I’ve been exploring other crafts lately, mostly sewing and decorating T-shirts. Hand sewing a crocheted item onto a T-shirt can be time-consuming. As a result I’ve been looking at sewing machines. I have no prior experience with them.

I’m naturally (or unnaturally) analytical when it comes to spending money. With bigger expenses, I rely on decision-helping spreadsheets. Down one column goes a list of sewing machines I’m considering. Across the top are the features I’m looking for. This includes everything from price to the weight of the sewing machine (will you be hauling it to classes?) and from automatic threader to whether it can handle thicker fabrics. One article I read said there are about 248 models from about nine recognized manufacturers. No wonder my head is spinning.

I started with Sewing Machine Ratings.com and focused on machines rated above the score of 90. I also listed how many folks rated the machine. That exercise showed me that most crafters don’t like to invest a lot of money in sewing machines, so those brands with the most reviews are the cheapest models, i.e. Brother and Singer. The better quality and more expensive machines, i.e. Janome and Juki, had at the most 30 reviews/comments. The latter two brands are considered medium in terms of overall quality and are often available only through dealers. The purchase price through a dealer often includes classes and a place to go to trade up or to get other equipment or gadgets for the machines.

For those of you who are strong supporters of items made in America, well good luck with that. Although everyone agrees that Viking, Elna and Bernina are superior machines, they also agree that they are pricey and limiting in their versatility. To do more, means to invest in pricier “feet” or gadgets that come as standard items in the less expensive, popular machines. You may purchase better quality needles and threads to help the performance of lower-rated brands.

Another helpful site asks: Is one brand of sewing machine better than another? Erin of Erinsayssew.com makes a valid point when she states that there is a trade-off between precision in stitching and offering lots of features at an affordable price. Another valid point I found in my research is that if you are a crafter involved in many different crafts, can you justify the expense of a high-end machine based on its time of use? In other words, your sewing machine may be collecting dust, while you are crocheting instead of sewing. These are just a few things to keep in mind.

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