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How to Buy Second Hand Sewing Machines Online


A look at a sewing machine on a work desk along with sewing materials.

Unlike many other things in the world today, sewing machines have been something that has remained relatively timeless.

When you are shopping for a sewing machine, whether you are buying it brand new or used, the features haven’t evolved very much over time. The newer high-end sewing machines are very similar to ones made 30 years ago, which is why it is commonly suggested to buy secondhand sewing machines as opposed to brand new ones.

Quality is always the most important factor when it comes to buying a sewing machine, so look for the highest-quality brand and start there. There are other things you need to consider, such as different features you will need, where you will be able to buy a secondhand sewing machine and making sure all the essentials are included when you buy it.

If you follow the guide below, you will know all the things to consider while shopping for your sewing machine, where you can look, and what you will need.

1. What Features Do You Need?

Not everyone shopping for sewing machines is going to need the same features because there are so many different things you can do.

It is important to know exactly what you intend to do with your sewing machine to make sure any machine you buy is equipped with the necessary features you are looking for. There are specific areas to consider when it comes to sewing machines:

  1. Throat Size: If you plan to do embroidery work, you would need a sewing machine model that is equipped with a decent throat-length and a long extension table, so you are able to pass the fabric back and forth with ease. This is important for embroidery as well as quilting, so if you plan to do either you should be mindful of the throat size.
  2. Automatic Buttonholes: This gives you the ability to move the needle in five different positions, several stretch seams and plenty of decorative stitches. If those features are something you are looking for, make sure the machine has automatic buttonholes.
  3. Front-Loaded Machine: For the best quality machine, you also want to make sure it is front-loaded. This means the bobbin case is placed in the front of the machine and pointing towards you as opposed to horizontally below the needle as top-loaded machines have. Front-loaded machines often last longer, are more durable and are harder to damage.

A woman making face masks with the use of a sewing machine on a desk.

2. What Things Do You Need to Consider Before Your Purchase?

You have to know what is important when it comes to buying a sewing machine if you want to make the best purchase. There are certain things that are very important and should be taken into consideration when you are shopping for a secondhand sewing machine. You always want to be mindful of the age and condition of the machine.

There is nothing wrong with buying a used sewing machine, but you still want to make sure it is a quality machine and not a piece of junk that you will barely get any use out of. Ironically, when you are shopping for your machine you are probably better off with a slightly older machine than a newer one by a not so reputable brand.

You should also find out from the seller if there is a needle threader, how many feet the machine has, what the stitching capability is (how many), and how many hoops it has. All of these features will be important when considering if the machine is right for you because many projects require these essential features for quality results.

You should also ask questions regarding the usage of the machine. It would be beneficial to ask how easy it is to thread the machine, how many owners the machine has had prior to the current owner, has it been consistently used by the owner or has it been sitting on a shelf collecting dust for many years, and is it easy to use.

Don’t be afraid to ask these questions and if they don’t know the answer, they probably haven’t used the machine much, if at all, which could be a potential red flag.

You should check the machine over thoroughly before you purchase it to be sure you don’t notice anything concerning it. Inspecting the sewing machine for cracks, rust and funny noises may help solidify your decision to purchase the sewing machine or not.

If it looks damaged, it probably has not been kept in good condition and you should be very cautious about buying it. Rust is a major concern when it comes to sewing machines and you should try to steer clear if you see any rust on the machine.

Although you might be able to remove it relatively easily, it is most likely going to come back and continue to be an issue with the machine. Also, make sure any scrapes or cracks are not going to pose a safety threat while the machine is in use.

One indicator of a well-kept machine is its cleanliness. You can tell a lot about the condition of the machine if you take note of how well the previous owner kept it clean and looking its best.

A woman cutting up a white piece of cloth to be used for sewing.

Although we have talked a lot about the perks of buying an old trusty sewing machine, you should also try to find one that is still being produced if possible. The reason for that is if you ever needed to have your machine looked at or repaired, if a particular part needs to be replaced on your machine, it could be a relatively easy and low-cost fix.

