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Long Arm Machines

Old 11-01-2020, 04:33 PM
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I am interested in buying a long arm machine. At this time, I will not be starting a business and pretty sure I never will, but might agree to quilt for a friend or two occasionally. Right now I am thinking of either a Gammil or a Bernina but am still open to ideas. What machine did you buy? What are pros and cons on any machine you have tried.
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Old 11-01-2020, 05:43 PM
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Too bad there arenít big quilt shows going on so you can try a number of different brands out. What makes you prefer the Gammil and Bernina? I am a Bernina girl through and through for regular sewing machines, but at least some of the long arms are t up to professional standards IMHO. They advertise the ďadvantages of using domestic needles instead of professional round head needles; not an advantage at all since the flat back ones arenít as strong. The Bernina macho e is also more expensive tha equivalent machines. However Bernina dealers are generally very good about hand holding, and a lot of people feel more comfortable with that. (That is not a dig at those who need/want handholding!) I prefer a pro style machine that allows a lot of user maintenance and isnít very picky about threads. When I went looking at long arms I was able to spend two plus hours playing with one at a very helpful manufacturer (Nolting is a gem among manufacturers) only to find out I didnít like long arming! I had a deep need to feel the fabric as I quilted. Odd I know, but I ended up with a HandiQuilter sitdown.

Summary: find some place, probably multiple places, that will let you play with their machines at length. Ask about different threads. Spend time. You are the only person who knows what you will like in the end.
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Old 11-01-2020, 05:50 PM
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Those two are vastly different brands. Perhaps if you explained why you are considering those (and only those), folks could answer better.

It is critical to test drive a long arm in person, BTW. Just like buying a car.
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Old 11-01-2020, 06:37 PM
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Interesting---I own a Gammill, bought used, no robotics. I love the sturdy frame/table and the ability to do much of my own maintenance. I've worked in classes on Innovas (on/off button awkward for me), APQS,and HandiQuilter (ho-hum), Nolting. I'd suggest if you can to check out several brands if you haven't already (know thats hard right now with shows cancele I have a friend that traded in her new (2 yrs old) Gammill for a Bernina--she's happy with it but the reasons she traded seemed counter-intuitive to me--she didn't like doing any maintenance and perferred to take her machine head off the carriage (means taking off a take-off bar) and hauling 40 mi to a dealer who would do any maintenance--and reversing the process. I do most of my own maintenance and able to get a tech if needed---but service calls on LA are expensive ususually. The other reason she wanted the Bernina is that the tension control was digital and supposily would automatically adjust top and bobbin--not sure that it does that actually and I find tension sometimes needs adjusting due to thread or fabric used. Lastly, since I tend to work fairly fast on the LA, I want an industrial needle instead of a domestic machine needle. Have fun--I love to LA!
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Old 11-02-2020, 05:58 AM
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I have had my Juki Miyabi J-350QVP S Sit Down since January. I LOVE this machine.

It has the Smart Stitch Regulator built right into the machine, on either side of the needle where you're actually sewing. Some of the other sit down longarms, use a puck like attachment that you have to keep relocating on your quilt.

Juki's stitch functions include: precise, cruise, manual, and baste.

The throat space is 18" long and 10" high providing plenty of room for larger projects.


You can set the needle to stop up or stop down when you stop moving the quilt.

It has a direct drive Servo motor, which is the same type of motor used in commercial machines that are used 80 hours/week. The ONLY thing I EVER have to oil is the hook, and the machine allows me to do that from the bobbin area or from a tiny opening on top of the footplate so I don't have to bend over or reach under the table. Since the bearings are sealed, no annual maintenance by a dealer is needed.

It also has a second handwheel on the side of the machine so I don't have to stand up and reach all the way to the back if I want to move the handwheel.


I can use the automatic thread cutter/lock or manually cut the thread by pressing on the eye level screen or by using the foot pedal.

It uses standard longarm needles. It has a built-in bobbin winder and uses the large Class M bobbins that hold a LOT of thread.

The basic table is about 35" wide, but I got the fold down side extensions that would bring it up to 50". The table has a very heavy duty, very solid frame that doesn't wobble.

If I ever decided to switch the machine to a longarm frame, I could add Juki's automated quilting software.

The machine is manufactured in Japan, NOT China.

Last but not least, my Juki dealer provides AWESOME service, not only for this Juki, but also for repairs on my vintage domestic machines. I recently had a problem with the needle down function (user error) so I called my dealer. Within an hour, the service technician from Juki called me. She walked me through how to solve the problem, stayed on the phone until I made sure the problem was actually solved, then ended the call by giving me her direct phone and email contact information as well as contact information for the manager of the the service technician department.

Everything about this machine is top of the line. I just LOVE it! (As if you couldn't already tell from this post!) I have had Bernina sewing machines for years, but after my experience with this Juki, I'd serious consider a Juki if I ever wanted a new domestic sewing machine.

There is a Facebook group of Juki J-350QVP owners where you can also see what others think about the machine.



Last edited by BonnieJP; 11-02-2020 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 11-02-2020, 06:09 AM
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I got a demo APQS Lucey on a 12 foot table with bliss.....I love it....no bells or whistle....she simply quilts. I have had it for about 10 years now and never had to send the head in. Pretty easy to maintain and the company is very good about providing videos on how to do most things that need to be done and have tech support over the phone that is helpful. New machines come with a lifetime warranty. I did a lot of research prior to buying and it was between an Innova or APQS at the end. My friend had a tin lizzie and she just ordered a new Lucey as she liked mine when she tried it...but she is getting the computer part too. I am not interested in that. I just use my Lucey to do free motion and simple designs....done a little ruler work....but really like the free motion better. I just quilt for myself and an occasional friend. I had a midarm and a pretty bad frame prior to getting this one...I learned I like doing the quilting on that machine but as so glad I replaced it with the one I have. Oh...I I got the Lucey over the Innova because I like the price of the demo sale.
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Old 11-02-2020, 06:21 AM
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Consider what you are going to be using your machine for. If you are not considering doing professional work you may want to consider fewer bells and whistles. Considering the cost of these machines less sometimes is more and also much more cost effective. The top of the line Gammil and a less expensive machine will give you what you want if you are quilting just for yourself. My LA'er has the Gammil with all the bells and whistles and says that it is unlikely with the machine running hours every day will not come close to using all the different designs and motifs that her machine has to offer. You may find you can save a great deal of money by checking around at different machines. You may even want to hold off right now until things settle down with COVID a bit so you don't make a rash decision.
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Old 11-02-2020, 08:10 AM
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Your best bet is to try out all the machines you can as not every machine will fit your needs or feel right under your hands. Plus check out the customer service for each machine, check out reviews from those that have purchased one in the past. Decide what options you want on your machine and who will give you the best price with those options. Check to see how easy it would be to upgrade, add on options at a later date.

I started out small with a 9" as I didn't know if I'd even like to quilt once I got started. Found out I do enjoy quilting. I kept moving up to larger machines plus robotics as I could afford it. I'm now at a 26" Innova on a 12ft frame with LS (lightening stitch-regulator) and IQ for my robotics. I quilt mainly for myself and occasionally for a friend or two. I have used it to quilt fabric before I make something out of the fabric. I've combined my embroidery designs with quilting. So decide how you want to use a quilt machine and then start searching to test drive each machine you're interested in. My dealer is in TX and I live in IA but he's a phone call away and can walk me thru most any problem I have. That's one of the main reasons why I chose the Innova though I have the APQS folks right here in town.
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