Welcome to the Quilting Board!

Already a member? Login above
loginabove
OR
To post questions, help other quilters and reduce advertising (like the one on your left), join our quilting community. It's free!

Results 1 to 23 of 23

Thread: Mid Arm / Long Arm questions

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    582

    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!

  2. #2
    Power Poster Annaquilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    10,685
    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.
    Anna Quilts

  3. #3
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Knot Merrill, Southern Indiana
    Posts
    5,806
    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!!
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

    Sue

  4. #4
    Super Member quilts4charity's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Albany, Georgia
    Posts
    1,691
    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!!!!

  5. #5
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Alturas, CA
    Posts
    8,842
    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.

  6. #6
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Western Wisconsin
    Posts
    12,953
    Blog Entries
    1
    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!

  7. #7
    Super Member quiltedsunshine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    1,276
    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.
    Annette in Utah

  8. #8
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    kansas
    Posts
    5,048
    Blog Entries
    37
    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!

  9. #9
    Senior Member midwife's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Posts
    373
    The latest catch phrase in healthcare is, "Sitting is the new smoking." I would go for the stand up machine.

  10. #10
    Super Member Nanny's dollface's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    So. California
    Posts
    1,436
    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.
    "I may not believe in what you say but will defend your right to say it"- Voltaire

  11. #11
    Super Member Quiltngolfer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    3,419
    You will have to make that decision by yourself. Each of us is different. I bought the Simply 16 over a year ago with the Studio frame. I use groovy boards and pantographs so I have never even had to learn free motion quilting. The hardest part was figuring out how to load the quilt on the frame. I found some great videos and watched them over and over. No more basting the quilt sandwich! I love it. The machine moves so smoothly that I can operate it with one hand. When my legs or shoulders get tired, I just stop and rest awhile. Personally, I feel there is less shoulder strain using the Simply 16 than I had using my domestic machine. I can stand up straight rather than lean over so much. If you buy one, make sure it is adjusted for your height. The person I bought from came to my home, installed my machine, and spent the day with me teaching me how to use it. Wonderful service!

    Good luck on whatever you decide.

  12. #12
    Super Member Quiltbeagle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    1,244
    Becoming a good quilter, no matter what kind of machine you use or what options they have, just takes practice, practice and even more practice. I don't know about long-term health problems but whether you use a sit-down or stand-up machine you'll need to take a periodic break and stretch your muscles a bit. I mostly stand at my long arm but also work while sitting whenever possible on a saddle chair. I love it! It's on wheels and we have a hardwood floor so it's easy to move about and quilt even while sitting.

  13. #13
    Super Member patsan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Long Island
    Posts
    1,323
    I purchased a sweet 16 back in February. I used it to quilt 2 smaller quilts and decided I needed to upgrade, so I am selling the sweet 16 right now. For me, I think it would be easier to move a machine instead of my material.
    I think you should try both types of machines and see which one you'd like best.
    Pat
    Brother NQ 3500D
    HQ Avanté

  14. #14
    Super Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Ballwin, MO
    Posts
    2,588
    With my Sweet 16, I found I did much better with my FMQ designs when I used the foot pedal. Somehow, it seemed to engage my brain to a greater degree than quilting without the pedal.

    You won't have to move a heavy quilt around with a stand up machine, and I would say that's the difference that supersedes all of the other factors when considering a sit down vs. long arm. If you have the space for a long arm, and if you are physically able to work standing up, and if you don't mind not having tactile contact with your quilt while quilting, it's simply going to be easier to quilt with a long arm, and you'll probably finish more quilts.
    Lisa

  15. #15
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    4,291
    Martelli's Enterprises makes a table that can raise and lower. They just demonstrated it at one of our Guild meetings. It's expensive but would be so nice to be able to both sit and stand.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    582
    Thanks for the input, everyone. I went back and played with the machines today. For me, the deciding factor was the ease of moving the "pen" versus the "paper" for a larger sized quilt sandwich. For a wall-hanging or placemat sized quilt, moving the fabric around on the table (yes, with the surface designed for doing so) seemed just fine. The moment we switched to a throw sized quilt, it was a different story. The fabric was supported, but I felt much less able to manipulate it as I was quilting. I think I'll be going with a mid-arm (16") in a 5' frame.

  17. #17
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    10,190
    I don't think you will regret going for a frame setup as opposed to sit down. As far as health issues with stand up quilting there are so many variables. First how physically fit are you to begin with? Do you have any other underlying health issues like fibromyalgia? Standing at a frame for long periods of time can affect different people differently. For me, I am fine while quilting but usually that evening I am sore all over and more than ready for bed at bedtime but I have fibro so it may be factoring into the equation. I pretty much experience the same fatigue and all over body aches from doing anything physical like yardwork.

  18. #18
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Thornton, Colorado
    Posts
    1,022
    Quote Originally Posted by pchp View Post
    Thanks for the input, everyone. I went back and played with the machines today. For me, the deciding factor was the ease of moving the "pen" versus the "paper" for a larger sized quilt sandwich. For a wall-hanging or placemat sized quilt, moving the fabric around on the table (yes, with the surface designed for doing so) seemed just fine. The moment we switched to a throw sized quilt, it was a different story. The fabric was supported, but I felt much less able to manipulate it as I was quilting. I think I'll be going with a mid-arm (16") in a 5' frame.
    If it is possible, go with a longer frame. 5' frame will be fine for lap quilts, but allowance is needed for space on the ends to go underneath the machine to insert bobbins, cut the thread and so on. I am vertically challenged, so the mid arm (14") is perfect for me to reach across the quilting surface. Standing for long periods of time is not a problem since I stand on six layers of interlocking floor mats (used for workshops, children's play areas, etc.). I have no knee or back pains. I started out with DSM for FMQ, and did my shoulders ache a lot. You will enjoy your midarm, smile.

  19. #19
    Power Poster twinkie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    15,482
    Quote Originally Posted by quilts4charity View Post
    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!!!!
    WOW you have been busy!!!

  20. #20
    Super Member Ariannaquilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    in the sticks of PA
    Posts
    1,877
    Oh, I thought you already had the frame so you were thinking about which type of machine to get. My best friend started with using her Juki on a 10 ft frame that has a smaller harp than what she wanted so she moved up to the midarm. I'm not a sit down person either I like moving the machine versus moving the quilt. Good luck with your purchase since this is not new to you it will be great.
    Maria
    Always be true to yourself!

  21. #21
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    33
    Blog Entries
    1
    Check out Precise Pantograph System for sitting down while doing a longarm pantograph.

  22. #22
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    15,687
    Blog Entries
    1
    I have space limitations so a sit-down was my only option. I love my Sweet 16.

  23. #23
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    226
    I use a rolling chair on my mid arm machine. Works just fine for me.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.