A Detailed Inspection and Overview
Are you interested in sewing and embroidery?
If yes, then you surely know how hard it can be to find a machine that can do both things well.
Of course, most manufacturers of such machines will claim that their product can do the two tasks equally good, but we all know that this is rarely the case.
With that being said, I believe that I've come across a rarity! Yes, I'm talking about Singer Futura XL-420.
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This computerized sewing and embroidery machine has proven to be a well-rounded performer that gives its users a lot of versatility.
Is it just for the tech-savvy, or can "normal people" use it too?
The answer would be the latter, so no, you don't need a high level of computer literacy to operate it. You do, however, need to be a moderately skilled sewer in order to utilize this machine to the fullest, so it's not the best choice for beginners, I'll tell you that.
If you like what you've read and want to know if Singer Futura XL-420 will help you sew and embroider better, then I highly encourage you to read on.
Singer Futura XL-420 Review Sneak Peek
Those in a rush can take a quick look at how I rated all the essential features of this machine:
|Singer Futura XL-420 Review|
|Value for money||4.5/5|
Seems good, doesn't it? Read the following sections to see why it got those grades!
In-Depth Analysis of Futura XL-420
What is this product made of? What can it do, and how does it do it? Let's find out the answers to these questions (and more).
How it Looks and What's on The Inside
If you are wondering about how big this product is, I'm sure that the "XL" in the machine's name has caught your attention (or maybe it's just me). Well, the XL does point to something as this model is quite large.
Here's an official presentation:
Its dimensions are 22 x 9,5 x 13 inches (55.8 x 24 x 33 cm), so it isn't the biggest sewing machine out there, but it's definitely among the bulkier models. Also, it's important to note that its overall size gets even bigger once you attach the embroidery unit to it.
It weighs 25 pounds (11.3 kg), which actually isn't so heavy considering its size. Nevertheless, it would be hard to say that this product is portable.
Now, one question that I always try to answer is - can this machine be considered heavy-duty?
Yes, it can, and here's why:
- It has a heavy-duty metal frame which gives it stability and makes it sturdy.
- Its motor is pretty fast and can reach a maximum speed of 1100 stitches/minute. The great thing is that despite its speed, the motor doesn't make a lot of noise.
Unlike many other heavy-duty machines from Singer, XL-420 cannot handle very thick or layered materials so well, which might be a turn-off for some potential customers.
The C-section of this machine is very spacious, which is great for quilting and sewing bulky materials. The part of the working table that goes around the free-arm can be removed, and it also doubles as a storage compartment.
Now, the most important thing that you need to know about this model is that it has a separate embroidery unit which can be attached to the machine. As I've mentioned earlier, it is quite big, so you'll need extra space for it.
To use the embroidery unit, you will need to connect the machine to a PC via a simple USB cable, install Singer's software, and then select the design that you want to embroider. The software only works on Windows, so Mac and Linux users will be disappointed.
You can choose between 200 different designs, and if that's not enough, you can always get more online. This is definitely a big plus for versatility.
Check out this video of XL-420 in action:
If you want to do some regular sewing, you can use one of the 30 built-in stitching patterns, which isn't a lot, but it's not bad either. The stitch selection process is straightforward - use the arrow keys to choose the pattern and then press OK. You can also set the length and width of the stitches with two separate sliders.
Like many contemporary sewing machines, XL-420 has a drop-in bobbin which is super-easy to set up. The bobbin winding is automatic and very fast, and once its winded, simply drop it into its designated compartment.
The bobbin case lid is transparent so you can see how much thread you've got left. However, when doing embroidery, you won't be able to see the bobbin as the fabric is going to cover it.
When embroidering, you'll be needing to lift the presser foot up from time to time, and this can be done hands-free, using a knee lift.
As for the neat automatic features, there is the thread cutter as well as the threader, both of which are very practical.
Using XL-420 - My Experience & Tips
Alright, now that I've given you a detailed insight into the machine's characteristics, it's time to see how it performs. The following paragraphs contain advice and precautions that you ought to know before getting your hands on this product. It would be wise to check out the user manual too.
I've already mentioned that XL-420 can reach a maximum stitching speed of 1100 spm, and the speed is controlled using a small slider.
