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Thread: Attention Long armers

  1. #1
    Member Threadbanger's Avatar
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    Question Attention Long armers

    What machines do you have? What do you like about your machine? What do you wish you could change? I'm researching long arms and would like to purchase in the next year or so. I've been researching but sometimes it's good to hear personal experiences with the machines and their customer support. I plan on going to shows to test drive some different ones. I'm not opposed to buying a used one if it has the features that I want, but would need help learning the machine, how to load the frame etc...because I've never done that before. What have your experiences been?
    Emily

    A fugitive from the Quilt Police

  2. #2
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    I love my Innova. I've said it many times before on this board - I have a circle of quilting friends, we started all over the place with our machines. There were a couple of Handiquilters, a Nolting, a Tin Lizzie, APQS, Gammill, Voyager. Gradually over the years, everyone has traded up to an Innova, except for two holdouts, one Gammill and one Handiquilter. I think that says volumes.

    My number one piece of advice is don't just test drive a machine - take a class. I took a class from my dealer and felt So comfortable with the machine by the end of the day.

    You might read some of the other threads others have started about what machine to buy.

    https://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f1/hubby-upped-$$-long-arm-now-im-more-afraid-buy-t276929.html

    https://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f1/hubby-upped-$$-long-arm-now-im-more-afraid-buy-t276929.html
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 04-12-2019 at 02:55 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  3. #3
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    I have a 2006 Gammill Classic Plus(stitch regulator and a 28" harp) on a 14' frame. I bought used from a deceased friend's estate--got a good deal but no lessons, etc. Do Not let that stop you from purchasing a used machine--there are so many YouTube videos, plus I've taken classes at bigger shows and learned more than I would have from the previous owner. So if you get a good price on a good machine--go for it!. You do have to be willing to try stuff--whether you buy used or new--I have a friend that has bought another friend's machine, I've spent some time helping her, she got some other friends to help her--but she's still "afraid"--don't be--if you buy a quality machine it's an Industrial machine!

    What I like: Stitch Regulator; sturdy table/frame; large enough frame that I can load almost anything (but I could have easily done that with a 12' table); lockable wheels so I can move it if need be; front & back handles;micro handles; great tech support via phone or I can call and get a tech out pretty quickly; M bobbin (larger one); stand alone & machine bobbin winders both; laser light and a ruler base. When I purchased my used machine I also got 100 bobbins, 4 bobbin cases, 3 trunks of thread cones, some pantos & books, and a case of frequently used parts. I also like that my machine is easy to do repairs by myself--I've done lots of maintenance by myself or with phone support.

    What I'd like to have (but can't afford!): hydraulics on the table so I could shift it up/down; and maybe some computer guided (although I love most custom quilting using rulers and FMQ).

    What I'd recommend you get: a Towa gauge--saves lots of time getting good tension on the bobbin, extra bobbins, extra bobbin case, Angela Walter's Shape-by-Shape books, Amanda Murphy's quilting ideas books, DeLoa Jones books and her boomerang rulers. A straight edge ruler that fits your hand well. Ruler base, machine with a sturdy table/frame and a harp that allows you to stand straight and quilt to the back of the space without leaning over, some good fatigue mats (even the ones from Walmarts are helpful) , stitch regulator, M bobbins, brand with a good reputation. Try out Lots of machines at a bigger show, check out Long Arm University website (she has some nice checklists and suggestions), take some classes at a shop that allows you to rent time, etc. , Good luck! I love LA quilting--last 'wish'--more time to quilt my own stuff!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 04-17-2019 at 02:25 PM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  4. #4
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I have never regretted buying my Innova. I have upgraded to features that weren't available when I purchased it 9 years ago, such as Lightning Stitch (the best stitch regulator on the market IMHO). One of the nice features of the Innova is that you can make almost any upgrade without having to buy a whole new machine.

  5. #5
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    I too love my Innova. I bought mine after several months of research. It was the best machine for me. There are so many reasons I am pleased with my decision: outstanding machine with a beautiful stitch, great customer service from my dealer and the company, free two day instructional classes for new owners. Make sure you go to a quilt show and test all the machines you might be interested in. It is definitely a personal decision based on what you feel is best for you.

  6. #6
    Power Poster oksewglad's Avatar
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    Last year I purchased a Baby Lock Crown Jewel used from a reputable source. This is a basic machine with no computer aided designs and fit my budget. Yes money is a consideration.

