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Thread: Long arm, mid arm comparison

  1. #1
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    I'm in the market for a long arm or mid arm machine and set-up. I don't want it immediately as my daughter's room won't be available for another year and a half. I've been to many sites, watched videos and tried to do research. There are so many brands on the market with many different kinds of frames, computer systems etc. that it makes me dizzy. For such a large purchase I want to know I'm not going to regret it in a year. I wish there was a website that compares/contrasts the brands and models. Like brand X is great at this but you won't be able to do this at all or as easily as brand Y. I know I'm going to have to try some brands to get the feel etc. but I simply can't try them all! My LQS only carries Viking and the other brands I've only seen on the net.

    So, I guess I'm looking for one website that has all this info. Price, different brands, to make it easier to decide. Am I dreaming? Yes, I've tried to get into a couple of yahoo forums and have been declined because I don't already own a long-arm. Frustrating!

  2. #2
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    I want one too. Good luck with it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member kat112000's Avatar
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    I recenly purchased a Mega Quilter and wished I would have spent a little more time researching this. The throat is not deep enough for me. It is only 9", I wish I would have gone for a long arm that offers 18".

    If you only want to do small quilts and not get too fancy then a mid arm is the way to go, not as much money as a long arm.

  4. #4
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kat112000
    I recenly purchased a Mega Quilter and wished I would have spent a little more time researching this. The throat is not deep enough for me. It is only 9", I wish I would have gone for a long arm that offers 18".

    If you only want to do small quilts and not get too fancy then a mid arm is the way to go, not as much money as a long arm.
    Your situation is exactly what I want to avoid. And that's just it, I want to be able to do larger projects eventually and not be limited. But, I don't want a beast of a machine if I can get away with a little smaller. Of course price is an issue, but I'd like to compare apples to apples and it sure isn't easy to do so! If only there was an online or magazine review of all the options! I'm sorry to hear you're regretting your purchase. :cry:

  5. #5
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    This past May I attended the Machine Quilters show in Kansas City, MO. They have just about every long arm machine made there and you could talk with the reps, try out the machines and pick up info. Not only that but lots and lots of machine quilted quilts and wallhangings. MY SIL, daughter and even our husbands had a great time looking at all the machines. She ended up with a demo HQ16 (bought locally) and I'm still looking. The show is held every year in May.

  6. #6
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    If you can make it to a quilt show, many times there will be several different manufacturers there with their machines and they will let you try them out. Coming up this weekend in Ontario is the Road to California show and they will have quite a few different machines there. Are you in Elk Grove California? I think I saw someone mention a show in Santa Clara sometime later this year.
    I won't be able to make it to "Road" this year because of Med issues but hope to go the the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach in July and will play with some of the machines there.

  7. #7
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Yes, EG CA. I'm thinking about going to the Santa Clara show. It's just that in my experience the shows are so crowded that I've not really been able to play with machines as they're occupied. Lots of lookie-loos. And I imagine not all the brands are represented there?

    Anyone know someone in the Quilters mag. industry that could pass on this idea for an article? Somewhat like a consumers report for quilters;>

  8. #8
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    You know, a couple years ago, one of the quilting magazines did do a comparison. I just don't remember which magazine did it. I do remember seeing it though. Keep searching. If I can think of the magazine and date I will let you know.

  9. #9
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candace

    Anyone know someone in the Quilters mag. industry that could pass on this idea for an article? Somewhat like a consumers report for quilters;>
    Since the magazines rely on the longarm manufacturers for part of their ad revenue, they're unlikely to publish a comparison. Furthermore, some people find a particular fault with a machine (such as throat is too small) while other people have that machine and love it. Either they don't need a particular feature, or they find a good workaround. Look at the machines, test-drive them, make a list of the features you want, compare prices and service... There's a lot of homework involved. It's even more complicated in that some expensive add-ons may be almost necessary with one machine, but not with another because of its design.

  10. #10
    Super Member oldswimmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candace
    I'm in the market for a long arm or mid arm machine and set-up. I don't want it immediately as my daughter's room won't be available for another year and a half. I've been to many sites, watched videos and tried to do research. There are so many brands on the market with many different kinds of frames, computer systems etc. that it makes me dizzy. For such a large purchase I want to know I'm not going to regret it in a year. I wish there was a website that compares/contrasts the brands and models. Like brand X is great at this but you won't be able to do this at all or as easily as brand Y. I know I'm going to have to try some brands to get the feel etc. but I simply can't try them all! My LQS only carries Viking and the other brands I've only seen on the net.

    So, I guess I'm looking for one website that has all this info. Price, different brands, to make it easier to decide. Am I dreaming? Yes, I've tried to get into a couple of yahoo forums and have been declined because I don't already own a long-arm. Frustrating!
    I have a copy of a comparison that was printed in the May 2008 American Quilter magazine. It compared mid-arms, which included weight, throat space, table info, needle up-down, if it came standard with stitch regulation, bobbin size, laser light, controls on front or back(or both), how long to ship, size of quilting foot, MSRP, warranty and any training.
    I am willing to send a copy to you, just PM me with your address. Just be aware, my husband was just hospitalized yesterday, so please know I might not answer right away. Or if all goes well, I could be able to send it out right away, which I am praying for. Let me know if this would help. Pegg

  11. #11
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    Did you check if there were any reviews online?

    I have a GrandQuilter which has a 9" throat and DEFINITELY go for one that is a.) larger and b.) has a built-in stitch regulator.

