Buy guide for pre-loved second hand used sewing machine

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Choosing the highest quality machine you can afford and forgoing some of the seemingly fancy features available on new ones, in return for good quality action and durability, is the best strategy for occasional and experienced sewers to use when buying a pre-loved sewing machine.  


When considering your list of needs try thinking about a machine you will grow into.
Buying the cheapest new model available could prevent you from developing your skills beyond the basics.


  • Electronic sewing machines have a single motor receiving electrical impulses to move the needle by a user controlled foot pedal while fabric is manually fed through.

  • Computerised sewing machines are controlled by electronic chips and are operated using a touchpad panel and LCD screen. Several motors control the different functions for very precise control while memory chips store hundreds of different stitch types and advanced sewing techniques, plus you can download information like embroidery designs onto the machine.

  • Serger / Overlocker sewing machines create a garment's professional finish and are useful in addition to a sewing machine if you do lots of sewing.

  • Coverhem / Coverstitch sewing machines have no blades like an overlocker. Cover Stitching is that professional finish that you find on clothing items in stores with two or three rows of stitching over the overlocking. With three needles and one looper thread, the coverstitch machine creates professional hems, chain stitch and decorative stitching. Set your overlocker next to your coverstitch machine and you can make the perfect T-shirt in no time. All hems and necklines can be hemmed and raw edge neatened in one go. Most overlockers can't be configured to achieve this finish in one step. 


Think about what you'll be using your sewing machine for and if others in your household or family will be using the machine too. Will it get regular use creating garments, curtains and embroidery? Is it for frequent craft or will you be just using it occasionally, for taking up hems, fixing tears and simple tasks? More expensive machines have more features, many of which make it easier to use — which in turn will encourage you to try more complicated sewing and the right machine makes your sewing a lot more fun. A sewing machine that’s difficult or frustrating to use simply won’t get used.

Pfaff (German), Janome (Japanese), Baby Lock (Japanese), Brother (Japanese), Elna (Swiss), Bernina (Swiss), Husqvarna Viking (Swedish) and Singer (American) are the major quality brands available in Australian dealerships. Choosing quality brands ensures you will be able to get accessories easily and resell it when the time comes to upgrade.



  • What are your sewing requirements?

  • How much do you want to spend?

  • What features and accessories will be most useful?

  • How interested am I in machine embroidery or machine quilting?

  • Is there a type of sewing I would like to try more of?

  • How long do I plan to keep the machine, is it a long term investment?

  • List the features you absolutely must have.

  • List the features you'd like to have.

  • List the features you absolutely refuse to pay extra for.

Most manufacturers have websites that can help you compare features.


  • How many owners has it had?

  • What unique features does this machine have that sets it apart from others?

  • How many stitches does it have?

  • Which accessories come with the machine?

  • Are accessories still available for it?

  • What are my options for future accessories?

  • Is the harp size adequate for my needs?

  • Do the feed dogs drop for quilting?

  • Does it have a needle threader?

  • Does it have bright lighting?

  • Does it have a needle stop up/down feature?

  • Does it cut thread for you?

  • Does it have a low bobbin sensor?

  • Does it have a broken upper thread sensor?

  • What's its condition and feel to sew? Quiet? Smooth? Loud?

  • Will this machine fit my sewing space well?

  • Can I see myself sewing happily on this machine in 5 years?

With research and planning you'll end up with a machine you'll value and with proper servicing can keep using for decades to come.




Buying a used sewing machine on eBay opens up the opportunity of purchasing a world class machine made by a leading manufacturer after the biggest depreciation has taken place. When spending between $500 - $5000 online you need to trust the seller:

  • Unless you are interested in purchasing a machine that might require repairs choose a seller who has had it serviced and guarantees that it functions as designed.

  • Always view photos of the actual machine you'll be bidding on, stock photos of new machines don't allow you to evaluate the condition of the casing or see if the display screen has been scratched.

  • Question sellers who advertise a machine as working vs. sewing!  Turning the flywheel to see that the machine works is not the same as testing that is actually sews properly and functions correctly.

  • Ensure all essential parts are included. Power cords, presser foots, pedals, and bobbin cases can be expensive to replace if they are missing. Manuals can more easily be purchased or sometimes downloaded.


  • Sewing machines are valuable, heavy and require very careful packing.

  • Favour sellers who can ship the machine still in the original box with its original packing material. Arrange and use door-to-door courier services who provide tracking and insurance.

  • Only buy from sellers who guarantee your sewing machine will be packed properly and be covered in transit by insurance.

  • Take advantage of local sellers offering pickup and delivery.

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