Now, when you're using the foot pedal to sew, the slider is going to act as a speed limiter. This means no matter how hard you press the pedal, the speed won't go beyond what you've selected. If you use the start/stop button to sew, it will automatically sew at the speed that you've chosen.
Singer recommends that you only use their needles as they are optimized for the machine, and will endure the heavy workload that embroidery requires.
When quilting, utilize the knee lift to raise the presser foot and use both hands to maneuver your fabric.
Threading is not required when using the drop-in bobbin, but it is necessary for the top thread. Luckily, the process is not very complicated, but if you're having trouble with it, I've provided a video tutorial for you below.
Check out the threading tutorial here:
OK, let's talk about the embroidery process as it has the most details that you need to know.
First, you'll need to install the software on your PC. Again, it only works on Windows XP, 7, 8, and 10. The installation is quite simple, so there should be no issues here. If you run into problems, look to these videos for help.
Second, connect the machine to the computer using the USB cable. Remember, for the software to work, the machine has to be on. In case it is turned off, you'll see a pop-up window telling you to turn it on.
Third, you'll need to monitor the entire embroidery process because the thread might snap or run out. If it snaps, the machine will keep on stitching, and your project will be doomed unless you're there to turn it off. In case the bobbin runs out, the device will stop sewing until you replace the bobbin.
Selecting embroidery designs:
Lastly, some designs are multi-color, meaning that they need different colored threads, so make sure that you already have them winded on your bobbins. The machine will first embroider one color, then stop and wait for you to change the bobbin and press continue to do another color.
An unpleasant thing about XL-420 is that some customers have reported malfunctions such as the bobbin getting locked, the needle or thread breaking, or the thread getting tangled.
According to experts, this may happen if the tension of the thread isn't set properly, and if one uses very thick materials which are not supported by this machine. With that being said, try to avoid these errors.
The Most Significant Features
In the next few paragraphs, you can learn about what makes XL-420 great.
Obviously, the main strength of XL-420 how versatile it is. It offers you 30 built-in stitches and 200 embroidery designs, as well as lettering. This gives you so many options and a chance to unleash your creativity.
Also, the machine enables you to do free-arm sewing, and it has a large working surface, so working on bulky fabrics won't be difficult. One other thing that quilters and embroidery fans will love is the knee lift because it will allow them to move the material around with both hands.
The automatic needle threader is another excellent feature that will spare you the irritating feeling of missing the hole. What I also like is how easy it is to wind and set up the drop-in bobbin.
Besides all this, the machine comes with a variety of presser feet, which, again, makes it more versatile. It has a total of seven presser feet including:
- Satin stitch foot
- Buttonhole foot
- Embroidery foot
- Blind hem foot
- Zipper foot
- All-purpose foot
Accessories and Additionals
As all other sewing machines, this one too comes with a fair amount of extras and accessories.
The most significant ones are the embroidery hoops. To be precise, you will get a 6.75 x 4-inch endless hoop, a 10 x 6-inch hoop, and a 4 x 4-inch hoop, so you can embroider materials of many different sizes.
Here’s how to use the hoops:
Along with this, the goodie bag includes bobbins, screwdrivers, an auxiliary spool pin, a seam ripper, a lint brush, and all that jazz. If there's one thing that you can't say about this product, it's that you don't get enough extras!
The Good and the Not-So-Good
- Reasonable price
- Heavy-Duty metal frame
- Very fast (max speed 1100 stitches/minute)
- Very versatile
- Automatic needle threader and thread cutter
- Three different embroidery hoops
- The software can only be used with Windows
- Reported malfunctions by previous users
- Keeps embroidering when the thread breaks
My Final Verdict
Singer Futura XL-420 is one serious piece of machinery that'll give you a lot of options, especially if embroidery is your primary interest. It'll take some time until you get into the groove with it, but once you do, it's smooth sailing all the way.
For such a versatile and sophisticated machine, its price is more than fair. Perhaps the greatest thing about this purchase is that all the components and accessories that you'll ever need are already included in the package.
In case you're after a computerized machine that can do embroidery and sewing equally well, I'm sure that you will adore Singer Futura XL-420.