MPB is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



Mar 12, 2012

The Craigslist Sewing Machine Score!



Readers, I'm a nice guy.   Here's how nice:

On Saturday night, I saw the above listing on Craigslist for an "Antique Portable Singer Sewing Machine," only blocks from my apartment, and I immediately emailed the seller to express my interest.  You think I'm crazy, right?  Keep reading.
I arranged to pick it up yesterday evening, but after spending a lovely day hiking near Cold Spring, I came to my senses.  I do not need that machine.  I do not want that machine.  I sent an email to the seller telling her I had decided to pass, but I also told her that she really needed to list it as a Singer 201 (since that's what it is) which was the top-of-the-line Singer back in the day.  She'd have an easier time selling it that way.  She thanked me and sure enough, this morning I saw the same machine listed like this.



Aren't I nice?

I don't know how many of my New York readers are interested in a Singer 201, nor do I know what condition the wiring is in, but $70 for a working Singer 201 is not bad, and you might be able to talk the seller down to $50.  You should know that a Singer 201 is about as portable as a set of encyclopedias, if anyone remembers what those are.

I was proud of myself, not only for being helpful, but also for resisting another sewing machine.  I've decided that if I'm going to buy another black Singer, it has to be one that's convertible to a hand crank.  The 201 and 15-91, fabulous machines though they are, are gear-driven, and hence not convertible.  If anyone has information to the contrary please let me know.

My interest in buying vintage sewing machines ebbs and flows like the tide, and after a long ebb, it has started to flow again, I'm afraid.  I passed on the cutest vintage Seventies Elna "Elnita ZZ" zigzagger on eBay over the weekend -- but it was close!  The "ZZ" looks remarkably like an Elna Lotus.  Do you know it?


There weren't a whole lot of sewing machines at the flea market this weekend but there were a few.

This is a very nice Singer 66 in a table, but it was missing its stitch regulator doohicky.  I think that's just a screw-in piece you could buy online, however.



I also stumbled upon this --  a Singer Futura; not the kind of thing I'd ever buy but it did cross my mind (before I crossed it out). It was missing the plastic horizontal "pin" that holds the thread spool but I'm sure you could replace it.



The whole Craigslist experience got me thinking.  You could spend $100 on a cheap plastic Singer, probably made in China...



Or for $70 get that solid metal Singer 201 that was built to last for generations.   Go figure.

Here are a few other machines I was drawn to, and they might still be available.  Friends, can you imagine listing a Singer Featherweight simply as a "Singer Sewing Machine"?  The price isn't bad; I wonder if it comes with a case? 



How about this Russian sewing machine!  I was recently reading a book about the Soviet economy, and they never got into the "planned obsolescence" thing since there was no incentive to profit from increased sales, so this sewing machine is probably built to last several lifetimes.  Unfortunately, I'm not intrigued enough to go to Brooklyn to get it.



Not only have I bought sewing machines on Craigslist (The Pfaff 30 I sold to MPB reader Kimberly, my Singer 99K -- also departed --and my Singer 66 treadle), but we also found our sofa, our living room rug, our bed, the dog treadmill, even the dogs (no joke), on Craigslist! 

Readers, do you ever shop on Craigslist?  If so, I'd love to hear about your best Craigslist score, even if it isn't a sewing machine.  If you don't have Craigslist where you live (Isn't it International?), do you have something similar?

I often get emails from readers asking me what I think of various machines they've seen for sale on their local Craigslist site (a free service I offer my blog readers), and it's always fun to see what's for sale there.  Note: I cannot comment on furniture, pets, or potential partner listings.

Have a great day, everybody!

