Thrift Store Sewing Machine Shopping… What NOT to do

Posted in: Meet Your Machine, This and That — By on May 3, 2013 10:04 AM

I recently purchased a sewing machine at a thrift store (again… I have a bit of a problem) and quickly realized that I made a mistake and wasted $20. How do you avoid this? I really should know better, but I wanted to give you some tips so you can avoid wasting your money on a hunk of junk.

Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance: Oiling

When not to buy…

  1. Use your smart phone! See if you can find the manual online, preferably for free. If you’re on the fence and the machine looks super old or there are other factors making you wrinkle your nose, maybe don’t buy it.
  2. Look for missing parts – refer to our Anatomy of a Sewing Machine if you’re unsure. If it’s missing a lot of pieces it might be best to leave it behind. Sometimes you can’t even buy parts for certain machines. This also may be a sign that someone has already taken parts for another machine from it.
  3. Plug it in. Duh. Don’t leave without testing it out. If you smell burnt rubber, step away – it could be the motor, which is expensive to replace. If it doesn’t have a foot pedal, you can’t test it out… not great.
  4. When it doubt, leave it behind! If you’re really not sure about the machine, it’s probably a good idea to leave it behind. You might be getting a deal on the machine, but trust your instincts.
  5. Leave the price tags on and hang on to your receipt. I also made this (stupid) mistake. Check with the store to see what they’re return/exchange policy is. Most times you can at least get a store credit.
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  1. Janette says:

    Thank you for all your great posts. How funny, I have this machine (8 stitch), it was given to me last year, it works great, I just have a problem sewing elastic on my bathing suit!

  2. Terry says:

    Been there, done that. Violated rules number 3, because it didn’t have a foot pedal, and number 5. Turned out that all the plastic gears had disintegrated. When I opened the machine to check it–after I got home, of course–the bits of plastic fell out. At least it came with a usable sewing table.

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