12 Sewing Machine Buying Tips Update 06/2022

One of the most common side effects of purchasing a sewing machine for the first time is sticker shock. Sewing machines can run into the thousands of dollars, making them out of reach for the majority of home sewers. Consider purchasing a second-hand sewing machine if this is the case for you.

Buy a second-hand sewing machine as an investment that will pay dividends. Even while new sewing machines are more expensive, used sewing machines, with proper care, can last for decades longer. Used sewing machines can retain their value for many years, depending on the model, its age, and the brand name associated with it.

Find out how to get the most bang for your buck when you shop for a used sewing machine in this guide. What kind of brands and models would be best for you will also be learned. In the end, you’ll learn how to get a decent price on used sewing machines by searching online.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Sewing Machine

Sewing machines, like any other secondhand item, have their advantages and disadvantages. A used item can be dangerous because you may not be able to return the thing in case it doesn’t work.

When it comes to sewing, buying a used sewing machine has several great advantages!

In the first place, why do people go to local thrift shops, yard sales, and Facebook groups? Of course, you’re looking for the best deals! Buying a used sewing machine might save you a lot of money.

Take a moment to consider this. Over $16,000 for a new Bernina 880 sewing machine! Used Bernina 880s for sale on eBay range from $2,000 up to $10,000.

Sewing machines like the Bernina are not all that expensive. Bernina, on the other hand, is an excellent choice if your budget is only a few thousand dollars. However, you may also acquire a less expensive new machine from a well-known brand like Singer. Your money goes further when you know what you’re doing and acquire an excellent used equipment.

The purchase of used sewing machines, on the other hand, is an eco-friendly option. Reusing and recycling are important to you, so vote with your wallet and buy used!

Old sewing machines aren’t necessarily equal to modern ones in terms of performance, but they do tend to have higher craftsmanship and longer lifespans. It’s possible to get a better deal on an older machine than you would on a brand new one!

Putting that aside, you should go into this transaction knowing exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

Buying a used appliance has the primary drawback of not knowing how the previous owner treated the item. Possibly a kind, elderly lady named Bertha regularly used it and ensured it was cleaned and preserved annually. Or perhaps it rusted for 50 years in someone’s attic before you bought it as a junker.

No matter how careful you are, there’s always a chance that your second-hand sewing machine will be a failure.

Second, cleaning and fixing a used model will almost probably take longer than it would for a new one. If all goes well, this may be as simple as an oil change and a few YouTube videos. Repairing your item yourself, or taking it to a shop down the street, could be an option.

For the most part, buying secondhand implies you won’t get a warranty or return options. However, if you purchase from a retailer or an online seller that allows free returns, you may be able to get around this rule. Buying used, on the other hand, indicates that you accept what you get.

Tips for Buying a Used Sewing Machine

Sewing machine shopping can be made easier if you know what to look for and what to avoid while shopping for a sewing machine. You should always question yourself, does it work and what kind of sewing is possible with this machine?

As you begin your search for a used sewing machine, here are the twelve most important things to keep in mind.

1. Choose a Machine Based On Your Sewing Needs

Even if it seems obvious, you should focus your search on sewing machines that can meet your specific needs. The first step is to narrow your search to a specific type of sewing machine and then look for a used model at an acceptable price.

In the case of quilting, you’ll want a machine that’s specifically designed for the task at hand, rather than a general sewing machine. A serger may be necessary if you run a small business selling tote bags and need to stitch several overlocked seams.

When it comes to speciality equipment, buying old might save you a lot of money. The cost of a new embroidery machine, a quilting machine, or a serger can be prohibitive if you’re on a tighter budget. However, you never know if a used dealer has the model you’re looking for!

2. Pick an Easy-to-Use Model

There are several factors to consider while looking for a new sewing machine, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned sewer. The ease of threading, the presence of a front-loaded bobbin, and customer evaluations are all important considerations when shopping for a sewing machine.

Of course, if you’ve been sewing for a long time and are looking for a more challenging machine, go for it! You can avoid frustration by purchasing a second-hand sewing machine that has straightforward and easy-to-understand mechanics so you can easily set it up, use, and repair it.

3. Avoid Obvious Flaws

Make sure you don’t acquire a computer with glaring problems, no matter how clear it may seem! A machine that doesn’t work is a waste of money, regardless of how cheap it is.

Inspect the sewing machine for corrosion, oil stains and cracks, as well as bent or damaged parts, if you can. Permission should be granted so that you can listen for strange noises when using the equipment.

If you’re shopping online, read the product description thoroughly and compare the images to those of a newer model to see if there are any differences.

