A sewing machine is a big investment for any new sewist. Most people want a budget-friendly model but it must have all the features they need at the moment and some for future use. The machine should also be durable as no one wants a tool that gets into problems every other day.
If you are one of those who are serious about saving money on sewing machines, a used model fits the bill nicely. However, buying these second-hand machines can be a risky task. So pay attention to the 9 tips below to land the best used machine.
Does it still work?
This is the first test to conduct whether you are buying a new or an old model.
For a new machine, most shops will have a test machine of each type for buyer to try. However, when buying an old one, you want to test on the one you intend to take home. Does it do all the stitches without any mishaps like skipped stitches or uneven stitches? Does it make any weird sounds? Does it run smoothly?
Bring along some fabric samples, some of the delicate and some of the heavy. Run a few lines of stitches on each one and see if the machine can handle them. Please note that you should change the needle and adjust the tension to suit each type of fabric. Even a new machine cannot penetrate something like a piece of leather if you don’t attach a special needle to the machine.
Is it in good condition?
How good the mechanism inside the machine is cannot be judged by looking on the outside.
In a lot of cases, the appearance looks as flawless as a new machine, but the inside has been running without maintenance for years. These machines are not a good investment at all. The extra money you have to pay to take it in for a tune up might afford you a whole new machine.
If you buy from a shop, ask the owner if the machine has ever been refurbished. If you buy directly from the owner, ask him or her how often the machine is maintain and when the last time it went for a tune up was.
I have a decent collection of good sewing machine for beginners here in case you want to go through some of the new models as well. See here for more good machines.
Who you are buying from?
Buying from a shop is always the safer choice, especially if you don’t know much about sewing machines to inspect them yourself. The machines you find in a shop have gone through check-up with experts and sometimes they come with a repair warranty.
However, expect to pay a higher price than buying from the previous owner if you decide to go to a shop. So the key here is know what you want and the price ranger you can afford.
If you are an amateur in sewing machines but still want a second-hand model, buying from the shop will ensure good quality merchandise at a more reasonable price than a new model.
How old is the machine?
This section is for those who want a vintage sewing machine.
These machines are usually heirlooms because they are no longer manufactured. It’s true that they are long-lasting and can be a real workhorse. They are also harder to operate and require much more skills than other newer models.
If vintage sewing machines are your thing, please bear in mind this note. Sometimes you have to change at least one part of the machine to restore its good performance. You will be in serious trouble if you are unable to find a replacement.
So before you take a vintage sewing machine home, see if the parts are available for purchase. If they don’t, think again about your decision.
Some sewists think the vintage are the best rated sewing machines for beginners because they are durable and only have the basic. For some other highly recommended models, you can see here https://www.scoop.it/t/best-sewing-machine-for-beginners-basic-sewing-machine-review
What are its accessories?
Accessories are another big contribution to the final buying decision.
What does the machine come with? Does it have a bobbin case? extra presser foot?
Know what you are paying for is the key to have good value for money.
Can the equipment you have at home used on this machine?
If you have already had some sewing equipment and accessories, check if they are compatible with the machine or not.
The next step is to check if the accessories fit well into the machine. Modern models have most of the parts standardized but some older ones may not. It pays off to be careful in the first place than to be sorry later.
Is it user-friendly?
A user manual is your best friend. It does not only provide you with information on the particular machine you are using but also answer most of the questions you may have when using it.
For some used machines, the manual is long gone and what you can do now is to ask the one who is selling the machine for you for a training class. Make sure you know what to do with the machine before you bring it home.
Fortunately, there are many brands that upload their manuals online, which save you and the sellers a lot of time.
There are a lot of user-friendly models out there, if you are interested, you can find some here easy to use sewing machine for beginners at Craftsselection.com.
Does it satisfy what you want?
The sellers can sometimes advertise the merchandise too much just to have a successful sale. So the key to land the most suitable machine for you is to know exactly what you want.
You only need a machine that has the basic stitches? Test the one you are having your eye on to see if it can handle them.
You want something that can embroider? Check if the machine has a wide enough workspace to do this job or not.
What is the price?
The key here is to buy the best one that you can afford.
All the fancy features will go waste if you cannot pay for the machine. So again, know what you really want and see if there is any machine that can meet the requirement without breaking the bank.