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Thread: Houston International Quilt Festival - Mid-Arm Vendors

  1. #1
    Senior Member laurlync's Avatar
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    I am looking at purchasing a mid-arm quilting machine in the next few months. I have not had an opportunity to try out any machines yet as there is no LQS or LA vendors in Texarkana. I am planning to go to Shreveport soon to try out a Handi Quilter.

    I have thought about going to the International Quilt Festival in Houston in November so I can try out a variety of machines in one location. However, I have read the posts here and am concerned that with so many people at the show, my opportunities to try out the machines will be almost non-existant. I am over 5 hours (one way) from Houston. While I'm sure I would enjoy the festival, if I am going with the intention of checking out the machines and do not get the opportunity to do so, I'm afraid I would be extremely frustrated.

    For those who have been, have you ever gotten the opportunity to use the various machines? Or did you spend more time waiting than actually using them? Do you have any advice to offer or know of a better venue for shopping for quilting machines?

  2. #2
    MTS
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    I've tried out every machine multiple times.

    Gammill, for instance, must have at least 8 machines set up....and there could be multiple heads on a frame so more people get to try it.

    But do a lot of your homework before hand.
    Make your own comparison list from the information on all the vendor websites.
    Make a list of the features that are important or deal breakers for YOU.

    Go with your a firm $$$ number in your head - it should include tax/delivery/all extras/instructions and things like leaders/lighting/etc.
    Then you have a chance - just a chance - of staying within budget :mrgreen: and not getting distracted by all the pretty shiny add-ons.
    Your highest $$$ should include some rulers/pantos/software, depending on your machine.

    If you're really serious, the salesmen will sense it, and make sure you get machine time.

    Mind you, I don't have longarm, but that's the exact route I would take if I were in the market for one.

    And, please, if you're going, take time to enjoy the show.
    At least the quilts.
    You'll see the vendors anyway because the LA booths are spread all over the floor for the show.

  3. #3
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    i went to the houston show a few years ago and tried a few machines, a couple that i was interested in i walked away from because they were all into someone else (3 sales people) and nobody even acknowledged me but most booths were very attentive and it did not take very long to get to try it out

  4. #4
    Senior Member laurlync's Avatar
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    Thank you, MTS. I have been studying the machines quite a bit and have read oodles of reviews. I first thought of getting a Bailey and building a frame because of price, but have pretty much decided to spend a little more to get more features and an "original build" machine (not a stretched machine). My "short list" at the moment includes the HQ 16, Tin Lizzie 18 and Innova 18. I actually have a tendency to "over study" everything before making a decision. It's a really exhausting trait sometimes...LOL!

  5. #5
    Senior Member laurlync's Avatar
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    Thank, Kathy! That makes me feel better, too.

    Also, does anyone know if they sometimes have the systems at special pricing or do they sell for the same prices as ordering from their websites or dealers? Should I maybe go prepared to buy on the spot?

  6. #6
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by laurlync
    Also, does anyone know if they sometimes have the systems at special pricing or do they sell for the same prices as ordering from their websites or dealers? Should I maybe go prepared to buy on the spot?
    I was just going to mention show-specials.
    And the specials get better the closer to Sunday you get. ;-)

    They might have special pricing on new machines, but then they will also be selling the ones they're using for demos.
    You can usually swing free shipping sometimes on the big times like LA and Koalas etc.

    You never know until you ask if there is a payment plan or financing or layaway or gently used machines.
    A little scratch might not bother you if it's worth X of the price.

    And definitely negotiate the price or the extras.
    But you're in the best position to do that if you've done your homework.
    Knowledge is power.

    Have a great time and I hope you find your machine!

    eta: I mention the Koala cabinet because I was with two friends in Houston a few years that were in the market for one.
    The ladies kept circling the cabinets, and the salesmen kept their eyes on them.
    This went on for two days.
    It was like watching a Discovery special. It was hysterical.
    At 3PM on Sunday, before we had to leave for the airport, they made their moves.
    Quite the deal they got.
    They even got me an insert for my Bernina out of it - and I didn't even have one of the cabinets yet (I was inheriting one from a friend who passed).

  7. #7
    Senior Member lfletcher's Avatar
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    They do usually have "show" prices. I just bought the Gammill Vision 18/8 in June and they are running specials on it so it was in the same price range as the others you mentioned. I love it. It seems all longarm quilters love their machines, so just try them all and go with your favorite.
    Good luck.

  8. #8
    Super Member lynnsim's Avatar
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    I've never tried out the machines at the Int'l Quilt Festival, but I have attended numerous time (I only live 2 hours away & have a place to stay while there.) There are numerous machines set up; lots of vendors/sales persons. I have seen "special pricing"; there're called show prices. So, yes, you might want to go prepared to buy. Have fun! Oh, I hope you know you have to stay more than one day, lol.

  9. #9
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    If you can, going to Houston, esp if you've never been , is well worth it.