However, if the machine you own isn’t being produced anymore, it might be hard to get it repaired because the repair shop might not have or be able to find the right parts, they need to fix it.

This might seem like an obvious one, but it happens so frequently it is worth mentioning. You should always give the machine a trial run, if possible, before purchasing it.

You want to make sure it actually works and runs the right way before you go buying it. If it does happen to be one of those machines that have been in someone’s grandparent’s attic collecting dust for the last 20 years, it may not even work properly or work at all, so if you have the opportunity you should always test it out first before you buy it.

3. Where Can You Buy Second Hand Sewing Machines?

Whether you are an expert with your sewing machine, or you are just starting out, secondhand sewing machines are something everyone should consider. In particular, if you are just starting out you should never buy a brand new cheaply made sewing machine, even if it might look pretty. You want something with quality, sustainability, and functionality that can help you learn the right way.

Online marketplaces where people sell their used items, such as Craigslist and eBay, will most likely have some used sewing machines to consider. As always when you are buying anything online or in a store, customer reviews can be extremely helpful in deciding which sewing machine is best for you.

If you are going to try to buy a sewing machine from places like Craigslist or eBay, research the seller a little beforehand to see what reviews previous buyers have given, if any, and try to find out if this is a trusted seller that you are willing to purchase a machine from.

If you look hard enough, sometimes you can even find used sewing machines being sold in the classified ads section of the newspaper. (Yes, that’s really still a thing that exists). If you can find one made by a top manufacturer, it is a good start.

A woman making face masks with the use of a sewing machine.

Because classified ads are relatively short and have very little information when you call to inquire about the sewing machine, make sure you ask all the relevant questions from this article to make sure it has all the features you need and essential equipment to go with it.

Items like sewing machines and record players are often being sold in yard sales and garage sales for people cleaning out their parents or grandparent’s attic or basement and getting rid of anything they don’t want.

If this is the case, proceed with caution. You want to make sure the machine actually works and that you have enough information to be confident you are making the right purchase and not just buying any sewing machine because it’s cheap and convenient.

4. What Brands of Sewing Machines Are the Best?

When you are buying anything, the better the quality of whatever you are buying, the longer it is going to last. Sewing machines are no different. Even with second-hand sewing machines, if you buy a brand that is known for making high-quality and long-lasting machines, then you will get more use out of it as long as it isn’t extremely old.

Bernina B 215 Sewing Machine
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When it comes to sewing machines, there are definitely some names that stand out more than others. According to an article from the Textile Artist Blog, who conducted a survey of respected textile artists and designers, the best name brands are Bernina and Husqvarna with runners-up being Brother, Pfaff and Janome.

Husqvarna Viking Jade 20 Sewing Machine
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Bernina sewing machines originated in Switzerland where they are still made today. Unfortunately, the only way to buy one of these top-of-the-line sewing machines is if you go directly to the Bernina store to buy one because they are not allowed to sell their machines on the internet.

This is one of the best quality sewing machines you could buy and if you could find a used one being sold somewhere; you don’t want to miss the opportunity. Brand new Bernina sewing machines are very expensive, so that is another reason second hand Bernina machines might be more feasible.

They are always in high demand from professionals, so it may be hard to find, but eBay is probably the best place to look. Keep in mind that you will not find a Bernina machine that comes with a warranty because the manufacturer does not allow the warranty to be transferred from one person to the next, so that is a downfall you should be aware of.

Husqvarna sewing machines seem to be the crowd favorite when it comes to embroidery. They are known for being high-quality machines that produce fabulous results with the smoothness of the stitching and embroidery output, however, they are excellent for any kind of sewing as well.

Husqvarna always received fabulous reviews and they have long-established themselves and produced quality and long-lasting sewing machines. They have been around for a long time and are still able to withhold their prowess in the textile industry.

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