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Brother XR9550 Review

A great machine that leaves something to be desired in creating buttonholes on lighter fabrics but overall provides excellent features for the price
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Brother XR9550 Review (A great sewing machine at a great price.)
A great sewing machine at a great price.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Price:  $230 List
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Manufacturer:   Brother
By Austin Palmer and Ruth Bruckbauer  ⋅  Jun 12, 2023
74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 15
  • Sewing - 45% 7.4
  • Ease of use - 35% 8.9
  • Buttonholes - 20% 4.8

Our Verdict

he Brother XR9550 is a well-conceived, inexpensive, and easy-to-use machine. It is great for either a novice or an experienced sewer. The set-up, stitches, and threading instructions are all on the lit computerized screen and are very easy to follow. This machine provides outstanding straight and very good zig-zag stitches on multiple types of fabric but doesn't really shine with buttonholes, which could be because of the irregular winding of the bobbin. If you are a seamstress or seamster who wants a really good, lightweight machine that is easy to use, this would be a great option. But if you are an experienced sewer who wants many more stitch options, pass this one by.
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to use
Notably good zigzag stitching
Free-foot sewing option
REASONS TO AVOID
Buttonholes on light to medium fabrics aren't ideal
Subpar bobbin winding
Editor's Note: This review was last updated on June 12, 2023, to reflect new comparisons from our latest round of testing with some new models.

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Price $230 List
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Bottom Line An inexpensive, easy-to-use sewing machine that provides consistent sewing but has some trouble with buttonholes and winding the bobbinA simple to use option with lots of stitches, an excellent screen, and an affordable price, but isn't the cleanest buttonhole makerA user-friendly model that works well on all the basics except for buttonholes, and comes at an affordable priceThis is a great machine for just about everyone, although a serious sewist may want a machine with better quality stitchingA beginner would really like this machine since it's easy-to-use and inexpensive
Rating Categories Brother XR9550 Brother HC1850 Brother CS7000X Singer 7258 Stylist Brother CS5055
Sewing (45%)
7.4
7.8
7.4
7.5
6.8
Ease of use (35%)
8.9
9.3
9.2
7.8
8.0
Buttonholes (20%)
4.8
5.6
4.8
7.2
6.8
Specs Brother XR9550 Brother HC1850 Brother CS7000X Singer 7258 Stylist Brother CS5055
# of Built-in Stitches 165 185 70 100 60
# of Buttonhole Styles 8 8 7 6 7
Computerized? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Measured Weight 12.1 Ibs 10.5 lbs 10.4 lbs 14.6 lbs 10.8 lbs
Manufacturer Stated Maximum Sewing Speed (stitches per minute) 850 850 750 750 750
Buttonhole Sewing (number of steps) 1-Step 1-Step 1-Step 1-Step 1-Step
Maximum Stitch Width 7mm 7mm 7mm 6mm 7mm
Maximum Stitch Length 5mm 5mm 5mm 4.8mm 5mm
Thread Cutter Built-in Built-in Built-in Built-in Built-in
Automatic Bobbin Winder Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cover Hard No Hard Soft No
Free Arm Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Brother XR9550 is a quality product at an excellent price point. With 165 different stitch styles, a 1-step buttonhole process, and a free arm that enables sewing around sleeves or other smaller areas, the XR9550 is a terrific sewing machine for beginners or veterans alike. We like the light weight (10.7 pounds) and the hard cover/carrier, which really protects the sewing machine against accidents. But that's not all that impressed our testers. This model's best descriptive word is e-a-s-y. Its setup, stitch selection, buttonholes, and zippers were all straightforward.

Performance Comparison


brother xr9550 - our testers sewed many different stitches on many different fabrics...
Our testers sewed many different stitches on many different fabrics with the XR9550.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Sewing


Let's face it; you buy a sewing machine because you want to sew something. It may be putting on patches or creating heirloom quilts, but whatever you sew, you want a dependable, easy-to-use sewing machine. We put the Brother XR9550 through a number of sewing tests using six different stitches on six different fabrics. We sewed on chiffon, denim, and most fabric in between, using those six different stitches. Then we moved on to buttonholes and zippers, the bane of many a home sewer. But the XR9550 kept pace with whatever we threw at it. This metric is worth 45% of our overall scoring, so you know how important it is to us.

brother xr9550 - beautiful consistent stitches on the quilting test.
Beautiful consistent stitches on the quilting test.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

We use the basic straight stitch first in our tests because it is an excellent way to determine how the stitches and tension look out of the gate. We set the machines at a 2-2.5 stitch length and then sewed on different fabrics, looking for tension and evenness. Basting on the XR9550 was a breeze. On each of the fabrics, the stitches were evenly spaced, and the tension was terrific, with very little bunching, even on chiffon.

