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How we test craft and sewing machines

A photo of a Cricut cutting machine on a table with materials
(Image credit: Cricut)

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

Our writers are crafters, some professional, and so they know what's needed from a new craft machine. Whether you're a hobbyist or a professional, our reviewers test each machine on the basis of how it's intended to be used. This can mean a sewing machine or craft cutter will be used to make a project, or even multiple projects, from start to finish.

You can find out more about our general reviews process by reading our how we test guide, but below we'll go into a little more detail on the criteria we use to test the best craft and sewing machines.

What's in the box?

A photo of ScanNCut's blades and tools

Knowing what comes packaged with a new craft or sewing machine can influence a review (Image credit: Future)

We always like to begin a review with an overview of what the machine is design for, who it's aimed at, what you get in the box. This stage of a review also covers how easy a machine is to set up and begin using. This may seem obvious, but it helps you decide if this product is for you early on, or if this craft or sewing machine is one to put on a future wish list.

This also represents the desire to prove if a craft or sewing machine is good value for money. More and more manufacturers aim to give users a good experience out of the box. Some machines will have everything you need to get started while others may require you to buy attachments.

We aim to answer some simple questions in our reviews, such as: Will this machine last you? Will you need to spend extra money to get the most from it? And, how easy is a machine to set up and get crafting with?

Design and build

A photo of the ScanNCut SDX220 at an angle0

A craft machine's design is more about its looks (Image credit: Future)

We like to delve into a machine's design and build quality when reviewing, after all these machines aren't cheap and we want to ensure any recommended craft or sewing machines will last. This can include general notes on a device's quality, sturdiness and look. 

We also take the time to use a machine and come to understand how design can affect use. For example, does a sewing machine's design enable easy removal and attachment of new sewing feet, has a craft machine been built with storage in mind and are its blades easily swapped?

Judging the design and build quality of a craft device is more about usability than style and looks. Our reviewers spend two to four weeks a with a machine for each review in order to fully understand how it works and why a design has been chosen. 

Making a projects and updates

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

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

Because our craft reviewers spend up to a month with a machine, it can 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 every feature of a craft cutting machine, including connecting it to other devices, to ensure it works as intended.

Our reviewers also return to a craft machine weeks after a review goes live to ensure it still performs as needed months later. This can be particularly useful for sewing machines to judge stitch accuracy and consistency, and to check if a craft machine's new tools and accessories change our view of its value and usefulness.

Make sure you return to our reviews to check for updates, each is time stamped 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 machines guides as these are regularly updated with new details and entries. 

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The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of six full-time members of staff: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.