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Thread: Question on Tin Lizzie quilting machine

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    My sister and I are considering purchasing a quilting machine. We found the site on the Tin Lizzie that seems to be the right price and also has all the features we would like. We would be using this for our quilts only and not making a business of it. What's your opinion of this brand versus others?

  2. #2
    Senior Member mkanderson's Avatar
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    not sure as I mostly hand quilt but my LQS has one set up and she likes it better than the one she had (can't remember what it was!)
    Mary

  3. #3
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I would recommend joining the homequiltingsystems group at http://groups.yahoo.com and reading the files there. You will find lots of information about different quilting systems there. If you are still not sure after reading the files, post to the group. There are quite a few people there who have the Tin Lizzie and can give you an idea of the pros and cons. Usually which frame you buy makes a difference.

  4. #4
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i have one and i can tell you the pros and cons of my particular one.

    it only like certain threads. especially king tut which is costly.
    it can run away with you. it goes very fast on the lizzie stitch.
    raising and lowering the take-up bar is a pain.
    the clamps will need to be replaced with better ones. big deal!

    with the right thread it sews without breaking any thread.
    i use it on manual and control the speed myself. very easy.
    unless you pay for a computerized machine, they all need to be raised and lowered by hand. sorry. this is no worse, maybe better.
    it's very easy to replace the clamps, and schambers has a wonderful
    technique for very even tension. definitely use this.
    it's a little ticklish on the wiring that controls the left-right controls. they
    answer all calls and walk you through any problems. they have
    good tech help.

    all in all i am very happy with it. it takes time to set it up for each quilt. the tension changes, the thread changes, etc. you should test each quilt to make sure everything is set up right.

    like every other sewing machine, when it's good it's very, very good and when it's bad you want to stomp it to death. if it needs repair (has not happened to me since i own it -over a year) it's easy to pick up and take to the dealer.

    if you have the opportunity, buy it at a show from the owner, ernie. it will cost less and you can bargain for things like extra needles, even though he says you don't need extras, or extra bobbins. you can still bring to a dealer if you need to. at a show, you might get him to swallow the tax. remember the shipping costs and mentally add that onto the price.

    are you getting the computerized one? if not, last year's are all on sale.

    since i won't spend the big bucks on a gammill , i think i did the right thing. NONE OF THEM IS PERFECT. THEY ALL HAVE THEIR OWN.......
    PERSONALITIES. i would do it again. practice makes perfect here.

    also be sure and join the yahoo group above. there is one especially for lizzie owners. you'll read about every problem and answer.

    mine is the TL18SL. good luck with your decision.


  5. #5
    Cookn's Avatar
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    Purchasing a long arm is not something that you jump right into. Each machine is different, with different feelings in the way it moves, the way it operates, everything about it. You might not like a TinLizzie. It might be too heavy for you or your sister, the controls might not be placed correctly for you. I'm not saying that it's a bad machine, it might just not be the right machine for you. Don't purchase on price alone, if you do you are selling your self short. A long arm is a large investment, although it sounds cavalier, when you are spending that much money, make sure that the machine that you purchase fits you and the way you quilt. I've spent the last 6 months researching long arms, made a decision to purchase a specific machine 3 different time, and then I read a bit more and learn a bit more and everything changes. Unless you have to purchase the machine RIGHT NOW, you owe it to yourself and your sister to test drive every machine in your price range. It's the only way to find a machine that's comfortable for you. One option I see mentioned a lot is a hydraulic lift, does it have a stitch regulator, how easy is it to access the bobbin with a quilt on the machine, and the list can go on and on. You need to make a list of what you want in a machine. While you are at it remember that unless you live in a large urban area with a dealer close by, you'll be doing your own repairs and maintenance on the machine. Are you capable of doing that ? One manufacturer gives you a two day maintenance course when you purchase their machine.

    Bet you didn't realize what you are thinking about getting into was so complicated, did you ? From what I've found out you really need to do your homework. Take a look at this site
    http://mqresource.com/forum/index.php?act=idx
    It's one of the best resources for long arm users I've found. It's largely commercial users but there's bunches of good info there. Look for a post about Adam and his trials and tribulations with purchasing a machine on price alone, it's an interesting read.

