Top positive review
Read This Before You Spend $5,000
Reviewed in the United States on June 28, 2015
This machine compares very favorably with the current Bernina 550, for a fraction of the price. Singer's touch screen is superior, as it is not only a color screen -- theirs isn't -- it is much clearer. There is no comparison in terms of the appearance of the two machines. This Singer is flat out gorgeous in person, and it's purple. Singer has really knocked it out of the park in terms of presentation with this one. The photos here do not begin to do it justice. I literally gasped when I pulled it out of the box. I do miss having a knee lifter on this machine, which my Singer 580 embroidery machine has, but the superb quality of the 9985 considering its low price is ample consolation.
With 960 stitches, it blows the Bernina 550 right out of the water, as it has only 177. Of course it is the quality of the stitch that counts, and the Singer 9985 stitches as beautifully as any machine costing thousands more. I am working my way through the entire catalog of decorative stitches and functions, and have not found anything so far that is less than perfect. What is really unexpected in a machine at this price is the degree of precision you can bring to bear on your decorative stitches. Say you wish to place an outline of decorative arrows around a neckline facing or placket; you can figure out by stitching a sample how many arrows you are getting per inch, and program the machine to run a certain number of arrows and stop, so you can precisely pivot and turn or reproduce a certain line of stitching or whatever. The selection and editing of decorative stitches is simple and intuitive if you are used to doing anything with a computer. Not every stitch can be elongated or made wider to the same extent, but it is easy to tell what you can and cannot do once you see it on the screen. Considering this capability, you really have way more than the 960 stitches advertised. For best quality decorative stitching, I recommend using 40-wt rayon or polyester machine embroidery thread on top and good quality polyester sewing thread to match your item in the bobbin, and attach the transparent satin stitch foot. Tearaway or wash-away stabilizer under your project will make a world of difference. Many stitches can be flipped or rotated, so you could stitch a line of left-facing triangles next to a line of right-facing triangles, or run some lines of straight stitches in between for a cuff or something like that -- in other words, the creative design possibilities get crazy when you have these advanced editing capabilities, and the results are perfect because you can edit precisely where each stitch starts and stops. With this wide selection of stitches, even the simplest garment can be embellished with embroidery to make it look amazing. Stalking Pinterest and Instagram photos of embroidered garments has inspired me to combine multiple rows of decorative stitches with straight stitching around garment edges, repeating thread colors I've used in the embroidered motifs I've done on the Singer Quantum Futura 580 on the front, back, and sleeves. Built-in stitches did not seem to add much to fashion sewing for me in the past because in regular sewing thread, they can look pretty sad, but the options this machine offers combined with the wonderful threads widely available to machine embroiderers make fashion sewing exciting in a whole new way.
The hand quilting-look stitch combined with the walking foot offers a feature usually found on only high-end machines. I was skeptical that a machine at this price point could produce a decent quilting stitch, but by following the directions in the manual and making the necessary tension adjustments, the result is quite impressive.
The manual is pretty good. When I get a new machine, I usually go through the manual page by page and try every stitch, technique, and foot to learn as much as I can and make sure everything is functioning properly. Though I have not completed the learning process yet on this machine due to my eagerness to get to the fun stuff, I have read through the entire manual and it seems that everything I need to know is in there somewhere. The quilting section should not be construed as instruction in quiltmaking by any means, and it is kind of weird that they do not mention the even-feed foot until several pages later, and free-motion quilting and stippling should probably not be attempted based on the instructions here, though of course YouTube videos abound. I find Singer manuals maddening in that the English version is on the left-hand side of the page, with French and Spanish on the right. It would be much more efficient for all users if they would put each language in its own section. The small format of this manual means the print and illustrations are quite small. I'll be looking for the manual at the Singer site so I can read it on a device which enables me to zoom in.
Speaking of instructions, I'd just like to point out that this uses size 15 bobbins, not 15J as the "customers also bought" copy above might indicate. The difference is slight but if you use the wrong bobbins, you will really mess up your shuttle race. When I selected this machine, I assumed it would use 15J bobbins just like my embroidery machine, which would be super convenient. Alas, that is not the case, and it is kind of a pain. You must use Singer brand bobbins, and not cheap copies, which are not the same size. This is kind of a pain, but it's worth it to me to have all these other awesome features I never expected to own. And did I say it's purple?
The Singer 9985 is the perfect companion to my Singer 580 embroidery machine. I am super thrilled that I was able to get such a high quality machine with so many awesome stitches and features for such a low price, with free shipping. Not to be snarky, but a local dealer of the expensive brands does not carry this machine in her store, and I can guess why, though she offered to special order it for me, at the full list price. *snort* If I were trying to sell a comparable machine for almost $5,000, I would not want this one sitting next to it, either. Thanks, amazon!!