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Mid Arm / Long Arm questions

Mid Arm / Long Arm questions

Old 08-18-2017, 04:03 PM
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Default Mid Arm / Long Arm questions

Now that I'm retiring, I'm hoping to spend more time both quilting and being on the Quilting Board. I'm seriously considering getting a mid-arm (HandiQuilter Sweet 16 or equivalent) or small long-arm (HandiQuilter Simply 16 or equivalent). I'm trying to figure out whether the sitting or standing is better for me. I've had practice with both, because I got a frame from HQ back on which I've used my DSM.

When I tried out some machines at a local quilt show yesterday, the fact that the HQ Simply 16 had no pedal, so the speed was unaffected by how consistently I was pressing with my foot. The Pfaff and Baby Lock sit down machines both had pedals, just like my DSM. I'm wondering whether the lack of pedal might make it easier for me to more quickly become better at FMQ on the long arm than on the mid arm. Any thoughts?

Also, I have read that health issues to consider seem to be bad knees for the long arm and back/shoulder issues for the mid arm/sitting down. I do know that I have a tendency to tense up in my shoulders and not keep good posture, but I don't have knee problems. Are there any other health issues to consider?

Thank you!
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Old 08-18-2017, 05:11 PM
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You can always sit with the long arm and do sections. I like that you baste the quilt on the long arm versus basting the quilt and then sitting down to quilt on the sit down. My vote is for the long arm if you have the space, the biggest frame with a good throat opening on the machine 18-26 in. seemed most desirable to me. I ended up with the machine that felt the lightest to operate to me, Innova.
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Old 08-18-2017, 05:18 PM
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Impossible to say which will be best for you. Such a personal decision. As Anna mentioned, you can always get a rolling stool to use with the long arm, if needed.

As for machines, check out the Juki 2200QVP sit down machine. Some things I really like about it is the fly wheel is within easy reach to pin-point dropping the needle or taking up the bobbin thread.

Other health issues ... sore feet perhaps? If you have a frame set up on a hard floor, a long line of cushy mats will help. There are also issues (for some) with crawling under the machine to check bobbin tension, but mirrors or a camera can help.

good luck whatever you decide on!!
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Old 08-18-2017, 05:19 PM
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I have never for one minute regretted my choice of 10 foot frame and small longarm 18", no more basting just get it on there and get it quilted, a little learning curve but easy enough and to date over 400 finished quilts!!!!
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Old 08-18-2017, 06:23 PM
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Have you thought of the Bailey quilting machine? They have a good reputation and prices are very good, although technically, they're not a "long arm" but a stretched machine. I ordered a 20" Bailey, with table, extra bobbins, "enhanced" lighting, and a couple of "extras" for under $2453, this was with a 10% cash discount. It will be here next month. You can also get a frame, which I would prefer, but unfortunately I don't have room for a frame.
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Old 08-18-2017, 07:55 PM
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Sit down versus stand up is a very personal decision. You may need to try out more machines before making a decision.

I quilted on my domestic machine for many years and had the problem you mention with tension in the shoulders. The solution I finally found was to place my machine on my sewing table and sew standing up! My dh made a styrofoam surround for my machine that was lightweight and easy to move, so I had a large flat surface for the quilt. This worked well for me. However, my solution would probably not be necessary for me these days if I had a suspension system for the quilt. This relieves a lot of the stress on the shoulders and back. See Leah Day and Jenoop websites for examples of how to suspend a quilt for a sit-down machine.

Now I have a Voyager 17/Hinterberg frame setup. I have to admit I ***much*** prefer standing up and moving the machine. It is just easier for me to quilt that way. Also, psychologically it is more free for me; I feel more creative and artistic that way!

Incidentally, I think both machines you mention are actually mid-arms; just one is a sit-down and one is a stand-up. It is the length under the arm of the machine that determines mid-arm versus long-arm. Midarms run 13"-17" or so; longarms start at 18" and go up to about 28". I think all sit-down machines are considered mid-arms as they are usually 16".

My personal bias is showing, but I would recommend a stand-up if you have the space for it. I just think it's easier to get more quilts done faster. Not to mention more fun! And, you don't have to hunt with your foot for that pesky foot pedal!
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:04 PM
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With a stand-up machine, the front bar needs to be at your belly button. So, you adjust the height to make it comfortable for you. With a sit-down machine, you definitely use your shoulders more. I do think having a stitch regulator is so much better than using a foot control. Babylock machines are basically the same as a HQ, but the contract says Babylock can't have the updates that HQ gets for 2 years after HQ gets them. Another plus for HQ is the "dead bar" or "5th rail." With it, you don't have to adjust the height of the take-up rail, every time you roll the quilt.
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:04 PM
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like Annaquilts, I vote for a long arm set-up. Not having to baste the sandwich is so important to me that the extra price for the long arm is worth it. I do have bad knees and shoulder problems--but like others said, you can choose to use a drafting stool and sit while doing some types of quilting on long arm (not pantos--but those hurt my shoulders and neck anyway so i stay away from them!) and also fatigue mats are important. unless you are doing mostly king size quilts, don't think you need a super long arm either--most of us can only comfortably work in a space of about 15' in front of us without hurting our back--if the arm is high enough the quilt will roll without having to be really long. As far as having to crawl under it to check bobbin tension, I've never done that--i have a mirror that i use to check the back, or you can simple roll the quilt up, check, then roll back. have fun! I got a long arm 4 months before i retired and think (no, make that know) that I love quilting more than piecing!
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Old 08-19-2017, 02:29 AM
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The latest catch phrase in healthcare is, "Sitting is the new smoking." I would go for the stand up machine.
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Old 08-19-2017, 03:13 AM
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I plan on picking up Handi Quilter Simply Sixteen little foot system today after spending time trying out various sit down and standup systems. I too found quilting on my sit down domestic machine placed a considerable amount of pressure on my shoulder and neck. I have done various size quilts including a King size quilt on a Viking 118. Last year bought a Babylock Jazz - yet, despite it having a bigger throat, I still found myself itch shoulder aches and pains.
The system you chose is a personal decision. For me I found standing up gave me the ability to be much more relaxed that produced better designs - almost becoming one with the machine. Space was an issue so I went with the Little foot system. I also liked the fact it did not have a foot pedal. I found systems with a foot pedal was trying to tap your head and jump at the same time. Lol Try out various models and find the one that you feel you have more control with.
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