    I think a lot depends on what you want to do with your machine. I'm 60+ years old and want to finish my own quilts rather than quilt by check, so computer designs were not important to me. Yes there is a learning curve whether you practice at intricate FMQ or setting up your design on the computer.

    What is equally important is customer support. I have a BabyLock dealer near me, which is a plus for me.

    quiltingshorttimer has some excellent suggestions...thanks for them. This newbie quilter is going to check it out. Meanwhile I'm almost ready to load another quilt on my frame and get another quilt finished.

    Good luck!
    Don't worry spider.
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    Nothing's too small...I love miniatures.

  7. #7
    Super Member quiltedsunshine's Avatar
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    I have an HQ Avante' without computerized robotics. I love it, but have never tried anything else. I just quilt for myself, mostly store samples. My Avante' has the "dead bar" that makes it so you don't have to adjust the take-up bar's height as the quilt fills up the take-up bar. The new Amara and Forte' HandiQuilters have some very awesome upgrades that I wish mine had. The frame's front bars can fold down to give more room for ruler work. Plus extra led lights under the throat space. The digital tension reading on the screen is great -- I have that on my Avante'. Customer service is amazing! I love the HQ events that we have at our store 2 times per year. We're having a 3-day event right now with Denise Best!
    Annette in Utah

  8. #8
    Power Poster Annaquilts's Avatar
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    Innova 26 inches on a 12 foot frame. I would buy the same machine again. It is a the right machine for me. Very light weight, accurate and easy to handle. No tension issues or thread breakage isssues. Oh besure to get lightening stitch. I took about 2 yrs to research and tried many different machines. Take your time. this is a big investment. Besure to get atleast a 22 inch opening and if you want to do Cal King quilts a 12 feet frame.
    Last edited by Annaquilts; 04-11-2019 at 07:28 PM.
    Anna Quilts

  9. #9
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    I have an HQ Avante. I love my machine, I traded up from an HQ sweet 16. I have local support- which is to me a big plus. Free new Owner classes and someone close to call or stop in to see for anything that cones up. When I first started longarm quilting I did not have local support. Had to call Utah for any issues - the tech support in Utah are wonderful too. They helped me many times over the phone to troubleshoot and fix issues I had, but it is sure nice to have the local support now.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  10. #10
    Senior Member cindi's Avatar
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    I did exactly what you’re going to do - tested them at a show. I found some that were too noisy or too heavy to push, and finally settled on an Innova for the fact that you can do All of the machine maintenance yourself, has 24/7 support (truly!), and it was quiet and is smooth as softened butter!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 04-12-2019 at 03:33 AM. Reason: shouting/ all caps

  11. #11
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    Here is another recommendation for Innova. I love the machine and have had only minor 2 issues which over the phone support helped me solve. Doing my own maintenance has really increased my confidence in using and maintaining All of my machines.
    The only thing that I wish I had is the lift system. I like a variation of sit/stand and the lift would make it a lot easier.
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 04-12-2019 at 06:22 AM. Reason: shouting/ all caps

  12. #12
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    I have a hand guided Gammill Classic which I purchased new in 2000. No stitch regulator, no computer. I love the study metal table and frame, the flip up belly bar, and the handles and switches at both ends. After quilting over a thousand quilts on it, mostly for others, I really would not change a thing about my setup. It has served me very well, no problems with tension, thread breakage or maintenance.

  13. #13
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    I have a Nolting. I bought it from my mom when her health didn't allow her to stand much any more. I like mine because the manufacturer is 45 miles away and I can ask for help anytime I need to. Dealer support is huge for me.

  14. #14
    Senior Member tallchick's Avatar
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    As others have mentioned do shop around and go test drive as many as you can! I have a HQ Fusion on a 12 ft frame and added the robotics once I had it paid off. I知 so happy I bought the robotics, I知 not a thread artist at all and I enjoy having one quilt being quilted while I work on another, it also saves my back from standing for long periods of time. Overall I知 very pleased with my set up. What ever you decide enjoy the process and have fun!

