Imperial Sewing Machine Model 535 User Manual

Imperial sewing machine model 535, as illustrated in the user manual. May also be branded as New Home 535 or Janome 535.

Imperial sewing machine model 535, as illustrated in the user manual. May also be branded as New Home 535 or Janome 535.

Since I became the custodian of my Imperial 535 sewing machine I have been looking for a user manual. Many people have written in looking for the same. As luck would have it, Gord Bestwick of British Columbia, Canada happened upon my blog page and has kindly cleaned up and offered me an electronic version of his user manual, for free non-commercial distribution. This means no one need pay for this manual and all Imperial, New Home and Janome 535 owners can enjoy it. This manual is applicable to many Japanese sewing machines of similar era. Between us, the world is a better sewing place.

My Imperial 535 sewing machine slightly differs from the user manual, but note the striking family resemblance. Operation is near identical.

My Imperial 535 sewing machine slightly differs from the user manual, but note the striking family resemblance. Operation is near identical.

It looks like when the Japanese were manufacturing sewing machines in the 1950-60s, much “sharing” occurred. Sewing machines of a wide variety of makes and models looked and operated very much the same. Specifically the brands New Home, Janome and Imperial, were made by Janome. Janome had bought the brand New Home in 1960. Janome manufactured many sewing machines that were later branded to suit the needs of retailers.

What this means is that Gord’s Imperial 535 looks exactly the same as the one in his manual, yet my Imperial 535 is just slightly different. Important operational issues such as needle threading, bobbin operation and sewing are identical. Minor differences include how to refill the bobbin and the placement of certain buttons and switches. In almost all other respects the user manual is very applicable.

Differences with my Imperial 535 include:

  • illustration
  • thread guides
  • bobbin winder mechanism
  • drop feed knob: I only have a darn/sew option, no silk
  • winding a bobbin, adjust bobbin winding device (I use my finger)

As stated, this document is provided free for non-commercial use. If you have information on the Imperial, New Home or Janome 535 that would be a good addition to this manual or to my blog post, feel free to contact me or Gord Bestwick at (change the “at” to @).

If you download this document please leave a comment with a valid email address. This document will be amended as we find more information. When it is I will email you, provided you leave a valid email address.

Download here by right click and then “Save Link As” -> Imperial/New Home/Janome 535 Sewing Machine User Manual

Imperial sewing machine, model 535, as depicted in the user manual.

Imperial sewing machine, model 535, as depicted in the user manual.

User Manual Table of Contents      
TO USE BUILT-IN SEWLIGHT 16 Appendix A – Compatible Parts List 34

Related: Imperial Sewing Machine Model 562 Zig Zag User Manual

46 thoughts on “Imperial Sewing Machine Model 535 User Manual

  1. El Gordo

    I will be updating the manual in a short while to include better illustrated pictures of the various zig-zags, and if all goes well I’m going to replace the poor picture used for showing the different parts with a cleaned up photo of mine.

    I hope everyone enjoys and gets good use of it.

  2. Donald McCrory

    I just procured a “Happy Home” (Janome) model 535 made in Taiwan. Looks exactly like your “Imperial” except for name tag. I would appreciate it if I could get your download manual for this machine.


    Don McCrory

  3. dontai Post author

    Hi Donald. The user manual is already online in the blog post and ready for you to download. Right click here and save to your computer. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Plantiemum6

    Thanks so much! I got a machine that I believe to be the same as this today at a yard sale for 10 bucks. The only difference is mine says SANCO where the one above has IMPERIAL. I haven’t fired her up yet, she needs a good dust cleaning first, but she looks like a nice machine for my girls to learn on!

  5. dontai Post author

    Good on you for getting this sewing machine for only $10. It is worth a whole lot more. Be careful of your back because this machine is all metal and very heavy. Follow the instruction manual for lubricating the machine and it will sew very well.

  6. LJ

    that is a picture from my photostream on flickr. you could have asked to use it. i wouldnt have minded.

  7. wanda

    Thank you very much for allowing us to download a free copy of this manual. My grandmother bought this machine new years ago(can’t remember how many years), she has “misplaced” the manual,lol. We are trying to help her sew a new quilt, but alas, no manual. We grew up with watching her sew, we learned to sew on new machines, so we all had no idea what, or even where to start to adjust the tension on the bobbin or the top thread for that matter. So in closing i just want to say THANK YOU!

  8. Pauline

    I have a New home Model 535 which I have loved for over 30 years. It has given me no trouble until yesterday, my tention button came flying off: spring and all and I cnnot get it screwed back together. Does anyone have a solution before I pass it to a mender.

