Build quality-wise, this is closer to the 1040. The rear panel and machine bottom are once again made of metal. All the dials and extension tray are still plastic. The thread spool holder is once again of the telescoping variety, unlike the 1045 but Kenmore kept the push/pull clutch mechanism.
Now for a little test. Look closely at both models. Do you see anything different between the 1040 on the left and the 1050 on the right?
The upper tension has moved! Gone is the large tension dial at near the needle bar. It's moved to the front top of the machine which in turn changes how the 1050 is threaded.
Here you can clearly see the upper tension dial. The long groove running perpendicular across the top is a thread guide. The threading on this machine is starting to look a lot more like many modern counterparts today. Additionally, the thread take-up lever has changed. Here's a comparison:
On the left is a 1045 and on the right is the 1050. You can now easily pass your thread through a slot in the take-up without needing to 'thread' through the hole. How convenient!
Now that we're looking at the top of the machine, do you notice anything else that's different?
The presser foot pressure adjustment has also been moved! It is now that big dial stored inside the head. It makes for a cleaner look on the machine and enables you to accurately see what your presser foot pressure setting is.
On the flip side, the bobbin winder has changed somewhat. 1045 on the left, 1050 on the right.
Aside from these changes, the 1050 and 1045 are identical. Same stitches, same motor and same cuteness factor. All in all, this is my favorite portable in the series.