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Thread: Quilting machines

  1. #1
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    Quilting machines

    Hi,

    I am sure many of you have had this and seen this question before and I apologize for the repeat for you.

    I want to quilt my own quilts, but find that I get very frustrated using my domestic machines.

    I have gone and played with some machines, sit downs and long arms.

    My query and my conflict with myself is justifying the cost of the purchase.

    Have any of you had buyers remorse with your purchases? What did you purchase, ie: long arm, mid arm, sit downs, extended throats?

    I want to purchase something more, but am nervous about it.

    I am an intermediate piece maker and I would say a beginner quilter, since I don't like or enjoy the quilting process on my domestic machine.

    Thank you for any input.

  2. #2
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    I bought one (2007 APQS milli) and had the same feelings as you are having right now. I upgraded my machine in 2014 to a newer machine and table. I have not regretted the purchase. I didn't have any experience when I bought mine at all. I just went for it. I quickly decided I was not good at freehanding so I added an IQ computer to the first machine in 2008. I say go for it if you can.

  3. #3
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    Thanks intoquilting,
    I appreciate your input, especially since I too at this point do not have any experience. APQS is the direction I am thinking I would like to go. My husband says I can go for it if I want it.

  4. #4
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    I don't have the space for a long arm, but got a Baby Lock Coronet last summer, after I retired from teaching. Then I was asked in September to long-term sub for the year. I'm looking forward to playing within a week or two, when a friend is bringing me a donation quilt or two for practicing my skills. After trying out several mid arm machines last summer, I decided I was happier with larger quilts moving the machine than the fabric. But I still turn to my dsm for small quilts.

  5. #5
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    You can do some beautiful quilting on your smaller machine using the various Quilt As You Go techniques. I learned to fmq on my Juki2010Q. When I decided I wanted a better setup for big quilts I chose the Juki longarm in the table. I am just better with moving the fabric than moving the machine head, probably from the years of fmq practice on the smaller Juki.

    Don't just get a longarm because other people are doing it... be sure that is how you like to quilt. Try lots of machine options and find out what you are most comfortable with. I found my best fit was the sit down longarm.

    I bought my sit down Juki longarm at a show, where they gave me a great deal and threw in lots of extras. They offered 0% financing for 5 years, so I am paying only $94 a month for my machine. Quite doable. If you wait for sales events, other brands will offer 0% financing too. At the show I looked at the APQS machine too, but they didn't have free financing. It also cost about double what the Juki cost.

    I took an fmq class at a local Babylock sales event recently, and they were offering 0% financing and great discounts too. They have fabulous machines. Take your time and look around. Find out what you like and wait for a sales event!
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/sewbizgirl
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  6. #6
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    Thanks sewbizgirl,

    You make very good points. I appreciate all of your input!

  7. #7
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    Thanks pchp,

    I like how you described your process, things for me to think about.

  8. #8
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I also purchased my first long arm when I was an intermediate quilter. A couple of things I didn't know:
    -The frame is also pretty important. Make sure you get one with sturdy bars. My first machine had rollers that were slightly flexible. You couldn't rest your arms on them to steady yourself for detailed work, and because they were slightly bowed, it affected the tension on the quilt sandwich. Also, a dead bar makes life much simpler.
    - You need a lot of room. Figure on at least 3 feet in front of the frame. If you are planning on doing pantos, you need 2 - 3 feet in back. You also need a couple of feet on the side where you will be advancing the quilt, and if your frame doesn't have a dead bar, you will also need access on the other side. remember too that the carriage the machine rides on takes up about a foot of room, so a 10' frame gives you about 9' of quilting space.

    Although my first long arm wasn't my dream machine, I still really enjoyed the stand up long arm process. I eventually traded up to my current model.
    I would also advise you to do some research in your area to see if you can rent time on any machines. This will give you a realistic take on the long arm experience.
    I would also go to a national show and try all the machines.
    Finally, ongoing dealer support is essential.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  9. #9
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    Some things to consider - (if you have not already done so)

    How much space to you have available?

    How much space are you willing to use for the machine - you also have to allow "working room" for the operator.

    Most of them are space hogs - and in my opinion - not all that attractive.

    I wonder how many people have let them turn into a "collection spot" - like some exercise equipment has become a clothes rack.

    How much are you willing to spend on one? Can you afford "what you really want" or will you need to downgrade to what you can - more or less - easily afford?

    Do any other people have input (as to how much space you can use - how much you can spend - etc) on this acquisition?

    Will you feel guilty if you only work on your own things? I understand that there is a learning curve for most people.

