Sewing Machine Rating Sources
Christine Cyr Clisset tests 11 sewing machines after narrowing down available models through research and their popularity in reviews. She interviews experts and enlists the assistance of sewing writers, teachers and bloggers to test the machines. The name of each machine is hidden so that no preconceived notions affect the testing. Clisset ultimately chooses the Janome Magnolia 7318 as the best sewing machine for beginners. She also recommends a budget pick and alternatives for various sewing needs and budgets.
Vernelle Nelson, the owner of this sewing blog, personally tests dozens of sewing machines at all price levels and brands, including some very high-end models. Her reviews are extremely thorough, and she is very consistent in her testing -- making sure, for example, to test the same stitch types from machine to machine. She also notes what skill level each machine is best suited to. In addition, she has "Best Of" lists of sewing machines and sergers.
Amazon.com carries hundreds of sewing machines, and many popular choices attract hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of reviews. Brother and Singer rule the roost here, with Janome also making it into the ranks of the top-rated machines. User feedback is often detailed, providing information on long-term durability as well as ease of use for beginners.
Brother, Singer and Janome are tops at Walmart.com as well, which also carries hundreds of sewing machines and sewing notions and accessories. Many machines get hundreds or thousands of reviews, and there are quite a few that earn close to 5-star ratings.
Joann.com, the website for Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, has fewer reviews (and fewer sewing machines) overall than either Amazon.com or Walmart.com, but write ups tend to be very detailed and knowledgeable. Reviewers can also say if they would recommend the sewing machine to a friend.
At PatternReview.com, experienced sewers can post reviews of their sewing machines, giving an overview of how they use them, any pros and cons, and if they would recommend them. This is a great source for reviews of sewing machines that you can't easily find online, including reviews of machines from higher-end brands such as Baby Lock and Pfaff. Note that reading reviews posted more than six months ago requires a free membership to the site.
SewMamaSew.com asked readers to fill out a survey about their favorite sewing machines, giving the answer to specific questions that give a good overview of the machine and how it's used. Like PatternReview.com, this is an excellent way to read individual reviews of machines that are only sold in retail stores and are usually not reviewed online.
ConsumerReports.org has discontinued their testing of sewing machines, but this sewing machine guide is still available and free to the public. It's an extensive look of what you need to know before shopping for a sewing machine. Brands are mentioned but not rated.