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Thinking of buying a long arm? Read this Longing for a long arm book

Thinking of buying a long arm? Read this Longing for a long arm book

Old 11-25-2019, 06:44 PM
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mjpEncinitas - I'm curious - what things made you decide that a long arm is a good purchase for you?
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Old 11-25-2019, 06:46 PM
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For my house, anything that big would mean something would have to go out. I could give up on my living room entirely and let the couch go... but then I'd still be faced with the issue that I prefer to move the machine than the quilt.

Or maybe we are talking two different things, I'm thinking of something like the Craig's List set-up described as "TinLizzie QueenQuilter 18" Long Arm w/stitch regulator. It is the sit down model and comes with the table for easy fabric movement." That's the thing about doing your research, it's a great set-up for some people, each machine and style and frame has someone that it is perfect for.

I know frames can be set up at smaller sizes as well, but mostly I do queen+ sized tops so would want that full 12' frame. If I had the ability to quilt them down, I do more in the 3-yard square king size top that I never make because I don't want to handle. One of my friends was quite clever, she had a 2-story living room and built out a balcony from the open upstairs hallway to accommodate her long arm! But most have given up a garage or family room.

When my son was little, I figured when he moved out I'd change the family room into my long arm room. But then I got a husband who needs his computer desk every bit as much as I need mine, and truthfully, most days I'd rather have the hubby than the long arm. Most days... My husband is a wonderful man and I am so lucky we met. All in all, I'd rather have a huge dog kennel and a few critters than a long arm.
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Old 11-25-2019, 06:59 PM
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Understood, iceblossom... and for me, i like the setup i have because i prefer to move the quilt instead of the machine! Just a natural extension of doing FMQ on a DSM for years - its a relief to have more room in the harp area!
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Old 11-25-2019, 07:01 PM
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Thank you for sharing this resource. The more resources available to people when considering an expensive purchase the better.

I highly recommend people going to a Sew Expo and trying as many machines as possible. Also checking out local places where they can rent time on a LA. There are many communities with rental programs available and it is a great way to see if you can physically manage the machine.

There are a great many different reasons people purchase LA machines, just as we all have different budgets and different physical abilities.

I bought a second hand machine and love it.
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Old 11-25-2019, 07:04 PM
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If it is a passion then yes get one by all means and enjoy it. What's the worse? Sell it and forget it.
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Old 11-26-2019, 05:03 AM
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For me the long arm is the answer to my wanting to do the whole process myself. I started out with a 10 ft frame with a HV 18/8 machine set up in a spare bedroom. That machine was a floor model and only used in short bursts of demoing at the store. When I got it it would go nuts after a half hour of quilting. So long story short it spent more time in the factory for repairs than in my house. I ended up getting a HQ Avante on a 12 ft. frame and putting it in my living room. I got it from a store who needed to sell it to buy the next years model, ended up getting the computer virtually for free. Couldn't resist the bargain. I have arthritis in my wrists and hands so moving the fabric became a problem when I used the DSM. I have quilted 90 quilts this year for me and my friends. I mostly do computerized designs, but sometimes do FM, but I am not good at it, so enjoy the computer. I also have a great dane, so not much else fits in the house. But you really NEED to test drive many machines and decide what works best for your situation. I have never regretted buying "Bob" the longarm.
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Old 11-26-2019, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by platyhiker View Post
mjpEncinitas - I'm curious - what things made you decide that a long arm is a good purchase for you?
actually I decided it wasn’t a good purchase for me.

The biggest reason is that I’m not making enough big quilts to justify it.

The learning curve is pretty steep with a long arm and I’m at the intermediate level already with my sit down sweet 16. It handles big quilts pretty well

I thought it would be so much better than basting quilts. I have a method for basting my quilts that doesn’t hurt my back, using a table at cutting board height and it didn’t seem that loading the quiltop, backing batting on a longarm was that much less of a hassle than what I do now. The video the book sent me to demonstrated that.

The costs. $14,000 I was mainly interested in the robotics. When I compared to other things I could do with the money, I thought the other things would bring me more joy. ( six month trip around the US in a van my DH turned into a little home ). My DH was the one who wanted me to get a longarm but I handle the money in the house and I thought it was too extravagant. Maybe I’m just too cheap.

The space. I have a 300 square foot sewing room ( empty nest) but if I put the longarm in there I’d lose my desk and perhaps the big table my friends use when we quilt together three times a month.

The book really clarified my thinking.
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Old 11-26-2019, 06:53 AM
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iceblossom. I wish you lived nearby. I’d be happy to share my sit down mid arm sweet sixteen with you.

