imperial sewing machine Model 520 advertised on Kijiji, London, Ontario, Canada, April 23 2010

Imperial sewing machine Model 520 advertised on Kijiji, London, Ontario, Canada, April 23 2010

Imperial sewing machine advertised on CL, May 11, 2010, Edmonton, Alberta, by dino-goes-rawr@hotmail.com. The photo is very blurry.

Imperial sewing machine advertised on CL, May 11, 2010, Edmonton, Alberta, by dino-goes-rawr@hotmail.com. The photo is very blurry.

Imperial sewing machine, model 703 from CL, April 25 2010, Calgary, Alberta, Rocky View No. 44, AB T3Z 3L2, Canada. Note the attachments and accessories cases and foot pedal are similar to other Imperials.

Imperial sewing machine, model 703 from CL, April 25 2010, Calgary, Alberta, Rocky View No. 44, AB T3Z 3L2, Canada. Note the attachments and accessories cases and foot pedal are similar to other Imperials.

Morag's Imperial sewing machine, model 703, circa 1950, Saskatchewan, Canada

Morag’s Imperial sewing machine, model 703, circa 1950, Saskatchewan, Canada

Morag's Imperial sewing machine, model 703, circa 1950, left side where you thread the machine, Saskatchewan, Canada

Morag’s Imperial sewing machine, model 703, circa 1950, left side where you thread the machine, Saskatchewan, Canada

Morag's Imperial sewing machine, model 703, circa 1950, left side where you thread the machine. Note the beautiful patterned embossing! Wow. Saskatchewan, Canada

Morag’s Imperial sewing machine, model 703, circa 1950, left side where you thread the machine. Note the beautiful patterned embossing! Wow. Saskatchewan, Canada

Addendum: September 14 2011: I found an Imperial 535 user manual.

Addendum: Sept 20 2011: Imperial sewing machine for sale on Kijiji, in Stratford, Ontario

Imperial sewing machine for sale on Kijiji in Stratford, Ontario, Canada

Imperial sewing machine for sale on Kijiji in Stratford, Ontario, Canada

Imperial Model 919 for sale on Kijiji in Leamington, Ontario, Canada by Smarty-Marty. This may be the cat’s name.

Model 919. Variable needle position. Paddle reverse lever. Button hole maker built-in. High capacity spool pins. Feed-dog drop for darning. Takes Singer type ‘Fashion Disks’. Fully serviced. Smarty-Marty says,”This machine is the cats meow”.

Imperial sewing machine, Model 919, in Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Scat, cat.

Imperial sewing machine, Model 919, in Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Scat, cat.

Imperial sewing machine, Model 919, in Leamington, Ontario, Canada, left side view. Scat, cat.

Imperial sewing machine, Model 919, in Leamington, Ontario, Canada, left side view. Scat, cat.

Imperial sewing machine Model 919, Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Right side view.

Imperial sewing machine Model 919, Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Right side view.

Imperial sewing machine Model 919, Leamington, Ontario, Canada, front view. Scat, Cat.

Imperial sewing machine Model 919, Leamington, Ontario, Canada, front view. Scat, Cat.

Imperial sewing machine, Calgary, Alberta

Imperial sewing machine, Calgary, Alberta

This St James badged sewing machine from Australia bears a striking resemblance to the Imperials. Thanks Ashley or Jaychra.

This St James badged sewing machine from Australia bears a striking resemblance to the Imperials. Thanks Ashley or Jaychra.

Imperial model 7003 is very similar to the model 535 but no darning. From Sandra

Imperial model 7003 is very similar to the model 535 but no darning. From Sandra

Imperial model 7003, rear view, is very similar to the model 535 but no darning. Note the thread holder at the back of the machine allows the height to be reduced. From Sandra

Imperial model 7003, rear view, is very similar to the model 535 but no darning. Note the thread holder at the back of the machine allows the height to be reduced. From Sandra

Imperial model 7003, right side view, is very similar to the model 535 but no darning. Power cord. From Sandra

Imperial model 7003, right side view, is very similar to the model 535 but no darning. Power cord. From Sandra

Imperial model 7003, right front side view, is very similar to the model 535 but no darning. Zigzag and stitch length settings. From Sandra

Imperial model 7003, right front side view, is very similar to the model 535 but no darning. Zigzag and stitch length settings. From Sandra

An old Imperial sewing machine, no model number, from Michelle in Edmonton

An old Imperial sewing machine, no model number, from Michelle in Edmonton

Imperial Sewing Machine model 501, zig zag, From Joyce in Calgary.