    I was able to buy a gently used HQ 16 and love it. Then when the Pro-Stitcher came out I bought that on sale. Love that, too.

    A lot of quilters are upgrading to the Avante or the Fusion. So be sure to ask and do some searches on the net in your area.

    A friend here is trying to sell her New Joy frame with the Babylock quilter's Choice Professional sewing machine.

    Personally, I went into this with a fixed budget and a fixed price in mind. I only bought 2 small rulers after talking with the person from Quilter's Rule. He said when starting out go slow and then you'll save $$$ when you buy what you really will use. Too many buy a lot and never use them. I did get the little plastic platform for use with rulers.

    I also didn't buy any pantos when I first got my HQ. Other LA'ers gave me their old ones:)) I found I could make my own if needed.

    Have fun.

    ali

  10. #10
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    I have the HQ 16 - longarm with the pro-stitcher. I love it!!! The best part for me was the dealer came and set it up in my home and trained me. Also, they have such a strong support system if you have a question or a problem. They are as close as the phone. Good luck!! Enjoy shopping..

  11. #11
    Super Member jljack's Avatar
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    Yes, even at the large quilt shows (Road to California) there is lots of opportunity to try the machines, because there are only a few people at the booth at one time. The vendors are of course very helpful, and they WANT you to try them so you will want to BUY!!! :-) Don't hesitate....it's a really fun experience to try them all out.

  12. #12
    Super Member patski's Avatar
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    I have the handi quilter and totally love it, so easy, love being able to sit and quilt and you have plenty of room, be sure to get the table with extensions if you do large quilts. i was able to do a king size with that

  13. #13
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    I have been able to "Play" with the machines at both Long Beach and Road to California. Early in the day and late in the day was the easiest times to get on them for me. Not as many people around. Try them all. They always have "Show Specials" Someday.........

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    Hello, I live in Shreveport,La, u can also go to Shreveport Sewing Center, they carry the Jewel by Babylock . I have just order a Bailey, thats the one Idecided on, good price and i only quilt for myself and family,so the Bailey fits my needs

  15. #15
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    Definitely worth the trip even if you don't come home with a machine. You get to see them all and I have never had a issue with too many people that you couldn't try them.

    In 2009, my visiting friend bought the HQ Sweet Sixteen sitdown model and got a show special. I was jealous. David Taylor was the one who showed her how to use it and she had a mini training session. I want to say that was on a Saturday afternoon. They did have a payment plan, etc.

    But have to say that last week/weekend I lucked into a very gently used latest version of the same machine and she now resides in my craft room/office. Have a quilt loaded right now! I love her and I love the fact that there is very little to relearn since I am used to FMQ on my smaller domestic and it takes up about a 4 x 4 footprint. I didnt' get the extensions because the table is adjustable in height so I set it up the same height as the old kitchen table I use for my sewing machine....so that in itself gives me a really large 4 foot extension if I cleared it off. Which I will probably need to do if I ever get my sister's king sized quilt ready to actually quilt!

  16. #16
    Super Member DonnaC's Avatar
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    I can't speak to Houston, but I have attended the Machine Quilters' Expo in Providence, RI for the past two years. Each vendor has at least 2 setups (most have more) and there seems to be ample time for anyone who wants to try the machines. I actually didn't see lines of people waiting or anything like that.

    That's where I fell in love with the HQ Sixteen Sit-Down that I vow to get someday!!

  17. #17
    Junior Member simplyme's Avatar
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    I played with the machings for three years before I took the plung to get my Handy Quilter Avante last year. I never had any problems trying out any of the machines or have a sales person assist my with my questions. Six years ago my husband bought me a New Joy quilting frame with a Brother machine off the floor at a discount. All venders sell their machines as demo's at a discount only thing you have to wait until Sunday night to pick-up. I outgrew my smaller system and love the HQ. So easy, my 19 year old neice uses it and she does not sew, but loves to quilt. It will be your best opp to try them all out and see what fits you best. The hardest part for me was waiting for it to be delivered. I couldn't even wait for the quilt shop to send someone to set it up for me. It took me all day but I got it together and had a quilt loaded by the time my hubby came home from work. Boy was he shocked.

  18. #18
    Junior Member kingspb's Avatar
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    I live in DeKalb just down the road. I've been to the quilt show for the last three years and have found that you will have plenty of opportunities to try out the machines. The first year I went I was actually considering buying one and went with the intentions of trying them hands-on. Most booths are very friendly and helpful. Many will be running specials for the show. If you do your homework ahead of time you might be able to get a really good deal at the show!!!! It is well worth the drive for the awesome shopping and inspiration!!! :lol:

  19. #19
    Senior Member laurlync's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your advice. I will be sure to have all my information ready including prices I have found online. I have printed some pages showing the features of each. I really need to put all the info in a spreadsheet to make them easier to compare. Now to start making my plans...

