If your trusty old sewing machine has been pushed aside for a shiny new model, you’ve got a few things you can do with it.
If you’ve got the space, storing it away is an option. But unless….
… then don’t bother. Having a house full of useless, random dust traps is pointless, especially when you consider what else you could do with it, things such as …
Selling It - If your sewing machine is still in good working condition (or isn’t, but could still be used for parts), selling it is a good way to make a few extra bucks. Just remember… if you’re advertising the machine as ‘good as new’, make sure it’s exactly that. If it’s been a while since it last had a service, get one. It may cost you a little now, but you’ll be able to build the expense back into your asking price – and likely increase the number of potential buyers, to boot.
Lastly, don’t forget the power of photos - adding a few pictures of the machine to your listing can do wonders at attracting interest, as can a detailed, interesting description, and an asking price that’s in line with the average price for a model of that kind in your location.
Donating It - Selling your old sewing machine might make you richer, but donating it will bring more good karma your way. Although it’s not just the karma you need to think about. If you choose to sell, not only will you need to put in a lot of time and effort, you’ll also need to fork out for the listing fee… with no guarantee you’ll ever find a buyer.
Donating, on the other hand, is easy, simple, and will free up that sewing machine-sized space in your house that much quicker. Pick the right benefactor, and you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing your sewing machine will be making a huge difference.
Sewing machines are an expense not everyone can afford, but the impact they can have on someone’s life is immeasurable. As well as giving people the opportunity to make affordable clothing and bedding for their own families, a sewing machine can also be used as a much-needed income generator, allowing those in low-income families and deprived areas to earn a living from their creations.
How you donate your sewing machine is really a personal choice. Some people might prefer to simply advertise the machine as a free listing in the local classifieds or on Craigslist. Providing you don’t live in the back of beyond, you should find someone willing to take it off your hands in no time.
Others prefer to donate to charity, of which you’ll find no shortage ready and willing to accept a sewing machine in good working order. As well as national and international charities, you might want to consider:
Local shelters: Sewing machines don’t just give people the opportunity to get crafty, they can be a vital source of income. If you have a local shelter nearby, ask whether its residents could benefit from your old machine – in most cases, they’ll snap it up.
Hospitals and Hospices: Many local hospitals have activity centers for patients to use, and will be more than happy to have a working sewing machine around to help with crafting projects.
Schools: Most schools will be grateful for a sewing machine to help their students with crafting projects. You might also find a taker at a local fashion or art college.
Prisons: If your local prison offers craft, fashion, or art classes, they’re likely to be very thankful for a donated sewing machine.
Senior Citizen Centers: Most senior citizen centers offer classes in arts and crafts, and would be very happy to have a sewing machine for their members to use.
Local Churches: If your local church regularly gets involved in fundraising projects and activities, or even has an adjoined kids or senior club, it’ll probably be very happy to take on your old sewing machine.
The Salvation Army will happily accept sewing machines, providing they’re in good working condition and come complete with a power cord. If you live close enough to a Salvation Army store to visit directly, you can drop the machine off yourself during opening hours. Some stores also provide a dropbox if you visit after hours.
If you’re not quite sure where the nearest location is, simply enter your zip code on the ‘donate’ page of the Salvation Army website. If you prefer, you can call the Salvation Army directly on 1-800-728-7825 and they will schedule a pick-up from your preferred address.
Multiple organizations are willing to accept a used sewing machine providing it’s still in functional, working condition and comes with all the necessary parts and power cables. Charity resellers like Goodwill or the Salvation Army are both happy to accept donations, but you might also want to check if there are any clubs or organizations in your local area that could stand to benefit. Some of the ideas you might like to consider include:
While you might see your sewing machine as a tool for personal projects and pleasure, to other people, it could be a lifeline. Sewing machines can make a huge difference to the lives of people from economically disadvantaged communities, giving them the means and equipment to not only make their own clothes and bedding, but to make ones to sell.
