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Thread: long arm quilting machines

  1. #1
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    Could those of you who have long arm quilting machines answer a few questions for me. Do you leave the frame set up all the time. Is is always set for a king size quilt or do you downsize it. How much room do you need to have one of these machines? I am thinking of getting one but dont know if I have a enough room. Thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member quilticing's Avatar
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    Don't do anything until you visit a LAQ! then go to the sellers. I have lots of space (but would like more, of course) but have seen some really cramped setups.

  3. #3
    Senior Member qwkslver's Avatar
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    I am anxious to follow this thread. I have been looking at home quilting systems for a long time. I don't think I have enough room or knowledge or for that matter money either. I hope you uncover some good news.

  4. #4
    Super Member fabric_fancy's Avatar
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    i keep my frame set up all the time - it would be a hassle to break it down and put it up as needed. i also think its good to practice a few days a week to keep your skills fresh.

    i have the ability to do a king size quilt but i don't keep it set up for that size since i rarely make a quilt that large.

    i keep my frame setup in the middle of the room so i can have access to the front and back.

    i've seen some set back towards a wall because they never do pantos only free hand. if you only want to do free hand it takes up less space in a room.

    my space is about 16x20 and i have a walk in closet. i have my room set up with all cabinets and counter tops/work surface along 3 walls and then the frame floats in that area.

    i have plenty space to walk around everything.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Candy Apple Quilts's Avatar
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    If you are able to "test drive" different types of machines before you choose one, it will be worth your piece of mind....

    I started off with a regular machine, a small frame, and 2 conference tables pushed together. It wasn't long before I realized that I wanted more throat space. I checked into lots of different brands on line, and the companies gave me the names of people who were happy to let me come over and try their machines.It took a little bit of footwork, but I am so happy that I did it that way!

    If you have any shows nearby, try shopping there, and do lots of test drives. Always ask about the throat space, and visualize how much room you will have when there is a rolled quilt on the machine. I have a neighbor who gets frustrated every time she has to remove a quilt, turn it around, and then try to finish the other half. The throat space is just as important as the length of the machine -- and sometimes MORE!

  6. #6
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    once set up...that's where it's at...mine is 14 feet long by about 30-40" wide (i'm not sure). i can remove bars to make it smaller but what a pain...easier to just leave set up as is...that way no matter what size quilt i have to work on i'm ready for it. if you are interested you have ALOT of research to do....there are many different set ups to choose from-they are all expensive-it is an investment as big as buying a new car. (sometimes a really expensive car)
    you should visit as many show's and shops with machines and try out as many as you can before deciding...i love my machine but know someone who had nothing buy aggrivation with hers(same brand)...we are all different - and you need to find the machine that is (right) for you....where preferably you have a (dealer) close for classes and tech support-and supplies...i made a big mistake when i purchased my machine-while on vacation...i have no local support-live in northern Michigan and have to call Utah and trouble shoot long-distance when there is a problem. RESEARCH BEFORE INVESTING!

  7. #7
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    Set up all the time. Setting the frame up and getting it perfectly level takes a bit of time and adjusting. A smooth operating machine only happens if the frame is setup properly... not something you want to be taking up and down!

    My frame is 14 foot, so it takes a fair amount of space.

  8. #8
    Super Member knlsmith's Avatar
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    I have mine set up all the time in our front room. That is where all my machines I use are set up and my hubby's computer. We have a front room and a living room so we have plenty of room. BUT if my soon to be 19 yr old daughter would ever move out, I am taking over her room before she closes the door on her way out. Hubby has step-son's room, he moved out last year.

  9. #9
    Super Member BKrenning's Avatar
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    Mine is setup all the time at 10'. My previous frame was at 12' and this one will be also when we can figure out how to get 12' poles for it--different rail system than my old one had.

    Anyway, it did take several room re-arrangements to get a 12' frame into a large bedroom and have it accessible from at least 3 sides. I had it katty-corner at first but eventually cleared out enough other stuff to get it along a wall but with enough space behind it to get back there. My first frame was originally setup in a smaller bedroom and it did not have room behind it but I never quilted from the back side when I first started anyway so it was ok.

    It all depends on what kind of quilting you plan to do, what size quilts, and what kind of toys you add to the mix. I added a PC Quilter which needed access to the backside of the frame. A newer style of PC Quilter does not need to be accessed from the back. I also find it easier to load a quilt onto the takeup roller from the back but I can do it from the front if necessary. Also, if you plan to do pantographs many frames are only able to follow those by quilting from the back. Some people have figured out ways to do it from the front but on the smaller frames, the only way is to do it from the back.

    I wouldn't take mine up & down but then I have a 75 pound Voyager mid-arm sitting on it. It's too much trouble to setup a large frame but with a smaller setup it should be easier but if you mainly do bed sized quilts like me, a small setup won't work for you.

  10. #10
    Junior Member tyoung's Avatar
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    Mine is set up all the time in its 12 foot length because I have no choice. It is a wooden table that doesn't move. It does take up quite a bit of space.

