Whether you’ve been using an old sewing machine or a basic beginner model, you might find that it no longer suits your needs. Maybe the older machine has finally broken down, or it doesn’t have the functions to match your sewing skills. Whatever your reason for upgrading, it can leave you with a bit of a dilemma. What to do with an old sewing machine?
There are two solutions to the question of what to do with an old sewing machine. The first is to keep it. Getting rid of it is the second. The most popular options for disposing of an old sewing machine are selling it, donating to charity, recycling, or repurposing.
Obviously, the easiest option is to keep the sewing machine. It’s always useful to have a spare in case your main machine breaks down. But, if you don’t have space, you’ll need to get rid of it. So, should you sell, donate, or keep your old sewing machine?
What to Do With an Old Sewing Machine: Key Options
- Keep – Holding on to the machine may be the best solution. It may have sentimental value or come in useful one day.
- Sell – Listing your machine for sale in local newspaper ads or even online is a great way to dispose of an unwanted item and earn some extra money.
- Trade – Sewing machine dealers and some big-box stores sometimes offer trade-in deals. You can offset the cost of a new machine by using your old sewing machine as an exchange.
- Donate – Local church groups, schools, and refuges sometimes take in donations of old sewing machines for use in training, boot camps, and even rehabilitation sessions. Charity stores can also use older machines to generate income through reselling.
- Repurpose – Upcycle the machine into something else like a steam-punk lamp or unique coffee table. Not only does this reduce waste going to landfills, but it can also add an individual touch to your home décor.
- Recycle – Taking the old sewing machine to a recycling center allows for any working parts to be reused to fix another machine. Both modern and vintage machines contain components that can be broken down and used to make new products.
Should You Keep Your Old Sewing Machine?
Old sewing machines can be a bit cumbersome to store. They can be bulky and take up space. This can be a bit of an issue if storage in your home is limited. Having said that, getting rid of your old machine to save a few inches of floor or cupboard space, could be a bit premature. It could also be a decision you come to regret.
If you are a regular sewist, you’ll know that sewing machines can have off days. Normally, their break-downs happen when you really need to get that project finished. When your main machine is throwing a fit, it’s always good to have a back up waiting to take over. The old machine can also be set up to do one specific stitch and save time changing out your new one.
Plus, your old sewing machine may be one that has been passed down through generations. An heirloom from your Grandmother perhaps. This family connection can help form a sentimental attachment to machines from bygone days. Many people, sewists, in particular, hold on to these machines as mementos to loved ones… and to carry on the tradition of handing the machine to the next generation.
Is There Any Value in an Old Sewing Machine?
Calculating the value of an old sewing machine can be tricky. It depends on several different factors. For one thing, there are two different types of value.
The first is sentimental, which refers to the family history surrounding the machine. If it used to belong to a dearly departed Granny, importance to the family can make it priceless.
Financial value is the second. There are three types of buyers when it comes to sewing machines. Collectors, investors, and buyers who just need a cheap, working, second-hand machine. Their reasons for buying may be different, but they’re all calculating value on the same factor. How much the machine is worth to them.
These potential buyers are people not related to the family. They are not emotionally invested in either the Granny who used to own it or the machine. Knowing it has been owned from new and is a family heirloom gives interest and credence to its history. However, as far as monetary value is concerned, the personal story behind an item is not always a factor when it comes to how much an old sewing machine is worth.
To find out if your old sewing machine has financial value, you’ll need to assess whether it’s attractive to buyers. To do that, you’ll need to know the following:
Age Of The Machine
The age of the sewing machine will make a difference to the price a buyer is willing to pay. If they’re looking for an antique, age is a good thing. These buyers tend to be collectors or investors. As far as they’re concerned, the older the machine, the better.
Buyers looking to buy their first sewing machine will be looking for something they can use. A machine they can learn on and grow their skills. They may want a modern computerized machine. In that case, something no older than 5 years would be best. Modern machines tend to become outdated as technology advances so the older they are, the less attractive or useful they may be to some buyers.
Think about an embroidery machine fitted with a floppy disk drive to upload new designs. While it may have been top of the line when it was new, these days floppy disks are a thing of the past. No one uses floppy disks anymore. New computers don’t come with floppy disk drives. If buyers can’t update the embroidery designs, they aren’t going to pay much for the machine. Even if it’s in mint condition and sews like a dream. Unless it’s a collectible vintage or antique machine, the lack of compatibility with modern technology will have a downward effect on the price.
Condition of the Machine
An old sewing machine that has spent the last thirty years outside in the rain is not going to be worth much to a buyer. Not even if it’s an incredibly rare Singer sewing machine with a fiddle base. It may well be over 100 years old. But, if it’s falling apart, covered in rust, mud, and bits of plant, it will be worthless as a sewing machine.
Buyers take a close look at machines when it comes to the condition. The state the sewing machine is in will answer a lot of questions for them. Questions like “Does it work?”, “Are there any parts missing?”, and “Will it cost much to fix?”