Imperial Sewing Machine model 501, zig zag, From Joyce in Calgary.

75 thoughts on “Imperial Sewing Machines

  1. Brenda

    Hi Don, You make reference to your website to download manuals yet I can’t find your website. Please provide site address. Thank you!

    [Don: Hi Brenda, and thank you for visiting my site. All 5 user manuals are referenced and linked in this post in the second paragraph, right after the bolded “user manual” label. The links are in light blue. I hope you can find them.

    Happy Sewing, Don]

  2. L.b.

    Allison, my mother bought model 919 for me in 1968 from Eatons in Montreal. I still have the manual.

  3. Morag

    Hello – I acquired an Imperial Sewing Machine from an Auction in Saskatchewan….wondering if any has manual or instructions for use. Am trying to put thread on bobbin…..model 703….

    [Don: Hi Morag. If you have the black and white Imperial model 703 sewing machine, then I really don’t have a manual for you. All my donated manuals are for machines from around the 1965s or so. Let me do an explanatory post for you. Here is a post about filling your bobbin]

  4. Sandra

    Hi Don,
    My mom recently found an Imperial Portable Sewing Machine Model #7003.

    I have pictures, where can I send them to so you might help us find a manual.

    Thanks,
    Sandra

  5. V.Krishna

    I have one juki machine. Model HGL-907.type 907 -02838. Small repair. in side the bobbin gear box one gear damage. I want that part where I want by the part.

  6. LILY

    Hi, I have an imperial super deluxe machine, model # 160 ,could you tell me the year it is and a picture to see if it like mine? the serial # is I think, kzm9x0679 ,it is a green color. thanks, lily

    [Don: Hi Lily, Plese send me a clear front photo of your machine and I’ll try to date it. These machines are difficult to date as there is very little documentation on them. Thanks, Don]

  7. Teena

    Don, I have downloaded several of your manuals and would love to pay you back. I have several manuals that I believe would be helpful to you. Please email me and I will gladly send them your way. :)

    [Don: Hi Teena, What manuals do you have? If you are digitizing them please send me clear images and I can put the .pdf together. I can name you as the source, or not if you wish to remain anonymous. All my manuals are free to download for anyone.

    Thanks, Don]

  8. Mary Chatziadamos

    Hello, I was given a Imperial sewing machine (with table and chair) unfortunately I have not had the time or patience to sew. The instruction booklets that came with it indicate that it is the Super Deluxe model # 895. I have th original English instruction booklet as well as the French instruction booklet. I was wondering, is this something I should hold on to, sell or simply send it to the dumpster. I have pictures the sais sewing machine and would gladly share them.
    Thank you,
    Mary

    [Don: Hi Mary. These imperial sewing machines are quite solid and will last for generations. Many were made by the Japanese in the ’60s, so they are not worth much. Here in Toronto you may fetch $50-80CAD. For what you would get selling it I would keep it.

    If you have the chance I would like a copy of your Model 895 user manual. I would make it available for free download on my site for anyone else that has a model 895.

    Do you have a photo you could send me? Does the machine work? I do hope you learn to sew. It is a skill that is very handy.

    Happy sewing, Don]

  9. Michelle

    Hi Don,

    I have a machine I just bought that’s very similar to the Calgary model you have in your photos. Mine is model C 226422. If you have any ideas on how to work it, or if there’s a manual very similar to it, please let me know. Thanks. So glad to find your page.

    [Don: Hi Michelle, it was good talking to you. My simpler Imperial 535 manual might do, though your machine has the older bobbin winder style.