  20. #20
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    Hi,
    You need to go even if it is only one time. You will take months to get your jaw back up. There are many dealers and they are all busy, but you just have to stay focused. You can manage to make yourself be seen and most of the salesmen are very helpful. I have an 18" Innova and am totally in love. That really is considered a LA. It moves with the touch of your finger and the customer service is incredible. The owner is the gent that calls you back 24/7. He is quite a hoot, but man does he know his machines since he designed them. Go to Renea Haddadin's web site and she has an indepth article of how she picked out her machine, what to look for, etc. Mucho info. Go to www.quiltfrog.com and call Carrie here in the Houston area and talk to her about them. She carries others, too. Also when they are available, will have some on sale. Join their yahoo innova site and other machines and learn what the owners say about them. Best lesson of all. Have fun and good luck. Make sure you have a place to stay. There are 55,000 or more people here that week.

    Peg-TX

  21. #21
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    All the advice so far is great. If you can afford it I would buy the HQ18 Avante over the HQ16 as the room availabe for quilting makes a difference also the table is more secure. The HQ16 is a great machine, I had one for 4 or 5 years and upgraded to the HQ18 Avante. Just take your time at the show and tell the rep you are serious and they will make time.

  22. #22
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    I was going to mention the www.quiltfrog.com site. I have a tinlizzie queen quilter and then I saw this site. I love my machine but sure wish I had bought from them with their classes and such. Make sure you check this out!

    Quote Originally Posted by Peg-TX
    Hi,
    You need to go even if it is only one time. You will take months to get your jaw back up. There are many dealers and they are all busy, but you just have to stay focused. You can manage to make yourself be seen and most of the salesmen are very helpful. I have an 18" Innova and am totally in love. That really is considered a LA. It moves with the touch of your finger and the customer service is incredible. The owner is the gent that calls you back 24/7. He is quite a hoot, but man does he know his machines since he designed them. Go to Renea Haddadin's web site and she has an indepth article of how she picked out her machine, what to look for, etc. Mucho info. Go to www.quiltfrog.com and call Carrie here in the Houston area and talk to her about them. She carries others, too. Also when they are available, will have some on sale. Join their yahoo innova site and other machines and learn what the owners say about them. Best lesson of all. Have fun and good luck. Make sure you have a place to stay. There are 55,000 or more people here that week.

    Peg-TX

  23. #23
    4js
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    I went to Paducah during there show and tried every longarm they had. I couldn't afford the highest priced ones and wanted something that had regulated stitch. I picked up all the brochures and went home and studied the ones that were in the middle price range. I couldn't decide between the Nolting and the Ken Quilt - so I went to both booths and asked them to tell me why I should purchase there machine. Well Stu at Ken Quilt convinced me. I purchased one and he flew in from Kansas - to Orlando - to set it up and check it out. I have called him with a "few bugs" that come up now and then and I have been very happy with my machine. 4js

  24. #24
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    The Houston show is a great place to look and try out the machines. Before I bought my longarm I did that very thing. I looked at all of them and had the opportinity to try as many as I like. Gammell was the only one that wasn't very nice. When the man found out I was only looking he show no interest in trying to help and didn't even offer to help or answer any questions so of course I didn't buy that brand. Nolting had a local place and they were so much help and even offered free classes. It has been about 5 years and I can go anytime for more classes or help so I think it would be well worth you time to come to that show. I live in the area so if you have questions about the location or hotels please feel free to ask. Where the show is, is a bad part of town and you definately would want to stay in a hotel downtown. Good luck with your purchase. You will be glad you came.
    Quote Originally Posted by laurlync
    I am looking at purchasing a mid-arm quilting machine in the next few months. I have not had an opportunity to try out any machines yet as there is no LQS or LA vendors in Texarkana. I am planning to go to Shreveport soon to try out a Handi Quilter.

    I have thought about going to the International Quilt Festival in Houston in November so I can try out a variety of machines in one location. However, I have read the posts here and am concerned that with so many people at the show, my opportunities to try out the machines will be almost non-existant. I am over 5 hours (one way) from Houston. While I'm sure I would enjoy the festival, if I am going with the intention of checking out the machines and do not get the opportunity to do so, I'm afraid I would be extremely frustrated.

    For those who have been, have you ever gotten the opportunity to use the various machines? Or did you spend more time waiting than actually using them? Do you have any advice to offer or know of a better venue for shopping for quilting machines?

  25. #25
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    I have the same problem but I have heard good things about the Innova. This is a purchase that over studying is a good thing. Before I bought mine, I sent away for all the information I could get and went to all the seminars and show I could. I
    Quote Originally Posted by laurlync
    Thank you, MTS. I have been studying the machines quite a bit and have read oodles of reviews. I first thought of getting a Bailey and building a frame because of price, but have pretty much decided to spend a little more to get more features and an "original build" machine (not a stretched machine). My "short list" at the moment includes the HQ 16, Tin Lizzie 18 and Innova 18. I actually have a tendency to "over study" everything before making a decision. It's a really exhausting trait sometimes...LOL!

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