How to save money when buying a sewing machine

8:03:00 AM

As part of a series of posts I'm *finally* getting the chance to write (of which I've been meaning to, for, oh, over a year) here is the one I've been most looking forward to: how to save money when buying a new sewing machine - or - how to get the absolute MOST bang for your sewing buck. Also, I've included affiliate links in this post for your reference (for more information see below).
ideas on how to save money when buying a sewing machine - how to get more bang (or machine!) for your buck || Sew at Home Mummy

*affiliate links have been included in this post at no extra cost to you. Affiliate and advertising income made by this blog help to pay for free tutorials, giveaways, website domain fees and more πŸ’—

Last year I upgraded my Singer 9960* smaller sized sewing machine to a mid-arm Janome 6500* - a big jump in size (and for me, a big jump in price).

A little background on myself:
I'm a stay at home, Canadian-expat mom living in Chicago. When we first moved here and for the first several years of being here, because of Visa restrictions, I couldn't legally work. My husband was (and still is) the only income. So - money is a bit - tight? Let's just say that we make it as a family of four on an academic's income, and I'm going to gloat here a bit - I think that's mostly due to how inventive I am with our finances.

That inventiveness stretches across how we buy groceries to how we purchase clothing and items for the house to how we fix or repair or improve the house.

If there is a buck to save - I will save it. But ask anyone who knows me - this does not mean that I ever sacrifice quality - especially for my kiddos - it just means that I have to be a bit more conscious of balances and checks...

All of that said: I'm pretty darned good at finding a deal. On anything. Including sewing machines. So here goes - I've listed all of my tricks below for anyone looking for a first machine, an upgrade, an additional machine for retreats and sew-ins and traveling - if you're looking to buy a machine, this is a must read for you!

1. Visit your local quilt shop dealer (shop local, shop small business)

Whenever I can, I try my best to shop local and support small businesses in my area. If you have a local quilt shop or dealer you can make it out to that sells machines you're interested in, visit them. Test drive the machine you're looking at buying, ask questions about warranties, accessories, availability, and more. Ask about upcoming sales and promotions they may be preparing for.

If money is an issue, make it known to the dealer - you'd be surprised how many times I've been in a purchasing position where a dealer or salesperson has dropped the price or found me a better deal because I was so hesitant about spending outside of my comfort zone (and it should be noted that I'm NOT being manipulative when I say this - it's 100% genuine - I freak out about spending money). If at all possible, talk to their head salesperson or store manager - they may be able to get you a better deal. 

Ask about year-end and floor model sales - often you can get a next-to-brand-new machine that may have been used on the showroom floor for a few months for a great deal. If they don't have any available at the moment, ask what time of year is best for floor-model liquidations and ask if they can keep your name on a list of people interested in that machine when they do go to sell it.

Unfortunately with the advent of the internet and clickable shopping from your couch, quilt shops and machine dealers in brick and mortar locations are closing at a faster rate than ever. Consider checking shops that are closing out for any machine liquidations they may be having.

Scratch and dent machines are another awesome thing to ask about: this is how I got such a great deal on my Janome 6500*. Also ask about accessory bonuses or free gifts they or the company may include in your machine purchase.

2. Visit traveling quilt shows and exhibits with machine vendors.
Some of the best and most efficient research I did while buying my machine was at a quilt show I visited the fall before purchasing. Every single machine company I was considering was there - Brother*, Janome*, Bernina*, BabyLock, Juki*, (*affiliate links at no extra cost to you) and more - and so in one day I got to walk around one huge room and drive every single machine which was on my short list. This is the quickest way to fall in love AND eliminate machines from your must haves. I highly suggest it.

Along with being able to drive everything and ask the reps about the machines and warranties, you can get some great deals. Generally speaking, shipping to your door is almost always free with your purchase. 

Consider returning to the show on the last day - this is when you'll get great "cash and carry" deals on any floor model/show model machines the dealer or company shipped in just for the show - they don't want to pay for return shipping back to their warehouses so they'd rather give deep discounts on these "used" machines than take them back. They'll box them back up in their original packaging and help you out to your car, just like that.

Try to push for great accessories packages at the shows and/or discounts with partnered thread companies (I know several companies that will throw in thread packages or wholesale accounts to thread companies with purchases of bigger and pricier machines).