  6. #6
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    good points. i should have included some of that info. the TL18SL has a stitch regulator. the bobbin is very very accessible. i have only ever seen one other machine in that price category and that's new this year. it's the pfaff. i didn't like it myself, but you might.

    i'm very short and i do wish the lizzie was able to lower a little more.

    it comes with a laser and soon there will be a stylus, but any stylus works. there is/soon will be a plexiglass extender that fits around the arm so that you can balance a longer straight edge better. there is also available a split foot so you can see where you are stitching more easily.

    but cookn is definitely right. check everything! the best place to make comparisons is at a show, where they're all together.

    if you go to the yahoo group tin lizzie, you can see how people have adjusted the tin lizzie to meet their own needs. you should check this out. many of these ideas are good for any machine.

  7. #7
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    I have purchased the Tin Lizzie 18LS w/Shirley Sticher. I love it. The dealer for NC/SC is great. I call her with questions all the time. Mike in Utah (where Lizzie is built) is also very helpful. He has posted some video and the operation of Lizzie.

  8. #8
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    51, do you find that it likes the king tut thread the best? i've used other thread, but it's harder to get the tension right on those. also, do you use the lizzie stitch or the manual? am i the only one who likes total control?

    i find the tech help terrific. any questions and they are all over it, definitely.
    just keep a phone in your hand because when you call is when they help!!!
    they will walk you right thru anything right then and there!

    who else can you say that of?

  9. #9
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    I find it hard to use follow the pattern with the laser light, so I've used the Shirley Sticher (computer). King Tut is the only thread that I used because the other breaks..... Have you watched the video by Mike?

  10. #10
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i have the video but i haven't watched it. i also haven't tried the laser because i'm too short to see what's going on over there. i use a chalk marker to draw right on the fabric and i follow that. i've been thinking about the design boards. my dh thinks he may be able to do some simple ones in block shape for me. i would buy a stylus and mount it on the sliding sled itself, as recommended by ernie. when i called for help i spoke to isaac.

  11. #11
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    I think I will try the chalk. Thanks

  12. #12
    Super Member MaryStoaks's Avatar
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    I have had my Tin Lizzie for over a year and I love it. I use all kinds of thread, coats & clark, YLI, thread art etc., they all work for me. The cheaper brands do cause more lint, I brush the bobbin area and case with each new bobbin change. I do check /adjust the tension when I change brands. I almost always use white thread with my machine. I found that I did have to adjust the tension more for colors/black. As with any longarm there is a learning period.
    There are very helpful Yahoo Groups to check, one specific to Tin Lizzie.
    They are a super source for help and info.
    I bought my machine second-hand, locally, for a price I could afford. I have seen some good prices lately on new machines.
    Do your research and find the right machine for you. I couldn't be happier with mine. :lol:

  13. #13
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    per yahoo group for tl:

    i have been having trouble posting questions there. for some reason my questions don't post and moderators can't figure out why. any clue?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    i have one and i can tell you the pros and cons of my particular one.

    it only like certain threads. especially king tut which is costly.
    it can run away with you. it goes very fast on the lizzie stitch.
    raising and lowering the take-up bar is a pain.
    the clamps will need to be replaced with better ones. big deal!

    with the right thread it sews without breaking any thread.
    i use it on manual and control the speed myself. very easy.
    unless you pay for a computerized machine, they all need to be raised and lowered by hand. sorry. this is no worse, maybe better.
    it's very easy to replace the clamps, and schambers has a wonderful
    technique for very even tension. definitely use this.
    it's a little ticklish on the wiring that controls the left-right controls. they
    answer all calls and walk you through any problems. they have
    good tech help.

    all in all i am very happy with it. it takes time to set it up for each quilt. the tension changes, the thread changes, etc. you should test each quilt to make sure everything is set up right.

    like every other sewing machine, when it's good it's very, very good and when it's bad you want to stomp it to death. if it needs repair (has not happened to me since i own it -over a year) it's easy to pick up and take to the dealer.

    if you have the opportunity, buy it at a show from the owner, ernie. it will cost less and you can bargain for things like extra needles, even though he says you don't need extras, or extra bobbins. you can still bring to a dealer if you need to. at a show, you might get him to swallow the tax. remember the shipping costs and mentally add that onto the price.

    are you getting the computerized one? if not, last year's are all on sale.

    since i won't spend the big bucks on a gammill , i think i did the right thing. NONE OF THEM IS PERFECT. THEY ALL HAVE THEIR OWN.......
    PERSONALITIES. i would do it again. practice makes perfect here.

    also be sure and join the yahoo group above. there is one especially for lizzie owners. you'll read about every problem and answer.

    mine is the TL18SL. good luck with your decision.
    I purchased a new Tin Lizzie 18LS in December and I have used numerouse brands of thread on it and have had not problem with Tension. I have even used both 100% cotton and Polyestor threads.

