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Feb 23, 2020

Sewing Machines on Craigslist: The Good, The Bad, and the Rusty

In my experience, Craigslist is an excellent resource for sewing machines, vintage or otherwise.

I have found some wonderful machines there, most notably a Singer 66 treadle (above) which was selling only one block from my apartment, and a beautiful Pfaff 30, which I purchased from the actress who years later gave me a Bernina 830 Record, and a Bernina serger, and last month sold me an amazing antique Willcox & Gibbs chainstitch sewing machine.  You just never know what Craigslist will yield.

Even though I'm not currently shopping for sewing machines (I swear I'm not!) occasionally I like to check out what's for sale there just for fun.  Since we don't own a car, if the machine's not within a subway ride's distance, I'm not going to be able to fetch it.  But if you have a car, and I'm guessing most of you do, your local Craigslist can be a goldmine.  That said, the old adage Buyer Beware definitely applies.  You really have to know something about sewing machines, or bring along somebody who does.

Here are a few things selling on my local New York Craigslist only today.  Some of these listings are treasures; others are trash.  But it's fun to see what people are asking and how they list their machines.

Let's take a look!

Here's a true find: a Singer 301A in its original table for just $69.  If I had a car and the room, I'd grab it.  Wouldn't you?

In the trash category, I'm not sure why anyone would bother selling a cheapo cordless sewing machine, and -- even worse --why anyone would bother buying one.  Pass on these types of machines, please.

Here is somebody selling a Brother 1034D serger.  I own one myself: it's a great machine.  I bought mine new eight years ago for less than $200.  This person is asking $599.   Do they think we're stupid? 

Needless to say, the person selling this badly beaten up vintage Singer below (with no power source) will never get the asking price of $100.  There's something about the upside-down photo that reeks of self-sabotage.  I mean, do they actually want to sell this thing?

This one intrigued me: a Pfaff 30 in good working condition.  I don't think $130 is unreasonable and something tells me you could probably get it for less (this is Craigslist, after all).  Be still my heart!

This is awfully nice: a Singer treadle in a beautifully restored table.  I'd definitely be tempted to buy it, and if I were driving to New Rochelle, I could also pick up the 301A!

While I do like the table below with its Paul McCobb Midcentury look, I think $240 is a lot to ask for a Singer Touch & Sew, don't you?

In the giggles department, here's someone selling an Italian sewing machine for $300, but they forgot to include a photo of the machine or tell us what model it is.  Whoops!

Is the machine below a Berning or a Bernini sewing michine?  The seller doesn't seem sure.  It's listed as $800 in the heading and $8 in the description.  Proofread, please.

Below, another fabulous deal: what looks like a Singer 66 Red eye in a (Queen Anne?) table for just $30!

While I wouldn't spend $75 on the Dressmaker sewing machine below, I think this is a very cool-looking machine.  I'd offer $25 tops.

Another beautiful old Singer in a pretty good-looking table for just $129.  Not sure what model it is but it's easily 100 years old.

Here's another beautiful treadle, this time a White Rotary.  Just $150.

I'm pretty sure the machine below is a Singer 15-91, one of my all-time favorite machines.  In a table and just $125.

This is a lovely late 1950's, early 1960's Singer 403A Slant-O-Matic, a wonderful machine.  Why does the seller call it a 1975 machine?   Not sure if it comes with the cams but they can be purchased on eBay easily.  I'd happily offer $75-100.

Here's a really nice treadle table -- no machine apparently -- for just $45.

Now granted, this vintage Singer sewing machine is only $29, but couldn't the seller fix it up a bit for the photo?  It looks like it spent the last eighty years in a barn.

I think I've made my point: Craigslist is great place to find vintage sewing machines selling at every price point.  Many of the sellers know next-to-nothing about the machines so you need to do a little homework.  You want to make sure the wiring is in good condition and that the machine works. The beauty of Craigslist is that you can see the machine for yourself and give it test spin.  But as you can see, for $100 or less you can find some terrific all-metal mechanical sewing machines you can maintain yourself with a little sewing machine oil and some TLC.  Most Craigslist sellers really want to sell; it's truly a buyer's market.

In closing, have you ever purchased (or sold) a sewing machine on Craigslist?  If so, which model(s)?

Of the sewing machines I've listed above, which would you be tempted to purchase?

Have a great day, everybody and happy sewing!

My old Pfaff 30, which I found locally on Craigslist.  Alas, I sold it.


  1. I do try to control my lust for sewing machines but I would like to have a treadle, a couple of years ago we had an eight day power outage after a storm and a treadle machine would have eased the boredom - plus it would have combined sewing with leg exercises, can't be bad.
    A Singer Slant-O-Matic would be nice.

  2. I just don't have the temperament for any more 'new to me' machines. Saying that sounds so ...."and death is coming for meeeeee" , but I've just gotten burned on Ebay and Craigslist, so I'm bitter. Seeing your Wilcox and Gibbs did perk me up a lot though, but no. Never! Oh ...wait, is that a Kenmore 158?
    Never say never.