3. Check the brand's website periodically for promotions.
Once you've narrowed down the machine(s) you're interested in, make sure to visit their company website and sign up for promotional emails, and periodically check their site for discounts or coupons they may be running for use at their dealers.

I know some of the largest companies have promotional financing rates as low as 0% APR at certain times of the year. And different times of the year will see different types of sales and discounts (National Sewing Month (September), Black Friday, Christmas, etc.) at your local dealers, so check the manufacturers sites.

4. Buy vintage/used.
There's something to be said for buying an old sewing machine.

This is a whole 'nother bag of treats - but - do consider buying used, especially vintage. If you're not looking for a lot of bells and whistles on a machine, this may be an excellent option for you. 

For instance, if you're looking to buy a straight-stitch only machine like a Juki 2010 (about $1,000) (affiliate link) or Brother 1500 (about $650-700) (affiliate link), consider a vintage Singer 201. They have a large harp, are gear driven, and have a perfect straight-stitch. Perhaps not as fast a machine as the newer options, but a reliable one - and easily fixed. A vintage 201 in great shape goes for under $200.

Even if you're looking for a fancier, computerized machine, a trade-in or used machine that's had a good once-over by a dealer may be a great option for you, especially if you're looking at getting into a higher end, more costly brand like a Bernina. 

As around at your local Guild group - see if any of them are selling the machine you're interested in or have the machine you want to buy and are willing to chat about it - put your feelers out.

5. Buy online.
Notice how this didn't make it to the top of the list?

That's because this quilter, sewist, DIYer and author thinks that every effort should be made to save money locally before you click "BUY NOW" on that mouse. For the record, when I bought my machine, I tried hard to get the best deal locally but at the end of the day, the price I got online (from a brick and mortar out of state) couldn't be beat.

I can't stress enough that you need to do ample amounts of research on your machine (especially if you're going to be purchasing one that is costly to you) so that you know what you're getting into. And test driving it first (see above) is key, if you can.

I have included affiliate links denoted by * below, at no extra cost to you.

If you decide that buying online is for you, here are a few notes and tips:

✄ Watch for sales: 
To be honest, sewing machines don't often go on sale - but once in a while, you might luck out. Check online retailers for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, National Sewing Month and Christmas deals, just to name a few. I managed to really luck out this Black Friday and picked up the Brother 1034D serger* I've been coveting for 4 years on Amazon* for the lowest price I have ever seen it.

Add it to your Amazon Wishlist: 
Often times Amazon* will alert you via email if  the price of an item you added to your wishlist drops. Make sure to sign up for Wishlist alerts when you're setting up your list. (FYI!) Target also alerts you when you've added something to your cart but not checked out, and the price drops on that item (you need to be logged into your Target* account). If you're looking for an entry level analog or computerized machine, Target* does sell sewing machines.

✄ Machine availability varies online vs. in store: 
Several manufacturers limit which machines dealers can sell online, and which they can't. For instance, when I was looking to purchase my Janome 6500*, I was also looking at their 6600 model which is a step up with a few more options and bells and whistles. The 6600 cannot be sold online or over the phone - it must be purchased in person at a dealer. You'll find that Janome, Bernina, and BabyLock do this (to name a few). Keep this in mind when you're researching your next machine.

✄ Consider more than Amazon*
several of the 3rd party sellers you see selling on Amazon also have brick and mortar stores with associated online stores (Sewing Machines Plus* comes to mind here, and I think they also have an eBay storefront). The odds of getting a better deal on their main store webpage vs. Amazon* or eBay storefronts are probably pretty good. It's easier for them to maintain and run sales on their main pages - so check there first.

✄ Consider "scratch and dent" sales: 
Don't hesitate to contact online retailers over email or phone, ask to speak to/email their sales department and ask if they happen to have any new returned or scratch-and-dent boxes or floor models they might have in your model that they have discounted. If not, ask if they might keep you in mind if one comes in, and leave your name and number for them. This is how I tracked my machine down in New York (see story below).

Often times they have brand new machines with boxes that may have been beat up a bit in shipping from the manufacturer, or, a husband bought his lovely wife a machine but was way off the mark and she returned it, etc. 

✄ Ask about warranties: 
When you buy online, you always have to look into how your warranty on the machine will be handled. Will you be able to take it to an authorized dealer for repairs and have it covered or will you be on the hook for the cost? Note that policies will vary across machine manufacturers.

