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Thread: Just Another Post About Buying Long Arms!

  1. #1
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Just Another Post About Buying Long Arms!

    I hope my regular pals on here aren't getting sick of my long arm/mid arm posts! I'm just trying to research a purchase we are planning in the spring and I want to make the best decision for myself. I am a stay at home Mother of three and I make a small side income selling quilts, crafts, patterns, and doing custom sewing from home. I don't want to start a big huge long arm business, we have a plethora of great reputable long arm quilters in the area who have huge top of the line set ups. However, my passion is quilting and I have set some goals for myself - to achieve them I need moolah!! I could upgrade to a bigger domestic, but I can piece on just about any machine so I thought upgrading to a mid or long arm would allow me to earn a little extra side income to pay for some of the big projects I'd like to do for myself and give me the upgrade I need for the free motion work I love.

    My budget is really small - I'd really like to be around $3000. I REALLY don't want to finance anything unless the difference is small, like $2000 and I could pay it off quickly. I don't want to feel pressured to make money before the ability to provide a quality service is there.

    What I really want in a machine and frame are the ability to quilt a king (120") quilt, an 18-20" throat space (limiting me to 14-16" sewing space), a laser light for pantographs and stitch regulation.

    I've thought about an older used high end set up or getting something like a Bailey's Home Quilter 17" - can some of you tell me what you have and about your experiences with them? I just cannot afford to compete with these 26" Gammil set ups the ladies around here have, but if I could generate some income just doing basic all over designs and panto work that would tickle me pink. I'd even consider a Juki on a frame but I just think after a while I'm going to want extra throat space because I'll want to get some quilts finished fast.

    Thoughts? Suggestions? Advice? Thank you!!! You guys are seriously the best!!!
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Do you have space for a king size frame? I have a Majestic and it is huge - 46" wide and 128" long. That is just the frame. You need space behind for laser work and space in front for free hand work. You need space on the sides as well to adjust the railings and sneak behind the contraption. Unless you buy it used that is going to set you back about $2000.
    Baileys 17" looks like a good, sturdy workhorse. I have just set it it up and did not have much time to play with it, but a little time that I had it looks and feels pretty sweet to me. Learning curve is high, but that I really do not mind. One thing to remember about the Bailey is that it is no frills machine modeled after Singer 15 I believe. I did not use the stitch regulator yet, so cannot comment on that. It sews 700 stitches per minute and for me that is fine because I am used to slower machine since my DSM is a mechanical Singer. If you are used to higher stitches per minute you may have to slow down a bit. You can get it on your budget especially if you buy one that was a classroom model. Talk to the owner, he is a really nice guy. The best would be to try and find someone close to where you live and try it. That will be the best because you would know if it is for you. I bought mine unseen because I really wanted the Bailey for their customer service and the fact that they are a family business from NY state. Also, I knew that we could never, ever afford any other long/mid arm. Good luck to you. There are many people on the board who own different set ups and I am sure they will give tell you their experiences as well.

  3. #3
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Thank you Tashana for your input on the Bailey! I'm really interested in one of these but the 700 stitches per minute is a concern for me. As of now I quilt FAST. Part of the reason for my upgrade is I need something to move quickly with me. I have a feeling once past the learning curve, I'm going to yearn for speed! Lol** I'm even interested in a Juki/frame set up but I'm afraid I'm going to be disappointed with the small work area.

    I definitely have the space for a king set up - my sewing studio is in a 23 foot by 23 foot former two car garage that was remodeled into our second living room. We still use it as a living space too but eventually I will put up some seperating walls so we don't have to look at all my quilting nonsense to watch a movie!
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  4. #4
    Junior Member An Arm Long's Avatar
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    I have a Baby Lock Crown Jewel (same machine as the HQ Avante) and a majestic frame (only 120 inches - 10 feet). I have done large queen quilts but a king would not be possible. You would need a 12 foot frame. The Jewel has an 18'" arm.
    The Jewel is around $10,000 new (without the computer) but could be alot less used. I think Baby Lock is still offering interest free loans. I am paying $250 per month which is $3000 per year. It will mean quilting 3 quilts or so a month for pay to pay it off. But if you could get a used one for $6000 or so, it would be a really great machine for the money. I am at the point of starting a business after 18 months of practice and doing my own quilts.
    I have had no problem with my Jewel. It is a wonderful and smooth machine.

