How to Ship a Sewing Machine
Whether you are selling a sewing machine, or sending one out for repair, the idea of shipping one can seem daunting. However it doesn't have to be. When you use the appropriate materials and packing methods, your machine will arrive safely to its destination. You must consider that the package will surely be roughed up along its journey. Securing your machine is not difficult, but is a little time consuming. It personally takes me about an hour to properly pack a machine for shipping


What you'll need:

1) Scale- A scale that can weigh packages of up to 100 lbs (not your bathroom scale, but one meant for shipping). Buy a shipping scale on eBay.

2) Double wall box, rated at 200lb test weight which is rated for up to 60 lbs, and is sufficient for most domestic sewing machines. Box size should be either: 20x20x20 or 20x18x18 (do not use a smaller size box and DO NOT use a single wall box.) You may need a bigger box if shipping a carry case too, or you could break it into two shipments for easier handling. 

3) Packing Tape: Use a clear strong packing tape, and get several rolls. You can easily use two small rolls of tape. Never use scotch tape. Buy packing tape on eBay.

4) Packing material: 
  • Packing peanuts can be used ONLY IF THEY ARE CONTAINED WITHIN A 13 GALLON BAG (otherwise the machine will fall right through them). Note about using packing peanuts: When I use these in a bag, I use them as an additional layer of protection, not the only layer. I add a 4" layer of Styrofoam on top of the bag of the packing peanuts. Buy packing peanuts on eBay.
  • Styrofoam: I always keep these on hand from other shipments, or you can buy it online. These are excellent for laying under the machine or securing the inside of the box corners.  Buy Styrofoam on eBay.
  • Boxes: I often will use smaller flattened boxes for beefing up the bottom or sides of the shipping box, or to provide an additional cushion between items in the box. A good option but it will also add extra weight to the shipment.
  • Paper packing paper- This can be bought in a roll and works great for filling in gaps and offers good protection. Buy packing paper on eBay.
  • Bubble wrap- I never ship a machine without it. The machine gets wrapped several times with this. Get two sizes of bubble wrap, one with small bubbles, and another roll with larger 1/2" bubbles. The small 3/16" bubble wrap is excellent for wrapping smaller areas, while the larger bubble wrap is great for wrapping the machine itself.  I buy my bubble wrap on eBay.
  • Air Pillows- I tuck these around any open spaces in the box. Buy air pillows on eBay.

To Prepare the machine: 

Before wrapping the machine you'll have to protect a few vulnerable parts:
  • Remove needle and lower needle bar.
  • Remove bobbin case/shuttles from machine.
  • If necessary, place a piece of small bubble, bubble wrap between light fixture and machine, or around the light, if possible.
  • Place the presser foot in the down position. Then place bubble wrap around the face place needle/presser foot bar area. 
  • Remove the external motor and belt and wrap separately (on applicable machines).
  • Protect spool pin(s). You can either place a piece of Styrofoam over it, or wrap it with bubble wrap.
  • Wrap bobbin winders with bubble wrap.
Never ship a sewing machine inside of its carry case. Both the machine and carry case must be wrapped separately before they are placed inside of the box and positioned side by side. Since the machine will usually weigh more than the case, try and balance the weight by packing any attachments, etc on the same side where the case is. You can also add smaller cardboard folded up to add additional weight to the lighter side of the box. Attachments, foot controller, manual etc all get carefully wrapped, labeled and are placed into the box carefully tucked among the machine.

Packing the machine: I aim to have at least 4-6" of thick packing between the machine and the walls of the box.  The corners especially must be fortified from crushing.

Creating the label: Once the machine is packed and you are ready to ship it, you'll need some information for the label:
  • Size of box - Measure the L x W x H
  • Weight (always weigh twice)
  • Value of contents
  • Destination and return address
  • Shipping Method
  • Add insurance 

Insurance: Always insure the shipment! The cost for insurance is literally only a few dollars. In my opinion it's better to pay the few bucks rather than refund a customer for the entire sale/or replace your own machine simply because it was damaged by the shipper. In all the machine's I've shipped, only two machines were damaged, and the insurance covered the customers purchase- nothing out of my pocket. Why should I pay for the fault of someone else? FYI- Always take pictures of the machine while you are packing it because if you have ever to file a claim, you'll need proof of how the machine was packed.

Securing and labeling the box: Never skimp on the use of packing tape because it helps secure the box. Make sure that the label is clear with a return address in the event it can't be delivered. Write the words in a broad marker 'FRAGILE' and 'DO NOT DROP' where it is clearly seen.

Shipping options: 
Your options are: the Post Office, UPS or Fed Ex. If you can get the machine to the UPS store, supposedly they will do it all, pack the machine and ship it. I've never used that service but maybe it would benefit you. See if they add insurance. You can also pack it up and have UPS pick it up at your home, though they will charge a pickup fee. Same with Fed Ex. Both of which you can schedule and pay for online. With the post office, you pack it up and you can either take it to the post office, and I believe they pick it up, but I usually just bring it into the post office myself. Make sure you get a tracking #.

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