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Sewing Machines with Plastic Parts - Will they last?

by Dori M
(Minneapolis, MN)

I love my machine, a Brother C6000, but wonder how many years it will last.

My old Singer, straight stitch from the 1950's is still running smooth and perfect after years of use, as it is all metal.

The new machines have a lot of plastic in the body, and are computer run, so I doubt that 60 plus years from now someone will still be using this machine as a workhorse. But, for the price, it is a fine machine out of the box.

Julie's Comments:

I used to wonder about this, too.

When I got my first new machine in the mid-90's (a Viking #1+) there was a product called Sewer's Aid, a liquid silicon applied directly to a spool of thread to make the thread glide through the machine more smoothly.

I can remember watching a PBS sewing broadcast (probably 'Sewing with Nancy') and being told to put the silicon on a Q-tip instead of the spool. Then tape the end of the Q-tip to the area of your machine just above the needle—all because silicon and plastic parts weren't good for each other.

Luckily, I've never needed to use Sewer's Aid and never had to test the validity of this warning.

Since then I've, once again, bought a new machine (Viking D1) and inherited a newer Viking SE from my mother.

And I'm not so worried about the plastic parts anymore for several reasons.

Upgrades, upgrades everywhere...

Just like personal computers and cars and cell phones, we are constantly wooed by newer upgraded models of the things we already have...

...and we're buying them...

...without much prodding.

I, like you, think by it's very nature, a sewing machine with a computer in it WILL become obsolete before it wears out. If nothing else, but because the software and computer parts themselves change so fast.

Plastic IS Durable...

...or should I say indestructible.

We worry these days about all the plastic in landfills that will take forever to decompose. It just doesn't fall apart.

In all these years the only part that has actually broken on my sewing machine is the foot pedal. I dropped it. Now if it had been metal, like the olden days (I'm 50, so I do remember back that far!) I don't believe it would have cracked.

I had it replaced anyway. But that's all that's broken in almost twenty years of sewing on machines with plastic parts.

It's cheaper and lighter...

...which means we can have more machine for fewer dollars. Lighter parts reduce shipping costs and that saves us money, too.

Many of us, who could only afford one machine, purchased an embroidery machine. I am grateful for the plastic parts inside of that baby. I can't even begin to imagine how heavy it'd be if it was all metal. And IT was the machine I took to classes, retreats and bee for the longest time.

My first machine was a Singer, too, a Slant-o-matic, that was originally my mother's from the late 50's. I've still got it, and it still runs/stitches just fine. Quite frankly, it will probably survive me.

But if truth be told, I love all the bells and whistles my newer machines have. I know they reduce the time it takes to complete a quilt top (...that pivot function is the cat's meow!)

So if the plastic parts mean I can quilt more, then I'm all for it!

Readers, what do you think about the plastic parts of your sewing machine. Do they make a difference to you? Good, bad or indifferent? We'd love to read what you think.

Just use the 'comment' link below to share!

Dori, thank you for sharing your thoughts.


Julie Baird

Comments for Sewing Machines with Plastic Parts - Will they last?

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Singer Quantum 9960
by: Anna

I had my Singer for 6 months and for some reason the thread kept breaking. I tried everything and finally took to repairman. When he opened it it had a large groove where the thread was rubbing and catching. He said he had never seen anything like it. He put metal plate over groove. Now 6 months later its starting again. I can't afford another machine. I'm broken hearted. Has anyone else had this problem?

Give me industrial or vintage over new plastic anyday!
by: Melinda

I think an industrial sewing machine or vintage gives you much more value over today's sewing machines. The vintage machines can still make buttonholes. I really do like zig zag functions on sewing machines, but starting in the 60s is when machines started incorporating plastic gears and parts. And unfortunately, they break! I suppose these machines are fine for a hobbyist, but honestly I prefer stitch consistency over numerous fancy stitches.

Each to her own, but plastic is not for me
by: Anonymous

As someone else commented, plastic might last forever in the sense that it isn't biodegradable, but that doesn't mean it stays "put together" forever. It breaks, melts, cracks, and warps. And while I can understand someone enjoying cheap, plastic machines for all the stitches they offer (if that's your thing), I'd never consider using one for serious garment construction, quilting, or other sewing that requires a good, solid, heavy-duty machine. For piecing you need a perfect straight stitch which is best done on a straight stitch machine. For quilting, you need a machine that can handle bulk and heavy layers. Try this on a Singer 15-91 installed in a cabinet and you will be sold. It won't bounce, budge, move, or hesitate while sewing your heavy quilt. It has a generous harp space, a vertical bobbin (excellent for FMQ) and it is about the "heavy-dutiest" domestic machine you could ever use. Sorry, but no plastic machine of any kind can match it for performance and it goes without saying that no plastic machine will EVER last as long as a cast-iron or aluminum vintage machine with all solid steel gears. For me a few fancy stitches I'd rarely use aren't worth the trade-off if I had to choose only one machine.

I don't think so!
by: Anonymous

I sew exclusively on all metal vintage machines. While it is true that plastic has the advantage of being lighter, the aluminum cast machines aren't really much heavier but are MUCH sturdier. But the main problem with the plastic machines isn't that plastic doesn't last forever - theoretically it does, but not necessarily in the form you wish it to be. In other words plastic (or nylon) sewing machine gears wear out and become non-functional. Eventually they need to be replaced. Plastic knobs, dials, and other extraneous pieces snap off and can't be replaced. That just doesn't happen with all metal machines. That is why sewing machines built prior to the 1960's are decades old and still work perfectly.

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