    Would you want to do work for other people? I think it would be quite all right to say "no" if you have no interest in doing so.

    How many quilts to you think you might quilt on this?

    As others have said - do you want one because "everyone else" seems to have one - or because you would really use one.
    Last edited by bearisgray; 07-05-2018 at 08:28 AM.

  10. #10
    Super Member Snooze2978's Avatar
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    I remember when I bought my 1st quilt machine, the Viking MegaQuilter 9" on a Grace Pro frame 10ft. Wasn't even in the market for a machine but bought it because my friend was buying one. I had just started learning how to make quilts at that time but the one quilt I sent out to be quilted came back oh so wrong. Asked her not to stitch over the embroidery and she did. So with this I decided to quilt my own. At least if I make a mistake, its my mistake and not someone else's. Anyway, then I heard about robotics for the machine so started off with an inexpensive brand called the PCQuilter. Quickly I realized that you couldn't do much on a 9" but PCQ had this add-on that would move the rollers back and forth up to 17" so got that. Continually had issues and the customer service wasn't all that great. Then folks that used to work with them separated for whatever reason and came out with their own robotics using some of the same parts from the PCQuilter so we could transfer over to it, MQR using the same parts saving us money in the long run. I kept that robotic system but by the time I got it I'd changed to a Juki 98Q stretched to 18", same frame. Finally decided since I was making larger quilts I wanted more machine so got the Innova 26" with lots of extras and upgraded the MQR. I tried a bunch of machines before I decided on the Innova but it felt right in my hands. APQS is right here in Carroll, IA too but still went with Innova as I could get more for my bucks and their customer service was 24/7/365. Just changed my robotics to IQ and loving it. I won't say I'm a great quilter but I keep trying and as most all my quilts are gifts to others I'm sure they won't complain. I've spent a bunch of money on what I call a hobby to me but I'm enjoying my retirement. Again, I tried out a lot of machines before I made my decision. Go to quilt shows that offer trying out their machines and find what feels right under your hands, is in your price range, what's their customer service like and can you upgrade easily if you decide to.

    Good Luck.
    Suz in Iowa
    Designer EPIC, Brother XR3140
    Babylock Evolve, Innova 26" LS, MQR
    ProQ Designer, EQ7, Embird

  11. #11
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    PaperPrincess,

    Thank you for the idea of a strong bar, had not considered that. I have thought about the "room" that this will require, still haven't totally decided the room yet.

    Thanks for your input!

  12. #12
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    bearisgray,

    I hope as you have pointed out that I am sure some machines have become a collection area. I really do not intend to do work for others. The question of how many quilts is a good one, I hope to do many, many of them.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  13. #13
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    Snooze 2978,
    Thank you for sharing how you went through your process. My plan - hope is to make just one large purchase and then possibly add accessories to the model I go with, if I need to. Customer service is important. I live outside the Omaha area and have gone to an APQS roadshow, it was fun. I have not played with any other long arm machine as yet.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  14. #14
    Super Member Battle Axe's Avatar
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    I bought a Grace Pro with a Janome 1600 QP and a broken stitch regulator. Never could get that together.

    Then I bought my quilting mentor's APQS Milli with bells and whistles, but no computer. I began using pantgraphs and sold some quilts. But I have a hip that is talking to me. I need the computer if I am to continue.

    Age is a factor. Good Luck.

    Marcia

  15. #15
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I had been quilting just two or three years when I purchased my 26" Innova on a 12' frame. Like you, I wanted to finish my quilts myself. I've been entirely happy with the purchase. Before I got the longarm I quilted my larger quilts in sections on my DSM. I hated the layering process, and even though I was quilting in sections my shoulders and back were sore after quilting for any length of time. I convinced myself that I would recoup the money invested in the longarm by not sending the quilts out to be quilted by someone else. I think that has been true, but it's probably not a good reason for buying a longarm.

    All of the people I've known who purchased a true longarm (18" or larger throat) made by a major company (e.g. Innova, APQS, HandiQuilter) have been happy with their purchase, whether their machine sits on a frame or is a sit down model. From what I've observed, those who start out with machines with smaller throats or lesser quality frames usually get frustrated and upgrade at some point.

  16. #16
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I purchased a long arm last year. I toyed with different setups for quite some time but I eventually chose a handiquilter avante and have never regretted my decision just wish i had more time to play
    Brother (XL-3500i, CV3550, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D), Juki MO-2000QVP, Handiquilter Avante

  17. #17
    Senior Member TheMerkleFamily's Avatar
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    I'm eager to follow this thread as I ever-so-slowly prepare to buy a long arm myself.. I've made great strides learning to FMQ on my DSM during my first year of quilting but know it's inevitable I will make the investment into either a sit-down or stand-up long arm.

