The SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 is an entry-level computerized sewing machine aimed at quilters. It’s very similar to a handful of other SINGER models. SINGER seems to do this a lot. At the same time, there are some important differences in the lineup. How does the Fashion Mate 5560 stack up? Sharpen your shears. We’re going to tell you right here in our latest review.
About the SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 Sewing Machine
The SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 is one of several entry level computerized sewing machines in SINGER’s current lineup. Other models in this category include the Patchwork 7285Q, the Sew Mate 5400, the SINGER 7258, and the Confidence 7640.
Why mention these other models? The truth is, they’re all pretty similar. At the same time, the differences to you and your sewing could be significant.
The Sew Mate 5400 and the Fashion Mate 5560 are the base models. They have a modest number of stitch designs and a handful of one-step buttonholes. The Fashion Mate 5560 comes with a detachable extra-wide work table, which quilters will like. The Sew Mate 5400 does not. Other than this (and a modest price difference), the two are more or less identical.
The Patchwork 7285Q and the SINGER 7258 are the next step up. They feature more stitch designs, more buttonhole designs, and a few of the features that often come standard with a computerized machine, but which are, for some reason, absent on the Sew Mate 5400 and Fashion Mate 5560. These include:
- Programmable needle
- Start/stop button
- Speed control
The Patchwork 7285Q also comes with the quilting table. The SINGER 7258 does not.
The Confidence 7640 is the deluxe model. In addition to 200 built-in stitches, eight one-step buttonholes, and the three bulleted features above, it has an alphabet font and 40-stitch memory capability. It, too, comes with the quilting table.
Interestingly, depending on your retailer, you might not find a significant difference in price between these models. That said, prices can vary dramatically, depending on where you’re buying your machine. So shop carefully.
- Easy to set up
- Easy to use
- One-step automatic buttonhole
- Decent number of stitch designs
- Heavy duty metal frame
- Quilting extension table
- Hard protective case
- No speed control
- No programmable needle
- No start/stop button
- Stingy accessories pack
- Somewhat pokey stitching speed of 750 stitches per minute
- Large number of customer complaints about construction and durability
- Large number of customer complaints about bobbin thread jamming and other issues
Who is the SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 For?
The SINGER 5560 Fashion Mate is an easy-to-set-up, easy-to-use machine. It has an intuitive, user-friendly interface. It’s pretty much ready to go right out of the box.
On top of this, it has a decent, though not overwhelming, selection of stitch designs. There’s enough for beginning and intermediate sewists to have some fun. At the same time, large numbers of stitch designs are a common way that manufacturers bulk up the price. Not here. With the SINGER 5560, you get what you need, but very little that you’ll never use.
For these reasons, we think it would make an excellent first sewing machine. There’s plenty to keep a learner busy, and it will give a beginner’s abilities a gentle stretch. This would also be a fine machine for an occasional crafter or home sewist.
And what about quilters?
Manufacturers will often include craft-specific accessories to appeal to different types of crafters. The detachable wide work table is one of those accessories aimed at quilters. Quilters will also like the extra-high presser foot lifter, which makes it easier for the machine to handle multiple layers of fabric.
Although advanced quilters will want more quilting-specific features like a knee lifter and an extended throat, the Fashion Mate 5560 can take most hobbyists quite far.
What’s in the box?
Accessories that come with the SINGER Fashion Mate 5560, include:
- All-purpose presser foot
- Zipper foot
- Buttonhole foot
- SINGER Sew Easy foot
- Needle package
- Thread spool cap
- Auxiliary spool pin
- Spool pin felt
- Darning plate
- Seam ripper with lint brush
- Hard protective case
- Removable wide extension table
SINGER: America’s Sewing Machine Company
SINGER has been America’s sewing machine company for over 170 years.
In 1850, the company’s founder, Isaac Merritt Singer, invented the first practical home sewing machine. The design wasn’t particularly innovative. In fact, for the design, Singer borrowed successful aspects of different sewing machines that had come before. Singer’s design even resulted in a patent infringement lawsuit in 1854.