  9. Wee Crafty Mags

    Hi There, I was just about to buy a manual on Ebay for my sister as she was given this model of sewing machine but it had no manual or footplate…Do you know where we could source a footplate for it? Thanks so much for the download it has saved her money….Mags Xx

    [Don: I have never seen any parts sold separately for Imperial sewing machines. You could try finding a donor machine and cannibalizing it for parts. I have done this for Singer machines. You might try other brands, such as Janome, New Home, as they might fit. They were all made by the same company or were acquired thereafter. I am happy that you found the manual useful and saved some money.

    Happy sewing!]

  10. Denny

    Thanks for the information and manual for the Imperial 535
    I repaid and maintain all manner of sewing machines in 100 Mile House BC Canada. Your manual helped me with set up and operating the machine.
    Agan thanks

  11. Bonnie D

    Thanks for the manual. I have an imperial machine that is extremely similar but not quite the same model. Mine has a variety of stitch options (rather than just the straight and zig zag) and the access door to the bobbin case is in front of the pressure foot rather than to the side. I am thinking it might be a slightly newer model. The markings underneath are almost identical.

    [Don: Hi Bonnie, I am glad you found the manual useful. These machines came in such a wide variety of functions, it seems they just mixed and matched as they got orders, then shipped them all out of Japan, badged under a very wide variety of brands. You seemed to have bought a fancier one! May all your sewing be happy.]

  12. Bonnie D

    Collections Canada has some archived copies of old Eaton’s catalogs. Here is a page with a near identical machine to mine in the top left corner. Mine is brander a “Crown” however. You can also find pictures of the Model 535 in the 1965 Eatons catalog on this site.

    [Don: Eaton’s Fall/Winter 1967!!??!! That is awesome! How did you find this? You are surely a good sleuth and have mad search skills. Thanks! I need to do some catalogue shopping…in 1967…]

  13. breda

    many thanks for this manual. I have the machine for about 10 yrs and i have learned lots about it from the manual which i didnt know. Thanks again

  14. Rachel

    Many thanks for this manual. I bought a similar Janome machine two days ago but had no manual. Yesterday i noticed it wasn’t sewing well(needle tension)and i spent most of my time blindly troubleshooting. I’m sure this will solve the problem.

    [Don: Hi Rachel, and thanks for commenting on my blog. Gord and I are happy that you find the user manual useful. As for your thread tension, look at your lockstitch seam. If the bottom seam is too loose, then the top seam is too tight, so loosen up the top tension. If the top seam is too loose, then tighten up the top tension. You need not adjust the bobbin tension. Different materials will require more or less top thread tension, so it is best to do a test line and adjust accordingly.

    Happy sewing and may you sew goodness into your family!]

  15. ayesha

    love this machine I got given one by my grandmother and I have had various sewing machines and always went back to this one as its a great reliable machine

  16. David Mullin

    My mother has an Imperial 560, which she prefers to any newer machine. I’m looking for a motor for it now; it’s the same as the Imperial 535, an Electrohome model 67-C5. I hope I can find one for her, because it really is a lot nicer to work with than the newer ones, sews better, easier to use, stronger too.

  17. Randal

    Thanks for posting the manual, Don. My machine is badged as a Maples Bluebird, though there is nothing blue about it; it remains resolutely beige. Maples was a chain of department stores in Victoria (Aus) and Tasmania that vanished about 35 years ago.

    One tip that won’t be in the manual: my machine, although mechanically perfect, was making a very harsh buzzing in the motor. This turned out to be the stator vibrating against the plastic casing. It was easily fixed by inserting a sleeve of insulating tape. Presumably the earlier ones had a steel casing that would probably have been trouble free.

    [don: Hi Randal! Thanks for visiting my site. As I am from Canada and beside the behemoth USA, most of my sewing machine information is North American. It is good to hear from Australia and NZ. Thanks for the history about Maples and the tip about the buzzing stator. I try hard to make my posts very “findable” by Google and Bing, so I am glad you found my post, though I’m unsure how you did it!]

  18. Kat

    Thank you, I have looked high and low for this information.

    [Don: Thanks for downloading the manual. The user manual is free to download and use for non-commercial purposes. Gord Bestwick did a great job of putting the manual together. I maintain its availability on the Internet. Happy sewing!]

  19. Jon A.

    If both of those are model 535, mine must be as well. I can’t find a model number on it anywhere. Mine is incredibly close in appearance to yours, the only visible differences being stacked slide switch controls on the control panel instead of those small knobs, with the numbered window to the right instead of above, and the knob near the front is white. Also, I see that the trim ring is missing from your reverse button. Mine came with a case for portability. I got it for free from a local classifieds site, apparently it just needs a belt. Good to get a manual for it.