    Happy Sewing, Don]

  10. Michelle

    Hello Don,

    I’m very happy to have found your page. I just purchased an Imperial machine, and have the serial # – C 226422. I’d love to have a manual too so I can know how to use it. Thanks.

  11. Mike

    Got an Imperial 520 that I’ve been using for about 20 years, and it’s occasionally tempermental. I’d love to see a manual, since I’m not sure if I’m threading it wrong, or if there’s any adjustments I can make to keep things running smoothly. That said, it’s otherwise built like a tank and quite reliable!

    [Don: Hi Mike, your 520 machine is pretty simple and with not a lot of doodads. Try the Imperial model 535 manual, which should be pretty close to your machine. Your machine might also benefit from an occasional oiling, which should be covered in the manual as well.

    If you have any questions about the thread route or general, please let me know and maybe I can answer them.

    Happy Sewing, Don]

  12. Pat Holland

    Hello need help finding a needle plate for my Imperial Model No. 163M
    I hope this site is still active!

    Thanks
    Pat

  13. Pat Holland

    Need help to find a replacement needle plate for Imperial Model No 163M.
    Also have a instruction book for it.
    Any help appreciated. I hope this site is still active!
    Thank you
    Pat

    [Don: Hi Pat,
    Thanks for visiting my site. Replacement parts for Imperial machines are difficult to obtain, and usually from donor or scavenge machines. Many parts are similar to a Singer, but there are no guarantees.

    If you would like to donate your Imperial Model 163M instruction book/user manual I would like to host it, along with all the other manuals that others have donated. Please take a couple of high quality photos as well: font, rear, left and right side, as I’ve never seen a 163M before. Can you digitize the manual and send it to me? I will give you credit on my site for your document donation.

    Yes, my site is still active!

    Thanks, Don]

  14. Joyce Post author

    Hello .. I have recently purchased an Imperial 501 sewing machine. Could you tell me a little about it and would you know where I could get a manual for her? Was it made by another company and where? She is a lovely lady with a few war wounds but is a strong machine that stitches a nice stitch. She has a left hand bobbin and needle. Sewing a straight stitch on the left side. The Zigzag is a select a width and has a lock knob in which to set. Thanks

    [Don: Hi Joyce,
    Your 501 is very similar to a couple of my user manuals, so you have a couple of choices. My 535 is the simplest and a good place to start. All the manuals will cover essentially the same info: threading path, stitch length, zig zag, darning, refilling a bobbin. Here are your choices:
    http://dontai.com/wp/2016/09/27/imperial-deluxe-zig-zag-user-manual/
    http://dontai.com/wp/2013/12/16/imperial-sewing-machine-model-562-user-manual/
    http://dontai.com/wp/2010/04/19/imperial-sewing-machine-model-535/

    All manuals are free for non-commerical use.

    Thanks, Don]

  15. LILY RUFF

    HI, I HAVE AN IMPERIAL , MODEL 160 ,IT ALSO HAS A KZM ON IT AND A NUMBER , 9X0679 . IT RUNS GREAT ,THE PROBLEM IS WHEN THE NEEDLE GOES DOWN FOR THE BOBBIN THREAD ,IT COMES UP EMPTY ,IT TRIES TO GRAB IT AT TIMES BUT ,NOT MOST OF THE TIME, HELP ME, I WANT TO SEW WITH IT. IT RUN SO SMOOTH. I NEED A MANUAL ALSO ,CAN SOMEONE HELP ME WITH WHAT I MUST DO FOR IT TO SEW WELL AND WHERE CAN I GET A MANUAL FOR THIS MACHINE, THANKS, LILY

    [Don: Hi lily, I am unfamiliar with your model 160. Please send me clear photos from the front, side and back, and I will recommend one of my 7 free imperial sewing machine manuals.]

  16. Dianna Reuther

    i have a imperial model 510 I need a manual for it anyone have one.

