Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist Review
Pros: Large library of stitches, tied for best sewing performance
Cons: Intimidating for new users, can be expensive if not on sale
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The 9960 is the sewing machine for those that want the absolute best of the best. Equipped with an enormous library of 600 built-in stitches, this machine definitely delivered the standout performance throughout our testing process. This machine is very easy to use and setup, though it might be a tiny bit too much sewing machine for the casual or novice sewer.
Unsurprisingly, sewing performance makes up the largest portion of our scores. Also unsurprising as our Editors' Choice award winner, the 9960 ranked the highest in this metric, earning a 7 out of 10. While this model has the largest library of built-in stitches by far of any machine that we looked at, we didn't score based on the number of stitches available, but by the performance at specific ones. We made test swatches on a variety of fabrics with each machine, and directly compared their performance at a zigzag stitch, scallop stitch, straight stitch on the longest setting, and at attaching a zipper. These four stitches best highlighted the differences across the machines.
This machine either had the best, or tied for the best quality at a long straight stitch, scallop stitch, and attaching the zipper. We especially noticed that this model did an exceptionally fantastic job at making a scallop stitch, even on harder to sew, slick fabrics like polyester charmeuse.
All the machines struggled with the long straight stitch, and while this model received the highest score, we still felt the quality was only slightly above average. The 9960 did perform somewhat poorly on the woven cotton, or jersey knit fabric, creating stitches that seemed a little off and were too loose.
The 9960 only faltered a little with the zigzag stitch, producing one that was of average quality. However, after extensive fiddling with the tension adjustments, and deviating from the default settings, we were able to produce a higher quality one.
This machine does have the largest library of built-in stitches out of any that we tested, allowing you to add plenty of decorative elements to personalize any of your projects.
Ease of Use
Even the most complex and complicated home sewing machine should be approachable and easy to use, and the Singer 9960 fails to disappoint. This model tied for the top score in this category with an 8 out of 10. While this machine has some of the most features and functions out of the machines that we tested, it still easy to use, thought it probably will require a read of the manual to work out how to navigate through the menus.
The instructions for threading are molded into the plastic, lacking the contrast to be super easy to read, but were clear and informative. We especially found that that is was necessary to consult the manual if the machine flashed any error codes. This machine does have an exceptionally nice work light, with no annoying shadows and focus right on the presser foot.
This model does have a fully automatic thread cutter, inside the base of the machine. This is a fantastic feature for saving thread and minimizing the mess created by the long thread ends when sewing. This feature couples well with the set needle stop position. While this model lacks the adjustability of other models, it will always stop in the down position, then automatically raise up when the thread cutter is activated.
This machine does have the capability for automatic sewing, but did have a subpar seam allowance guide. In addition, this model also has tons of built-in stitches, more than any other that we looked at.
In addition, this model also comes with a convenient carrying case.
Ease of Setup
Faltering slightly in this category, the 9960 delivered a score putting it solidly in the middle of the pack. While it was easy to thread the needle, it was more difficult than it should have been to install and set up the bobbin. We found that it was a little unintuitive to thread the upper thread, and as mentioned above, the white on white molded instructions were difficult to read.
We also found that the 9960 lacked a diagram on how to install the bobbin and thread it, and it required a little dexterity to wrap the thread on the notch. Once again it was difficult to see the threading directions and unintuitive to set it up to wind a bobbin, and it tended to make a slightly uneven bobbin, bulging in the middle. This machine did do well at threading the needle, being one of the easiest to use and more successful threaders, only being beat by the automatic, one-press style on the Brother SE400.
The last rating category that we analyzed to test sewing machine was button work. This was the lowest weighted out of all the categories, only comprising 10% of the final scores. While this model wasn't the top performed, it didn't disappoint with its alright performance, earning a 6 out of 10.
The 9960 produced a buttonhole that was of average quality, with some minor bunching up of the fabric. However, every other machine we tested had similar or worse levels of bunching. It was easier to line this machine's presser foot up than others, with clear red and black marks compared to molded ones. We also especially liked that this model does not have small, grippy teeth on the presser foot, making it much easier to adjust fabrics without them getting caught.
The Singer 9960 is one of the most expensive machine that we tested, especially when looking at its list price. We did find it discounted a substantial amount at various retailers throughout our testing, but it still would represent a substantial investment for most people. The 9960 isn't really a great value — while it is our top performer, there are much better options for the more budget oriented.
The Singer 9960 was the top performer in our tests, earning the best score with its strong performance in both sewing and ease of use, rounding it out with a not too shabby showing in setup and button work. This is a great option for those more experienced users who will be able to make full benefit of all the stitches, features, and functions available, and definitely won't disappoint.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer