How we test craft and sewing machines

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When we test craft and sewing machines here at Creative Bloq, we look not only at what a product can do, but also at the value it represents. There are many types of craft machines available, from sewing machines to mechanical or laser cutters, so we like to look at them in the context of their use, cost, as well as the technology they offer.

Our writers are artisans, some professionals, and so they know what is expected of a new craft machine. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, our reviewers test each machine for its use. This may mean that a sewing machine or craft cutter will be used to complete a project, or even multiple projects, from start to finish.

You can find out more about our general review process by reading our testing guide, but below we’ll go into a bit more detail about the criteria we use to test the best craft and sewing machines.

What’s in the box?

A photo of ScanNCut blades and tools

Knowing what’s packed with a new craft or sewing machine can influence a review (Image credit: future)

We always like to start a review with an overview of what the machine is designed for, who it’s for, what you get in the box. This stage of an exam also covers the ease of installing and commissioning a machine. It may seem obvious, but it helps you decide if this product is for you right from the start, or if this craft or sewing machine is on a future wish list.

It also represents the desire to prove whether a craft or sewing machine is good value for money. More and more manufacturers aim to provide users with a good out-of-the-box experience. Some machines will have everything you need to get started while others may require you to purchase accessories.

We aim to answer a few simple questions in our reviews, such as: Will this machine last you? Will you need to spend the extra cash to get the most out of it? And, how easy is a machine to install and manufacture?

Design and build

A photo of the ScanNCut SDX220 from an angle0

The design of a homemade machine is more related to its appearance (Image credit: future)

We like to delve into the design and build quality of a machine when reviewing, after all these machines are not cheap and we want to make sure that any craft or sewing machine recommended will last. This may include general notes on the quality, robustness and appearance of a device.

We also take the time to use a machine and come to understand how design can affect use. For example, is the design of a sewing machine easy to remove and attach new sewing feet, has a craft machine been built with storage in mind, and are its blades easily interchangeable?

Judging the design and build quality of a DIY device is more about usability than style and appearance. Our reviewers spend two to four weeks with a machine for each exam to fully understand how it works and why a design was chosen.

Make projects and updates

Janome Continental M7 review, a photo of a sewing machine on a table

Our reviewers spend many weeks with a homemade machine working on new projects (Image credit: future)

Since our craft reviewers spend up to a month with a machine, this may mean a project or multiple projects will be created using the product. Our reviewers often make new garments or quilts using a sewing machine, and a writer will use the full functionality of a craft cutting machine, including connection to other devices, to ensure that works as expected.

Our reviewers also come back to a homemade machine weeks after a review goes live to make sure it’s still working as needed months later. This can be especially useful for sewing machines to judge stitch accuracy and consistency, and to check whether new tools and accessories on a craft machine change our view of its value and usefulness.

Be sure to come back to our reviews to check for updates, each one is timestamped so you know if a writer has something new to add. Also keep track of our best Cricut machines, best Brother ScanNCut machines and best sewing machine guides as these are regularly updated with new details and entries.

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