8 Reasons Everyone Should Own a Vintage Sewing Machine

You may love your fancy, modern sewing machine, but there’s so much to love about vintage sewing machines, too.

Just to be clear, when I say “vintage” I’m talking about machines that are heavy, metal, beautiful and almost industrial. These are those sewing machines that you’ve been offered countless times by neighbors, co-workers or strangers once they learn that you’re a sewing enthusiast. They’re the sewing machines that your mother or grandmother used tirelessly year after year.

You may feel intimidated at the thought of learning how to use and maintain a vintage sewing machine — but let me assure you that there’s no reason to be timid.

7 reasons everyone should own a vintage sewing machine

1. The metal parts were made to last.

There’s a reason these machines are so heavy — they’re not made of plastic! The greatest advantage to metal parts is they are extremely hard to break, which means you rarely have to replace them.

With the exception of the belt, made of rubber, almost every part of a vintage sewing machine is built like a classic car — heavy, strong and with care. Fortunately, they don’t require high levels of octane to sew, and their speed and durability are pretty amazing. With the right care and maintenance, these metal monsters can run forever.

vintage sewing machine easy to repair

2. Maintenance is no longer a mystery 

Thank goodness for the Internet! You can find vintage parts on eBay, and it’s easy to find YouTube tutorials for fixing your vintage machine.

Plus, vintage machines are ideal for at-home maintenance and repairs because they have no computer software, like new sewing machine do. That’s one of the reasons it’s so expensive to fix modern machinery. When you eliminate all of the wires and electronics, you are left with a beautifully basic machine.

3. Their straight lines are the straightest out there

Most sewing enthusiasts don’t realize that all of those funky, fun stitches can actually effect your machine’s ability to give you a perfect straight stitch. If you’re struggling with a straight stitch, a vintage machine might be exactly what you need for a better stitch line.

vintage sewing machine thick or thin

4. Any fabric — you’re in control.

Because home sewing machines used to be used for everything from suits and wedding dresses to quilts and blankets, the older machines were designed to sew every loft of fabric under the sun. The majority of vintage machines have a manual lever to add or reduce pressure to the presser foot. Reducing the pressure for thicker fabrics and increasing it for thin materials gives you much more creative control.

5. They are heavy! 

Weight isn’t bad thing — consider it a blessing in disguise. These machines won’t slide around under a big project like a lightweight, plastic model might.

6. Mother Earth will thank you

Dusting off a vintage sewing machine rather than throwing it into a landfill is like giving our earth a big hug. As if sewing with an ancient piece of machinery didn’t already make you awesome, now you’re an eco-friendly superhero.

vintage sewing machine art

7. They’re useable art

How many things do you have that double as functional machinery and beautiful artwork? Not many! No longer will you have to tuck your machine away when friends or family come over. You can proudly display your sewing machine as a show-stopping art installation. 

8. Consider the history

Sewing is a fundamental skill and creative passion that has been passed down from generation to generation. You can keep that legacy alive by embracing an antique machine.

vintage sewing machine
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6 Responses to “8 Reasons Everyone Should Own a Vintage Sewing Machine”
  1. Karen Steele
    Karen Steele

    When in FL, I have my mother-in-law’s 1947 Deluxe Dressmaker by Domestic. Really like how it sews – do need to get the zig-zag fixed, though. It will widen and narrow stitch width at will without being adjusted!

  2. Lynda Bolio
    Lynda Bolio

    I have one, hubby’s Aunts machine. Took it to be looked over before using it much and was asked “if I knew what I had”. I said yes. My aunt taught me to sew when I stayed with her one summer. She had a treddle Singer and I made Barbie doll clothes. Now that I’m getting ” room” to sew in I plan to use it more.

  3. chrishargan@aol.com

    You really should try an antique machine they are brilliant. sew faster than modern machines they don’t need electricity to work, they are more controllable, you can sew faster by treadle and stop instantly. The attachments make mistakes almost impossible. OK so you won’t be able to so zigzag (without the relevant attachment), so what, there’s no shame to also owning a modern plastic machine whether sewing or overlocking and you won’t have problems with maintaining – just a squirt of oil every so often Not so with modern machines, a year or so and the computer chip has had it! and the nice engineer can’t get the parts to repair it! ah well no problem Just spend another grand or so on the latest model!.

    • Christine Hargan
      Christine Hargan

      Just an add to the below. My beautiful 1903 Singer in an oak drawing room cabinet, (stunning piece of furniture on its own) cost me just over £100, I had it serviced and bought a new leather belt. The engineer couldn’t wait to get his hands on it and completely refurbished it – works beautifully. If you are looking at return on investment, is it better to spend £150 on the purchase and refurbishment of a machine that will last a lifetime than spending several hundred on a machine that will last just a few years. When new the machines cost between 3-6 months salary and depending on model were purchased by ladies of leisure or professional seamstresses.

      Apologies for going on, but they really are worth their weight in gold. I also invested in a 1940’s model to sew leather, hand model and I guessed that it would fit my existing treadle – oh man they really knew how to make ’em. . . just like the other, it is in mint condition and I now have a recycled wartime plane in my sewing room! clean and oil and it works like a dream

      • happibunni

        I found what I thought was a 78’s record case at my father in law’s flat and on closer inspection it turned out to be a 1951 centenary Singer Featherweight 221K. Oddly I’d always wanted a vintage machine, but the Featherweight was way out of my price range. Some Google searches revealed that there were plenty of parts available and even a tune up kit, which I was so pleased to find. “Miss Florence” as I called her in honour of her first owner (Husband’s Nana – lovely lady – sadly no longer with us) has now been refreshed, is running well and set for another useful life. So rewarding to be able to get her going with just a little help from my husband, and a lot of help from the great videos that the Featherweight Shop do, which made the job a whole lot easier. Perhaps my first project will be that quilted Christmas Tree skirt I’ve been meaning to make for the last 20 years. This might not be my last vintage machine….