    I forgot to mention that the cost included the frame.
    Last edited by An Arm Long; 12-02-2012 at 12:46 PM.
    Beth in Maryland

  5. #5
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Thsi is good to know - $250 a month is more affordable than I expected, but I'd still like to avoid a loan if I can. Thank you An Arm Long! Oh wait, I see it now, Beth in Maryland!!!
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  6. #6
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    Anything over 18" is considered a long arm. I own the Nolting 24" PRO, love it (only quilt for myself). Most dealers have used machines as do the manufacturers. You need to haunt the APQS forum, MQG forum and on yahoo the groups of Nolting, MQSG and any other longarm groups. That's where you'll find the deals. Go to shows, you can always get a deal and ask about used machines. Don't be afraid to buy used .... dealers give you a warranty. Good Luck

  7. #7
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maverick View Post
    Anything over 18" is considered a long arm. I own the Nolting 24" PRO, love it (only quilt for myself). Most dealers have used machines as do the manufacturers. You need to haunt the APQS forum, MQG forum and on yahoo the groups of Nolting, MQSG and any other longarm groups. That's where you'll find the deals. Go to shows, you can always get a deal and ask about used machines. Don't be afraid to buy used .... dealers give you a warranty. Good Luck
    You know, silly me, I didn't even THINK about checking out the deals at shows. There is a show in the spring. To be honest, the ONLY reason I'm inclined to go new is for the warranty and customer support.

    I'm really leaning towards a used machine because of my budget - do you think it's a bad idea to buy something as old as the 90's? I mean - I really WANT stitch regulation, but space is a lot more important to me and I'd be willing to sacrifice it at this point to get a bigger work area.
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  8. #8
    Super Member sewingladydi's Avatar
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    Try looking around for a used machine. I got a TL18 (from '07 & hardly used), with wooden frame, laser light and stitch regulator for under $1,000. I'm having a blast with it. But I'm just quilting for friends & myself.

    Keep in mind that you will need extra $$$ for pantos, laser light, thread, maybe leaders, clamps, extra lighting.

    But it's sooo much fun!

    SewingLadyDI

  9. #9
    Junior Member JillC's Avatar
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    Longarm University has listings for used machines as well. I have a Nolting Commercial 18" /stitch regulated with 12 foot frame. Bought mine used from a dealer...Noltings website has used machines sometimes.
    "Never approach a bull from the front,a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"

  10. #10
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    Keep in mind the puffer the batting the more you will lose space because of what is on the take up roller. Right now I am quilting a 108 x 86 quilt with the quilt laying with the 108 from L to R on the rollers. We are using Quilters Dream Select on the bottom and a layer of QD wool on top to make it puffer. My APQS Millenium is a 24" throat. I wanted an open pattern to allow the puffiness to show and we picked one that is working out nicely. But I could only enlarge the design to a little over 13" to be sure I would have enough room to stitch it out by the time I was done. I'm nearly finished and it looks like we had it figured just about right. The amount of room used on the take up roller can be deceptive. By the way we do have Intelliquilter.
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

  11. #11
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewingladydi View Post
    Try looking around for a used machine. I got a TL18 (from '07 & hardly used), with wooden frame, laser light and stitch regulator for under $1,000. I'm having a blast with it. But I'm just quilting for friends & myself.

    Keep in mind that you will need extra $$$ for pantos, laser light, thread, maybe leaders, clamps, extra lighting.

    But it's sooo much fun!

    SewingLadyDI
    This is a good reminder because I didn't realize the issues some have had on here with different brands of threads in different machines. I ordered about five 5,000 yard spools of Isacord thread in neutrals intending to use it on the long arm eventually as well as my domestic (with thread stand). Now I just hope that whatever I end up buying likes Isacord!!!
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  12. #12
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    I can't be a longarm quilter. My arms are too short.

    Bwaa haaa haaa haaaa!!! (ducking the stuff you guys are throwing at me right now....)