There’s no shortage of charities that welcome donations to send to poorer communities in Africa and other parts of the world, The Sewing Machine Project being one of the largest. Just be aware that donating items isn’t an excuse to fob off old, useless equipment on someone else. Before you make your donation, make sure the machine is in good working order and satisfies the following conditions:
If you want to share in The Sewing Machine Project’s mission to create partnerships, strengthen the community, and inspire creativity, you can find a local drop-off location by visiting their website at https://thesewingmachineproject.org/.
If you’d prefer, you can ship it by mail to the following address:
The Sewing Machine Project
112 Owen Road Box 6245
Monona, WI 53716
Before you even consider donating your used sewing machine, make sure it’s fully functioning. No one’s going to want a machine that doesn’t work, and that includes charities.
If it’s in good working condition, portable, and has all the necessary cables and manuals, check whether you have a local charity reseller, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, that’s happy to accept donations.
Otherwise, you might want to consider if your local community has any organizations, welfare cubs, or groups that would welcome the addition of an extra sewing machine for its members to use.
If you’ve got bundles of sewing fabrics going spare, why not put it to good use by donating it to a worthy cause?
Before you contact the charity, sort through the fabric to see what you have. It’s very likely the organization will want to know what kind of fabrics you have (some might even specify certain materials they will or won’t take), not to mention some reassurance that they won’t end up with a bag of old, dirty, musty smelling off-cuts.
Separate the different fabrics into piles based on color, size, and fabric type, and give each piece the once over to make sure it’s not stained or smelly.
Some charities and organizations that accept fabric donations offer collection, but most will ask that you bring the items to them directly. If you don’t have a car or can’t otherwise get to the location, let them know – they’ll usually manage to find a solution.
There’s no shortage of charitable organizations that welcome fabric donations. Some of the ideas you might like to try include:
Assisted Living: Assisted living facilities often offer arts & crafts or sewing clubs, but their budgets are usually tight. Providing your fabrics are clean, they’re likely to lap up any donations.
Colleges: If your local college offers courses in art, design, fashion and performing arts, it’s very likely to be on the lookout for some good quality fabric for its students to use on their next project.
Churches and Church Groups: many churches and church groups are active in community-led fundraising, and usually welcome any donations that could be used for a future effort.
Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, etc.: Sewing is often taught as a ‘life skill’ at kid’s clubs like the scouts or guides – give them something to practice on by donating your old supplies.
Prisons: Many prisons offer programs to help inmates learn real-life skills. If sewing forms part of this, they’re likely to welcome your fabric donations with open arms.
Senior Centers: As senior centers are often underfunded, they’re usually very welcoming of any donations, including fabric.
Reuse/ Recycling Centers: Recycling centers usually keep the good stuff to one side so people can rifle through and take what they want. Although you won’t see where your donation ends up, it’s a great last resort if you’re struggling to find anyone else who’s willing to take it.
If you’ve got a stash of sewing patterns that you don’t use anymore, why not give them a second lease of life by donating them?
Providing the patterns are complete (double-check that all the pieces are still in the envelope – smaller pieces, in particular, have a habit of falling out), whole (tissue sewing patterns can be vulnerable to rips and tears), and clearly marked with the size (use a sticky note if you don’t want to mark the envelope), you’ll find Goodwill, the Salvation Army, 4-H sewing clubs and local sewing organizations all happy to accept your generosity.
If you have sewing threads you’d like to donate, sewing guilds are a great place to start. Kids clubs like the scouts and guides, senior citizen centers, rehab facilities, schools/ colleges, and prisons are also likely to welcome the idea of some free sewing materials. Other options to consider include:
Stitch for a Cause (www.stitchforacause.org) accepts almost every type of sewing material you can imagine, including sewing threads. If you have any spare batting, needles, fabric, yarn, or patterns, they’re unlikely to say no to any of those either.
Warm Up America accepts donations of most kinds of sewing materials, including thread, yarn, needles, and crochet hooks. The donations are then used by the organization’s volunteers to make handmade hats, afghans, and blankets for the vulnerable.