But the design wasn’t what made Singer’s company so successful.
Singer’s genius wasn’t in invention, but rather in marketing. While many of the sewing machine companies of the day focussed on industrial machinery, Isaac Merritt Singer found his niche with home sewing. In addition to designing a machine for the needs of the growing market of home sewists, Singer found a way to make sewing machines affordable, too.
Singer pioneered three ideas that were revolutionary at the time: mass production, interchangeable machine parts, and buying on installment. The first two ideas allowed Singer to streamline production and make it cheaper. He passed this savings on to customers, and then made buying even easier with installment purchase plans.
By 1860, SINGER was the largest sewing machine manufacturer in the world. Although SINGER would diversify its production to include munitions (during the second world war), calculators, and flight simulators, sewing remains at the heart of what they do. And they’ve kept up their history of innovation with an impressive list of “firsts,” including:
- First electric sewing machine (1889)
- The first zigzag machine (1952)
- First electronic machine (1975)
- The first computerized sewing machine (1978)
- First sewing assistant app (2017)
Today SINGER has a reputation for producing a wide variety of user friendly sewing machines at a range of price points. From ultra-simple cheap portables to high-end quilting and embroidery machines, their range has something to appeal to almost every sewist.
Are You Considering a Computerized Sewing Machine?
What’s so special about a computerized sewing machine? How is it different from a basic mechanical model? And, if you decide a computerized sewing machine is what you need, how do you choose the best one?
Mechanical vs. Computerized: What’s the Difference?
Functionally, there’s not a lot of difference between a basic mechanical sewing machine and an entry-level computerized sewing machine. Both are excellent for everyday sewing and crafting. Both tend to be easy to set up and easy to use. But there are some differences, and depending on your needs as a sewist, they may make a difference to you.
The main difference between mechanical and computerized machines is, well, the computer.
An internal computer allows a computerized sewing machine to store a lot of information. This is why computerized sewing machines can have almost unlimited stitch and buttonhole designs. The SINGER Quantum Stylist 9985, for example, has 960 built-in stitch designs! The internal computer can also support:
- An additional way to control speed aside from the foot pedal
- A manual start/stop function
- Programmable needle position
- Automatic locking stitch
- Stitch sequencing
- Stitch memory
- Stitch and pattern editing
- Various sensors (thread-end, fabric edge, presser foot position, etc.)
- Automatic thread tie-off
- Adjustable presser foot pressure
- Touch screen
Not every computerized sewing machine will have all of these capabilities. (In fact, the Fashion Mate 5560 doesn’t have any of them.) But this gives you an idea of the types of extra functionalities an internal computer can provide.
A mechanical sewing machine typically has a small number of built-in stitches and buttonhole designs. Manual dials and knobs control the thread tension, stitch selection, stitch length, and stitch width. Despite the lack of bells and whistles, there are three advantages to the mechanical model.
First, a mechanical sewing machine is extremely simple and intuitive to use. You won’t be going back and forth between your machine and the user’s manual trying to figure out mysterious glyphs and error codes. And if something goes wrong, chances are, repairs will be simple and cheap.
Also, knobs, sliders, and dials give you a huge amount of fine control over your stitches. A lot more control, actually, than you’ll have with computerized pre-sets. And for some sewists, that’s important.
Finally, mechanical sewing machines tend to be less expensive than computerized ones.
Both mechanical and computerized sewing machines can do the job. But it’s important to know which one best suits your individual needs.
Why Buy a Computerized Sewing Machine?
The main reason to buy a computerized sewing machine is features. If you want more stitch designs, more functionalities, and more versatility, then a computerized sewing machine is the better choice for you.
Must-Have Features in a Computerized Sewing Machine
When it comes to computerized sewing machines, here are a few things that, in our opinion, can make or break the deal.
No matter how many cool things your sewing machine can do, if the controls are too complicated to figure out, you’re not going to use it. For an entry-level computerized sewing machine, you should be able to understand the controls with a glance. There should also be a clear, well-organized stitch map.