  12. #12
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    Quote Originally Posted by Candace

    Anyone know someone in the Quilters mag. industry that could pass on this idea for an article? Somewhat like a consumers report for quilters;>
    Since the magazines rely on the longarm manufacturers for part of their ad revenue, they're unlikely to publish a comparison. Furthermore, some people find a particular fault with a machine (such as throat is too small) while other people have that machine and love it. Either they don't need a particular feature, or they find a good workaround. Look at the machines, test-drive them, make a list of the features you want, compare prices and service... There's a lot of homework involved. It's even more complicated in that some expensive add-ons may be almost necessary with one machine, but not with another because of its design.
    I agree with the not wanting to lose your advertising revenue. It's hard to test drive them when none of the models are available locally. And quilt shows, well like I said above...

  13. #13
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadQuilter
    Did you check if there were any reviews online?

    I have a GrandQuilter which has a 9" throat and DEFINITELY go for one that is a.) larger and b.) has a built-in stitch regulator.

    Well, yeah. All I've been doing is web research. It's just a nightware to wade through all the models, what computerized systems work with what machine and which tables work with what machines. MadQuilter since you live somewhat in my neck of the woods, where did you test drive your machine?

  14. #14
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot Pegg!! I will PM you. This would be extremely helpful to me. And no rush. I hope all goes well and I really appreciate your offer considering what you have going on in your life right now.

  15. #15
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    I am in exactly the same position as Candace right now. So, I will be anxious to read all the posts, too.

  16. #16
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candace
    MadQuilter since you live somewhat in my neck of the woods, where did you test drive your machine?
    I test drove at Meissner's. This one was at the Manzanita Store and it was the only unit they had. They usually have a pretty good selection at the main store. What I don't like is the way they make it sound like you get a "good deal" when they quote you MSRP (like I was born yesterday). When I decided to go with the Grandquilter, they would not come down in price and I ended up getting it from Kathy's in Chico - because they would.

    I would suggest calling around to see who even sells the brands you have in mind and then see who would give you the best deal.

    If you are not opposed to getting one second hand, there are some people in a variety of yahoo groups and even some on the QB who are selling used units.

    Have fun.

  17. #17
    Super Member MistyMarie's Avatar
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    If cost is not a factor, going bigger seems better. However, I found a great mid-arm on Ebay for a fraction of the cost of a long-arm. I figure I will eventually go bigger, but I am thrilled to have the one I have. I can quilt one up to 104", but am limited in how much area I can quilt at a time because of the 9" opening. I just did not have more than $2000.00 to spend. I ended up with a New Joy frame. I figure this is like getting a bike with training wheels. Someday I will move up to a mountain bike, but right now, this is a good fit for me.

  18. #18
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    MadQuilter, I got my Janome 9000 years ago from Meisner's and took quite a few classes there. I've never been to the Manzanita store. They used to have a small store here in Elk Grove, but they closed. I do need to get there since my sewing machine needs servicing. It's starting to make squeaking noises:< I'll check which brands they carry. Thanks.

    I'm not opposed to buying a gently used machine, but I really don't want one that was used professionally. I've seen plenty of second hand ones for sale, but until I can narrow down the brand and which is best for me, I'm holding off. I also want to make sure that whatever long arm I get is able to be upgraded to some sort of computerized system so that if I decide to go that route, I'll be able.

  19. #19
    Senior Member quilter girl's Avatar
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    I to wish I could compare them all - I am very interested in what everyone has to say, both good and bad. I have a Grand Quilter -I wish the throat space was bigger. I love the machine though and haven't had any problems with it.

  20. #20
    quiltingmom86's Avatar
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    Thank you so much for the information on "which magazine".
    I will get it at the library tomorrow. I "test drove" a HQ Avanti 18 yesterday. MY oh MY what a wonderful day! At 11000$ its only a dream for now. Quiltingmom86

  21. #21
    Super Member IBQUILTIN's Avatar
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    There is a quilt show in Clovs in March. I think its the 26th. Check with Quilters Paradise for definite date. There will (hopefully) be some reps there,

  22. #22
    Senior Member Shelley's Avatar
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    Buying a LA is like buying a car - what works for you may not work well for someone else, and vice-versa.

    This is a large investment. Take the time, spend the money, and go to one of the large shows. Most if not all the machines are represented. Take your time and play on them ALL. Machine Quilters Exposition - MQX (in the North East), MQS (Kansas City), Houston, Innovations (Tacoma WA), Quilting with Machines (Salt Lake City), Portland....well, you get the picture. There are shows all over and I'm sure I didn't hit them all.

    Most of all - have fun!

  23. #23
    Senior Member quilter girl's Avatar
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    Where is this show located at?
    Quote Originally Posted by dakotamaid
    This past May I attended the Machine Quilters show in Kansas City, MO. They have just about every long arm machine made there and you could talk with the reps, try out the machines and pick up info. Not only that but lots and lots of machine quilted quilts and wallhangings. MY SIL, daughter and even our husbands had a great time looking at all the machines. She ended up with a demo HQ16 (bought locally) and I'm still looking. The show is held every year in May.

  24. #24
    Super Member IBQUILTIN's Avatar
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    BTW, If you are not in a hurry, the State Fair in sac is coming up in the fall or late summer. They will all be there too.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Shelley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candace
    I'm not opposed to buying a gently used machine, but I really don't want one that was used professionally.
    I would prefer one that was used professionally. Most professional LAers maintain their own machines. This is our bread-and-butter and a down machine looses money.

    There are some parts, on all machines, that will wear down. I would be more worried about buying a machine that was used mostly for rentals, than one used by a pro. Watch for nicks on the rails, out of round wheels, and bumps and jarrs during a test run.

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