Any recommendations for second-hand sewing machines?

Apart from Penny's excellent FAQ which she already posted you to read, I would recommend not buying a machine from Ebay unless you get a promise from them to pack it right according to these instructions:
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and even then I would be cautious.
There's a nice guy in Chico, CA (NAYY) who sells older Singers that have been reconditioned (not all of them do zigzag, but the 400 and 500 series machines should), and you can see his stock here:
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Other than that, call local sewing machine stores for older models (I got mine for $129 -- it has 25 stitches plus four-step buttonhole and 8-10 specialty feet and I wouldn't trade it for anything) or look in the classifieds of your local newspaper, because lots of people sell older machines (well, at least around here they do) for $50 or so. Or if your budget is extremely slim you can haunt all the thrift stores in your area -- the ones in my area often have nice machines in cabinets for cheap (read: $5-$50) -- but do try these out as well to make sure they work.
Reply to
Melinda Meahan - take out TRAS
Hello,
My girlfriend wishes a good, simple sewing machine for Christmas but
unfortunately my budget doesn't seem to be enough for a new one. I went to a
specialised outfit and all they had were big computers with sewing as an
addition.
Could you reccomend a machine which is really solid, precise, with a couple
of sewing patterns (straight, zigzag, etc) that would be a good buy on ebay?
Thanks a bunch!
Andrew
Reply to
Andrew Magerman
A featherweight from Graham Forsdyke is always a good bet, expertly shipped and ready to use. No zig zag, but he can sell you a buttonholer. Machines are priced to include 4 day shipping from England. His website is
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They are a small and very portable and very resellable machine. (I have one from him, and love it). Another one which is excellent, straight stitch only, is the Singer 201. Do not buy any new Singers. Big question is, what does she want to do with it? I like hand cranks and treadles myself . . .
Reply to
Sami
I would agree that Graham is a great source for good Featherweights, both the 221 and the free-arm 222. There is a zigzag attachment (actually several kinds) that work on the FW, but it sounds like Andrew is looking for something more in the nature of a 401, 403, 503 Singer - an old, solid, zigzag machine. There are also the old Pfaff machines, which are built like a tank, but unfortunately, weigh nearly as much. They introduced the zigzag before Singer did, as I recall. Singer didn't think the domestic sewer would want or need a zigzag, which we now know led to the downfall of the company.
Sometimes one can be lucky enough to find an old Bernina, Husquevarna, or Elna machine, but when dealing with the old machines, you need luck on your side - first to find them, then to make sure that they are in good working order. Spare parts can be scarce. Thank goodness for eBay. ;-)
Reply to
Me
You got that right. Funny thing is, the more I sew, the more finished my work becomes - that is, french and flat fell seams instead of zigzagged edges. And I love the attachments. Handwork is preferred because of the grace of it all. I have a Janome 8000 - fun but too complicated at times - hand crank 99, treadle, featherweight, and the 60s Viking I learned to sew on as a child, that has a few quirks and stinks of cigarettes from Mom, but the memories keep it around . . .
On Mon, 24 Nov 2003 12:20:40 -0800, Me wrote:
Reply to
Sami
Yes!
This is what I am looking for - names and numbers for a good, old, no-nonsense, built like a brick, lasts forever, machines.
I have cautiously phoned the PFAFF dealership here in Mannheim (I live in Germany) and they told me that "to get something good I need at least 500 Euros". That, unfortunately, blows, stabs, and tramples my budget (I am thinking more in the region of 150-200 Euros).
So, as far as I understood: Singer 401,403,405
Pfaff (which models?) Bernina (which models?) Husquevarna (which models?) Elna (which models?)
Thankyou so much for the help, you are being a great support.
Cheers, Andrew
Reply to
Andrew Magerman
With your budget and location, the best thing to do is ask the local dealers what they have in the price bracket, and test drive them! You may not find Singers of the vintage and type we love to recommend (almost anything built before 1964!), so it's best to go with a more open mind...
My personal take on this is to look round 2 or 3 dealers if you can, and look for machines that are:
Not to old and scruffy: denotes hard use and/or careless owner Solid! Not too much plastic in the construction: plastic skin on a metal chassis is fine, as is full metal jacket Runs smoothly, sounds solid: no odd rattles or vibrations Easy to adjust: tension works well, feet easy to change, and stitch selector in good working order... A reasonable selection of feet! No worn patches on the cables... Good stitch selection: doesn't have to be extensive, but look out for: straight/zigzag, easy buttonholes (automatic or semi-automatic [4 step is fine]), blind hemming, 3 step zigzag. Anything more is icing on the cake! The manual!