46 comments:

  1. $70 is a fabulous price for a 201. In the sf bay area, people now routinely ask $200 for them. Gone are the day I could get them for$25 or $50 (in a cabinet). Definitely a Craigslist shopper and seller here

    ReplyDelete
  2. My greatest Craig's List score was a Necchi BU Mira in a Spinet Cabinet (no accessories)...free. You would think the sewing machine would be frozen up and in horrible shape - but it was in great condition as was the cabinet. Love. My second greatest score was the Universe providing a sewing machine for my friend. 5 minutes after deciding which models would suit her sewing needs, one of them popped up on CL. It was a Singer 500a (the Rocketeer) in a beautiful cabinet (not a scratch on it) for $50. Sold the cabinet for $30, bought the accessory box (which popped up the following week on CL) for $10. Net investment $30. The Universe was clearly behind this endeavor :) Great topic, looking forward to reading the other stories.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm like you...addicted to vintage sewing machines...I have every type I think thanks to my Mom and yesterday a proud owner of 3 featherweights...I know...that is a sacrilige if I hoard and not share by selling 2...one is an Anniversary issue. I also got an Elna Lotus from her along with some choice toy singers. I really like Craig's and bought a Viking 500 for a pretty good price. But alas with my recent windfall I will not be looking too much anymore. Maybe I should start a Mom's list the machines are only a tip of the iceberg of her "collections".

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a great topic - I love Craigslist! I'm in the Washington, DC area and check it every day (sometimes multiple times). I'm addicted to searching it for sewing-related items.

    I've never bought a machine through CL, but have managed to score a bunch of vintage patterns, which I'm about as obsessed with as you have been with vintage machines. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. LOVE craigslist. got my couch, table & car off craigslist, and i've given away/sold a number of things on there. it's awesome!

    I was actually looking at sewing machines on ebay last Friday, and I thought of you Peter! I have a plastic $100 Singer that needs to be replaced, and I am considering a vintage metal replacement. Found a Janome New Home sewing machine model#270. I liked the look of it, but couldn't find any info on it. I think it's a straight stitcher unfortunately for me--I'd like a more all-in-one unit. Do you know anything about that line?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know it personally but I found a pic online and it's a cute little machine, and I'd guess it's reliable and sturdy. Definitely a straight stitcher, so if what you mean by "all-in-one-unit" is a zigzagger, I'd pass.

      Delete
  6. The first sewing machine I purchased was an Elna Lotus SP in 1970. Loved that machine but traded it for an Elna Super in 1972. I found a used Stella Air Electronic (the same size as the Lotus), at a sewing machine store 20 years ago, and I'm keeping that one. Craigslist is alive and well here in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love CL! Here in Madrid they have something called segundamano.es where I was really tempted with an entire shoe repair lot with machines I'd never figure out how to operate...it came with lasts and everything! I've bought more stuff off of a Swedish site called blocket.se--but the best places for finds in both Madrid and Sweden have been brick and mortar stores/markets and a lot of patience and wandering about. Madrid especially, as internet shopping has not really taken off in Spain.

    ReplyDelete
  8. If you can find a Singer 201K (made in Scotland) with a spoked handwheel, you can attach a repro hand-crank to it. I think there are also early 201Ks that came with handcranks. Some 201Ks also had external "potted" motors - the machines aren't gear-driven, so you can remove the motor and put the sewing machine head in a treadle base or attach a hand-crank.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Angie. I'd never heard of the 201K with a spoked handwheel!

      Delete
    2. Here's a little more info: http://www.singersewinginfo.co.uk/201/

      Delete
  9. Hi Peter!

    Here in Germany it is not so rare to find 201's as treadle(spoked handwheel) in E-bay, and even once I saw an original handcrank one with centenial badge! I muss confess I am a bit purist and would not convert any machine into a hand crank though.

    We have no CL here, but since around two years there is something alike from E-bay: http://kleinanzeigen.ebay.de/anzeigen/
    Also free list and local. Some sellers also send the items if you ask. I bought there my overlock and last year the Singer 99k hand crank. Both were quite a steal.

    ReplyDelete
  10. CL hasn't been such a big thing for me, but it may be a big city vs. small town thing.

    When I get the itch to look for a used sewing machine, vintage fabric, or patterns, it's time to frequent garage sales. My serger was a $20 garage sale purchase.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I don't buy sewing supplies on Craigslist... it's too dangerous. For my budget, I mean :) The CL here is just weird - people try waaay too hard to get as much money as they can for stuff that isn't worth shit (I saw one guy trying to sell an Apple Macintosh - the original one, it hadn't even be tested to see if it worked - for $1000. WTF? Those computers aren't worth more than maybe $200 max these days, and that's really pushing it).