  15. #15
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    UPDATE: mine, too, is accepting other threads now. i may not have been too good about the tension before. a also bought needles with a larger eye, and bought a heaver weight thread that i want to experiment with.

    i saw a good video, i can't remember where, that showed some guy who attached a board right across the front of the quilter, above the quilt itself, but not touching. he placed his panto there and aimed his laser from the front of his machine. that way he was able to see exactly what he was doing. i want to check out the frame and see if i can figure that out.

    since last time, i did buy the table extension and that opens up a world of possibilities. your straight edge balances and allows you to stitch perfectly straight lines, although long diagonals are still hard to get right, as on any machine. i also got the open-toe foot, but haven't used it yet. i got them both at all-brands.
    the prices were better there than any other place, although the shipping time was awful. maybe that was a one-time thing, i don't know.

    i also changed over to the lizzie stitch because i felt i should learn to be versatile. i still don't use it all the time, but at least i use it occasionally.

    i have a microhandle, not the real one, and i don't like it. you have to get down to it really, really close, and it's very uncomfortable. i find that if i sit in a chair the right height, i see well enough to steer it properly. and if you get very close, you end up working in your own shadow.

    all in all, i still love it. whenever i go to a show, i still try all the others out, and i'm not overly impressed. the bells and whistles would be nice but i just want a reliable machine that i trust to do the job and has good tech support and a nearby dealer.

    there was a post recently about setup time. i load the frame in about 30-45 minutes. that's pinning the backing to the leader, pinning and rolling the backing onto the belly bar, and machine basting the batting and top to the backing. i float the batting and the top so i can tweak it as i roll it along. it also includes clamping the sides to ready the whole thing for quilting.

    how are you liking yours so far?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    UPDATE: mine, too, is accepting other threads now. i may not have been too good about the tension before. a also bought needles with a larger eye, and bought a heaver weight thread that i want to experiment with.

    i saw a good video, i can't remember where, that showed some guy who attached a board right across the front of the quilter, above the quilt itself, but not touching. he placed his panto there and aimed his laser from the front of his machine. that way he was able to see exactly what he was doing. i want to check out the frame and see if i can figure that out.

    since last time, i did buy the table extension and that opens up a world of possibilities. your straight edge balances and allows you to stitch perfectly straight lines, although long diagonals are still hard to get right, as on any machine. i also got the open-toe foot, but haven't used it yet. i got them both at all-brands.
    the prices were better there than any other place, although the shipping time was awful. maybe that was a one-time thing, i don't know.

    i also changed over to the lizzie stitch because i felt i should learn to be versatile. i still don't use it all the time, but at least i use it occasionally.

    i have a microhandle, not the real one, and i don't like it. you have to get down to it really, really close, and it's very uncomfortable. i find that if i sit in a chair the right height, i see well enough to steer it properly. and if you get very close, you end up working in your own shadow.

    all in all, i still love it. whenever i go to a show, i still try all the others out, and i'm not overly impressed. the bells and whistles would be nice but i just want a reliable machine that i trust to do the job and has good tech support and a nearby dealer.

    there was a post recently about setup time. i load the frame in about 30-45 minutes. that's pinning the backing to the leader, pinning and rolling the backing onto the belly bar, and machine basting the batting and top to the backing. i float the batting and the top so i can tweak it as i roll it along. it also includes clamping the sides to ready the whole thing for quilting.