    Oh, I see that yours came with a case too, looked like it was mounted in a sewing table at first. Another minor issue with mine, the shaft on one of the slide switches is barely operable as the shaft is bent and it has to be pushed in to move. No big deal, easy fix.

    [Don: Hi Jon, and thanks for stopping by. My Imperial has hinges but sits in the base of the case. The hinges allow the machine to tilt so I can get to the bottom of the machine without removing it from the case base. Good luck with your Imperial!]

  20. Rachel

    Exactly what I was looking for – thank you SO much. Just picked one of these up on Craigslist. Beautiful looking machine, but sadly neglected, so in for some serious TLC now she’s in her new home!

  21. Frances

    I had a janome and lost it in a fire , a woman from church is letting me use her janome 534 serial number 15666
    My problem is , I can’t find the on and off button .. When I plug it in it is sewing. Please help !
    The woman is very ill and I don’t want to bother her with questions.

    [Don: I really cannot help you as I am unfamiliar with that sewing machine. Ensure that the pedal is not depressed. Most sewing machines have no power switch. Press down the pedal and the machine will stitch. Ease off the pedal and the machine will stop. You may need to check and service the pedal.]

  22. Mike Bees

    Thanks so much for the link, I picked up a Winfield 535 a few months ago, this appears to be identical to the Imperial/Newhome machine except for the badge. The manual has been very useful indeed.

    Wales, UK

  23. Mike Bees

    Frances, If your machine runs as soon as its plugged in the problem may lay in the foot controller. In the 50’s and 60’s a part was fitted to many foot controllers (I cant think what they are called!) that stopped the machines interfering with televisions etc. As technology has moved on these are no longer required but many have broken resulting in the motor running as soon as plugged in. The part is a small and cylindrical about an inch long and can be cut out using strong snips.. I have done this on a few controllers and it has always worked.

  24. Dana

    Hi there, love your website. I picked up an imperial sewing machine last week and have not been able to find a manual for it anywhere. It loads the bobbin from the front. It wasn’t working at all, so I oiled it and adjusted the belt and now it works like a brand new machine, however I am having a little trouble getting the tension settings right. I can’t find a place for adjusting the tension on the bottom thread.

    My husband also fixed the cord for me because the tongs that plug into the wall actually fell out, yikes. So, he sliced a newer cord in the middle of the older one and I’m back in business with a longer cord.
    It also has a presser foot with a magnet on the bottom, would you happen to know what that would be for?

    It’s in such good condition it looks like a new machine. It’s too bad I can’t upload a picture of it to show you. Would you happen to know how much it might be worth?

  25. Faye

    Thanks for that – my New Home 535 was my 21st birthday present some 34 years ago, and has served me very well over the years. I am currently attempting to make some sails for my husbands classic wooden boat being built in the garage, and have been having trouble with sail cloth/needles/thread – thought a re-read of the manual would be useful.

  26. Laurie Gardner

    Thanks for the manual – I got an Imperial model 310 two days ago for free online and have been looking for a manual. The machine looks pristine. I also enjoyed the brief history of the company. Good info to know when looking for more info. Hopefully this will work for me. Thanks again.

  27. Jackie Hollands

    Hi,Many thanks for this manual.
    My daughter has recently acquired a free New Home model 535 without any manual. As she’s an inexperienced sewer this free manual will come in handy.My current machine is a computerised embroidery and sewing machine so I’m reluctant to ‘let her loose’ on this expensive machine. I learnt on my mum’s old singer machine which is very similar to this machine so hopefully she will have similar success with this machine.
    I hope she gets the sewing bug as I’ve been trying to encourage her for years.(She’s nearly 30 now!) Sometimes all it takes is a free gift to help with enthusiasm.
    We are in the North of the UK and found you by a simple google search so your manual is easy to discover.
    Once again many thanks for this free download.

  28. Mary

    Thanks so much for the manual.
    I received this Imperial machine (first picture) from the Canada Eaton’s catalog for my 16th birthday in 1974 ($99) and I’ve been using it ever since. I purchased an automatic buttonhole attachment shortly thereafter that allowed one to choose a metal template/die to match the size of your button and then it created the buttonhole automatically (no hands). Very exciting at the time ;-)

    Haven’t had any trouble with it in 40 years but it now seems to need thorough oiling (and I’ll try the paraffin application though it is not that clear exactly how to do that). Hard to believe there are others out there with the same machine. Thanks again.

