What to Do With an Old Sewing Machine

Sewing machine

As you get deeper into sewing, your needs and investment level may change with time. Maybe you started sewing on a family hand-me-down, and the machine finally bit the dust. Or maybe you learned to sew on a basic model, but now you’re ready to upgrade to something higher-quality and you need to know what to do with your old sewing machine.

Whatever the reason, you’re likely going to need to discard your beloved machine at some point or another.Here are a few ideas to point you in the right direction of what to do.

1. Keep It

Obviously, the easiest thing to do with an old machine is to just keep it. But to do that out of pure laziness isn’t a great idea; it’s a quick way to end up with a house full of random things you never use. Here are some considerations to make before keeping your old sewing machine:

Do You Have Storage Space?

If you live in a studio apartment, this is likely a resounding “no,” unless you have storage space elsewhere. If you live in a larger home and have a separate room dedicated to sewing, then maybe you can store the machine in a corner or the closet.

Will You Need a Backup?

If you need to have a machine available at all times (like, even when your main machine is getting serviced), it’s smart to have a backup. After all, the thought of going without a sewing machine for a week can be a little nerve-wracking.

Will Anyone Else Use It?

If you plan to sew with a friend or family member, it’s great to have a machine ready for them. And if you’re teaching a true newbie, it might be best to let them use one you’re not as emotionally invested in.

Is It a Family Heirloom?

Maybe you want to keep the sewing machine for sentimental purposes — this is a totally valid reason. Instead of storing it away, put it on display in your craft room.

Someone using a sewing machine

2. Sell It

If you’re going to sell, you can’t go wrong with listing it on eBay or Craigslist. You’re likely to get the most money there, but it’ll also require a bit of work on your part. Here’s what to consider:

Make Sure Your Machine Works

And not just work — it needs to be in perfect working order. If you haven’t had the machine serviced in a while, this is the time to do so. Sure, you’ll have to pay for it, but then you can bump up the price when you list it. A machine that’s in perfect shape will also be eye-catching to a new buyer, because then they can use it right away.

Research the Value

Don’t just randomly pick a price — you can end up selling way under what you should. Do some online research to see what machines of the same make and model are selling for. This can also vary based on where you live, so look at comparable locations to make sure you’re pricing your machine right.

Sell It With the Photos

Even if your machine is in tip-top shape, if your photos look dull and blurry you’ll have a harder time catching someone’s attention. Be sure to shoot quality, well-lit photos, and possibly even edit them to look pristine. (You can check out some tips on this in our class Product Photography at Home.) Also, make sure your product description is clear and accurate, so buyers know exactly what they would get.

Don’t Forget Shipping Costs

If you need to ship, don’t undercut yourself on the costs. Sewing machines are heavy and will cost a pretty penny to mail. Plus, you’ll need to package your machine well to prevent any damage from occurring en route. Get quotes on all those elements prior to listing the machine, or mark it as “pick-up only” so buyers know you can’t send it to them.

Look at Off-Line Options

If you don’t want to take the online route, go directly to a dealer. It’s a lot like selling a used car: you’ll probably get more money selling directly to a person, but you’ll likely have to show it to many buyers before someone purchases it. Whereas when you sell to a dealer, you’ll earn less but deal with less hassle. It’s entirely based on the amount of time you want to invest in making money off the machine.

3. Donate It

This is one of the easiest routes for dealing with an old sewing machine. You could drop it off at a charity reseller, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or you could see if your community has any local charities or organizations that could benefit from a sewing machine. A few ideas:

  • Women’s shelters that teach sewing
  • Rehabilitation centers that provide clothing for people getting back on their feet
  • Creative reuse stores
  • Schools in need of a machine for their home economic or art department
  • International charities assisting lower income families or those hit by natural disasters
  • Homeless shelters that offer sewing to residents

Keep in mind that some charities won’t take a machine that doesn’t work, so before hauling it to the drop-off, call ahead and ask if they’ll take an out-of-order machine.

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64 Responses to “What to Do With an Old Sewing Machine”

  1. Polly Goldberg
    Polly Goldberg

    Hello — I have a Pfaff Expression Anniversary Edition 150 to sell (The only service shop is two hours away.) It’s computerized, has a needle threader, needle up/down setting, one-step buttonhole, drop-in bobbin, And many more features. I have everything that came with it, plus an extension table and extra feet. It sews beautifully. Average price paid online is around $1K, but I will consider offers. For health reasons, I would like pick-up only — I am in Otsego County, NY.

    Reply
  2. Supriya
    Supriya

    Singer Tradition 8280 Sewing Machine in good condition anybody interested to buy plz contact me 6360823332 I’m in urgent need money

    Reply
  3. Lois Ahntholz
    Lois Ahntholz

    Have a portable Emdeko zig zag machine (Japanese made). I have two machines, a Kenmore purchased in 1963 and a Brother purchased in 2014; otherwise I would keep it. It is heavy and has a case. There also is a portable sewing table that she used which can be sold with it. Make an offer if your are interested. We live near Des Moines, Iowa.

