Are you a sewing enthusiast or just a beginner sewist? Maybe you have never picked up a needle and thread in your life, but you adore antique and vintage goods that give your home that cozy, unique vibe. Wherever you fall, an antique sewing machine can give your home a spark of personality and whimsy. And — if the machine is in working order — you can actually learn to sew on an old sewing machine, like a vintage Singer sewing machine.
Let’s dive in and learn a bit about vintage sewing machines and why you should consider going on the hunt for one for yourself or someone you love.
Antique Sewing Machine vs. Vintage Sewing Machine
First of all, what is the difference between an antique sewing machine and a vintage sewing machine? Generally, sewing machines made before 1900 are considered “antique,” and sewing machines made from 1900-1970 are “vintage.” In the ‘80s, sewing machines began to utilize circuit boards and other computerized features like our modern-day machines.
History of Sewing Machines
The sewing machine was “the first widely distributed mechanical home appliance and has been an important industrial machine,” according to brittanica.com. Frenchman Barthélemy Thimonnier designed and manufactured an early version of the sewing machine. Thimonnier had it patented by the French government in 1830 in order to produce uniforms for the French army, but in 1831, approximately 200 rioting tailors destroyed the sewing machines because they were afraid the machines would put them out of business.
The sewing machine was improved by New York City’s Walter Hunt around 1832-34 (but he never patented it) and also by Elias Howe of Massachusetts, who patented his invention in 1846. “Howe’s highly successful machine was widely copied, leading to extensive patent litigation and ultimately to a patent pool that included the design of Isaac Merritt Singer, the largest manufacturer,” Brittanica says. Vintage Singer sewing machines are still one of the most popular antique sewing machines on the market.
Why Buy an Antique Sewing Machine or a Vintage Sewing Machine?
So, why should you consider buying an antique sewing machine? Here are our top five reasons we think you should get yourself an antique or vintage sewing machine:
They Are Durable
These antique sewing machines are durable and designed to last. Old sewing machines are heavy and typically made entirely of metal, which makes them virtually unbreakable.
They Are Beautiful
Vintage sewing machines are simply pleasing to look at! It is amazing that they are helpful, functional pieces of machinery, but at the same time, they are just gorgeous in their design. Many of them are also installed in a table, making them beautiful décor pieces, too.
They Are Repairable
A great thing about old sewing machines is that you can repair them yourself. Just search the internet for replacement parts and tutorials on how to repair your machine, and you can most likely fix your machine at home.
They Are Strong
Antique and vintage sewing machines are strong enough to sew a wide range of fabrics. This is because when these machines were produced, people were sewing a variety of textiles at home to make their own suits, quilts, etc.
They Are Eco-Friendly
You are helping the environment by buying an old sewing machine that has already been manufactured. Buying something vintage is a great way to help the environment and use something that might have otherwise gone to waste or been thrown away.
Where Can I Buy an Antique Sewing Machine?
There are several places — either online or in-person — where you can find an old sewing machine. First, check with your older family members or friends. They may still have an antique sewing machine in storage somewhere that they would probably be thrilled to see brought to life again! You can also check for vintage sewing machines online on Etsy, eBay, or even Facebook Marketplace.
Antique malls, flea markets, or thrift stores are also excellent places to find an old sewing machine. We would love for you to visit America’s Antique Mall in Highland, Indiana, or Melbourne, Florida, which are some of the largest antique malls in their respective states. You are sure to find an antique or vintage sewing machine you love — our Indiana Mall features more than 600 vendors and 309 booths, and our Florida Mall features more than 250 vendors and 275 booths filled with unique items.
And if you love the thrill of finding and sharing vintage, antique, collectible, and upcycled items, you should think about selling vintage items yourself! One great way to do this is to rent a booth at a place like America’s Antique Mall.
Best Vintage Sewing Machines to Buy
Here are the top five most popular old sewing machine brands to buy:
Wheeler & Wilson
Wilcox & Gibbs
Can I Use an Antique Sewing Machine?
The great thing is, yes, you can actually use a vintage sewing machine! Of course, the old sewing machine should be in good working order and have all the required parts included. They can be easy to use once you understand how to thread them properly, as well as manage the thread tension and the length of the stitch.
What Can You Use an Old Sewing Machine For?
Once you have purchased your own antique sewing machine or vintage sewing machine, what do you do with this beautiful, functional piece? Of course, the most obvious answer is to use it — learn how to sew on it as your primary sewing machine or simply sew on it for nostalgia or novelty.
If you are not a sewist, you can also use this elegant vintage sewing machine as a décor piece in your home. It is sure to add charm and whimsy to any space you display it in.
Lastly, if you have an antique sewing machine that may not be in working order but includes a table, you can upcycle the table into a nightstand, desk, or side table. A quick search on the internet will yield many more ideas on how to repurpose your old sewing machine!
Vintage Sewing Machines Are Beautiful and Functional
We hope you have been inspired to run to your nearest antique mall to start the hunt for your very own vintage or antique sewing machine! These old sewing machines not only bring the functionality of creating your own sewing projects but also charm and beauty to your home.