In my previous reviews for the Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist (click here for review) and Singer Futura XL-400, (click here for review) I was really excited about the automatic thread cutter that the 9960 has, and was wishing that the Futura had it, too. Well, I got my wish. Most everything that the Quantum Stylist has that I love, the new Futura XL-580 has. So I was quick to purchase it and sell my other machines. I needed to clear out things in my bedroom/craft room/sewing room anyway. I figured since one sewing machine takes up less room than two and since the XL-580 has the previously mentioned features, that I might as well have one machine rather than two. Oh how I was wrong!
Here’s my review on the Singer Futura XL-580. In this review, I am comparing it with the Futura XL-400 and the Quantum Stylist 9960, so I’m a little biased. If I had nothing to compare it with, I’m sure my review would be a little different.
- Automatic Thread Cutter--Has an automatic thread cutter (push the button and it cuts the thread), but it is different than the one that the Quantum Stylist has. It is slower and moves the needle to the center position when it cuts (more details in the cons section below.)
The Embroidery feature also has an automatic thread cutter, so that when it is finished embroidering a design, it automatically cuts the thread. You can turn this feature off, but must do so each time that you embroider. I like the feature and don’t know why they didn’t come up with it years ago.
- Programmable Needle Up/Down--Has a button to make the needle stop down as you sew (more details in the cons section below.) The XL-400 has one, too, but I didn’t realize it since I only used it for embroidery.
- Automatic Needle Threader. The automatic needle threader seems to work well. I haven’t had any problems with it, other than having to raise the needle in the uppermost position in order for it to work properly.
- BONUS Software Included--It comes with all the embroidery editing software (AutoPunch™, HyperFont™ and Advanced Editing software), so you don’t have to purchase it separately like you do with the XL-400 and other previous Futuras. (Software does not come in disks; rather, it comes in a USB thumb drive.)
- USB KEY—It comes with a unique USB thumb drive (aka dongle or key), so you don’t have to hook up your machine to your computer each time you want to get into the software to create/edit some embroidery designs. Simply plug the thumb drive into your computer and start up the software program. This is another main reason I purchased this machine to replace the XL-400. Some people have reported that they lost their thumb drive and had to pay a lot of money to replace it. I simply made a backup of the software so that if I did ever lose it, I wouldn’t have to buy another one. However, you will not be able to use the backup thumb drive to use the software without hooking it up to the machine. In other words, you will have the software backup, but not be able to get into the software without the original thumb drive or without hooking it up to the machine. In order to use the machine for embroidery, it must be hooked up to the machine. The thumb drive that comes with it is only so that you can work in the software before hooking it up to the machine. It is just for convenience.
- 3 Hoops. Has the same small and large snap-on hoops as the XL-400, with an additional endless hoop (another reason I purchased it.) However the endless hoop is not very big, so it is basically for borders/edges.
- Multihoop Capability—same as the XL-400. I still have not tried it out yet.
- 215 built-in stitches. I wasn’t sure whether to put this under pros or cons because it’s not as many stitches as the Quantum Stylist (600), but a lot more than the XL-400 (30). So I put it in both. The XL-580 has 100 regular and decorative stitches with the rest being alphabetic. The Quantum Stylist has 150 decorative stitches, with the rest being alphabetic. Sadly, my favorite stitches on the Quantum Stylist are not included in the XL-580.
- Speed Control. Just like the XL-400 and Quantum Stylist, the speed control comes on the XL-580 and it is a wonderful feature.
- Control Panel—I like the control panel on the XL-580 better than the XL-400. It is pretty simple to navigate through the different stitches. However, I like the tension control on the XL-400 better.
- Quilting Capability – I’ll have to admit, I do love that this machine will quilt for me. I’ve purchased several quilting designs and absolutely love being able to quilt with this machine. I’ve tried free-motion quilting and I’m just terrible at it. Plus, it gets difficult with a big heavy quilt.
- Delayed Power Switch. Takes a while to come on after flipping the switch. Most times I think I don't have it plugged in, so I flip the switch again, just as it finally comes on. (Update: After a while, I did get used to it.)
- Automatic Thread Cutter goes to center needle position when activated so if you have a presser foot such as the overcast foot, it breaks the needle! (I have broken two needles within an hour.) This just takes some getting used to, I suppose. And it’s not an issue if you’re just using it as an embroidery machine. The Quantum Stylist thread cutter would lower the needle in the same position that it was, rather than changing it to the center.
- Needle position is automatically in the up position when you stop sewing, but you can touch a button to have it stop down instead of up. However, when you turn off the machine, the next time you turn it on, it automatically stops up again instead of down so you must remember each time you turn on your machine to push the button. Again, it will take some getting used to and it’s not a problem if you’re just using it for an embroidery machine. This would not have been a problem for me if I had written this 6 years ago (before I grew accustomed to the Quantum Stylist).
- SWIFTSMART™ Threading System is very “finicky.” The Quantum Stylist has a much better threading system. You have to get the thread in perfectly and it must be clean, free of any lint. Mopsy Jay has a very good video on youtube describing how to clean it. (Update: I’ve had this machine for almost a year now and have not had problems with the threading system.)
- Automatic tension is also finicky. I am constantly having to readjust the tension. I never had to do this with the Quantum Stylist. Again, everything must be very clean for it to work. I cleaned it out and there was very little lint, but there was also a tiny sliver of wood in the bobbin case, so that might have been messing it up. After cleaning it, it works fine. I only used it a few times before having to clean it out. With the Quantum Stylist, I could go months without cleaning it and it would litterally be caked with lint before it started messing up.
- Squeaky hand wheel. When I first purchased this machine, it squeaked so bad, I ended up sending it back, thinking something was wrong with it. The replacement I received squeaked, too, but not quite as bad. I pulled off the hand wheel and oiled the inside (the belt) as well as I could and it did help. See the video here.
- 215 Built-in Stitches. Not as many decorative stitches to choose from as the Quantum Stylist has. I also put this as a Pro because it has more stitches than the XL-400.
In conclusion, if you are looking for an inexpensive embroidery machine that hooks up to your computer, this one will suffice. There are more features to this machine than the older versions. However, if you sew often and just want a sewing machine without embroidery, the Quantum Stylist blows this one out of the water.