6. Be patient. Do your research.

I can't stress this part enough. You need to do your research. Visit online retailers for the machine you're considering and read all of the reviews left for that machine (and obviously, use your common sense when reading said reviews - some are absolutely fantastic and others, comical - you can always tell when someone doesn't know what they've gotten themselves into with a machine...). Amazon* is a good place to do this - there's a high volume of reviews there. Go to several online merchants and read reviews; read reviews on the manufacturers website (but I never hold as much weight to these ones - I worry about the possibility of a lack-of-candidness). 

Ask in community forums and around your guild group about the machine you're considering. Google it, see what bloggers are saying (but again - take this with a grain of salt, as some big bloggers are actually sent free machines from these manufacturers in return for blogging about it, picturing it on their social media accounts, etc., and so there's a bit of bias there - I tend to believe those who had to pony up their hard earned cash a little more...)

If you're patient about buying, you're more likely to save a bit of coin by waiting for that sale that comes up, like I did with the Black Friday serger deal. Now, the only thing is that I had to wait 4 years, which is ridiculous. Most people can't do that - if you need a machine, you need a machine. But because this was more a luxury item, a secondary machine, I could wait longer. 

So- how did I end up saving on my NEW Janome 6500* machine?
Once I had decided on the machine I wanted and had test driven it at a visiting quilt show, and after checking best prices at my local dealer, I emailed around to out of state brick and mortar dealers, asking if they had any new returns or floor model sales or scratch and dent sales on any Janome 6500*s they might have in stock. 
I hit pay load at one online and brick and mortar retailer in New York, who had a Janome 6500* that they had shipped out to someone, UPS had lost it, it finally made it back to their store but the box was beat up. They then sold that machine (at a discount) to a nice lady who was treating herself for her 65th birthday. 
When she got home, a brand new top of the line Bernina was sitting on her dining room table - hubby had bought her a new machine for her birthday. Wowzas.
So, she hadn't even opened the Janome, and brought it back.
I ended up saving over $1,000 off MRSP, got free shipping and a full accessories bonus package. Not bad for just a little time and research.

So! That's it. Those are my tips for saving the most money while still getting the biggest bang for your buck when you're buying a sewing machine. Hopefully someone out there finds some of them helpful.

What's your experience been? Do you have any tricks for saving on sewing machine purchases? I'd love to hear them in the comments!

Attribution: Typewriter graphic from Freepik.

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  1. Thank you so much for this info! Everyone one of us will need it one day!

    1. You are so welcome, Genee! I hoped it would be useful, love sharing money saving tips, hehehe!

  2. I bought my Janome 6500 used from a dealer. It was a trade in from a customer who bought all her machines from him and had been serviced regularly. I wasn't even shopping for a machine - I just lucked into it. When the owner saw my hesitation, he dropped the price another $50. There was no sales tax ( out of state) and no shipping. My final price was $600. I've sewed with it almost everyday for the last three years with no issues. Now I'm ready to get an embroidery machine and have just started the research. Thanks for this post!!

  3. Loved your advice on buying a new sewing machine. It's been 34 years since I got a "New" sewing machine and it's starting to have lapses of memory, lol. She's a trouper and I'm not quite ready to be replace her but I am watching and checking out what's available. This helps alot. Thanks Erin!

  4. I love my vintage sewing machines. They sew a perfect stitch every time. I did end up buying a new machine for the first time in 25+ years. I still piece on my vintage beauties and the new one is still in the box. My new purchase is a classroom model that sold for $100's below the regular retail. I did get a good deal at my LQS.

  5. Congratulations on the new machine, Erin. I think I'd be looking at that machine too, if I were in the market to upgrade. I'd be interested in a review after you've been using it for a while.

  6. My first Featherweight cost me $15 - worked perfectly - not cosmetically perfect but it works well, I've been using it for over a year now. Got it at a yardsale. I watch craigslist daily

  7. Gosh thanks so much for this article. I read it last night! I had never thought about searching for scratch and dents. Sent an email to a shop last night and have the machine already on the way today. The only thing was the box had been opened but nothing wrong with the machine and saved $100 with free shipping to boot!!! Amazing.... Thank you againπŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜ƒπŸŽ‰

    1. Way to go Patricia! I am so glad one of my tricks worked for ya! Wahoo!


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