Vintage Machines: Are They The Best Option?


Compared to modern equivalents, vintage sewing machines are robust work horses. They make a great choice for quilters. But, are they the best option for newbies?

Rating: Not enough ratings.
Your rating: Sign in to rate

Vintage Machines: Are They The Best Option?

Compared to modern equivalents, vintage sewing machines are robust work horses. They make a great choice for quilters. But, are they the best option for newbies?

Vintage Machines: Are They The Best Option?


Vintage machines can tackle quilts of all sizes but, they can also try the patience of the most experienced quilter.

Don’t get me wrong, I love vintage sewing machines. Unfortunately, they can be more than a little bit clunky to use. Particularly if you are new to quilting.

Singer Stylist 1972


Being vintage means they predate all the useful gadgets and time saving features modern machines have. Without needle up and down buttons or automatic threaders, vintage machines are the quilter’s equivalent to the Model T Ford. Old, classic, but more than a little bit basic.

The thing is, if you’re a newbie to quilting, you might think the problems with your stitching are down to you. When in fact it’s the vintage machine.

Here are three reasons why vintage machines are not always the best choice:


1. Ease of Use

The older the vintage sewing machine is, the more basic the functions will be. Even though some older machines have so many knobs or levers, they look more complicated than the flight deck of the Starship Enterprise. Basic doesn’t always mean simple when it comes to vintage machines.

Necchi 1952


The older sewing machines are also heavy making portability a problem. Not necessarily a problem if it stays in one place. However, it can be an issue for those attending quilting clubs or classes.

Then there are the stitches. Not only are older machines difficult to thread correctly, they only have a straight stitch. If you wanted to use a decorative zigzag for an applique, you’ll need another machine.


2. Availability of Service or Parts

The older the machine, the more difficult it will be to find a repair shop to service it. Because of this, many vintage sewing machine owners do their own maintenance. This is great but, if you’re learning a new skill like quilting, do you really want to learn how to repair old sewing machines too? The more time you spend fiddling with the feed dogs, the less time you have to focus on your quilt.

Finding parts for older machines can also be a challenge. You could end up spending large portions of your time looking for parts instead of looking for new quilting block designs.

Worse still, that vintage machine you picked up for $30, might end up costing you $100s in spare parts just to get it working the way it should.


3. Missing or Wrong Accessories

Unless you’re lucky enough to be given a vintage machine by a family member, you’ll probably have to buy one used. The problem is, even with family machines, they may have had more than one owner.

Singer 1922


Over time, the detachable pieces like feet, bobbins, and needles can go missing or be replaced with parts from different machines. Creating a Frankenstein of mismatched, ill-fitting components that barely function.

Most of the time, having the wrong setup is only apparent when you come to sew. The machine will misbehave and skip stitches. When learning to quilt, the last thing you need is a temperamental sewing machine creating a bird’s nest on the seams of your flying geese.

Frustrating beyond belief, your vintage machine could potentially drive you to the point of giving up quilting.


Sometimes Modern is Better

Most beginner quilters start off with a cheaper, entry level machine. Cheap doesn’t have to mean clunky or basic though. Nor does it have to mean vintage or used.

There are plenty of starter level modern sewing machines available on the market that can suit any budget. Complete with warranties and the correct accessories. Hassle free quilting is just a box store away.

If you are looking for a slightly more upmarket option, check out your local sewing machine dealers. They are likely to have deals on trade-in models which, although second hand, will have been serviced and refurbished. Better still, you can usually test them out in the store before you purchase.

Whatever option you choose, your sewing machine should enhance your quilting experience and help grow your skills. Not confuse you and stifle your creativity.


Check This Out!

Check out the most popular tool on QuiltingHub. Use the search 'Map Of Resources' or the 'Resources Trip Planner' to the right (or below).



Attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.

Same As: Appliqué

See Also: Freezer Paper Applique, Needleturn Applique, Machine Applique, Reverse Applique, Shadow Applique
The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
Feed Dogs
The mechanical teeth under the area of a sewing machine which move to pull the fabric through the machine. For free motion quilting or embroidery or needle darning these feed dogs are lowered or covered.
Flying Geese
One of the most popular of the small shape groups that exist in quilting. It consists of a center triangle and two right angle triangles attached to it on either side.
Quilting Contessa

Quilting Contessa is a collection of various authors around the world that have submitted articles for the QuiltingHub 'How To' quilt wiki.  These are authors that do not write enough to have their own authorship, yet provide valuable content for the site.  If you wish to submit an article, contact us on QuiltingHub.

Search Articles
Map Of Resources Near
Resources Trip Planner