Originally Posted by Iceblossom View Post
Long arming does take more physical stamina and ability than a lot of people realize. On the other hand, it allows some of us with physical issues the ability to do our own quilting that might be too hard on us in another form. I think most of the people here really advise people to take their time, visit Sew Expos, try a few machines and take a class or two at a local shop/long armer and I always say use your tape measure before committing to the purchase. It takes at least a typical sized single car garage or family room to be comfortable, for me anyway.

I would so get a long arm if I had (a) the money and (b) the space. I know there is more to being computerized than just pointing and going, but I'd love to learn how to do it and I want that ability. I've gotten pretty proficient with stitch regulator and my technical skills were ok, but my downfall is that I just don't think in terms of what can be done with quilting. My joy is in the planning and piecing and I can piece very quickly. The only thing that does slow me down is getting my tops finished or I would piece even moom e than I do now. I haven't counted in awhile but I typically have around 20 tops waiting to be quilted. Everything is expensive in my area, I think to get what I want each of those tops would cost $350-500+ for quilting (sure, I could get a simple edge to edge non custom finish for a little less -- but I can do that eventually on my domestic), if I sent out those tops alone that's 8-10k. The way I see it, it makes a lot of sense for me to have a long arm, but I just don't have the space even when I've seen some really great deals. I was able to use a friend's set up for a few years and now I'm spoiled, really hard to go back to a domestic.

For people with more space and/or budget than me, why not get one if it isn't going to break the bank? In my lottery dreams I turn my current home into my sewing studio and I have a professional Statler model named Elvira sitting right about where I am now.

I see the wonderful things people do here in in shows and magazines and all that, and all I can do is admire their work and sometimes steal an idea or two. Some people can take any old thing and elevate it by their work. I'm mostly just trying to keep it all together in the wash! I have fairly high standards, so it isn't my workmanship but rather the art of quilting that I'm missing.
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Old 11-26-2019, 07:41 AM
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I placed an ad earlier in the year on Craig's List looking to share a machine. It's about time to run another I did get one or two emails from the earlier ad but they didn't work out. This is such a wealthy area, I know there are a lot of people here with machines that aren't being used all that much for one reason or another. And some of those are people who find they just aren't using the machine all that much, or that they didn't enjoy the business aspects of quilting, or many other reasons. I'm willing to pay but I'd like a little more time and flexibility for my money that going to one of the local shops that have a machine set up. It's about $100 per session at a shop, I'm hoping for more like $100 for 2 days once a month, I can slip that into the budget. Still, I'm basically asking to be let into someone's house and play with the equivalent of a car so I understand why I'm not getting offers left and right

I'd prefer to buy supplies for just one machine and to learn just one machine, I like prewound bobbins especially. I'm hoping for regular basis and want a win/win situation for both the owner and me, someone who travels, maybe I can do my quilting while house or pet sitting. Maybe someone with a bad health year isn't up to quilting but could use groceries brought in once a week or something.

My natural speed of sewing is probably at least one finished queen sized project a month plus smaller quilts here and there, and like I said, I have approximately 20 top backlog. I don't think a long arm is for the person who only does one project a year, but hey, again -- if they have the space and the budget I'm not going to disagree. I have zero desire to quilt for others, but sure, I'd take in some orphan tops and do a few extra donation quilts, most of what I do is for donation anyway.

Something else to consider, it's all a very physical activity, but I say that about sewing anyway. Sure, maybe not big muscle movements but hand/eye coordination and such. On a long arm you do have to move your entire body. I also like to have music on when I quilt. I get rusty quick when I don't FMQ or LA regularly. Before I could tell a big difference if it had been 3-4 months before me quilting. And like most things, you don't get better if you don't practice practice practice.
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Old 11-26-2019, 07:46 AM
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There is a serious learning curve with a longarm. Nothing will teach you patience like longarm quilting. I decided to get a longarm but was not prepared to shell out the big bucks. I was able to locate a sort of plain but mechanically good Nolting 17 inch on a Hinterberg frame for a low price and have grown to enjoy my quilting time very much. The machine has a speed regulator as its only "fancy" feature. There is little to really go wrong with it and it is a worthy workhorse. I am still learning and always will be--that's the fun of it. Someday I might upgrade, but quite honestly, this machine is a dream. If I wanted to quilt with a computer, I could use my Janome 14000 to produce mechanically perfect designs on quilts. The one thing that I miss is the up/down needle feature on my Nolting. I have quickly adapted to the process of longarming and am constantly looking forward to further developing skills. I like the "relationship" I have with my machine and don't miss wrestling quilts in my lap, table, or horror of horrors the floor!
I'm big on reading and researching everything, but in the end, it is most important to follow your heart and follow through all the frustrations that come with learning something so completely different to reach your goals. It will require patience with yourself and your machine, but doesn't anything worthwhile?
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