  11. #11
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by knlsmith
    BUT if my soon to be 19 yr old daughter would ever move out, I am taking over her room before she closes the door on her way out.
    Sorry, but that just cracked me up. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  12. #12
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTS
    Quote Originally Posted by knlsmith
    BUT if my soon to be 19 yr old daughter would ever move out, I am taking over her room before she closes the door on her way out.
    Sorry, but that just cracked me up. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
    Ha! We think alike! This is EXACTLY my plan!

  13. #13
    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    I have mine in an 8 x 16 foot shop.....kinda cramped behind it but I live with it. I don't do the pantos that require you to stand behind. I leave it up all the time. DH would shoot me if I said I was wanting it taken down. he said it has to go "with the house"...LOL My longarm has a computer program.....and that is complicated to make sure it's all hooked up right.

    I agree with other...go to the shops or conventions and look them over. I thought I wanted to upgrade to a Gammill or APQS...but took a class that had an APQS and decided I really don't need one that big! My machine is a Pfaff 18.8. She didn't do ANYTHING in the class that made me want a bigger machine....the designs will work just fine on my machine. Also - the APQS was so noisy.........nope, don't want it.

  14. #14
    Super Member knlsmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candace
    Quote Originally Posted by MTS
    Quote Originally Posted by knlsmith
    BUT if my soon to be 19 yr old daughter would ever move out, I am taking over her room before she closes the door on her way out.
    Sorry, but that just cracked me up. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
    Ha! We think alike! This is EXACTLY my plan!

    LOL. Believe me, she knows it too! She's in college and only works 2 days a week. She asked me to figure up how much minimum she would need to live on her own. It came to 1458 a month. She says to me, "but I only make 400 now!" we both laughed. Poor kid. Talk about reality slapping you in the face. ;)

  15. #15
    Super Member Rose L's Avatar
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    I have a Grace Original GMQ frame. I have it set at full size, 102" (8.5 Ft.) is the maximum size quilt that I can do on it. I believe the new Grace Pro is up to 120" (someone correct me if I am wrong, please). I leave it set up all the time. It requires about a half day of unscrewing and re-screwing a bazillion screws to take it down and set it back up..and then it has to be re-leveled. It is best to have enough room, IMHO, to have three sides accessible with at least as much room on each of the long sides to be able to bend forward and thread the needle or pull a tangle from the bobbin case, meaning you need some butt space behind you. A lot of people don't have enough space to access the back of their machine but even if you don't do pantos (which I think are a very important optional way to quilt) you can also use the bed on the back to tape down a stencil and use it to fill a block by using your laser or pointer. That saves having to mark the stencil on the quilt top. So two reasons to be able to access the back of the frame. On my setup I have a mid-arm Bailey (17" Pro) and there are times when I need or want to turn the hand wheel to get exact needle placement, so I need to be able to access the back for that too.

    I have a very large alcove off my living room and it is my complete sewing area. I have one end of my frame up against the far wall in the center of the room as you look into the alcove and the end of the frame sticks out into the living room through the arched doorway by about 2 Ft. It's not in the way at all, my DD2 can easily walk past it to get to her bedroom which is off the alcove and we can easily access my bedroom door which is on the LR side of the alcove as well. I have an aisle on each long side of my frame. On one side of the aisle I have my sewing machine, cutting table and ironing board set up. On the opposite aisle I have my book cases and a file cabinet set up. It works for me for now. When my DD2 leaves for college this summer, I will move my frame to her room and that way I'll have two adjoining spaces in which to really spread out and get some work done. I'll miss her but I'm looking forward to more room ;)

  16. #16
    Super Member quilttiludrop's Avatar
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    Permanent set up. I have a Gammill. The smallest table available is 10' long, which will fit in a larger bedroom. We are pleased with the solid built frame, the usability, the durability and availability of support (should we ever need any). My husband is my back-up technician. It is necessary to know which end of the screw driver to use, how to use a crevice tool on the vacuum, etc.. (I don't admit to being mechanically talented).

  17. #17

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    I think the idea of having an adjustable table is just a selling gimmick...it's easier for them to ship that way and so they sell you on the idea that it is better. Most people, once they have it set up, leave it set up all the time. (The back of the table is an excellent extra work table when your are not quilting.) For the best quilting results the table should be level, the bars should be accurately parallel, and the tracks should be straight and continuous with no "cuts" or "joints" to create a "hiccup" in the stitching when quilting. Poles that can be made smaller or larger, are by nature less rigid and can give or bend when tension is put on the quilt sandwich, possibly creating an "hourglass" shaped quilt.

    Where do you store it when it is taken apart? Who wants to lift that heavy machine on and off the table? You CAN do a small quilt on a large frame or even load two small quilts at the same time onto one backing.

    Shop around and don't make price your primary consideration. The time you spend trying to make a less than perfect set up work is worth something too! It should be fun. Many of the longarm companies will provide a custom size table length for a minimual charge if space is an issue.

    Narrow your choices down to two or three options then ask to see a machine setup at full length. The small "demo" tables stitch pretty good...but do they also stitch as smoothly on a full length table setup?

    Also ask about training, service, support, and warranties.

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