For make, you have our favourites in the list above! And a few years back I did very well buying a Viscount (now Silver Viscount) for £75. Anything much less than that is going to be too old for service/parts to be easy, too knackered to be worth buying at all, or just not up to real work. Don't worry about model numbers too much: they very often had different model numbers for the same machines in Europe, the USA, and the rest of the world! Some models were built specifically for some markets and not available outside that area. I recently found a particular Husqvarna model number was something completely different here in the UK from what it was in the USA! And that was a model discontinued only 2 or 3 years ago!
It's a pity you are too far away to make a day trip to Kent. Here there are several good shops with extensive used machine ranges within an hour's drive. I moan madly about it being a fabric desert here south of London, but we are well supplied with sewing machine dealers!
Happy shopping!
Reply to
Kate Dicey
Singer made some wonderful machines in Germany. The Model 411 or 413 comes to mind. I think one or both is a free-arm machine, to boot, and I covet one of those.
Old Pfaffs such as the 230 or 360 are good workhorses. Unfortunately, many of them have been shipped to India where they are used in factories hooked to a central motor. They originally ran on treadle or motor, so they're well suited for industrial use.
I'm afraid I don't know the model numbers for the others, but I hope someone will chime in with them. You may have to wear out some shoe leather shopping, but most machine dealers have some trade-ins they're not real eager to push, plus resale shops are worth a look. Classified ads, too. The dealers will make a lot more money selling you a new machine, obviously, and they feel more secure about selling those machines in terms of customer satisfaction. They can't always get parts for the old machines, and the machines themselves don't have all the bells and whistles of the new ones.
Don't give up, though, I know that there are good machines to be found in Germany.
Reply to
Me
Mine was great - still is! Has a 90 watt motor, as opposed to the usual 60w most domestic machines get, for a start! Does about 12 stitches, all of them well. Goes like crazy - I've only ever come across one domestic machine that went faster, and that was a 20 YO Toyota.
It was such a good machine that when I bought the Lily, I gave the Viscount to my mum. If I hadn't been sewing professionally by then and wanted more stitches and fully automated buttonholes and a few other features, I'd still have it.
Nice thing is that it's now only an hour away by car, so if I need to borrow it back, I can. It's a Viscount 2000, I think... Silver Viscount are known for their industrial machinery, and industrial knitting machines.
Reply to
Kate Dicey
I purchased a Montgomery Ward 100 stitch machine on Ebay about 3 years ago. This is the best machine I have ever owned. Before this machine I had purchased new a Kenmore from Sears. The Sears machine is a very good solid basic machine.
Reply to
cadey
Well, you can always do what I have done to find SMs -- go to auctions. I did this once, about two years ago, and now I have about 100 of the little critters taking up major acreage in my basement! Thank God my wife and daughters are quilters, or else they would think I have lost the remaining ounces of sense left in my control. It seems my hobby of finding, restoring, old machines has taken over my senses, but when you find a pristine Redeye, or a flawless featherweight for the first time, you will know what it means to absolutely love these old pieces of mechanical steadfastness. I have a treadle that I fool around on (it straight stitches, so I am safe (lol), and I find it relaxing to be able to sew without hearing an electric motor buzzing away in my ear. So, my recommendation is spend time at auctions, estate sales or yard sales and find your dream machine out there "in the wild," as collectors call it.
Push the pedal to the metal, and learn to treadle!!
Terry -- a retired Air Force journalist/photographer/editor (go fellow DINFOS-trained purplesuiters) who now spends many days in his basement unraveling one loose-loop jam after another!!
Reply to
BAS
I didn't see your original post, Andrew, so I'm clipping it from a follow up message.
Scour the auctions, thrift shops, sewing machine repair shops, etc for a good, basic older Singer. A 401 or 500 (the follow up model to the 401) has plenty of built in stitches to have fun with. I have two 401s, one was $100, the other $40, both Internet purchases. You can probably find them used at sewing machine repair shops. These models are all gear drive, not belts to slip, will sew through anything you can fit under the foot, and are impossible to kill. =20
------------------------ "Old quilters never die, they just go to pieces."
Reply to
IMS
If I am correct, you are somewhere in England? Well, here in hte U.S. getting your hands on a Singer Model 201, 301 (or 301-A) or a 401 is something wonderful to behold - and work on. They are true tanks, meaning they run forever, and can tackle just about anything you care to throw under its needle. These are the machines I look for trhe most whenever I go to auctions, flea markets, yard sales, or estate sales. I think I have three or four 301s here, and I know I have two 401s tucked away in my basement. Somewhere down there, I believe there are four or five 201s -- all waiting for me to clean them up. right now I'm driving myself crazy trying to get the timing right on a Singer Golden Touch and Sew (why do I torture myself like this, I don't know). My goal is to get the lone featherweight (Singer 221) I have into full operation by Christmas -- wish me luck!
Terry -- Machine rich, and sense poor!
Thought: If a stitch in time can save nine, how come mine always unravel at the most inopportune time!
Reply to
BAS

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