Guidance for buying a used sewing machine?
February 6, 2012 5:40 PM Subscribe
Shopping for a used sewing machine - what should I check for, and what questions should I ask before buying?
posted by gg to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm new to sewing and have been looking for a sewing machine. I found a used Bernina 830 (the one from the '70s, not the fancy new embroidery one) on Craigslist, recently serviced, with all accessories, the manual and case, etc. I'll be looking at it later this week. The sewing machine technician who serviced it will be showing it to me and can answer questions, but since I'm a beginner, I want to make sure I ask/check for all the right things before deciding whether to buy it.
As far as my sewing machine requirements go, the main thing I'm interested in is reliability; I don't care about fancy computerized features, embroidery stitches, etc. I definitely don't want one of the cheap modern plastic machines. I plan to use the machine for sewing clothes, bags, some small projects like pillowcases -- no quilting, embroidery, or home dec. So, based on my research of the Bernina 830, I think it would work for me. I've downloaded a PDF of the manual and am reading it over, and I've also watched some videos demonstrating some of the machine's functions. Based on my Google searches, I've made a list of things to do when I look at the machine:
- Test out basic functions, making sure the machine runs smoothly and doesn't make any loud noises or vibrations. Thread the needle, wind and insert the bobbin, change out needles and presser feet, test the knee lift, the stitches (straight, backstitch, zigzag, and a few embroidery stitches), the buttonhole process...anything else? Unfortunately I don't have a wide range of fabrics to test the machine on, just thin cotton, but I'll see if I can get some thicker fabrics before going to test the machine. Maybe I could take along an old pair of jeans.
- Do an inventory of all the accessories. Is there anything in particular I should check for here?
- Check for scratches or surface damage. Should I ask to look inside the machine? If so, what should I check for?
What else should I ask about or test? Is there anything in particular I need to watch out for? I think I'd be able to tell if something were seriously, obviously wrong with the machine (like if it made loud clanking noises), but if there are other less glaring things that could be wrong, I don't think I'd be able to tell. So any guidance would help. Thank you!
P.S. I did a search of previous AskMe questions, but they all seemed to be general requests for sewing machine recommendations, not so much focusing on things to check for in used machines.