    how are you liking yours so far?
    I also just bought the extension table last week-from allbrands.com and am very happy with it. I was using templates and stitch in ditch ruler and was having a very hard time without the bigger bse to put it on. Wish I would've bought it right away. My husband in a fabricator so he als made me some micro handles which I really like for micro stippling. They give me more control. Right now, I am very frustrated with the Tin Lizzie because I am having a problem with it Racing right when I start a new area and then when I hit the stop button, it doesn't stop instantly so then I have a couple inches of tiny, tiny stitches to tear out. I have a cutsomer quilt loaded that she wanted tomorrow and now I am at a standstill because I am waiting for a response about it from my Dealer. I just bought my machine in late December and I understand that any machine, any brand, can have issued early on, but I am frustrated to be having an major issue already that is causing me downtime. I work a full time job outside of the home so when I am home to work on customer quilts, every minute is precious time and I don't want my machine down. But I'm sure it will be fixed and then I will be happy. For the price I paid (I got a good deal on it), I figure I can always get most of my money back out of it again someday if I decide not to quilt--or if I get a good customer base going that I decide to upgrade to a longer throat. I have already decided I want a longer throat and will be upgrading as soon as I get this machine paid off. So I will be selling a very good, very new used machine. As I said, my time is precious when I have time to quilt so I would like to spend less time advancing the quilt constantly. And yes, I do feel it is a good machine for someone who is on a budget/or donesn't feel they will be quilting that many quilts that it warrants a commercial machine. I do have the steel Grace Hailey frame with mine which is adjustable for height. Is yours not adjustable or do you have it as low as it can go? You may want to consider changing frames in the future to one that adjusts lower if you are short and need the frame to sit lower.

  17. #17
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i have the hinterberg wood frame (i love the way it looks) and it's as low as it gets. i'm only 5'2", so there's a lot of reaching for me. i don't quilt for anyone but me, so i don't need more than what i have, although he offered me a good trade-in if i wanted it.
    we're retired and we travel some, so we aren't always home for me to concentrate on quilting.

    for mother's day i asked for some groovy boards, baptist's fans, and we'll see where that goes. i'm not crazy about the pantos, because i can't see what's going on (because i'm vertically challenged).

    have you tried the open toe foot? and have you seen the Brower's Lifts?

  18. #18
    Senior Member quilter1943's Avatar
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    Gammill makes a small one now also but I'm not sure how the price compares. Having a dealer near by might help in the decision making. I've used a Tin Lizzie and I know people who love it and I know people who don't. See if you have other dealers in the area and try them all

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    i have the hinterberg wood frame (i love the way it looks) and it's as low as it gets. i'm only 5'2", so there's a lot of reaching for me. i don't quilt for anyone but me, so i don't need more than what i have, although he offered me a good trade-in if i wanted it.
    we're retired and we travel some, so we aren't always home for me to concentrate on quilting.

    for mother's day i asked for some groovy boards, baptist's fans, and we'll see where that goes. i'm not crazy about the pantos, because i can't see what's going on (because i'm vertically challenged).

    have you tried the open toe foot? and have you seen the Brower's Lifts?
    I do not have groovy boards and I do not like using laser light with Pantos. I'm sure I wou;d get better at it with practice but I just do not feel right standing behind the machine. I like to be in front. My husband found me a good clamp that had a hole in the end of it so we screwed the laser light on it and put the clamp over the top fo the machine. Figured I could use the laser to follow some designs for blocks if I wanted. I have been too busy quilting for others and haven't had time to practice with that yet. I will be able to stand in front of my machien with that set up. I do not have the open toed foot and I do not know what the Brower's lifts are. What are they? Oh I GOT MY MACHIEN FIXED AND IT NO LONGER RACES!!!! I haved as wonderful Dealer who's husband is a Certified Tech for Tin Lizzie and Gammil and he called me back tonight and talked me through how to run some diagnostic tests on my machine and get it re-set and then it worked for the Needle Up problem (it wasn't always going up like it was supposed to) --but it still Raced. Then he had me take the back cover off where the wheel is (with the belt) and he had me clean everything there with a brush--around teh wheel and especially around the green control board by it--because there is a sensor there and it needs to be really clean. I did that and then quilted for 2 hours after taht and it did NOT race once. I almost hated to shut it down for the night. Hope it all works well again tomorrow.

  20. #20
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    the video i saw had the man using the laser light clamped to the front also, but he rigged up a board across the front of the frame so that the panto could rest on that. then he followed the panto with the laser right there in front of himself and could see exactly what he was doing. i agree, i don't like to work in the back because i can't see. that's why i want to try the board. i don't think i can make a mistake that way. they also come in blocks.

    the brower's lifts attach temporarily to the sides of the frame and have a system for lifting the roller bars that's different than turning the side wheels. i don't know how you lift on the metal frame, but the lifts have a top handle, sort of, level with the floor, that makes it very easy to screw the bars higher and lower. browse it. they're privately made. if your dh is handy, he might get a similar idea. i'm not saying he should copy it.

    if you look at 'photos' or 'pictures' (whatever) on the tin lizzie Yahoo! group, they show them, as well as all kinds of retrofits and basic instructions as to how they were made. like the table extension, but i got tired of waiting.

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