Decent Selection of Stitch Designs and Buttonholes
This is why you wanted a computerized sewing machine in the first place, right? You want more than just a straight stitch and a zigzag. Also look for:
- Stretch stitches
- Decorative stitches
- Serging (overlock) stitches
You won’t find a monogram font on most lower-level machines, but there are always exceptions. We’ll introduce you to two of them in a little while.
Yes, we all control our machine’s stitching speed with the foot pedal. But a speed control slider is like cruise control for your sewing machine. It sets a maximum speed, no matter how hard you press the pedal. This makes it easier on your foot and ankle, and decreases the chance of error in case your foot slips on the pedal.
A start/stop button is an important accessibility feature. If you’re unable, for whatever reason, to use the foot pedal, a start/stop button allows you to run your sewing machine anyway. It’s also invaluable for making perfect one-step automatic buttonholes.
There are a few bonuses that a computerized sewing machine can give you which, although not strictly necessary, make sewing easier and more fun.
A programmable needle means that you can set your needle to always begin and end in either the “up” or “down” position. Sure, it’s easy to use the wheel to position your needle wherever you want it. On the other hand, for some projects, like applique and free motion work, it’s nice to have a default.
Likewise, it’s pretty easy to make a lockstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching row. But an automatic locking stitch button makes it even easier.
Features and Benefits of the SINGER Fashion Mate 5560
The SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 is, frankly, a bit light on features. But it does have a few points to recommend it.
Two sets of multi-directional selector buttons. Six buttons total. It doesn’t get much easier than that. There’s a clear, well-organized stitch map front and center, and a simple threading diagram as well.
A beginning sewist could get stitching right out of the box with no problem.
Good Selection of Stitch Designs
The SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 has 100 built-in stitches. This includes functional stitches like straight stitch, zigzag, a selection of stretch stitches, and even an overlock (serging) stitch. There’s also an assortment of fun decorative stitches to give a personal touch to housewares, clothing, and any other project you might come up with.
One-Step Automatic Buttonholes
One of the best things that often comes with an upgrade to a computerized sewing machine is an automatic one-step buttonhole. Simply choose your buttonhole design and go. And if you use the automatic buttonhole foot, your machine will customize the size of the hole to the exact button that you’re using.
This feature makes it easy to create attractive, consistently-sized and formed buttonholes. It’s one of the best features of this machine, in our opinion.
Automatic Needle Threader
It’s possible to thread a sewing machine needle without a built-in needle threader, but why would you want to?
Instead of squinting at that fuzzy thread end, a needle threader makes threading your sewing machine needle as easy as a flick of a lever. Watch how it’s done below.
Many sewing machines allow you to remove part of the base to expose the free arm. The free arm is a smaller, circular workspace.
Why would anyone want a smaller workspace? Well, because some smaller projects, particularly circular ones, won’t fit around the full-sized base of a sewing machine. A free arm solves that problem.
With a free arm, you can sew collars, trouser cuffs, sleeves, and more, with ease. A free arm is a standard feature on mid-range and higher-end sewing machines. Many lower-end machines have them, but plenty do not. So if there’s any possibility you’ll be doing smaller projects, the free arm will be a deal breaker.
Heavy Duty Metal Frame
A lot of budget and lower-end machines feature cheaper, mostly-plastic construction. The SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 comes with a heavy duty metal frame. This gives it extra stability, as well as a better ability to handle heavy work such as multiple layers or thick fabrics.
Wide Quilting Table
On the other end of the space spectrum, the wide quilting table that comes with the SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 increases your workspace. This has several distinct advantages.
First, it supports larger work like quilts, so that stitching remains consistent and even. It also helps you to see your stitching in the context of a larger part of your work. This might strike some people as a gimmick, but if you wanted to buy an extendable quilting table separately, you could pay between $30 and $100, with no guarantee that it would even fit your sewing machine.
This is a handy feature, and one that, rightfully, will appeal to quilters.