  29. Pingback: Don Tai (Canada) Blog » Blog Archive » Imperial 4500 Sewing Machine User Manual

  30. Theresa

    I just bought my Imperial machine at a yard sale for 8 bucks! It’s blue-green and white metal from late 50’s or early 60’s, my Mom thinks. I don’t know what the series is, but I found the following serial number: symbol like a slanted J + A17 52556. It needs to be cleaned and adjusted, but should work fine. I’m trying to find a manual for it, preferably for free. Any ideas where I can get one? Thanks!

    [Don: Hi Theresa, try one of my 3 Imperial manuals. They are free to download, but please leave a comment. Thanks, Don]

  31. Colleen Wendeborn

    I purchased an Imperial Model No. 166 yesterday at a rummage sale for $10. The case was filthy, but the machine inside was immaculate. I’ve cleaned the case and am making minor repairs (gluing down the veneer that’s peeling and new feet). The machine came with one bobbin, the standard straight stitch foot, and that’s all. It is stamped with “J-A76” and “A78150” underneath.

    It has four dials–one each for stitch length, zig-zag, blind stitch, and buttonhole. It doesn’t do any other stitches. It has two spool holders to the rear of the machine.

    I went looking for a manual as loading the bobbin is a bit different, and the manual for this machine should cover the basics.

    I have a singer featherweight 222K and a Pfaff creative. The featherweight loads from the left and so does this one. I’m not sure yet about bobbins and presser feet. I think it takes the same bobbins as does the featherweight, but haven’t tried changing them yet. I think Japanese machines of this era are supposed to be high shank feet.

    I’d be happy to provide photos of the machine, if you wish. In the meantime, here is an ebay ad for a machine that is identical (even the colour)–except for the case. It is branded as “Morse”.

  32. Helene Bondoc

    Hello all, I am selling my Imperial Model 500 if anyone is interested. It is posted on ebay with lots of photos. Original owner, purchased in the 60’s at Eaton’s department store in Montreal, Canada. I have sewn miles of projects on this little 45 pound tank of a machine, and made the difficult decision to *gasp* replace it with something that has a few more features. I don’t want it to just sit in the closet and am looking for a good home for it. Thanks!

    [Don: For those interested, here is the machine on It looks really clean and well taken care of.]

  33. mac

    Can you repost a link to the manual or send me a copy?

    [Don: Hey Mac, thanks for stopping on my site. The manual link is in the last paragraph of this posting. I also have 4 other Imperial sewing machine manuals on my site, all for free download.

    Happy Sewing, Don]

  34. Trish

    Thanks so much for making the manual available!
    I’ve just had a Maples Bluebird passed on to me by family and it is the spitting image of the Imperial pictured (just different badge). Unfortunately, my machine only has the normal foot, so I plan to check out local second hand and op shops in the hope of coming across the other foot types. Looking forward to taking her for a test sew soon :-)

  35. Anne

    Hello, Thank you very much for the manual which I have downloaded.

    I have had my machine about 45 years and never had a manual but still managed to use it regularly making all sorts of things.

    Mine is a Maples Blue Bird with a Janome (Japan) motor and a stamp inside the wooden case under the machine which says made by Schaerf woodworking industry Pty Ltd, Healesville Victoria. (Australia).
    It’s a multinational …heh heh!

    I have recently moved and am making curtains but on opening the case found the rubber drive belt had broken so am now on the search for one and thought I would look up a manual to find the right belt.

    Reading your manual has been great and I now don’t have to guess how to set the tensions and know what all the feet are for. Even though the belt isn’t in there it’s OK, I’ll find one somewhere.

    Thanks again

    [Don: Hi Anne. You are welcome to download and use the manual that is suitable for your machine.

    Happy Sewing, Don]

  36. Wendy Barron

    Ahhhh! Thank you! My circa 1959 Planet still goes like a train, but the manual got water damaged somehow and is not rescuable. It’s so great of you and Gord to share this. Many thanks!

  37. Pingback: Imperial Sewing Machine User Manual: Index – Don Tai (Canada) Blog

  38. Laurel Koples

    Thank you I have downloaded this manual, my machine looks like yours with the bobbin winder in the front, I have not been able to figure it out yet, hope this manual will help me. Thank you

  39. Lisa clements

    So thankful for this! I recently purchased one of these all thanks to this manual. Looking forward to using it :)


    My sister just gave this machine, same model, but branded Viking. Don’t know anything about sewing, but this manual should get me going.
    [Hi Jerome, I hope the machine and manual work out for you. If you have questions please let me know. Happy sewing. Don]

  41. Lise Cyr

    Thank you for sharing manuals with us all. From New Brunswick, Canada, there was no manual with my newly bought Imperial Riccar C6305, Model 654. The Riccar is threaded differently from Imperials I’ve seen so far although it looks similar. I’m wondering where I could get that information. This machine is a quiet machine and I love its quality.

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