    As cheesy as this sounds, my biggest Craigslist score was a friend! I met her through the 'platonic' section, and we ended up hitting it off really well. She eventually moved back home - to NYC, no less - but we still keep in touch.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hallelujah Peter!! Amen to the rule, biuy second hand, not new, if you are on a budget (or even not!) I replaced my Bernina 1120 (new 1990) with a 1230 (new 1994). You CANNOT buy a new sewing machine for $200 that is worth $200. But for second hand, there is a wealth of fantastic machines with heaps of life left in them. So passionate am I about this, I am only stocking second hand reconditioned machines in my shop.
    We don't have Craiglist in NZ, we do have Freecycle and local variants that are more flexible though. I get rid of heaps of tings on it, and pick up the odd reasure. MAssively enviouls of you in such a huge city though, so much more to choose from!

    ReplyDelete
  13. not to be debbie downer, but I wish people wouldn't list pets on craigslist... there are some sick people out there and there's no telling what might happen to those animals. your dogs are lucky you found them.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have purchased four machines off of craigslist. Riccar, Two featherweights, (both under 200.00) Loads of attachments, and recently a Singer Genie, in mint condition, 40.00. I have learned how to clean and oil, having lots of fun. I always think I will re-list this and make a little profit. So far I am collecting, no relisting!
    The best deal off of craigslist for us is our huge sofa! Micofiber cushions and leather arms and bottom! (LOL) It must be 12 feet long in a sleek little curved shape with a big round foot stool. 150.00 in next to new condition. Sure is a blessing to our family to have a comfy spot we can all chill on! Here in Los Angeles CL is worth trolling! I always take someone with me, and have enjoyed meeting the people selling the sewing machines. I have run into several kind, warm people. That has been another blessing. No big bad monsters on the other side of the listing! I have a couple of Kenmore's I have snagged at thrift stores. Boy they are strong!! Enjoy your blog very much! Recently snagged a bunch of vintage patterns in a cool store in San Francisco! Awesome prices, told the clerk I felt like it was such a pay back for me to get these patterns. 25 cents a piece! I do lots of free sewing for people, this was a wonderful gift back to me!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. If you like the Singer 15, there are Singer 15 models without the gears and potted motor and there are zillions of Japanese 15 clones out there. You will have to buy the spoked hand wheel as well as the hand crank. Jenny at Sew-Classic has both.

    CL prices around here (NC) range from reasonable to completely delusional. I got my 201-2 in a lovely cabinet for $75, and that's the most I have paid for a CL machine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually used to have a 15-90, but I gave it to my friend Rain. A Japanese clone is a good idea!

      Delete
  16. My Craigslist purchases -
    15-91 in Queen Anne cabinet with stool - $100
    201-2 & attachments in model 65(?) cabinet - $70. I missed getting the matching stool :(
    An estate sale listing resulted in some very nice old Singer attachments and other Singer items, like scissors, hand sewing needles, skirt hem marker, etc.

    I've also seen some machines with $500 prices lately, the sellers must be looking at buy-it-now prices, not the actual selling prices on ebay. Or else they really don't want to get rid of them.

    I also sold 3 machines - 2 15-91s (nice decals, rotten wiring), and a Touch&Sew 640 that I bought off ebay and decided I didn't need that chain stitch as much as I thought.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Like you, the better question would be, what haven't I bought on Craigslist? My very best find ever was four matching Herman Miller shell armchairs, mustard yellow, great condition, for $25 each. Can't do much better than that. For SMs, my "best" Singer 201 was $15 on CL. It was listed as being in need of some "serious TLC," which ended up being cleaning and a new foot control. Awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  18. My Kenmore has been acting up and I didn't have time to take it to be serviced but I had to sew 50 fabric tote bags for a client. I bought a new Brother sewing machine via CL last week to do the job. I thought 60 bucks was fair and the client is going to buy the new machine as soon as I get mine repaired. I could have bought some used Singers that were listed but the Brother was virtually new and didn't want to take a chance. Plus I really don't know one Singer from another.
    So I'm pretty happy all around.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am an avowed and committed craigslist shopper. I daresay half...maybe even more...of the furniture in my house came from craigslist ads. It's an excellent way to score quality goodies at bargain basement prices!

    I bought one (1) sewing machine on eBay, & that was a total disaster. My 2 new machines I bought online, a couple came from a salvage warehouse in Berkeley, the rest all came from CL ads.