    Reply
  4. Cathy
    Cathy

    I’m looking to sell a Baby Lock Soprano sewing machine. It is only one year old with little use. My husband has dementia and I just don’t have time to see. Machine has auto threader, auto cut, pivot feature. 8-9” throat, large extension table. MSRP $2600 will sell for $1900. Gammacate@gmail.com. Thank you

    Reply
  5. Cathy
    Cathy

    I’m looking to sell a Baby Lock Soprano sewing machine. It is only one year old with little use. My husband has dementia and I just don’t have time to see. Machine has auto threader, auto cut, pivot feature for sewing 90* seams. 8-9” throat, large extension table. MSRP $2600 will sell for $1900. Gammacate@gmail.com. Thank you

    Reply
  6. Sue Pipe
    Sue Pipe

    I have a very old singer sewing machine that was my nans . I have had it serviced but it is now playing up . It would need a good overhaul . I have the manual and little box of extra feet etc . It was one of the first embroidery machines and has a little box of shapes that you attach to make the stitch . I have never been able to work that out. When it works properly it does a lovely stitch . I also have a singer hand sewing machine . It does a good stitch but has lost the little cover for the bobbin which is a problem . I would love to give them to someone who could get them serviced and in use . I am in England x

    Reply
    • Ellena
      Ellena

      How I wish I lived near you. I live in Africa- Malawi and so much want a heavy duty machine . I enjoy doing craft sewing and good to open my own school to teach informal tailoring.

      Reply
  7. edna stancil
    edna stancil

    i have a bernina overlock machine and a bernina embroidery machine with all the parts and probably more than a hundred spools of thread to go with them i do not want any of it would love to donate it to a charity or a person that would use it

    Reply
    • Karen Hart
      Karen Hart

      Where are you located? I’d love to have these, or please consider your local refugee community.

      Reply
      • edna stancil
        edna stancil

        i live in north carolina i also have knitting hoops and the manual that go with them i have the manuals for the machine also

        Reply
    • Maria Logan
      Maria Logan

      Hi Edna, I am really be interested in the overlocker and embroidery machine. Are they still available?

      Reply
      • edna stancil
        edna stancil

        yes maria they are still available i also have some knitting loops i would love to give to someone would you want the thread i have

        Reply
    • Ellena
      Ellena

      How I wish I was leaving next to you. I live in Africa – Malawi and want to start my own craft business and at the same time teach informal talioring

      Reply
  8. SOFIE
    SOFIE

    Hi everyone.
    I am looking for a serger. I have a very old sewing machine that does only straight stitching. If anyone has a serger that don’t use anymore please let me know. I really do appreciate. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Kristine Fernandez
      Kristine Fernandez

      Do you still have this available by any chance? I run a volunteer drama club, and we would LOVE to have this for our musical. Thank you!

      Reply
  9. Neziwe
    Neziwe

    Ukhokhelo-Lolutsha community organization based in Guguletu, We looking for help just anyone can donate with Sewing machine to train our community members.
    Thank you

    Reply
  10. Linda Ann Wilson
    Linda Ann Wilson

    I have a Sears Kenmore model 385.19153 sewing machine most parts are new with manual. It was my mothers before passing, I do not sew I don’t wish to learn. giving away to whoever will like to use it

    Reply
  11. Mandeep kaur Kaur
    Mandeep kaur Kaur

    I have singer machine for sewing and quilt its brand new want sell it

    Reply
    • Neziwe
      Neziwe

      Ukhokhelo-Lolutsha community organization based in Guguletu, We looking for help just anyone can donate with Sewing machine to train our community members.
      Thank you

      Reply
  12. Pat Oberg
    Pat Oberg

    Have a 1975 Kenmore portable sewing machine & carrying case. Needs cleaning and oiling.

    Reply
    • Edna Tyler
      Edna Tyler

      I have Singer Sewing machine Model 362. It was probably bought in the 60’s. Want to sell. Do you know about what I should ask for it?

      Reply
      • Karen Hart
        Karen Hart

        Check on your Facebook MARKETPLACE for values. It’s a good place to sell. It’s easier if you don’t have to pack it and ship it.

        Reply
  13. christine kelly
    christine kelly

    I have an electric Singer Sewing machine, older style but not vintage. Has all the accessories and was well looked after and maintained. Want to donate. I live in York. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  14. Sunshine
    Sunshine

    I have a 1957 Singer sewing machine in a cabinet. Machine does not work. Thrift stores do not accept non-working machines. Free to a good home in St Pete.

    Reply
  15. Pamela Taylor
    Pamela Taylor

    I have two sewing machines to donate. I live in Brandon, FL and would like a reputable place to give these to.
    Let me know and thank you,

    Reply
  16. Jack ross
    Jack ross

    1894 Singer sewing machine with cabinet built around it, I don’t want it or need it, if you want it come and get it, Tampa area. If its not gone I will just trash it.

    Reply
  17. Catherine Showalter
    Catherine Showalter

    I own a 1892 Singer treadle sewing machine in an oak cabinet with attachments to sell or donate to a good cause.

    Reply
    • Kristine Fernandez
      Kristine Fernandez

      I know this is a long shot, but do you by any chance still have this sewing machine? I run a volunteer drama club with no budget, and we would LOVE to have this for our musical. Thank you either way.

      Reply
  18. chrishargan@aol.com
    chrishargan@aol.com

    USE IT. . . the old sewing machines may look a bit antiquated, but they were built to last a lifetime. I have a 1903 Singer with a shuttle type bobbin, no electric needed it uses a treadle built that is built into a beautiful oak parlour cabinet.. The treadle has far more control than electricity and yes it sews far faster. . . the machine and attachments produce superb results in straight stitch. Yes I have a modern machine for for button holes etc and an overlocker for finishing. But the old machine knocks the modern machines into a cocked hat and it will still be working far after I have departed the planet. Seriously sewers don’t overlook the traditional machines, they are inexpensive robust and produce expert results. I’ve just purchased a 1940’s industrial machine to use on leather. Seriously guys don’t throw them out.

    Reply
    • Giselle
      Giselle

      One: Change the stitch types. Many times when you are using an old sewing machine, it will be boring because the stitches are the same or the process is the same. You can always just change up the stitch types. You can try something like running zigzag stitches or even just use different needles, which will change the overall condition of the machine as well.

      https://sewingarea.com/to-make-the-most-of-the-old-sewing-machine/

      Reply