Why I have only bought used sewing machines

My current Bernina 1230 is my third sewing machine. It’s from 1989 and is, in fact, the newest model I’ve ever own. I’ve done many sewing mistakes in my life, including buying a crappy coverstitch/serger combo machine and keeping it way too long. But when it comes to regular sewing machines I’ve intuitively known from the start that I will usually get way better value buying a used machine rather than paying the same amount for a new one.

The great thing about sewing machines is that the technology changes very slowly, in fact, my computerised 30-year old Bernina has many features in common with newer high-end machines. Such as automatic buttonholes, the ability to move the needle in five different positions, several stretch seams and a myriad of decorative stitches. Plus its sturdy cast-iron base makes it good for more heavy-duty sewing too.

Me sewing

Vintage style self-portrait of me sewing in the 90s. Yes, I’ve been taking sewing selfies for over two decades, lol!


I learned sewing on my mother’s vintage 60s Singer and even that machine could do most things modern sewing machines can do too. Then, as a 17-year old, I bought my first own machine. Needless to say, my budget was tight and the seller recommended a Husqvarna (Viking) 2000 from the early 70s as a great value for the money. I followed his advice and boy did I love that machine! It even had a myriad of stretch stitches, which made it possible for me to sew more knits.

My old sewing area in 2008. My old Husqvarna 2000 is to the right.


I loved that model so much that when the motor died I went out and bought an exact same model. In total, I had the Husqvarna 2000 for about 20 years, until I felt ready to step up my sewing machine game, and was especially eager to get a machine that sews great buttonholes. I had heard that Bernina machines make great buttonholes, but that new one were very pricey. Luckily I managed to find my beloved Bernina 1230 at a sewing machine store for what I now know was a great price, and 10 years later I still am very happy with my purchase.


I should also note that I’ve always bought my machines at proper sewing machine stores, which means that they are serviced and usually comes with a 6-month guarantee. So for me, buying a used machine as always felt like a low-risk endeavour. With that said, I think I would be more hesitant about buying a machine from a classified ad since I don’t love tinkering with machines myself.


For someone who is just starting to sew and looking for sewing machine recommendations, I would never advise them to run out and buy a cheap sewing machine at a grocery store. To me that makes zero sense, from a quality, sustainability or financial perspective. I would much rather see them investing in an older machine that does basic stitches and then resell that one if they want to move on to fancier stuff.


That was my little tribute to the value of used sewing machines! What are your thoughts on buying a new sewing machine vs getting a used model?


  • Katie Writes Stuff
    January 24, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    Yes, second-hand is such a good option for sewing machines. My first proper sewing machine was a second-hand one my parents bought me (a 1970s Husqvarna – possibly the same as yours!) and since then, I’ve only bought one sewing machine brand new. It was a Singer Simple and it was actually quite good, but I eventually realised I needed to invest in a better quality machine. I headed to a sewing machine shop with plans to buy a new Bernina, but the owner wasn’t that keen on the quality. “How do you feel about vintage machines?” he asked me.

    I feel very good about vintage machines! So I went home with a 1982 Bernina 801 and it has been one of the best investments I’ve ever made for my sewing. Huzzah for second hand sewing machines!

  • Nia Wilshaw
    January 27, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    My beloved Bernina 440QE is a pre-loved machine. My quilting Mother-in-law upgraded to a 770(? i think) and GAVE me Betty for Xmas!! I adore her, she’s SO reliable!!

  • Jacky F
    February 27, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I bought a very expensive new machine when I retired which I thought was fabulous… but after buying an old Bernina 1130 simply because I’d never had that brand and now that one get used far more often.
    Bernina machines of that era are unbeatable!!!

  • Theresa
    May 14, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    I agree about buying a good used machine rather than a cheaper new one….am presently looking for one…any hints would be helpful

    • Linda Obszarny
      June 7, 2020 at 6:12 pm

      Morse is nice. I have been thrilled with it. I have both the 4300 and 4400.

  • Linda Obszarny
    June 7, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    Yes I don’t have a Bernini but have a Morse 4300 which I bought off of craigslist in very nice like new condition, just needed oiling. It was made by Toyota in the 1960s. After using my brother machine which I hated the Morse blows it away. They just don’t make machines like this. Stitching is nice, quiet, never jams up, and love the looks of it too. I have bought a second Morse 4400 Fotomatic and very addicted to these Japanese machines. I now just use the Brother machine only when I have to.

  • Eric Johnson
    July 22, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    There is nothing better than a singer 3115 the best machine

  • Carolien
    August 17, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    Recently, I saw a Bernina 1230 advertised locally by a tailor that also does home sewing machine repairs. I knew your YouTube video on this machine and I was adamant that I needed it. They gave a good demonstration before the sale was closed, so I knew it was in good working order. I love it! ❤️👍

  • Faye
    December 15, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    Looking for a good used sewing machine with and embroidery attachment

    November 14, 2021 at 4:16 am

    I am new to your blog and your You Tube channel and I must say that I have sat in front of my computer for 4 hours (so far) counting them as among the best educational series on sewing. You are right up there with AndyTube (high praise) whose videos have guided me through the maintenance and repair of my vintage machines. (If you have not happened upon it, do check him out.) Anyway, I am blessed with several machines: Singer 239 (1967 Christmas gift – I was 7), Singer 15-91 (my grandmother’s), Singer 301a (my mother’s), Singer 185k (an eBay purchase about 15 or so years ago), Singer 403a (purchased off eBay about 12 years ago), Bernina 1010 (another eBay purchase about 10 years ago), and a Janome DC 3050 (a gift from my husband). Hands down, the vintage machines are the best. Not that Janome is not a good machine, it is, it is just more delicate than the older ones.


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