Sewing machines can be refurbished. However, there comes a point when the cost of repairs outweighs the value to a buyer. If it’s going to be an expensive repair project, buyers will walk away. Everything about the machine you are selling needs to be in tip-top condition to attract a good price. Normal wear and tear marks are fine. Signs of abuse and neglect are not.
Brand of Machine
You’ll find that some brands are more popular than others. Singers predating the 1970s for instance will be worth more than a store’s own-brand from the same era. Even if it looks like an identical machine.
Different models within a Brand’s collection can differ greatly in terms of value too. It all depends on the particular model’s desirability. Both when it first came out, and as a collectible or usable item years after it was built.
Where you or the machine are located may affect the price you can ask. This is normally due to the general level of disposable income within a community. It’s also connected to the number of buyers within an area who are interested in sewing machines, or sewing.
Nowadays, you can list your machine for sale online, which increases your market reach. However, the cost of shipping, or even the driving distance between the buyer and machine, could make it too costly for them to bother with.
Another thing to consider is market availability. Some regions have limited choice when it comes to sewing machines. Dealers and big-box retailers may only carry certain brands. Leading to an oversupply of one particular type. If your machine is the same as others where you live, you could struggle to sell it for the price you want. A local rarity, on the other hand, could help increase the value.
How Do You Sell an Old Sewing Machine?
Before deciding to sell your machine, check the local papers and online selling sites for your area and see what similar machines are going for. The next thing you should do is decide how to describe your machine. You’ll need to mention the age, condition, brand, and type. Then explain any faults it may have. Is the machine in working condition? Does it have parts missing? Is it an antique?
Try to be as accurate as possible because this will help you achieve a sale at the price you are looking for. Once you have your description, your next decision is where to sell the machine. There are many options, both online and in person.
Online Bidding Sites
Probably the best-known outlet for selling unwanted items are online bidding sites. The main ones are eBay, Mercari, and Ebid. Simple to use and easy to sign up to, these sites give you access to buyers from your local area, country, and even worldwide. You will have to pay fees on the final sale value though, so keep that in mind when setting your price.
Free to use for both sellers and buyers. Craigslist is a great resource for finding and selling sewing machines. With coverage across the country, you’re bound to find a section of the site that is specific to your area.
Another free to use site is Facebook Marketplace. You can list sewing machines on Facebook, and they will show up to potential purchasers in the local area as well as farther away.
Your local pawn shop is a great place to take your sewing machine if you need a hassle-free quick sale. There is a downside, though. Pawn shops make money on reselling items so they are unlikely to offer you the full value for your machine.
Putting an ad in the ‘For Sale” section in your area’s local newspaper is quick and easy. You can also place an ad on the notice board in some local stores. Both options will let people in your immediate area know you have a machine to sell.
The one thing to remember when selling your old machine, regardless of which option you choose, it may take time. Have patience and be prepared to drop your price a little to secure the sale.
Trade it in For a New Model
Less hassle than selling, you could trade your old machine in for a new model at a local sewing machine dealer or big-box store. Check the websites for outlets in your area, or drop into your nearest store to see if they are offering a trade-in deal. You may be pleasantly surprised at the deals they can offer when you have a machine to trade. If they are offering trade-in deals, not only will it reduce the cost of your new machine, it will also help save a machine from going to a landfill.
Can You Donate Your Old Sewing Machine?
Several places accept donations of old sewing machines. Thrift stores that take in electrical items, church groups, and shelters are just some of the options available. Check your local area for organizations taking donations and give them a call.
Being able to donate your old sewing machine depends on the condition it’s in. To be useful to the charity or group, it needs to be in good working order with as many of its original accessories as possible. Many charitable outlets don’t have the resources, money, or time to refurbish used machines.
Repurpose an Old Sewing Machine
Repurposing old sewing machines is a trend which has really taken off in recent years. Normally reserved for the older style, traditional machines from the early to mid-1900s, the imagination, and creativity for turning these older models into something new and useful, has been amazing.
The shape of the original cast iron machines, for instance, makes fantastic toy tractors. The old treadle tables can be turned into unique and elegant side tables or even vanity units. You can even repurpose your old machine into a yard ornament or bird table.
Repurposing doesn’t suit every sewing machine, though. Some of the newer machines have too much plastic in them so are not as easy to alter.
Should You Recycle or Trash Your Old Sewing Machine?
The very last resort for disposal of an old sewing machine is throwing it out with the trash. As long as they fit in your trash can, they can go out with your weekly collection. Larger items, like sewing machines with cabinets, may have to go to your local waste disposal site.
The landfill is a little drastic. Even if it can’t be repaired, parts from one sewing machine can be used to fix another of the same type. Many older sewing machines are made from metal which can be recycled. Even some of the plastics from newer machines have parts that can be reused. So instead of sending your machine to the dump, why not take it down to your local recycling depot?
Whatever your reason for disposing of your old sewing machine, you should be able to find the best solution for your situation. Whether you sell, trade, recycle, or even keep it, hopefully, this article has helped you answer the dilemma of what to do with an old sewing machine.