  13. #13
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    Check out the Homesteader at http://www.thequiltingsolution.com/ I have one of their older machines and I have received great customer service, prompt and easy to deal with. I managed to get mine second hand, but most everybody that gets one doesn't sell it or trades it in for a newer one. I think in the last 5 years I have seen a total of 5 on the different forums for sale. That sold me more than the other people raving about the machine.
    Good luck on your search!

  14. #14
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Oh wow, tell me more about your Homesteader?!!! I'm looking on the site now - I gotta say, being a vintage machine collector the way they styled this is pretty appealing to my taste!!! This is kind of like the bigger lighter weight Bailey's - only thing I don't like about that Bailey is the 700 spm - any idea how fast this guy is?
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

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    Stick to your guns on the king sized frame... Last spring I purchased a Hinterberg stretch frame and a refurbished Viking Voyager 17 inch. The Nolting company purchased Hinterberg and had a deal, might still be going on, for the combo for $4000.00. I was like you and had a small budget and didn't want to finance. What I wanted was the Babyloc Pearl with the Crown Jewel. However the $18,000.00 price tag on that combo with the computerized stitching system was more than I paid for my car and just couldn't justify it. I did compromise a bit but at this price point I could play around with it and see what features are a true *must* when I upgrade.

    What I like about the Hinterberg is that I can make the poles any size I want.. right now I only have room for a queen sized but when I'm ready to expand my sewing studio I can always purchase new poles at any size. However, I find the wooden frame is harder to raise and lower the quilt as the metal frames were that I had researched. Also, the refurbished machine is old and heavy (at almost 80 pounds). The newer ones are lighter. You sound like you have a large area to keep it.. I put my frame up when I gather a hand full of quilt tops and then take it down so that I can put up my cutting and ironing tables. So I need help lifting the machine when I need to take it down. The wooden frame also tends to bounce a bit so following templates is a bit more difficult.

    Overall I like the set up but would much prefer the Babyloc that I had played with at the quilting store...
    Good luck in your search!

    Kim

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    I was at a quilter friend's home last Friday night for the first time and I got to see her sewimg/quilting space. She bought a Sunshine 16 (you can google this) in 2008 and is happy with it. The cost is very reasonable. It is a no frills machine. I recently bought a Bailey pro 17E package (includes machine, stitch regulator and frame) for under $5,000.00. Love it now that the learning curve is done.

  17. #17
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    The new Juki Virtuoso is coming out in January. It has an 18x10 throat space, stitch regulator, good lighting etc. The frame is really nice too, with the extra take up bar so you don't have to adjust the quilt as you roll it. My dealer said it will be 12500 with a computerized system. Unfortunately, I can't remember how much of the cost is the computer and how much is the machine, but it's probably comparable with the Homesteader. I know it's more than the amount you wanted to spend though, so it might not work for you either.

    I hope you find the right machine for you!

  18. #18
    Super Member Yarn or Fabric's Avatar
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    If you don't have room for a frame, also consider a sit down model. I just got a Tin Lizzie sit down, which I admit is a little over your limit however if you or someone you know is good with wood and tools, you can make a set in table for a Bailey. It's a shame they don't sell one yet. They would open up a market. There are women in the Bailey yahoogroup that retrofitted a table/desk for setting their Baileys inside.

    I love my Lizzie sit down. I used to have a Bailey on a frame (and before that it was a Voyager which was ridiculously heavy) but I didn't really care for standing at a frame - or the massive space it consumed in my craft room... so the sit down was the way for me.

    You could totally make a table for your Bailey or even get a Sunshine 16 which does come with a table option. I chose to not get the Sunshine only because I didn't like the weird side rails on the table it came with. It was only after I got my Lizzie that I was like duh. I should have asked the Sunshine person if they could not put those silly side rails on the table. That would have been enough to get me to drive out and look at it... Too late now. I do like my Lizzie a lot

  19. #19
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nilla View Post
    The new Juki Virtuoso is coming out in January. It has an 18x10 throat space, stitch regulator, good lighting etc. The frame is really nice too, with the extra take up bar so you don't have to adjust the quilt as you roll it. My dealer said it will be 12500 with a computerized system. Unfortunately, I can't remember how much of the cost is the computer and how much is the machine, but it's probably comparable with the Homesteader. I know it's more than the amount you wanted to spend though, so it might not work for you either.

