Purchasing a Vintage Sewing Machine
In “Vintage Sewing Machines Were Built to Last a Lifetime,” I discussed how vintage sewing machines were engineered to be passed down from generation to generation. Many of them still sew beautifully and have many future years of sewing pleasure to give.
But how do you choose a vintage sewing machine, and where should you look for one?
I have purchased many dozens of vintage sewing machines since I started sewing nearly 10 years ago. Most of my experiences have been positive, but I’ve had a few disappointments, too. There are definitely risks involved with buying vintage, but the potential pleasures greatly outweigh them.
Where to look
Vintage sewing machines are easy to find; at one time, nearly every family owned a sewing machine. Here is a list of the best sources along with their respective pros and cons.
eBay sells everything. Auctions as well as fixed-price, buy-it-now sales for vintage sewing machines like Singer Featherweights, Berninas, Elnas, Pfaffs, Necchis, and Kenmores, take place every day. EBay is a great place to find the model you desire, but there are some caveats. The most significant is that you won’t be able to test the machine before purchasing. Some sellers post a video of the machine in operation, but the majority include only photos and a written description of the machine’s condition.
Another downside is the cost of shipping, which can surpass the cost of the machine itself, depending on weight, distance, and the type of shipping being offered. Old all-metal machines tended to be heavy!
If you’re willing to take the chance—and I have, many times—be sure to review the seller’s feedback carefully. It should be 100 percent positive or nearly that. Find out if…