    I may have scored better deals (I mean, hey, you can't beat free!), but the CL score I'm happiest with was a package deal - A Featherweight, my Singer 66 treadle, and a cute little Spartan (yet to be used, sadly), all in very nice condition, & all for $200.

    I've also had great success finding housemates, my plumber, tree pruners, fencers, and people to buy the treasures I've had for sale & giveaways.

    A healthy dose of common sense, a dash of caution, a cupful of intuition and an expectation of honesty & I'm good to go....it's my favorite marketplace!

    ReplyDelete
  20. LOVE CL...Got one of our dogs, Penny the chocolate lab, off CL. Replaced our non-working, German made stainless lined dishwasher with one just like it for less than it would cost to repair it. Bought all our interior doors and windows for a new addition off our house on CL (for pennies on the dollar). Replaced a defunct over-the-range microwave with a high end version for about 1/10th the cost of new. And, recently, bought a squeeky clean, runs like a dream Kenmore 158 in cabinet for $35 (yesss!!!). I love Craig's List, it's the first place I go when I need something... and saves me BIG $$$

    ReplyDelete
  21. About five years ago I got a 401 in a cabinet for $10 off Craigslist. They didn't even say that it was a Singer, and only had one grainy photo. It was my first sewing machine, but I had been watching for a 401, and guessed that that was what it was from the photo.
    My co-workers thought I was crazy to drive 90 min. to get some ancient machine off craigslist, but it still works like a charm :).

    ReplyDelete
  22. The first time I ever used Craigslist, it was at my eldest son's suggestion, to buy my first (are you sitting down?) motorcycle. He suggested I look for a beginner's bike, a Honda Rebel 250. Found a cream puff Rebel just listed that day, about an hour from home, and bought it before I even had the license (or took the class to learn how) to drive the thing.
    Growing up, I'd been a motorcycle passenger on my dad's bike, and figured, how hard can it be? The bike was being sold by a middle-aged woman (like me) who was upgrading to a much larger bike, so she could drive across Texas with her husband. I took the class, drove the bike for 8 months, then sold it when I upgraded to a larger Honda (Shadow) for more than I'd originally paid. A great investment and the start of a new passion (when I'm not sewing - haha.) My son commented that I used to have to keep up with him when we rode together, and now he has to keep up with me. Sweet!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Peter, you crack me up. I so identify with the irresistible urge to buy or rescue every vintage machine I come across. I'm currently on the board of directors of an organization you'd really like and understand. We are called the Sewing Machine Project, and we collect used machines and send them to people in need all over the world. You can learn more here if you are interested: http://www.thesewingmachineproject.org/

    ReplyDelete
  24. My two local Craigs List equivalents are Gumtree and Freecycle. Gumtree always has machines which temp me beyond measure....In fact i bought my 1948 201k treadle through it last year. She was advertised at $270 and on inspection the owners brought it down to $240 and i was a goner. They were a lovely childless couple who had no one to pass the machine down to; it was originally owned by the gentleman's mother, an English seamstress who married an Irishman in 1949. Her new husband bought her the machine as a wedding present as she was a Court trained seamstress. When they migrated to Australia, the machine came too!

    Recently on Gumtree a vintage sewing machine collector listed their collection; i didn't go and view them...i wouldn't have been able to contain myself.

    Although if i come across an electric early model 201 i might not stop myself :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. My Craigslist finds are my Featherweight for $125, and a tailor's going out of business yard sale. I bought a bunch of notions, and some imported English tropical wool ($4 per yard).

    ReplyDelete
  26. I got a pretty good dress form on Craigslist for $80! Non-Sewing related, I've found both the best (sunny and cheap) and worst (railroad) apartments ever. I got a captains bed from a sweet couple who turned out to be blind lawyers. I've gotten all my furniture off CL, and sold furniture on CL (which resulted in friendships with the buyers!). I even found love on CL (although it only lasted 8 months....never again!)

