Where to buy a used sewing machine?

I’m in the market for a used sewing machine! My requirements are pretty simple: it needs to be able to sew a straight stitch in varying stitch lengths with extreme reliability. A zigzag stitch would be a plus. I’d like to keep it under $100 if I can. I’m not interested in looking for new machine because it seems that the low-end ones are poorly made and break frequently, and the better ones have a lot of bells and whistles I don’t need which rack up the price.

In the past I’ve used my mom’s and my grandmother’s machines, one probably from the 1960’s and the other probably from the 1940’s, and I’ve been completely happy with them.

Anyway, do you guys have any ideas where I can go looking? I’ve thought of Craigslist, Ebay (which I refuse to do business with for personal reasons), and people have suggested Freecycle, Goodwill, and sewing machine dealerships to me. Do any of you have any other ideas for places to look?

Looking to do the same thing as the OP. I’ve been looking on craigslist but I bought a sewing machine via CL for $25 and the material never fed properly.

Moved Cafe Society --> IMHO.

Check sewing machine repair shops. Sometimes people will take a machine in for repair, balk at the price tag, and then abandon it there. The shop owner will refurbish it and then sell it as a used machine. Look under Sewing Machine Repair in the yellow pages for your area and call around to see what they have on hand. The machines tend to be a little older, barely used, and significantly cheaper than buying new. Just make sure you get the exact model number of any machine you’re considering and look it up to be sure it’s not one which will be back in the shop frequently. Good info on sewing machines tends to be pretty rare. It might be worth it to find a sewing or quilting circle in your area and ask some of the members for ideas or recommendations. The hobbyist will probably have a more expensive machine than you’re looking for (and be drooling after one even more unrealistic/impractical), but many groups will have a guru who eats these kinds of questions up.


You can buy a perfectly good new sewing machine for under $100 that fits your requirements.
I have this:
Kenmore Mini Ultra

But since I bought mine on sale, I actually paid $75.

Anyway, for used your best bet is to try yard sales, but it might take a while. Also, any used sewing machine should probably be immediately serviced, so don’t forget to budget $50 for that.

Don’t worry if you find an old Singer without the manual. They can be ordered through the company, from any year.

If you have a college or university with a textiles program near you, check with them. They may have old sewing machines for sale. I got a 1960s Singer for $35 that way, once upon a time. It sewed forwards and backwards. The end.

Most people who service sewing machines also deal in used ones. Whoever you would take your used machine to get it tuned up, check in with them.

This was my first sewing machine and I haven’t found a reason to replace it. I’ve made quilts, pants, costumes, curtains, pillows, etc.

Just wait for a coupon or sale (especially around Christmas time) and get yours new. Hopefully you’ll have more than two stitch options. :slight_smile:

I find CL prices to be pretty inflated. Just grab a cheaper (because it’s a couple years old now, not because it’s cheap) model and you’ll be fine. And you won’t have to get it serviced if it’s of the copmuterized variety.

If you want to invest in a machine with a capital M, then sure, go to your local sewing machine shop and see what they have to offer.

Good luck! :slight_smile:

edit: I just re-read the OP. Maybe you need a hardcore machine. <shrug> I was surprised how tough my light Brother was. Still, wish you the best!

If you want a machine for under $100 and you just want to be able to sew, take a look at Brother - they have a few models that sell for under $100 and have good reviews on Amazon. If you can squeeze the budget, look at the CS6000i for $170. It’s a really nice little machine for the price. We’ve got one as an ultralight portable, and have actually given a couple as gifts.

Run, do not walk away, from any Singer machine that was not made in the US or Japan. Most of their current stuff is terrible. Similarly, most of the cheap machines sold at fabric shops are junk.

If you’re not well-versed in sewing machines in terms of what to look for and what to look out for, don’t mess with craigslist. Honestly - don’t mess with used machines at all if your budget is tight. It is getting harder and harder to find shops that work on older non-computerized machines, and I can all but guarantee that any machine you find on craigslist or eBay will need at least $100 in work just to be usable. I’ve seen so many worn-out things all crusted over with nicotine and the dregs of dried oil, it’s not even funny. Plus the borderline fraudulent ones were vital parts like the bobbin case are missing, or the machine got dropped and has never (and will never again) worked right since.

Place an ad in the local paper? Also keep an eye out for yard and estate sales.

actually, I have a machine I’ve been meaning to list. A Sears Kenmore Electric Rotary 120.491 1954 in a cabinet, with a knee pedal (instead of a foot pedal) manual and all original attachments (even has the little cardboard box for them). I think it’s just straight stitch, and I haven’t had a chance to check out how well it sews. It runs, but last time I got around to trying it out (it’s stored in our shed) it was really cold out and the belt slipped. Haven’t tried it when it’s warm, and now my husband has a tv on the cabinet >_<.

I’ve seen some great deals on used basic machines at my local sewing machine dealer/repair shop. And you usually get some kind of guarantee that it will run, and sometimes even a bit of basic instruction. In fact, I have my eye on an old, just a step above basic Elna to get for my daughter-in-law, since my two elderly Elnas are workhorses.