4. Try Vintage Sewing Machines

Newer does not always equate to better when it comes to sewing machines. Many old machinery that were built more than a century ago are still in use today. While modern machines sometimes utilize inexpensive plastic gears and systems, vintage machines produced between 1900 and 1970 frequently use substantial metal construction.

You may therefore discover that your sewing demands can be met by using an older sewing machine that is capable of performing basic sewing stitches such as a straight stitch, zigzag stitch, and buttonhole Additionally, many older devices can last for decades with proper care!

Because vintage machines aren’t computerized, they’re easier to maintain and repair by the average person than the more complex current ones.

5. Know the Difference Between Sewing Machines

When comparing old-school sewing machines to the computerized versions of today, it’s important to know the difference between electronic, mechanical, and computerized machines.

A sewing machine that is powered by electricity is known as an electronic machine. It’s apparent, isn’t it? For antique and vintage sewing machines, however, this is a critical factor because they were all powered by a treadle in the days when there was no electricity!

In addition, make sure that there are no burnt particles or unusual stains on the electrical input and wires.

In addition, mechanical vs. digital sewing machines have significant distinctions.

You can change the parameters of a mechanical machine by manipulating its knobs, buttons, and switches. With a wheel that you spin to select straight or zigzag stitches, for example, it may be possible. There are usually only a few of these possibilities available.

However, computerized machines have many built-in stitches that may be used to make a range of accurate stitches because of the fancy computer chip storage. There are touch screens on many new machines that you can use to enter these settings.

As you can see, there are a lot of differences between these three types of machines, but the main distinction is that computerized models offer a broader choice of possibilities but have more complex internal parts and a shorter lifespan than older, solid-metal machines.

6. Know How Much to Pay

If you’re looking for a high-end brand or a specialist sewing machine, expect to pay upwards of several thousand dollars for your average old sewing machine. Make sure you know the asking price of a used model before you buy it.

In general, you may obtain a sense of current prices by looking at Amazon and eBay. After that, you’ll know exactly how much to bid on a certain model at a local thrift store or antique store.

7. Don’t Buy an Economy Model

Purchasing a secondhand sewing machine can save you money, but you should never settle for a budget model from any sewing machine manufacturer! From Singer to Bernina, most manufacturers offer economy models with restricted options, lower quality parts, and shorter life expectancies.

If you’re a first-time sewer looking for a low-cost model, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, after a few years, you’ll want something more advanced. Investing in these models is not a wise long-term strategy.

For all the difficulty of researching and pricing out used sewing machines, look for one that both fits your budget and fulfills all of your stitching needs. For less money, get a high-quality piece of equipment.

8. Give Refurbished Machines a Try

In terms of safety, refurbished sewing machines may be preferable to purchasing a secondhand machine from a shady internet shopper.

Refurbished equipment is just that: repurposed equipment. A machine that was purchased from Joann Fabrics can’t be sold as a brand-new item because there may be faults in the product. Instead, they call it “refurbished” and sell it as such.

In some cases, you might inquire as to whether or not the machine was properly serviced and cleaned before it was resold by your local business. When you see this, you may be confident that it’s in fine functioning order.

If you’re looking to buy a used car, you won’t receive the guarantee of a new one here. It’s possible that one of these models was returned by mistake.

Nevertheless, if you have the option to return it, what do you have to lose by purchasing a reconditioned model? Make sure you don’t make the mistake of purchasing an item without a return or warranty option.

9. Avoid As-Is Purchases

As a general rule, when purchasing a used sewing machine, you should steer clear of “as-is” purchases. Even if the machine doesn’t turn on when you get home, you can’t complain about the purchase because it’s a “as is” buy.

Many online and brick-and-mortar retailers allow customers to return products if they are not happy. It’s possible that a shop or store has a policy similar to a warranty that lets you return an item for cleaning and repair if something goes wrong with it.

If you buy a used machine from a no-returns site like a yard sale or your local thrift store, you should not rule out the possibility of a return. Because there is no warranty or return option, this type of purchase carries a larger risk, but you can also receive the best deals if you’re willing to roll the dice!

Ultimately, having a plan B in case your purchase doesn’t go as planned is more secure, and an as-is purchase does not provide you with that security.

10. Check For Replacement Parts

Find out how easy it is to get new components for the secondhand machine before making the purchase. Replacement components for secondhand machines from well-known brands and models that are still in production are frequently readily available. When something goes wrong with an old sewing machine produced by a long-gone company, you may land up in the middle of nowhere.

The internet is a great resource for finding tutorials and guidance on how to use a new machine. For older devices, parts and assistance may be hard to come by because fewer people are using them.

You don’t want to end up in a bind because you can’t find a needle for your machine!

In addition, you should check to see whether you can get a hold of a digital copy of the handbook by searching online. You’ll need this handbook to set up, use, and maintain your machine, and not all used models come with it.

