Finding a Sewing Machine in Oaxaca, Mexico

First, sewing is alive and well in Oaxaca. Indeed, throughout Mexico women are sewing everything imaginable, from clothing to draperies to furniture coverings.  People here are resourceful and talented.  Sewing is an art and skill we are losing in the U.S.A. as we lack time and seek convenience.  It is difficult to find quality fabric stores in most cities and mid-size towns.  Only in rural America and among immigrant populations is sewing considered a valued skill.  In Oaxaca on the street called Aldama,  just a few blocks from the Zocalo, there is an abundance of stores selling all sorts of sewing supplies and fabrics.  I didn’t even need to bring the dense upholstery foam with me for needle felting.  It is available here!SewingMachine-2

The premier shop is Parisina, the supermarket of sewing.  But, tucked away into small spaces are little notions shops that are family owned and operated, where you can buy thread, needles, lace trims, seam binding, hooks and elastic, zippers, and anything you can imagine that would capture the heart of a seamstress.

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My quest today was to decide upon which sewing machine to buy for our Felted Fashion Workshop that starts on February 2.  And, in the process I learned a new phrase: Buscando por una maquina de coser. We will be using the sewing machine to stitch seams and make optional embellishments.  What to buy?  That was my dilemma.  At home, I’ve been sewing with an Elna portable that I bought in San Francisco in 1970.  It is all metal, heavy, durable, needing repair only once over all those years.  Today’s machines are plastic and most are made in China.

Should it be Singer or Brother?  Janome or Bernina?  After doing my internet research using Consumer Reports, not knowing what was available to buy here in Oaxaca, or the assurances of warranty and repair service, and after demonstrations at Parisina and Sears (yes, there is a Sears in Oaxaca) I decided the best strategy was to go into small women-operated shops to ask their opinion.  My favorite is a tienda on Calle Mina just off the corner of J.P. Garcia.


The shopkeeper sent me several more blocks away from the center of town, deep into the working class, industrial part of the city closer to Abastos Market to find Moscer, the distributor for Singer and Brother, the two most popular brands of sewing machines in Oaxaca.

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Here I met Jorge (left) and Alejandro (right), who both sell and repair sewing machines — heavy duty Brother commercial and lighter weight models for home use.  When I asked Jorge which machine had a better repair history, he said both Singer and Brother were equal but he hinted at preferring the Brother.  Both of these machines are made in and imported from Brasil, and the price is about twice as much as in the U.S.   I’m going back to Sears where they are now running a big sale on sewing machines.  They are also available at Parisina and Fabricas de Francia (Liverpool department store).  There is no shopping deprivation here!

Moscer and Casa Diaz, sales and service for sewing machines, J.P. Garcia #702a, Centro Historico, Oaxaca, Mexico (past Mina, then past Zaragosa toward the Periferico).



18 responses to “Finding a Sewing Machine in Oaxaca, Mexico

  1. I am trying to find very basic industrial singer machines (I think they are model 4411) for an orphanage in Tepoztlan, Morales. I know that they are sold via Walmart but not certain if they are available in a Walmart in Mexico. I’d love any ideas!

  2. Hi Norma,
    This is a shot in the dark but I have a small apparel company that manufactures in Oaxaca. We have had HUGE problems with finding quality sewers. Recently I’ve lost our good seamstresses who sewed samples for us and I am searching for someone either downtown or toward Etla. Also looking for new maquilas to sew volume. Any suggestions are appreciated!
    Many thanks

  3. I have a bag making business in Puerto Escondido which is a sister brand to the australian brand launched in Sydney and now distributing all over the world. We tried production locally but have moved it to Guadalahara, keeping only a small workshop at Puerto for sampling . I have 2 industrial machines that I would like to sell, one being a Brother and the other a Zoti, both work well . I am prepared to drive to Oaxaca to sell them if you can suggest anywhere that might be interested. Thank you.

    • Louise, I am a sewer and there are many seamstresses here in my village of Teotitlan del Valle and Oaxaca. Can you send me photos of each of the machines and the price you want for each. I will see what I can do. It would be a benefit to women here who earn their own income. Many are without husbands and have families to support. So, I am glad to help you and help them. Thanks for thinking of us. -Norma

      • Dear Norma,

        We have 4 machines and at some point will not require them all. But for now we can sell two of them. One is a BROTHER and the other a Zoti ZJ5600N. If you give me your email address I can attach images of the two machines showing their model numbers. We bought them at $6.5k pesos each about 7 months ago but prepared to sell them at half that price as we are more than happy to be of assistance to a good cause.

  4. I will be driving to Mexico next April and will be bringing my Brother sewing machine with me in my car. Will I have any problems going over the border into Mexico with it? Thanks

    • Laurals, you shouldn’t have any problem at all. It would likely be considered personal property like a computer.

      • My husband and I have never been out of North Carolina and plan on moving to Lake Chapala when he retires next year. I have no idea what they consider personal items besides clothes. I did read that we can bring 300 dollars worth of used things and my sewing machine cost way more than that. And thanks for getting back to me in 2 seconds Lol

        • Hmmm. Have you been to the Mexican consulate in Raleigh? They could be helpful. Also, I recommend that before you make the move permanently, you rent for 6-12 months to make sure you like the location. There are lots of wonderful places in Mexico to live where there are expats and great culture. I think the rules for what you can bring in are different for tourists and for those with a temporary or permanent resident visa. You can apply for those at the consulate.

  5. I tried to buy a used sewing machine when I lived in Atlacomulco, Edo. Mexico and it seems most people don’t get rid of their machines but pass them on. Had any luck with a used machine in Oaxaca?
    Just wondering…

    • Hi, Sheri. No luck with used sewing machines, though I have looked and asked around! New ones cost more here than in the U.S. Yesterday I went to the Casa de Empeño — state run pawn shop — but no luck there either. You are right, the older ones, solid, made from metal, are treasures to be held onto. The new ones are plastic junk, but there is no other choice. I am leaning toward the “Brother” brand. Shows up higher on ratings than Singer. Any feedback on brands?

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