Sewing machines are not cheap and should, therefore, be good enough for a good number of years before they need to be replaced. In fact, some older antique machines were so well engineered that they can practically stay functioning indefinitely so long as they are serviced regularly. So how long should your brand-new sewing machine serve you?
How Long Should A Sewing Machine Last
You should expect at least 6 to 10 years of in-warranty service from any high-quality modern sewing machine. We are talking of top brands here such as Singer and Brother and not the cheaper alternatives. If you maintain them well, you could get a solid three decades from any sewing machine.
What Affects Life Expectancy Of A Sewing Machine
You can easily tell how long your sewing machine is expected to last by looking at the manufacturer’s warranty during purchase. Most warranties run for at least five years to a decade depending on the type of machine, quality, and what it’s capable of. However, sewing machines may end up lasting for many years based on how you use them. Heck, most tailors expect their sewing machines to last a lifetime, which tends to happen a lot, especially for mechanical sewing machines.
Here are some of the factors that can affect how long a sewing machine lasts regardless of its warranty period:
- Technology – Forced Obsolescence
Sometimes a sewing machine will last for as long as the technology is viable and supported. This mostly affects the computerized models more than their mechanical counterparts due to the nature of computer technology. While your 10-year old computerized sewing and embroidery machine may work properly, it may have been made obsolete due to changes in technology.
- Usage – How Is the Sewing Machine Used?
This is, by far, the most impactful factor in as far as sewing machine longevity is concerned. Generally, the more a machine is used the shorter its lifespan due to wear and tear. For this reason, sewing machines used more frequently, say in a commercial setting, will have a significantly shorter lifespan than those used at home for occasional sewing projects.
On the same point, the skill level of the operator might affect how long the sewing machine will last before it develops problems related to usage. An experienced operator will know how to use the machine properly and extend its lifespan while new operators generally create more faults with their first sewing machines before they learn how to protect them from wear and tear due to rough handling.
Most people will have an additional sewing machine (probably older mechanical models) to reduce the workload on their main machine and extend its lifespan. You could also opt to do more hands stitching when possible and only use your machine when necessary.
- Storage – Where Is the Sewing Machine Stored?
This is an important factor that will ultimately affect the lifespan of a sewing machine. A sewing machine kept in an open space with exposure to the elements will have a significantly shorter lifespan than one stored in a closed workshop with little humidity and other elements. To ensure your sewing machine lasts long, ensure that it’s stored in a safe place, and it is not exposed to elements that might affect its physical integrity over time.
- Sewing Machine Casing
Modern sewing machines can have steel, aluminum, wood, or even plastic casing. The material used on your sewing machine will affect its lifespan with plastic machines having the shortest lifespan but easier to store.
- Maintenance – How Well Do You Maintain Your Machine?
Just like any other equipment, a sewing machine needs to be well maintained to last long and work properly. This is the most important factor that ultimately affects how long your sewing machine will serve you until it becomes too unreliable and needs to be replaced. If you are good at servicing your machine, you may be able to get many years of service from it.
With the above in mind, here are some of the ways you can prolong the lifespan of any sewing machine through proper maintenance:
How to Extend Your Sewing Machine’s Lifespan
Always do some preventive maintenance at scheduled intervals to ensure your sewing machine is operating in tip-top conditions. Here are some of the items you should have as part of your preventive maintenance checklist:
- Check the oil levels on moving parts – Remove any grease buildup
- Check that the thread stand is clean and properly secured.
- Check the Feed dogs for physical damage
- Check the Needle Plate
- Check the V-Belt
- Check the presser foot for physical damage
- Closely examine the bobbin compartment
- Check the bobbin case for physical damage such as bending
- Check the bobbin winder and hooking mechanism
- See that the spool pin is properly attached and spinning
- Check belt cover, see its properly secure and clean
- Check all the moving parts for grease buildup and physical damage. Any damaged internal components (such as bearings and interlocking gears) should be replaced to prevent further damage to the other parts.
- Do a thorough check on the electrical components such as internal wiring, power cord, and fuses. Electrical components are integral to any modern machine’s operation and should be in tip-top condition.
- Check the gear bearings
- Examine the pressure bar and regulators
- Check the tabletop
- Check the lower knife
- Check the motor and control box
- Check the stand shoe
- Check the waste tubes, pedals, loopers, and paddle mats.
- See that the software is working properly and perform any updates if available
- Replace the bobbins on time
- Check that the needle is in good condition.
- Examine the sewing machine head for signs of corrosion, physical damage, and grease.
Doing regular preventive maintenance can extend the lifespan of your machine as it helps you to detect any problems early enough and have them rectified. You may also opt to have the machine serviced by a professional from time to time if you are not comfortable with opening the internal components.
Other Ways to Extend your Machine’s Lifespan
Give It A Rest
If possible, allow the machine to rest for extended periods in between projects. Most people would have a backup machine or opt to do hand-stitching to reduce the workload on their sewing machine.
Turn It Off and Unplug It When Not in Use
If the machine is not in use, it might help to either turn it off or unplug from the mains to protect the electrical components in case there is a power surge. This is especially important if the sewing machine is in storage for extended periods.
Ensure that the mechanical parts in your sewing machine are properly lubricated with oil as recommended by the manufacturer.
Use the Correct Threads, Bobbins, and Needles
Keep your machine in good working condition by using the correct bobbin, needles, and threads if specified in the technical manual. The bobbin can cause a lot of problems so pay close attention to it.
Cover the Machine Head in Storage
Most sewing machines come with a headcover that you can use when the machine is not in use to prevent dust and other things from damaging the machine.
Is It Worth Repairing an Old Sewing Machine?
Older sewing machines can be great as backups for your main sewing machine. They also tend to last longer and may have some sentimental value in the family if they were inherited from your parents. Luckily, there is plenty of interest in preserving old antiques in the sewing universe meaning parts are quite easy to come by. Unlike some modern machines, older sewing machines require less maintenance because they were well-made and mostly mechanical.
How Often Should A Sewing Machine Be Serviced?
This depends on how the sewing machine is used but you should use a 1:30 ratio to schedule the servicing intervals. This means a machine used a few times a month should be serviced at least once every month.