  3. Thanks for your run-down, I often think the same when I look through listings -we dont have a craigs list but do have local adverts page... as Ireland is so damp a lot of machines can be rusty and strangely enough there are people who list these thinking that people will pay over 100euro for a 'decorative/vintage' item that does not work. I have only bought 2 from advert pages and both 201s! one is in great condition for 65 but needed a service and the motor is okay and the stitch is perfect....then I wanted a table for it so spotted a table with v dusty machine for 45 (no pedal) and the machine body isnt great, but the motor is perfect so in all I think I did well (once I get motors switched!) -

  4. I always check the CL listings under "sew",this way I can see everything pertaining to sewing. I"ve gotten vintage machines and more like, vintage $30 sewing chairs w/flip seat and my $25 1 week old sewing desk that is a total godsend. CL has great prices and in MHO is better than going to the flea market. The selection is mostly vintage & some newer thing's which great!!

  5. I bought an Eldredge 2 Spool and cabinet and Singer 201-2 directly on CL. Also found at estate sales listed on CL - Singer 12 and treadle base, Singer 15 and Queen Anne cabinet, and a blind hemmer. It seems CL is losing ground to FB marketplace, which I have mixed feelings about. I really don't need any machines, but I still want to see what's out there and what people *think* they can get for them.

  6. Machines from Craig's Scary List (my name!) a Black 301 with the cradle in pretty decent shape... and a Singer 600E in a nice cabinet. The Singer because I found one earlier, eBay, to have serviced & gift to a high schooler who wanted to learn to sew. I wanted the same machine so I could help her by phone when ever needed. It is a nice machine by the way. Got me interested in the Golden Touch n' Sew models. Scary? because too many wonderful things to be found & local, no shipping damage & cost. Thanks for your round up of what's in your area. (PS envious of the Pfaff 30)

  7. I bought my White rotary treadle on Facebook Marketplace. Another great place to look.

  8. Now I'm going to go dowwwwn the rabbit hole on Craigslist! Currently have two machines with cabinets (in the garage) and one more portable from the 1950s that looks a little like a rocket or a spaceship (also in the garage). Farm auction purchases -- unless the cabinet is in perfect condition, I sometimes win them for $1.

  9. Bought a Rocketeer for $25 about 10 years ago, paid for it in all quarters!

  10. In Australia we had an equivalent of Craiglist called Gumtree. I am always amazed at the number of people who list a machine saying they know nothing about it and give only a picture of the back of it. And the typos are indeed hilarious. I saw a listing recently for a "blind hammer", which sounds rather dangerous!

  11. I will be putting up most of my vintage machines for sales (over 15 of them, will be keeping certain ones), they have all been restored and come with a full set of original attachments. Most of the pricing will be around 100 dollars since they are restored, I considered donating them i don't want to leave with the salvation army, they need to go to a charity that gets these for people in africa that can start a business from home.

    1. Lela S Ontario CanadaApril 20, 2020 at 7:19 PM

      If you know someone who has the Sew News Oct/Nov 2019 issue, there was a US organization (featured in the issue) that collects used sewing machines for women in the US and abroad to help them start businesses. Have to check if I did save the article as I recently recycled most of the issue (saving a few pages).

  12. I love those Bernini sewing machines. They're so ornate!

    Seriously, I see that all the time--maybe it's a typo? It kind of drives me nuts.

  13. Thanks for sharing these pix and your comments. I check Craigslist ads in my area (Pittsburgh) and some are absolutely laughable. I've seen treadle machines with missing drawers, warped veneer, rusted metal --listed as Very Good condition and priced $500 and up. Other machines were covered in decades of dust and grime listed at a premium price. I'm like, they CAN'T be serious.

  14. So very many machines and sewing tables (good, bad, and truly horrible) get donated to Habitat Restore and Goodwill locations in my area that I am spoiled for choices. I know I've told y'all this before: My dear husband is so enamored by them that I've developed a code phrase to hiss at him when he tries to buy yet another one. "Nemo plus sutura machinis." (Latin for "no more sewing machines.")

  15. You know... that first Singer 301A is accessible with a Metrocard. 6 train to Pelham Bay Park to the (Westchester) 42 bus.

    Just saying.

    1. That is something I didn't know. Thanks, Lisanne!

  16. I’d go for the ones you picked, and inquire about the identity of that “Italian” machine. It has to be a necchi (how and why enchilada was the word I had to proofread out right there, don’t know),could it be the pink necchi of my dreams with all the cams and the dial-a-stitch card that told you how to get your decorative effect?

  17. I stopped looking at CL and FB Marketplace - well, mostly! Too many temptations (and I DO have a car, just saying.) However, I can't resist rifling through the local thrift stores just in case there is a machine that needs rescuing. As for the "Italian" machine, we might assume it is a Necchi. Or, on the other hand, it could be a Singer made in Italy like the 237. We'll never know, will we?

  18. I often check the craigslist listings under 'sew and I can find everything pertaining to sewing. I"ve grabbed vintage machines and more like, vintage $45 sewing chairs w/flip seat and my $27 1 week old sewing desk and oh it's a total godsend. CL has afforadable prices and in MHO is better than going to the sites like craigslist. The selection is mostly vintage & some newer thing's which great!!


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