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Picture of Safely pack and ship a sewing machine.
Okay this is pretty niche, but if you ever have to do it you'll be glad you saw this. Maybe more importantly, if you ever need to have someone else ship one to you, you can point them here before they do. It takes some time to do it right, but you can't even imagine the horrors that could happen to a sewing machine in transit if it shifts in the box!

You may think, "not this old Singer, it's indestructible!" but the fact that it is so heavy and sturdy also makes it vulnerable when shipping. It can bust out of its confines, becoming susceptible to dings, dents crack and worse. I'm displaying a 1956 Singer 301 and a ton of accessories for this demo, but you can modify to suit any machine, obviously. Just note your trouble areas and deal with them accordingly.

Okay, here we go!
 
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Step 1: Gather your materials.

Picture of Gather your materials.
You will need:

1] Good strong packing tape

2] Bubble wrap, about 20 feet.
--- Usually it's $2.99 for a roll at USPS or Kinkos. I am not sure how long a roll is, so you may have to spend up to $6 if you don't have any around.

3] Styrofoam peanuts, one large box full (probably four crappy plastic shopping bags full.
--- I don't know anyone who doesn't have a bag or box in their garage, so if you happen to be one of those rare creatures who does not, chances are at least one of your friends does. If all else fails, ask on craigslist! You can also use slabs of styrofoam for this but it just has to fill in all gaps and be snug!

4] Two sturdy shipping boxes. The first (or inner) box should be about 4-5 inches larger than the sewing machine on all sides. The other (outer) box should be about 4-5 inches larger than the first one on all sides. This is a general thing. The idea is that the machine will have ample padding and will not move AT ALL within its box. This may be how the average person would think it was safe to ship. BUT that box then needs to be surrounded on all sides bu additional padding in an outer box.

NOTE: You can use blankets and pillows etc instead of bubble wrap and styrofoam and it would probably get there safely, but it would also double your shipping fees so it's really cheaper to buy the packing supplies if you have to.

Step 2: Deal with "problem areas" first.

Drop bobbin winder or tuck in in as close to the body of the machine as possible.
In some models (the 221 Featherweights especially) it is recommended that you actually remove the entire bobbin winder as it is most likely to break off in transit.

In many models it is safer to remove the presser foot before shipping.

If there is a carry handle, make sure it is folded in.

Flip up folding bed (if there is one) and add padding where needed.

Basically, get the machine as small and compact as it will go. This may mean removing a few extremities. Again, in the 221 you will also want to remove the top that holds the thread spool.

Step 3: Start bubble-wrapping!

If you are reusing old bubble wrap and only have small pieces you can tape them together, so long as they surround the machine several times, covering ALL surfaces, and paying close attention to all corners and other protrusions.

Step 4: Pack the first (or inner) box.

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Put the puffy bubble-wrapped machine in a box as close to snug as you can, and fill the box with extra bubble wrap or peanuts if there is ANY room for it to shift. Tape it up securely on all sides.

Step 5: Prepare the second (outer) box.

Picture of Prepare the second (outer) box.
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Fill only the bottom of the second larger box with Styrofoam peanuts about 6 -8 inches (it will compress a bit).

Step 6: Nest inner box inside outer box.

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Now carefully position the first box the center of the outer box and fill the sides with more peanuts. REALLY pack them in, as much as you can.

Step 7: Wrap and pack foot control, power supply, attachments etc.

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Now you need to bubble wrap those extras! Make sure they are well-protected, and do them in individual small packages rather than putting them together, this way if you have several they will still fit in the same outer box with the machine.

Step 8: Top it off and close it up!

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Now pour Styrofoam peanuts over the whole thing, making sure they get in between all the small items and really pack those edges full! Make it so there is a slight mound on top so when you close the box you have to hold it down to keep it closed. This will ensure it is all nice and snug and nothing will shift in transit. Tape it up nice and strong on all sides, label it, and it's ready to go!
slinn111 months ago

Thank you for making the decision for me: My properly-wrapped sewing machine will be my carry-on. Considerably less important items such as clothing, medications, and cosmetics, can go in cargo :) Thanks for the great info!

pampero1 year ago
Excellent instructable, thanks.
kkoole3 years ago
Your Instructable is a lifesaver! My senior citizen parent just bought me an antique Singer and I have to walk him through the packing and shipping. As they say, a picture saves a thousand words and with your wonderful tutorial, I know my lovely machine will get here safe.
archerj4 years ago
Excellent instructable! Can be used for shipping any kind of really fragile item. Thanks.
mehl6 years ago
VERY informative and helpful. Just sold a sewing machine on ebay and wanted to make sure I shipped it properly. This was just the tool I needed. Thanks!!
rupamagic (author)  mehl6 years ago
Glad to be of assistance!
We have a really lovely old singer in the garage, thankfully it's the manual type that's like a table, they have a special box cover that make shipping safe as long as the actual box and tabe are protected. It was under our house for years, I lifted it out during moving, lifted the box and it was perfect, not one mark on it the enamelled finish wasn't even dusty...
rupamagic (author)  killerjackalope7 years ago
Aren't they amazing? I just love them! They also work FOREVER, much like the gas stoves of that era. A little oil and cleaning now and then keeps them so happy!
even the foot tilt drive mechanism is perfect, need a belt for the drive though, only thing that disintegrated...