    [Don: I have 7 Imperial sewing machine manuals for free download. I am unfamiliar with your 510 machine. Could you send me clear front and side pictures of your machine and I’ll recommend a manual? ]

  17. Tr

    Hi
    I have an Imperial 562 that is missing the outermost thread tension nut. I have the +- ring and everything else just missing the tension it. Any idea where I could get one? In Sw Ontario.
    Thank you

    [Don: Hi Tr, Thanks for finding my site. As these machines are over 50 years old and never were that mainstream, I know of no source for parts. You will need to find an alternative source. It is a knob, so there are possible alternative knobs. You might even be able to find a nut that fits properly and make your own knob. I have never taken my thread tension regulator dial off, as I have never had the need.

    The only recommendation I have is that some of these parts were Singer copies. You could try a Singer dealer. You might get lucky.

    Happy Sewing, Don]

  18. Arnaud

    Hi!
    I just discovered the site because I just got myself an imperial model 171, and I wanted to find more about its history.
    but in the end, I think that I would be the one providing info on it.

    I have 2 (two) owner’s guide in mint condition for it! one is in french and the other in English. there is also FIVE pages of ,exploded view, part schematics and a seven pages long parts list.

    so, if you would like to add all that documentation to the site, you can email me.
    I dont want to part ways with the originals, but I can scan the pages myself and send the files.

    [Don: Hi Arnaud. I would love to host your imperial user manuals for free personal download and use, and not for commercial use. I have emailed you.

    Thanks, Don]

  19. Emma

    Hi there, I’ve just purchased a used Imperial 708. I’m relatively new to sewing and I’m struggling to figure out how to thread it – wondering if you could recommend one of your manuals as the closest match to the 708.

    Thanks!

  20. Paul

    Hi Don,

    My wife acquired an Imperial Model 560 sewing machine. It is missing the belt to the motor. Searching on Google for a replacement belt brought me here. I found the Model 562 Manual. Thank you for hosting the manuals.

    Would you have any suggestions for replacement belts?

    Thanks

  21. Cari Pease

    Your Imperial 562 was sold in the US as a model 142B under many badges. Built by Koyo, it’s a fantastic strong machine.

  22. Pamela B

    I have an Imperial 510- it was bought in Montreal in the 1960’s (I think). Does anyone have a manual they would be willing to share and if not, does anyone know what current bobbin it might take. From what I understand a universal metal bobbin is not the best way to go. Much thanks and hoping to hear from someone.

    [Don: Hi Pamela, I’m unfamiliar with your machine. Can you send me a photo and I’ll recommend a user manual? I have 7 Imperial sewing machine manuals on my site for free download.

    As for bobbins, I use the same size as the Singer ones, but they must be a bit shallower, as the bobbin holder is not as deep as a Singer.]

  23. Shelley

    Hi there. I bought this machine for my 8 year old daughter in 1998. She had asked for a toy sewing machine from the Sears Wish catalogue. I explained that it was above our budget for Christmas gifts (she is the oldest of our 4 daughters) to which she replied that she would ask Santa for it then. Then the explanation that parents do pay Santa for the gifts he brings, those elves don’t work for free. Anyway, I figured for the price I could likely find a used one of better quality etc. and found this Imperial machine. It worked and she sewed some but it had an issue. I took it for repair and the repair person told me it was well worth repairing and a better machine than my newer Brother machine. Unfortunately it needed a part that she couldn’t find. She even shipped this very heavy machine to a place in Toronto to see if they had the part (unfortunately I don’t know what part needed replaced) but no luck. I didn’t want to let go of it because of my love of the story behind the machine and a nostalgia junky, and kept hoping to see a similar one come up for sale. Now with 3D printers and laser cutters, I wondered if that was a possibility for the part I’m missing. No manual came with this machine. I have a couple of pictures of it I could send to you but don’t see an option for attachments here. Imperial Deluxe and a plate on the back says Model B and an engraved serial number – Motor was made in Canada Shoe Machine Parts Limited, Toronto

  24. Donald Jacobs

    Hi, my wife has an Imperial Deluxe model 125. We bought it in 1963 and it has much, much use. I have maintained it over the years, kept it cleaned and oiled. It still operates perfectly and is very quiet. I guess it shows the quality that was built into them way back then. The belt now has stretched to it’s limit and really needs replacement, but I should be able toget a universal one in town.
    cheers
    Don Jacobs

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