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Long Arm questions

Old 06-26-2013, 11:07 AM
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Default Long Arm questions

I'm doing my home work ... considering a Long Arm. I test drove just about all of them this past week in Chicago at the show. I have a few basic questions.

I'm considering a smaller machine (18" - 22") and wondering if I would be able to do a King size on either machine. I neglected to ask this question of the rep's. Most of the machines have a very high harp area, so I doubt if they would be a problem, but some (Tin Lizzy for example) has a much lower harp area and I worry that there is not enough harp space for a larger quilt. So ... what is the minimum harp height I should look for on an 18" or 22" machine??

Also ... how important is the "dead bar" to you? Is this an option that you would not live without??

I'm still early days in my homework, but I went to the show with the express purpose of "would I like the way it feels" and "could I control it with accuracy". The answer to both was YES especially with micro-handles (boy those made a considerable difference!!).

Thanks!
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Old 06-26-2013, 11:18 AM
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I think the dead bar depends a lot on personal preference in combination with how many quilts you do. I do not have a dead bar on my Voyager/Hinty setup and do not miss it. I did install Bower lifts so it is easy for me to adjust takeup bar height when I need to, which is not for every roll. However, I do not quilt for long periods of time. I quilt just 2 or 3 hours per day when I have a quilt in the frame, which is not every week, and quilt only for myself. If you quilt for others or do a lot of quilting every day, a dead bar eliminates the step of adjusting height when rolling a quilt.

The type of batting you use can affect whether or not you can roll a king size quilt in a given area. My Voyager has a 17" throat and I have had no trouble rolling an oversized queen on it using Warm'n'Natural batting.

It would help if you could narrow down a list to the specific machines you are considering. Every machine/frame setup seems to have its own quirks.
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Old 06-26-2013, 11:37 AM
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I have an older Tin Lizzie and there's no problem doing a king length. I like my machine a lot, but wish I had a nicer frame. I've used a friend's set up. She has a dead bar and I can really see the advantages. Her frame is also steel, with solid rollers which are very sturdy. Mine is aluminum and has a join in the middle that flexes a bit. Of course, her frame cost 3X what mine did. I only quilt for myself and a few relatives so my frame, although not top of the line, still works just fine.
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Old 06-26-2013, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Prism99 View Post
I think the dead bar depends a lot on personal preference in combination with how many quilts you do. I do not have a dead bar on my Voyager/Hinty setup and do not miss it. I did install Bower lifts so it is easy for me to adjust takeup bar height when I need to, which is not for every roll. However, I do not quilt for long periods of time. I quilt just 2 or 3 hours per day when I have a quilt in the frame, which is not every week, and quilt only for myself. If you quilt for others or do a lot of quilting every day, a dead bar eliminates the step of adjusting height when rolling a quilt.

The type of batting you use can affect whether or not you can roll a king size quilt in a given area. My Voyager has a 17" throat and I have had no trouble rolling an oversized queen on it using Warm'n'Natural batting.

It would help if you could narrow down a list to the specific machines you are considering. Every machine/frame setup seems to have its own quirks.
Thanks Prism ... I will not make a dead bar a major qualifyer in my decision.

I don't plan on quilting for others, and I don't see myself at the machine for more than 1-2 hours at a time, perhaps more on weekends on occasion - but not often. Very similar to yourself I guess.

I have already narrowed down my machines, and one of them is the Tin Lizzy which has a lower harp area. An 18" Tin Lizzy has less total harp area than the 18" Innova because the harp on the TL is not as high. If the lower harp area on the TL is going to present a problem with a larger size quilt using a fairly lofty batt (wool probably), then I can scratch the TL off my list and concentrate on the others that I liked. So far I've narrowed it down to Innova, APQS, Tin Lizzy, Baby Lock and Juki.

My final decision will be based on all these factors: the machine itself, the frame, and the local dealer/support. Price will play a role only if it's the deciding factor all else being equal.