Hard Carrying Case
Some sewing machines come with a hard carrying case included in the price. Others may have a soft dust cover. Still other machines may come with no protection at all.
The SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 comes with a hard plastic protective case. This is an excellent feature, as it will protect your sewing machine from bumps, dents, and scratches both in transit and in storage.
You Might Have Noticed…
You might have noticed the absence of a few key features that generally come standard with a computerized sewing machine. The Fashion Mate 5560 lacks a start/stop button, a speed control slider, and a programmable needle.
Are these features absolutely necessary? Not really. Mechanical sewing machine enthusiasts are perfectly happy without them. But for us, this leaves the question of why pay more (sometimes substantially more) for a computerized sewing machine that doesn’t have these basics?
The decision, of course, is yours.
Alternatives to the SINGER Fashion Mate 5560
There are a lot of choices on the market when it comes to entry-level computerized sewing machines. And quite a few of them are reasonably priced. This means that there’s no reason not to get exactly the features you need.
Here are a few models that we consider worthy competitors to the SINGER Fashion Mate 5560.
We talked about the SINGER 7258 earlier. It’s another of SINGER’s entry-level computerized sewing machines, and it’s incredibly similar to the SINGER Fashion Mate 5560. It has the same number of stitches and one-step buttonholes, for example. Also, depending on your retailer, you can even find it for the same price.
The fact is, though, we think the SINGER 7258 is a bit better, even though it lacks the wide quilting table.
- Top drop-in bobbin
- Speed control slider
- Programmable needle
- Stop/start button
- Twin needle
- More complete accessories pack
Granted you get a soft dust cover instead of a hard case. But really, if you choose your retailer wisely, you could buy a hard case separately and still come out on top.
Brother specializes in budget home sewing machines that really pack in the features. A lot of times, those features include ones that you don’t normally find in the budget price range. The Brother SC9500 is a perfect example.
The Brother SC9500 is an easy-to-use entry-level computerized sewing machine. It has several thousand extremely positive customer reviews, and comes with a variety of fun features, including:
- Monogram font
- Quilting table
- Ultra lightweight
- Speed control
- Stop/start button
- Twin needle
- Excellent accessories pack
- 850 stitches per minute sewing speed
This model also lacks a programmable needle, and it doesn’t come with any sort of cover. But there’s a lot of fun packed into this budget machine. And really, where else are you going to find a monogram font at this price point?
SINGER Patchwork 7285Q
If you like the sound of the SINGER 7258, but had your heart set on the quilting table, the SINGER Patchwork 7285Q could be a good alternative for you. You will pay a bit more for it than for the Fashion Mate 5560. On the other hand, you’ll get some additional features, like:
- Monogram font
- Automatic thread tie-off
- Self-adjusting thread tension
- Programmable needle
- Start/Stop button
- Speed control slider
It does have a stitch speed of 750 stitches per minute, which isn’t great. On the other hand, depending on your needs, speed might not be your first concern. This model comes with a soft dust cover.
SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 Review: Final Thoughts
The SINGER Fashion Mate 5560 is an extremely basic computerized sewing machine. It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and has a friendly, intuitive interface. There is also a decent selection of stitch designs and buttonholes.
Unfortunately, aside from stitch designs and buttonholes, SINGER hasn’t chosen to endow the Fashion Mate 5560 with even the most basic benefits of an onboard computer. There’s no speed control, no programmable needle, and no start/stop or locking stitch.
Add to that the numerous consumer complaints about durability and construction, and it’s difficult to recommend this model.
Rather, the SINGER 7258 has all of the basics you’d expect from an entry-level computerized sewing machine at virtually the same price. It has thousands of excellent consumer reviews, as well. And if you can’t do without the extension table, the Patchwork 7285Q will give you that and increased functionality for just a few dollars more.
Want more choice? read our other sewing machine reviews!
We’re constantly scrutinizing new models here at yousewandsew.com to help you do your homework before laying out a significant chunk of change. It’s our hope that the work we do behind the scenes will help you find the best sewing machine for your own individual requirements, so do let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see us cover or add to the site.