11. Make a Checklist of Necessary Parts and Accessories

Make a note of all the parts and extras that come with the used machine you’re interested in purchasing. One of the drawbacks of buying used is that you may not get all of the standard features that come with a new product.

A foot pedal and an electrical cord are two things to keep in mind while shopping for a new product. If the machine is used, check to see if any of the original presser foot, bobbins, needles, cleaning tools, or the user’s handbook are missing.

A replacement bobbin or needle may not fit if you acquire an antique sewing machine that uses an unusual bobbin size or a unique needle.

If you don’t check sure your used machine has all the functions you need before you buy it, you’ll end up spending more money on additional accessories than you expected!

12. Get a Machine that Works with What You Have

You can save money in the long run by purchasing a used sewing machine that is compatible with your current equipment. It’s possible to utilize the presser foot you currently own if you buy a used Singer sewing machine.

Alternatively, you might think of this as a way to supplement your present sewing supplies. If you already own a serger, you may want to look into purchasing a standard sewing machine in order to increase your sewing options. Alternatively, you may already own a serger and are looking to expand your sewing possibilities by purchasing a cover-stitch machine.

Buying Used Sewing Machine

What Are the Best Sewing Machine Brands?

In general, the greatest high-end sewing machine brands include Bernina, Husqvarna Viking, and Pfaff, whereas the most popular brands for home sewers include Singer, Brother, and Janome, which are known for their reliability and affordability. That doesn’t mean other brands aren’t good, of course. According to several reviewers, Juki and Elna sewing machines are the best.

It makes sense to buy used equipment from a well-known manufacturer. Generally speaking, you’ll discover a wide range of reviews for any of these firms’ products online. This is a wealth of information that you may put to good use when making a purchase decision on a used equipment.

As a result, each of these companies offers a wide range of equipment, from the most basic to the most luxurious. Remember that you’re looking to save money by purchasing used! Make sure to perform your due diligence when purchasing secondhand Pfaffs, as well as other high-quality models, to ensure you get the features you need.

Are Old Sewing Machines Worth Anything?

It’s not uncommon to find a vintage sewing machine for less than $500. You might pay a lot of money for rare vintage or antique models due of their rarity. However, an ancient sewing machine is often regarded more for what it can do rather than its market worth.

Many pre-1980s sewing machines feature sturdy metal construction that allows them to run for a long time, depending on their age and condition. You may need one of these models if you use it on a daily basis. In particular, they are excellent for sewing quilts or denim, which current machines have difficulty handling.

If you’re thinking about resale, you’ll want to check into a machine that’s in high demand. For example, well-known brands like Bernina and Husqvarna are likely to have a steady resale market.

How to Buy a Used Sewing Machine on eBay

All of the previous advice, such as buying a sewing machine on eBay, still holds true when making an online purchase. However, since you won’t be able to inspect the item in person, you may wish to take further precautions.

Shipping expenses must be taken into account before anything else. Some retailers claim to provide “free shipping,” but in reality, they simply raise the price of the item to compensate. Others are banking on the fact that you won’t see a $25 shipping charge before you click “buy now!”

It’s true that sewing machines are heavy, thus shipping costs must be taken into account. In certain cases, vendors will go out of their way to emphasize how meticulously they ship their products. If not, you might want to find out from the vendor how they ship and package their products to make sure they arrive undamaged.

Second, learn about the seller’s return policy. Don’t buy from them if they only sell “as is.” There is a major danger if there is no return option because you can’t physically inspect the merchandise before purchasing.

The third step is to message the vendor and inquire about how long ago the machine was last used if it isn’t stated explicitly. You could even request a video of the gadget in action if you paid a lot.

In addition, pay attention to the product description’s use of words and phrases. Do you know that “cozy” is a real estate phrase for “small and cramped”? Then again, internet vendors aren’t immune to the power of the spoken word!

“Industrial” and “professional” are two words that may lead you astray. The easiest way to protect yourself is to do some research on the model and make, so that you are better informed than the vendor.

Finally, be aware of your rights as a purchaser! Refunds are available on eBay and Amazon if the goods you received does not match the description.

However, you are not entitled to a refund if you later discover that the item you purchased was not what you had hoped for. Regular sewing machines can’t do elaborate embroidery stitches, so you should have known better. If you don’t know what you’re getting, do some research!


If you buy a used sewing machine, there is a degree of danger involved. It is possible that these models will only have a brief second life after you have purchased them. If you acquire a second-hand sewing machine, you may also have to spend extra time cleaning and mending it.

For those who follow the twelve steps put forth in this article, they will have a decent chance of obtaining an excellent used sewing machine for all of their sewing needs!

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