At this moment in time ... if someone said I MUST choose a machine this moment, it would be the Innova with the Lightning stitch. Looooved that Lightning stitch!!! The fact that I could walk up to that machine and immediately micro-stiple at a fairly slow pace, with nicely formed uniform shaped loops, with consistent stitch length and no eyelashes ... blew me away. From what I understand it's one of the more difficult things to get master on a long arm. It's quite possible that my initial knee-jerk choice will be my end result, but I would be remiss if I didn't give everything my full consideration, as you know it's a pretty big decision.
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Old 06-26-2013, 11:46 AM
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>>Mine is aluminum and has a join in the middle that flexes a bit. Of course, her frame cost 3X what mine did.

Hmm ... I had not thought about that. I'll have to look at that a bit closer on the machines/frames I'm considering (I am definately considering purchasing them as a unit). I know a lot of the frames come in sections.
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Old 06-26-2013, 11:59 AM
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I would eliminate the Tin Lizzie based on complaints I have seen about tension. If you do a search on the QB for the Tin Lizzie, I think you will bring up quite a few threads that discuss it.

In your situation, I would definitely opt for the Innova with Lightning Stitch. That is my dream machine! For me, the 18" would be enough (can do a 12" block on point). Go to 22" if you think you may want to add computerized quilting. I would never want to do that; I do enough on the computer as it is!
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Old 06-26-2013, 11:59 AM
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I have a dead bar and I love it! When I got my machine, it did not have a dead bar, but my dealer got it recently as an add on kit option and I wanted it immediately. I hated trying to decide when and how much to raise the bar. Now I don't have to. I've quilted both cotton and wool on it and didn't have to adjust anything. Earlier this week was my first time using wool batting and when I saw how thick it is, I was worried, but I didn't have any problem. That quilt was roughly 75x85 and there was more than enough room under the harp. I only have a 10 ft frame, so I can't do a king (and I'd probably be overwhelmed anyway so I don't mind).

I have the Pfaff PowerQuilter P3, which is made by TinLizzy and I believe is essentially the same machine just with a different name. Everyone has their preferences when it comes to long arms, but I considered the BL Crown Jewel and the newly released Juki. I decided on the Pfaff because the dealer support is amazing and they gave me private lessons, which I really needed. I didn't like the APQS or the Innova, but again that was just my personal preference.

Keep us updated on what you decide. It's a big decision and you are smart to be researching and asking questions.
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Old 06-26-2013, 12:06 PM
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Here are a couple of the threads I had noticed about the Tin Lizzie:
http://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f1...m-t195665.html
http://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f1...p-t185148.html
And there are some comments lower down on this page:
http://www.generations-quilt-pattern...ng-thread.html

One thing about the Innova is that customer service seems to be 24/12. Posters on the Innovalongarm group on Yahoo all mention the great telephone support and service.
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Old 06-26-2013, 12:11 PM
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I, too have the Voyager with the Hinterberg frame, and, while I don't do anything much bigger than twin (personal quilt size preference, not because I can't) I have TONS of room left above my machine when I get to the end of it. I also prefer Warm & Natural batting because it's thin - but warm - and gives just the right amount of "pouf" for my quilts when I wash them.
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Old 06-26-2013, 12:14 PM
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Thanks again Prism ... yes that lightning stitch is a pretty seductive thing I did indeed see several threads on tension issues with the TL ... but I believe they were older models. I still stored that info on my spreadsheet of pro's and cons as a general remark.

Thanks Nilla ... and indeed it is interesting how we each have different preferences. The BL Crown Jewel and the new Juki are both at the bottom of my list of 5, while the Innova and the APQS are at the top of my list.

I liked the Juki well enough (loved the LED lighting on it), I liked the frame a lot ... I had a major problem with the dealer which is really really weird because he's the owner of the LQS that I frequent! One would think that my regular LQS would be a shoe-in as my LA choice ... but the owner really ticked me off at the show when I test drove the machine. Had one of his girls been on the booth instead of him it probably would have been a hands-down sale. I'm keeping the machine on my list cause I liked it, but boy did he leave a sour taste in my mouth.
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