    I do wish manufacturers would automatically add hydraulic lifts to the tables, I知 tall and would love to have the ability to raise and lower my table, but the current offerings from HQ leave a lot to be desired. I知 sure I知 not alone in this.
    Lisa

  15. #15
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    I had a HQ16 with a pcquilter from 2011 through 2018. Loved the setup and got it used so the price was right. The pcquilter worked well, but the old xp computer it was on was on its last legs. The HQ16 was not stitch regulated and the pcquilter didn't require it. Newer robotic systems all require stitch regulation, and I didn't want to change the HQ16. I do recommend Handiquilter, though, as I had zero problems with it in the 7 years I used it. DH maintained it for me, but all it ever required was cleaning and a bit of oiling.

    It was replaced with a Q'nique 21 with Quilters Creative Touch robotic. I like it. I got it in May but 'stuff' has come up, so I have only used it sporadically, but it works well.

    I will suggest that you look at used LAQ and computerized quilting systems because the difference in price from new to used is sometimes astounding. Also, make sure you can test it while it is set up so you know that it works.
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

  16. #16
    Super Member jmoore's Avatar
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    Shows are a great way to see and play with machines. I have been at MQX in Manchester, NH for the past 4 days and have taken some great longarming classes on different machines. I first attended this show 4 years ago when I started my research on LA machines. I can say that the machines have improved quite a bit and some that I did not like four years ago have moved to the top of the list today. I was surprised at the stitch quality and handling of an Innova on Wednesday and then got to use the new HQ Amara in a ruler class.

    Many of the newer longarms have nice features...I think it is a personal choice and by test driving machines, you will find the one that fits you. I made my decision also based on local support from a dealer. Good luck.
    attitude is everything...the rest will fall into place.

  17. #17
    Senior Member donna13350's Avatar
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    I have a Tin Lizzie..(1997)...great basic machine, easy to use, maintain and repair. I have a computerized head for it, (qbot)...I like that as well, but really can't compare it to other computerized LA setups, as I have no experience with them. It has stitch regulation..has all the bells and whistles I need. There are a bunch of TL clones around now, and from what I can see, they are still just a basic TL machine..I would buy one if something happened to mine.
    You tube is just overloaded with videos on how to load a quilt (several ways)..you can watch some then decide what method you like best..no right or wrong..some ways work better for some people...just relax and enjoy the hunt for a good machine.

  18. #18
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Another happy Innovian here since 2010. I quilt all hand guided so no computer except the Lightening Stitch Stitch regulator which I upgraded to like Dunster.

    When you test at quilt shows, pay attention to your visibility. Most people don't realize how much visibility the Innova has when compared to other brands. Other great features of the Innova, (not already mentioned) the ability to flip the machine head sideways for easy access to hopping foot and needles and also very convenient for removing the machine from the rack. A fabulous rack system. Super sturdy, has a deadbar, the top loading bar lifts so it is easy to ensure your batting doesn't have a wrinkle in it and infinitely adaptable so you can change it to suit how you quilt and what works best for you.
    Awesome 24-7-365 phone support from the manufacturer.
    It is easy to work on yourself once you learn via the phone support. I have no fear when it comes to timing my machine.
    They will quilt with any thread and do a beautiful job.
    Many professional and show quilters are switching over to Innova.

    There are several out there that are manufactured by others. Tin Lizzie makes the Janome LA. Handi quilter makes the Baby Lock longarms. Those are the two I know off the top of my head.

  19. #19
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peckish View Post

    My number one piece of advice is don't just test drive a machine - take a class. I took a class from my dealer and felt So comfortable with the machine by the end of the day.
    Definitely agree with Peckish on this. Take a class. You may find you don't like any aspect of longarm quilting on a rack. Or you may find the step of loading a quilt too troublesome. The class will definitely tell you if you want to pursue this.

  20. #20
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    We’ve had our HQ Fusion for 2.5 years and really like it. It has the robot and my husband took the class to learn to use it along with me. He’s better at the computer part than I am and we both use it.

  21. #21
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    Our first machine was a Nustyle sit down with a twelve foot swing frame. You moved the frame thru the machine not the machine over the quilt. Second third and forth were Noltings when Fred Nolting and Gammil split. Had to wait over a month to get the first one when their court case was settled. The serial number on our first Nolting was 002. Fifth and sixth machine were Gammills. One was super, and the other was junk. Seventh machine and the one we have yet to this day is Statler Stitcher on a Gammill machine. When I call for parts or info on it, the technicians always tell me I have a dinosaur, but she just keeps plugging on. I have spent less money on this machine than the machines we use for piecing. This unit was purchased in 2002.

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