    ReplyDelete
  27. This is on my local Craigslist.

    http://london.craigslist.co.uk/atq/2837464972.html

    ReplyDelete
  28. I troll Craigslist for industrials because when the timing belt goes on my Wilcox & Gibbs it will be history. Surprisingly even in New England, which lost its manufacturing base decades ago, there is always a good selection of vintage industrials(lockstitch,sergers, walking foots) that can be had for very short money. Most come with the head, stand and motor too.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'm not allowed on Craigslist or eBay anymore -- It's too easy to get caught up in "it's SUCH A GOOD DEAL" and I forget that it's ONLY a good deal if it's something I want or need. I've bought oriental carpets that went with nothing and were the wrong size (because it was a great deal), and had to resell them again. However, I got my last two newer model Bernina sewing/embroidery machines from eBay. The second one needed several boards replaced, but in the end I still made out like a bandit compared to buying a new machine from the dealer. They are like cars; they depreciate as soon as you drive them off the lot. Oh, and I have sold several machines on eBay as well.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I got an airlift sewing machine table FOR FREE from craigslist! The listing said that the airlift was "broken," and I poo-pooed that. I picked it up on my lunch break and, when I got back to the office, e-mailed the manufacturer and was promptly sent back a PDF of the instruction manual. I brought it home, got it into my building and fixed it! $400 airlift table for free because some people are lazy. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Sorry, had to delete previous comment after I noticed a typo. Anyhow...

    Craislist is the bee's knees! I have scored an apartment, an awesome roommate, a vintage trunk, a table, 3 friends and 1 husband. NOT KIDDING! Our wedding invitations were mockups of the Craigslist ad: http://goo.gl/g0yUG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that's fantastic, Melizza! Congratulations!!

      Delete
  32. Peter, you're a pip. I've been looking for an old-school machine like the one you posted here. They're becoming increasingly hard to come by!

    Also, I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award. If you're interested--and you're so not obligated to play along--feel free to check out the details on my blog http://retrorabbithole.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  33. Peter -
    Are you sure you're not secretly married to "Lady Luck"??!!! How do these vintage sewing machine opportunities keep falling in your lap??!! You know I never really gave vintage machine a single thought until I found your blog. Now I could kick my own hind parts for passing up a machine and cabinet that was in my favorite thrift shop a couple of years ago. Now that I'm yearning for a Singer featherweight, I probably won't be able to get my hands on one! Curses! LOL!! I'm going to start searching on Craig's list though, maybe some of your luck will find it's way here! Oh, I just realized that I have an aunt who lives in NYC who also loves thrift store shopping. I must get down to the city and have her take me around to her favorite shops.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I have seen a 201 with potted motor converted to HC. It had to have a bobbin winder from a donor class 15 machine, though. As I understand it, some 201 machines with potted motor can be converted, and some cannot.

    The Elnita is basically a stripped down Lotus. I have one--nice little machine.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi Peter, that's actually a Singer 101, not a 201. That was one of Singer's first electrics and the first iteration of the "potted" motor. As you'll notice in the reverse shot, the motor cover is completely circular.

    - Rain

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hey Peter, can you recommend a model of Singer machine that can be converted to sew a chain stitch?

    I read somewhere that "many 70s Singers came with the parts to convert them to a chain stitch" but I have no idea which ones these might be..I was looking at a "Genie" the other day (for $10!)but there was no indication in the manual that it could be converted so I passed on it. If you could give me a few model names that would be a BIG help...or if you could tell me where I would go to look for those names! Thanks for any help you can offer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe these are the Singer 600 Series Touch & Sews. A Google search under "Singer 600 Chain Stitch" will direct you to some useful resources.

      Good luck with it!

      Delete
  37. I have never used Craigs List. All my dogs are from the SPCA. We just adopted today a three legged, one eyed min pin. I only have one sewing machine, it is about two years old, a brother and I LOVE it. I love anything vintage but do not collect anything anymore. I have no room. I was collecting vintage menus for a while. Only used Ebay. I did look on CL and they did have vintage singers in our area. Do you still have that toddler sized doll?

    ReplyDelete
  38. My very best ever find on Craig's list? That would have to be my Pfaff Creative 7550 for $175. Perfect shape and the machine is absolutely without question my most favorite ever. Oh, next best buy? A 1953 Singer 401A Slant-O-Matic. WITH a Hampden Court style 353 cabinet for $125. (actually it was from a garage sale that was advertised in Craig's list. Does that count?) It too is dreamy to work on and just hums and hums.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails