Can you recycle old sewing machines? 

In this brief report we will be discussing the topic “Recycling old sewing machines” by first knowing the use of sewing machines and its types. We will also discuss the different types of sewing machines used worldwide and how you can recycle your old sewing machine.

How good are sewing machines? 

The old ways of hand stitching have long been replaced with machines that are sturdy enough to carry out multiple types of stitching at the comfort of your home. Sewing machine is always a convenient way to stitch a new dress or repair an old one especially for those who make it a part of their regular activity. Moreover, anything you stitch with the machine is still handmade as it uses your physical strength to complete the work. 

Sewing machines that were used in old times used to have a rotating wheel which needed to be moved with your hand along with the movement of your leg on the presser, continuing the rest of the work once that momentum is obtained. This way it is much faster and the work that would take weeks to complete can be completed within a few days. That is the beauty of sewing machines. 

With new improvements the use of electric motors to rotate the wheel has simplified the process yet again. With better control and efficiency, the new sewing machines have already started to make an impact in the clothing industries. 

Though it may take some time to get experience with the machine, once you are through with the process there are several embroidery patterns that you can create with the sewing machine itself that gives the special appearance for the dresses. It is further adaptable with many types of clothes that are hard to handle with hand stitching. However, as the old saying goes, don’t use a sword in place of a needle, similar is the importance of hand stitching where sewing machines cannot work. 

You always have to go old ways to do the trivial works such as stitching buttons, zippers, attaching patches and placing hooks. Even basting, which is temporarily attaching a piece of fabric, can be done conveniently with hand stitching rather than sewing machines. Sewing machines have long been used for industrial activities especially in garment factories while a few were limited to small businesses. 

With the introduction of electrically powered sewing machines, the demand for automated sewing machines skyrocketed and more garment factories were attracted to its convenient and diverse applications. According to the global industrial sewing machine market size, it is estimated to reach a value of $5.63 billion. 

Photo Courtesy: iStock. Modern Sewing Machine

What are sewing machines made of? 

There are two types of sewing machines that are widely used – industrial and home-based sewing machines. Industrial sewing machines that do not need to be moved from place to place are used for heavy duty purposes and hence its body is made of cast iron and small parts are made with a variety of metals. For specialized parts mostly steel, brass or an alloy. These also come with different needle types that give specific style to the stitching. 

However, sewing machines that are used in one’s home are valued for its versatility and flexibility, hence, most of them are made to be light weighted. The frame of such machines is made of aluminum for being lightweight and strong, whereas other small parts of the machine are made from plastic or polymers that are resistant to scratches and are easy to clean. 

Industrial Sewing MachinesCast ironSteel Brass Alloys
Home Sewing Machines Aluminum Plastics Polymers Copper Chrome Nickel

Can you recycle old sewing machines? 

Sewing machines only last for a long time only that you may have to repair or refix damaged parts and it’s good to go. Sewing machine is a complex equipment with many types of parts. Both modern and vintage types of sewing machines have several components that can be reused for other equipment. Thus, sewing machines can be taken to the recycling centers where they are disassembled and the parts are used for other machines or equipment. 

There are charity resellers that take up old things for recycling or reusing. Goodwill and Salvation Army have been doing this for a long time. There are several items that you can take to these centers and if it’s in good condition it will be useful to someone else. Many choose to sell their old sewing machine when they are looking for a replacement and if it’s in a good working condition these can be sold online or just placed in an advertisement in the newspaper. 

For beginners this will be a good choice to practice before moving to a new one. Another better way to deal with your old machine is to trade them with a new one. Most stores offer an exchange price for the old one or offer a lower value to the new sewing machine when you buy by trading off the old one. Depending on the condition of your sewing machine you can make some money by selling it. 

Some buyers look for old sewing machines as an antique collection and you will get a good price for that, while others just want to practice on it or use it for backup. With new automated technologies coming up, the resale value of your old sewing machines will go down. Though many have access to thread and need, only few can afford sewing machines. Your old sewing machine will be a good advantage for the charity stores as few can start to build a small business by stitching clothes. 

Sewing machines donation will help school, refuges, or local church groups that can use these in rehabilitation centers or boot camps to train the people. Sewing machines should never be dumped in trash or with organic waste as they have several metal or plastic parts that can be recycled. Dumping in landfill will cause the similar effect as other landfill wastes causes to our environment. There are many ways by which these sewing machines can be reused. 

Place them near the trash bin and label them for recycling. Take care of any sharp metal pieces that can harm the trash collector. Either dispose of them separately or place them in cork or wooden pieces to be discarded by them.

Photo Courtesy: iStock. Singer Sewing Machine


Frequently asked question (FAQs): Recycling old sewing machines. 

Where can I recycle my old sewing machine? 

Your old recycling machine is accepted at most of the recycling centers, just check with your local waste recycling centers if they accept the sewing machines. Since sewing machines contain a lot of metal scrap these can be used for other machines or recycled separately. In some cases, you can place the sewing machines near the garbage bin and label it “for recycling”. These types of materials are also collected on a weekly basis so check the timing for its collection. 

Can you scrap an old sewing machine? 

Yes, you can scrap old sewing machines as they contain many metal parts and the industrially used sewing machines contain cast iron frames. If these types of metals end up in landfill it adds to the already existing environmental hazard. Hence, these can be recycled effectively, and some parts of the sewing machine can be used for other machines and save tons of energy that is spent to extract these metals from mines. 

Is there a market for old sewing machines? 

The answer to this question depends on how old your sewing machines are. If it is a piece of antiques, then it could fetch you a good value depending on its desirability and condition of the sewing machine. The better way to check the old sewing machine value is to go through eBay or Etsy online sites that may have listed similar items for sale. You can check how much it is auctioned for. You can also check with local antique stores as they have much experience in knowing the value of old things. 

Is a sewing machine an e-waste? 

The latest design of sewing machines consists of motors for ease in operation. Even the handheld sewing machines contain batteries that can be plugged in to charge the system. Thus, before recycling these batteries or charging units should be removed and these are considered as e-waste. However, the batteries can be recycled separately through e-waste recycling centers. 

How can I sell my old Singer sewing machine? 

Singer sewing machine first made its remarkable entry in 1851 under the name I.M Singer & Co. Since then, these have been the branded sewing machines all over the US. Singer sewing machines that are in workable conditions can be sold online or to stores that sell reused items at a reasonable price. However, for antiques collectors they can purchase the old Singer machine for $500. 

Wherever you plan to sell your old Singer sewing machine make sure you clean every part of it. The metal frame can be polished to brighten its appearance and the removable parts can be cleaned with solutions designed for it. Do not use corrosive liquids as it damages some parts of the sewing machine. 

What is the oldest sewing machine brand? 

Most of the clothing industry greatly depended on sewing machines for their work. The first ever sewing machine or the first ever idea of a sewing machine design was by a French tailor Barthelemy Thimonnier in the year 1829 which was widely used then, This was followed by Elias Howe’s Lockstitch sewing machine which was patented in 1846. However, the biggest breakthrough was the one made by I.M Singer & C, an American company whose products are still being used. 


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