    I hope you find the right machine for you!
    This is really good to know - I would eventually like a Juki for my regular piecing and small project free motion machine - and I saw that the long arm Juki just came out but that was my concern, price. If it's really in that price range then I'm doubly interested!!!
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

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    Hi Pumpkin, I have responded to you in your private messages, but wanted to add that when I bought my first machine. a Tin Lizzie, there were only 2 other LAer's in my area. There are now 7 of us so the competition is much greater. Also, because I am in a rual area of Va. quilters to not hesitate to mail their quilts off to someone on E-bay,etc. This too cuts down on you customer base. I have stayed busy because I have a very fast turn around. I do not hoard 30 or 40 quilts at a time. I limit it to 5. But once I get your quilt I get it back to you in a day or two. My customers think I am a great business person but actually it is just a personality trait. I lack the gene that enables you to postpone "stuff". There is the fact that I don't sleep also!!!!!

  21. #21
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topstitch View Post
    Hi Pumpkin, I have responded to you in your private messages, but wanted to add that when I bought my first machine. a Tin Lizzie, there were only 2 other LAer's in my area. There are now 7 of us so the competition is much greater. Also, because I am in a rual area of Va. quilters to not hesitate to mail their quilts off to someone on E-bay,etc. This too cuts down on you customer base. I have stayed busy because I have a very fast turn around. I do not hoard 30 or 40 quilts at a time. I limit it to 5. But once I get your quilt I get it back to you in a day or two. My customers think I am a great business person but actually it is just a personality trait. I lack the gene that enables you to postpone "stuff". There is the fact that I don't sleep also!!!!!
    Thank you for your comments Topstitch I appreciate it! I got your PM and will keep all of that information handy, thanks for your input! I really am interested in all views negative and positive so I can make the best decision for myself.

    I know what you mean about hanging onto quilts -for me, I wouldn't want something in my house longer than I NEED it to be - I have three kids and four pets and I'd like to purchase garment bags and a hanging rack to store customer quilts on to keep them "safe" but I couldn't sleep at night with 40 quilts that don't belong to me in the house. I am not looking to do that much work either, I don't want a big business. I stay home with my kids so I want them to come first. Not to mention we have four or five really GOOD reputable long armers around here and I don't want to compete with them. I just want to do a few quilts on the side for extra fabric money and maybe a few more than that around December to help pay for our Christmas. But I like to make BIG quilts and I'm just outsewing my domestic.
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by pumpkinpatchquilter View Post
    I'm really leaning towards a used machine because of my budget - do you think it's a bad idea to buy something as old as the 90's? I mean - I really WANT stitch regulation, but space is a lot more important to me and I'd be willing to sacrifice it at this point to get a bigger work area.

    Absolutely buy used if you can find a good deal and the machine is worth it. Most dealers and manufacturers have used machines. If you decide on a Nolting you can call Dan at Nolting and ask any question ... they believe in the truest form of customer service ... you can't go wrong. Good Luck

  23. #23
    Senior Member cedarvalleyquilts's Avatar
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    "You know, silly me, I didn't even THINK about checking out the deals at shows. There is a show in the spring. To be honest, the ONLY reason I'm inclined to go new is for the warranty and customer support."

    We purchased a used Nolting 24...WITH warranty and excellent customer service. Be sure to check directly with companies you're interested in. They all get trade-in machines. See which ones give you the best warranty/customer services. Chances are you can get a great machine at a fraction of the cost of a new machine.

    Christine

  24. #24
    Senior Member cedarvalleyquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maverick View Post
    Absolutely buy used if you can find a good deal and the machine is worth it. Most dealers and manufacturers have used machines. If you decide on a Nolting you can call Dan at Nolting and ask any question ... they believe in the truest form of customer service ... you can't go wrong. Good Luck
    I couldn't agree more with your statement....Dan Novak at Nolting is the TOPS in customer service. He's helped us whenver we needed something. The whole customer service dept. there is great.

    Christine

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