So, you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a sewing machine – a used sewing machine, perhaps – but you’re completely green and have no idea what to look for, or whether buying used the first time around is even a good plan.
Don’t worry, you’re not the first – we’ve all been down this road, trying to figure out what it is we’re actually looking for in a used sewing machine. So, let’s break it down.
Why Buy Used
First and foremost, you’ll have to have a clear reason in your head for why you’re looking for used sewing machines in the first place. The most obvious example is the price – used sewing machines tend to be a lot cheaper than their brand new counterparts, but that’s just a start.
Another point of benefit to consider is recycling – by buying a used, but desolate sewing machine, you can save the environment from wasting just that much more plastic and metal by giving it a second home, and a second life.
There are cons, of course – used means used, and that can mean many things. But generally, used sewing machines will function just as well as their newer counterparts – these are pretty tough, sturdy things after all.
What To Look For
When you’re getting yourself a used sewing machine, one thing to look out for is price, and another, is age. Older machines tend to be larger, heavier, but that doesn’t make them stronger in any way – it makes them overbuilt. Today’s machines have been trimmed down to size and efficiency, but they’re no less powerful than the oldies – one big benefit with vintage machines, however, is that their weight makes them unlikely to scoot around the table when you’re working with big materials.
What NOT To Look For
Avoid machines that show small cracks and tearing in the casing, that have a faulty or abnormally noisy motor, or are otherwise plagued by signs of misuse or old age. A used sewing machine most likely has already had a life behind it, and even things that are built to last – for a long time – are not going to hold up to years of abuse. If you can meet up with your seller for a test of the machine, make sure that it feels comfortable to work with – otherwise, leave it.
Where To Buy
There are many places to buy used sewing machines – you can ask around your neighbours, check up in the local community, post classified ads on bulletin boards, or head to a local thrift shop – or, you can take the search online, and look for your perfect machine there. Online classified ads are a good place to start, while eBay and Craigslist are common choices with a greater amount of variety.
Whatever you decide to go for, remember to be wary of all offers, and ignore sensational keywords (things like “SEMI-INDUSTRIAL” or “CAN SEW LEATHER!!!”, both of which generally mean absolutely nothing at all, since any heavy sewing machine would be called semi-industrial, and leather comes in a million different shapes and sizes, the thinnest of which can be sewn on any machine).
A Few Notes
When you’re in the market for a used sewing machine, scammers are a thing you’ll see a lot of. Don’t be fooled by them, or their promises. Especially if you’re looking for a specific, industrial used sewing machine.
You see, nowadays, a lot of people will boast their grandmother’s Singer as being “heavy duty” or “industrial”, but if you know what that means and what to expect from it, then you know how untrue that is. If your seller has a few pictures of the machine, then take a look at its underpinnings. A domestic used sewing machine will have a very simple mechanism for converting motor torque to the needle – industrial sewing machines have much, much larger and often separated motors, which generate a huge amount of power, and thus require a much beefier and more complicated underpinning.
Finally, don’t compromise. If you’re getting yourself a sewing machine for the first time, then don’t buy yourself something cheap just to “try things out”, because you’re going to end up with a clunky, inefficient machine that will just piss you off enough to newer sew again. Buy the most sturdy, beloved thing in your price range, and consider it an important investment.
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