brother xr9550 - the stitches and tension were consistently even, except for some...
The stitches and tension were consistently even, except for some very slight bunching on chiffon fabric.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Then we got to the zigzag stitch, which is used more than you may think. You can't do a buttonhole without a zigzag stitch, nor can you patch effectively, and if you like to use decorative stitches, you'll use zigzag a lot. So we really looked at each machine in this metric and were very pleased with the overall outcome of this testing for the XR9550. The bottom tension was a little tight on some fabrics, but since that is something you can adjust to your liking, this doesn't concern us very much.

brother xr9550 - setting up and using this sewing machine was easy, thanks to the lit...
Setting up and using this sewing machine was easy, thanks to the lit screen and clear symbols.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


If a sewing machine is not easy to set up and use, it will only sit in a closet, gathering dust. Since you're not reading about sewing machines to have one be an expensive dust collector, we weight this metric a full 35% of the final score for each machine. What defines this metric? Well, if you can't figure out how to thread the machine, wind the bobbin, select a stitch, or you can't see what you're sewing, then the sewing machine you are using is not one that's easy to use. So in this metric, we looked at all of those things and more.

brother xr9550 - this machine not only lists all the stitch selections on the front...
This machine not only lists all the stitch selections on the front, it also recommends stitch style and length/width.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Let's start with the basics — winding the bobbin and threading the machine. The Brother XR9550 had the easiest stitch setup of all the machines we tested. But winding the bobbin, though easy, didn't have quite as stellar a finished result as we would have hoped — the thread on the bobbin wound unevenly with a crooked, wobbly fill. Still, that's not a dealbreaker, considering how easy the rest of the sewing machine is to use.

Other metrics we looked at in this section scored far higher than bobbin-winding. The XR9550 has an LCD operation panel that clearly shows what stitch, length, and width are selected. On top of that, there's a huge list of available stitches printed right on the front of the machine. Find the stitch you want, select it on the screen with the +/- buttons, and off you go — the machine automatically sets the appropriate stitch length and width, but you can manually adjust the settings as well. The lighting on the XR9550 has a cool cast and is positioned to the left of where the needle comes down, making the right side of your fabric slightly less bright. But it is clearly lit where the needle goes into the fabric, so this didn't cause us any issues. Overall, this is one of the easiest machines to use in our lineup.

brother xr9550 - the light on this machine is clear and cool, and shines right down...
The light on this machine is clear and cool, and shines right down on where the needle enters the fabric.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Buttonholes


How many of us know someone who will go to great lengths to avoid sewing buttonholes? Maybe you are one of those people yourself. Our testers divided this metric into two sections: setup/execution and quality of the buttonhole. We'll begin with the ease of setup. You select your stitch, put on the buttonhole presser foot, move the buttonhole lever down, line up and sew. The bar tack ends up just below your line, which is fine since usually the line made is where you want your actual hole to start. Easy-peasy. And once the buttonhole is finished, the sewing machine stops. No more sewing down your fabric for those that aren't watching closely.

brother xr9550 - clear lighting and an easy set-up makes sewing buttonholes a breeze.
Clear lighting and an easy set-up makes sewing buttonholes a breeze.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Secondly, we looked at the quality of the buttonholes, and it is here that the Brother XR9550 fell down on the job a bit. The zigzag stitching was inconsistent, with a little bunching of the bottom tension on our cotton muslin swatch. Buttonholes on silk were another story, though. The tension became much tighter with the stitching closer at the top and slightly farther apart at the bottom. This happened on the largest buttonhole setting on silk fabric. The XR9550 did just fine with smaller buttons on silk, which is what you'd probably use for that fabric anyway.

brother xr9550 - our ace tester, austin, using the buttonhole stitch.
Our ace tester, Austin, using the buttonhole stitch.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Should You Buy the Brother XR9550?


Our veteran sewers have used many good and bad sewing machines over the years and still find a lot to love about this model. It has some not-so-perfect points, but the positives outweigh the negatives. Overall, this is a solid sewing machine at a reasonable price and is one that most at-home project-makers would be happy to own.

brother xr9550 - a great sewing machine that can sew on may different materials. here...
A great sewing machine that can sew on may different materials. Here our tester is checking out different stitches on cotton muslin.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

What Other Sewing Machines Should You Consider?


The XR9550 is a solid option for basic sewing projects that's easy to use and affordable. It's not the most precise machine and isn't great for making buttonholes. If you're after a reasonably priced buttonhole aficionado, check out the Singer 7258 Stylist. If mediocre buttonholes are okay with you, the Brother HC1850 is a similar machine that outperforms this one in sewing performance and ease of use, and retails for about the same.

Austin Palmer and Ruth Bruckbauer