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Thread: What is the best inexpensive long arm?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    What is the best inexpensive long arm?

    Hi Ladies and Gents;

    I'm looking for an inexpensive long arm. Any suggestions? I have a singer sewing machine but when I roll up the quilt its very hard to fit the quilt in the middle of the machine and sew it. Any suggestions? I would appreciate everyones help on this. Its the batting; top and bottom that i'm sewing together.

    Thank you and Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.


  2. #2
    Super Member Sandygirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Pre-owned. They are expensive "new". What is your budget???

    Janome 9900 / Janome 9700 / Janome Decor 3050 / Janome 1100D serger
    Singer Centennial model (inherited from my late, fav aunt!)

  3. #3
    Senior Member imnywoman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Mooresville, NC
    Hi Susan,
    Wow, I hear you but going "cheap" isn't always the right way. I used to think the same thing and you do get tired of wrestling that quilt. I thought anything that was cheap would fit my requirements. Not true. While I did buy a used short arm (Hinterberg Weekender) off ebay, it really doesn't satisfy my "hunger" for quilting because it is such a limited space. It did however, enable me to get a quilt together because I had moved from a house to an apartment and there was absolutely no room to spread out a top and make my quilt sandwich and I have learned basics and techniques that I will use on a real longarm eventually, including pantographs and quilt marking.

    So I thought, well, I'll buy a real longarm and whatever is cheap will do. Now I am glad that I didn't jump into that idea. The more research I have done, the more I realize that even used, it's a big investment and I don't want to have a bad case of buyers remorse.

    After looking at everything that's out there, I started to really pay attention to customer reviews. That speaks volumes. What they had to say about not only the machine, but the reliability and customer service from the company led me to rethink some of the machines that I originally thought were good options.

    I have also been trying out the demos at quilt shows and I surprised myself now that I am really serious. I've tried them out before, at shows and at LQS and always thought, wow, this is great I wish I had this. Well, now that I am truly serious, it took on a whole different light. This time when I demo'd 2 of the 3 available (3rd was so crowded, couldn't get the chance) I could immediately tell the difference between the 2. And even though the 2nd one offered me a trade, I wouldn't have taken it, there was too much vibration in the machine. So, now I am patiently waiting to try some others, while I save my pennies. While I am doing this, I am still researching the used machine market and looking to see what the going rate is for the various machines, and what people are including with them.

    I know this is long, but there are other factors to consider and I wouldn't want you to have regrets. In the meantime, I will also say that I am determined to learn more about the shortarm I own and I have actually just completed the first quilt that I didn't have thread breakage. I joined a users group on Yahoo and gained an enormous amount of insight from the wonderful ladies and gents there. I can send you a links to sites and leads after the holiday if you would like. Hope this helps.

    Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.
    __________________________________________________ ________________________
    Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.
    ~Mark Twain

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Great comments Patti.

    Susie -- check to see if you have any dealers in your area -- or better yet someplace you can rent time on a long arm machine -- even if you have to drive a bit. I first found a place that was 2 1/2 hours from me, but didn't get my act together to take the class so I could rent time. Eventually, I found a place about an hour from me and it was great. I think I did 11 or 12 quilts before I found a local place. I took another machine certification class again and have quilted 5 quilts since summer.

    All of this quilting has shown me that I really would like to have a long arm -- once I find space and money. But there are others that after taking the certification class who have not come back. They decided it's just not for them.

  5. #5
    Super Member KalamaQuilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    SW Washington USA
    Rolling a quilt is the hardest way to do it, although it was standard advice 20 years ago. Bicycle clips and all that.
    Today's advice is to make a puddle under the needle big enough for your hands and just spread out the quilt in a bigger puddle. It is still a job on a domestic machine

    I'm not interested in a long arm, just watching someone else use one makes my back hurt so my choice was a Janome Horizon. 11" harp space. Then you have a machine for all your uses instead of a giant space taker. Unless you want to get into quilting for others. Anyway, that is my three cents.

  6. #6
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Alturas, CA
    The "Bailey" has a pretty good reputation, and although they're not considered a true "longarm", they have a lot more throat space than a typical sewing machine and they're very reasonably priced compared to a "true" longarm. It's the brand that I'll be buying when I have space and money for.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    in the heart of the awl
    All good ideas. I have a mid-arm that I really like, and it's on a handi quilter frame. I tried to do my quilts on the sewing machine but had too many wrinkles. I like the frame because it keeps the quilt pieces smoothe and taunt. I agree to try different machines to see which one you like.

  8. #8
    Super Member Belfrybat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    West Central Texas
    I had long arm envy for a while until I started reading reviews and realised that even with the lower price range (Bailey on a frame), I was looking at $3000-4,000. The LQS charges $55 - 85.00 depending on the size, and that includes the batting and their binding it. I can do lapsized (up to 50" wide) on my domestic machine, so I figured it would take me quilting 40 full sized quilts before I broke even. And that's figuring I didn't need maintenance or repairs. Not worth it. Plus I hate doing the binding, so am very happy to let the ladies at the LQS do it for me.

  9. #9
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    The other option, if you can't afford or don't want a longarm and still want to quilt your own quilts, is to quilt in sections. I used Marti Michell's book, Machine Quilting in Sections, and finished quite a few large quilts that way before I bought my longarm.

  10. #10
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Mechanicsville, IA
    Look at used APQS machines. Their support is great. Hop on over to the forum on their website and lurk for awhile you'll learn a lot. Keep checking their used machine sales area. Ask questions about the different models.
    Cheryl Robinson
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

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