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Buying a used sewing machine from a secondhand seller on eBay can be a daunting process to navigate, especially if you’ve not owned a sewing machine before.
While it can be tempting to snap up the first bargain you see online, it’s important to shop smart when it comes to finding a bargain sewing machine on eBay.
With our helpful buying tips and key considerations, one of the best sewing machines (opens in new tab) on the market could soon be yours at a delightfully low cost.
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How to find a good deal on a second-hand sewing machine
Do your research
It sounds obvious, but buying a sewing machine is all about knowing what you want. Once you’ve worked out what you intend to use the machine for, it’ll be much easier to narrow down your options.
If you want to make small garment adjustments or sew home furnishings, a simple mechanical machine with a couple of different stitch options will suit your needs. For more advanced dress-making, you’ll need some stretch stitches, too, for working with stretch fabrics.
But if quilting or embroidery is your hobby, you’ll want to upgrade to an electronic or computerised model with the option for free-motion sewing and a larger working space.
Remember, too, that the amount you want to use your machine will affect your choice. Planning to start stitching on a daily basis? An industrial-style sewing machine might be the best option for you.
The range of sewing machines on the market is extensive, even if you have a preference on brand. To help whittle the list of models down, the following checklist of questions should help:
Read the small print
Often, items on eBay are described as being in “working condition”. Unfortunately, while “working condition” might seem like a positive, it does not mean the machine can actually sew. Ask the seller for proof of the machine’s sewing ability with an image or video of the sewing machine in action, stitching a piece of fabric.
Even if the machine seems to be in good sewing condition, all sewing machines need to be maintained and serviced regularly, so be prepared to pay for the machine to be serviced once you’ve bought it. Consider this cost on top of the bidding price on eBay to give you an idea of the total spend, especially if you’re trying to stick to a budget.
Ask what’s included
Before bidding on eBay, have a look at the sewing machine model on the brand’s website. Make a note of the list of accessories usually included with the machine and double check that the eBay listing matches it. If it doesn’t, this is usually the reason the machine is being sold.
Missing accessories can be cheaply replaced, but it will increase the overall cost of the machine, so it’s best to buy a machine that comes complete with the necessary accessories.
Look for hidden costs
Most people get tripped up by postage prices, which can rack up your overall spend by a significant amount. It’s a good idea to set your search filter to the local area to avoid high costs when it comes to postage.
Better yet, look for a machine that’s available for collection. Sewing machines can be very heavy, so if you can avoid the cost of shipping you’ll save a lot of money. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the way the machine will be packaged up.
Head to a reputable store
A lot of sewing machine companies sell their models through outlet stores on eBay. You can easily pick up an ex-display model, usually in perfect sewing condition with only a couple of minor scratches from wear and tear.
Admittedly, these trustworthy outlets price their machines a little higher than second-hand machines from private sellers but, if you’re looking for a quick fix, this is the safest and best option.
If in doubt, always pay via PayPal. It will give you some protection as the consumer when it comes to buying your bargain sewing machine on eBay.
Our in-house craft expert, Esme Clemo, has been working within the craft magazine industry for eight years, having turned a sewing hobby into her career. She's adept in a number of crafts, including sewing, papercraft, calligraphy, embroidery and printing and has also completed an interior design course with the University of Arts London,
There’s nothing she doesn’t know about DIY and interiors. Everything in her home and wardrobe has a DIY twist and she knows all the tools needed for getting the job done - meaning she has a very hands-on approach when it comes to testing out products for our reviews.