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Sewing Machines - Old vs New

Wednesday, 18 February 2015  |  Shelley



One of the perks of servicing and repairing sewing machines, is that we get to see so many different types.  It is always interesting chatting to customers who bring in older machines and hear their stories; it was a wedding present 40 years ago, I got it for my 21st Birthday, it was handed down from a grandmother, it was found at a car boot sale...  

When they are bought in, we often get asked whether the owner should upgrade to a newer machine, and in most instances, after a service, the answer is no.  If the machine works and does everything you want it to, then there is no reason to.  However, if you would like some of the newer functions such as needle up/down, or a lighter machine to carry to classes, then it can be a good idea to buy a new machine.

Old Machines




  • they are generally cheaper to buy
  • many of the machines sew a lovely straight stitch
  • the way they are built means you can clean and oil them easily
  • the tension is easy to adjust, and so they are good for sewing with thicker threads
  • lots of the machines are made of metal, and so built to last
  • the hand crank machines are very good to use with children, as they can control the speed easier than with a foot control.  
  • they can also be used in the garden for summer sewing, as they don't need to be plugged in.
  • the machines look stylish.  My 1918 Singer had some fairy lights round it at Christmas!




  • the machines can be really heavy, not easy to transport to classes, or even around the house.
  • buying new feet for them can be tricky, and for lots of the machines not many types of feet were made.
  • lots of older machines only do a straight stitch.
  • if you buy a second hand machine as it is inexpensive, it is likely you will need to get it serviced, so you have to add this to the cost.
  • it may not have a manual, so you will need to find one online
  • if you do not know where the machine has come from, you do not know its history. It maybe that it was used in a school for 30 years, and so is feeling a little frail, and won't give you the best results.


New Machines





  • you can have confidence it will work straight out of the box.
  • most come with an over edge stitch, which is better for neatening seams than a zig zag.
  • many have a speed control facility, which is good for sewing with children, or if you are new to sewing.
  • they can be easier and cheaper to fix as the parts are still being made
  • it will come with a manual, and there will be Youtube videos to help you get started
  • many of them are light, so easy to transport and take to classes
  • new machines come with a warranty, so you can have confidence you will have a working machine
  • some modern machines are very good looking.  We like the DKS100 and the Bernina 380 is very nice.




  • sewing machines can be expensive.
  • some new machines are not as well made, so be careful before you buy, and shop from a reputable specialist retailer.
  • many now only come with a dust cover, so you need to buy a bag or keep it in the box between use.

Whichever machine you have, or are planning to buy, do remember...

  • change the needle often
  • use good quality thread
  • clean your machine regularly, and make sure it is covered when not in use to protect it from dust.