    One thing I'm doing is taking the full day Long Arm Quilting 101 class at the AQS Quilt Week in Virginia Beach this October - the class is sponsored by Handi Quilter and is taught by a well experienced LA'er whom I'm sure will share nuggets of info on what to look for. I look forward to spending several hours on one of their machines. I'm sure I will then want to rent time on others to compare. I'm in no hurry and plan to get as much time on various machines over the next few years as I possibly can. Of course, that's if I don't do something silly and impulsive

    Thank you to all those experienced for sharing such great info! And good luck Ghoney on your quest to find what works best for you

    Christine
    Last edited by TheMerkleFamily; 07-05-2018 at 02:27 PM.
    Christine
    In my dream world.... fabric is free and quilting makes you thin!

  18. #18
    Senior Member granky's Avatar
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    I have a 'sit down' Tin Lizzie and have never had a moment when I was sorry for the investment. It requires the quilt to be moved instead of the machine, but that becomes easier with a bit of practice....Love my Tin Lizzie Queen Quilter 18!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 07-11-2018 at 12:37 PM. Reason: remove shouting/all caps
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  19. #19
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    Never considered a long arm, because I don't have the room and don't want to take the time to learn something new.

    My two 9" throat machines have enough room for anything I want to quilt.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  20. #20
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    I was in the same situation as you 15 years ago. I could not afford to continue to pay a longarmer to quilt my tops. Because of chronic shoulder problems using my DM was out of the question. So...I bought a used Proto Stitch Wizard and she was a workhorse and served me well. I started having some problems with it last fall and since the Proto company went out of business I was not able to find any parts or anyone who could service my machine. My oh my did I agonize over my dilemma since I am on the other end of my quilting journey (old lol). I started asking all the questions that you have floating around in your mind. I then sat down and figured out how many quilts I will make on into the future and realized that a new machine, as expensive as they are, would pay for itself over time. So, I got an Innova 21 with a 12 foot frame and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Several reasons I went with Innova was that a dealer was 2 hours from me and the resale value of the machine is excellent. It is a wonderful machine and I really enjoy quilting on it. FM longarm quilting is not that difficult. If you choose to get one you will soon be able to quilt tops that look beautiful with just simple overall designs. Good luck with your decision making.

  21. #21
    Super Member Christine-'s Avatar
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    I tried out all the different brands at the Mid Atlantic quilt festival 6 years ago. I was most impressed by the Tin Lizzie and bought it. In 6 years it's been a work horse. I called tech support 2 times and they were great on the phone, walked me through the solutions and I was back in business.

    I don't know what brand will speak to you but try going to a quilt show to try them all out.
    https://quiltdasher.blogspot.com

    I like to make lists. I also like to leave them laying on my sewing table and then guess what's on the list while at the fabric store. Fun game.

  22. #22
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    Although I can do a fairly decent meander on my DSM, it is a struggle to quilt a large quilt, so I bought a 20" sit down Bailey(http://www.baileyssewingcenter.com/), would have preferred a frame but have no room for one. They are a family owned business and although it's not technically a "longarm", 20" is a heck of a lot more room than on my dsm. They have a pretty good reputation and a "reasonable" price and great customer service.

  23. #23
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    My point of view is slightly different than everyone else's here.

    I am a member of a fairly small group of quilters. Most of us have longarms. I have watched over the last 7-8 years how my friends have gradually all switched over to Innovas from Tin Lizzie, Voyager, Nolting, Husqvarna, and Grace. Only one of them went with Handiquilter, and we also have a single member with a Gammill who upgraded to the Statler.

    Essentially, Innova is a favorite, and once these quilters buy one, they're very satisfied.

  24. #24
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    I learned on a Nolting mid arm when I worked at a LQS and when I retired I had so many top that is would be expensive to have someone else quilt them. So I bought and very old quilting machine on Craigslist for $1,000. after 2 years I had quilted several quilts but it only had a 9in throat and since I had learn on a 16" this would not work for much longer.

    So I sold this machine for$900. also on Craigslist. I then continued to search on Craigstlist for another machine and found a used Handi Quilter 16 for $5,000. with a 10 ft table. I quilt for myself and for others and have had it for 5 years and I love working on "Harriet", we had a major repair recently but for $2,500, I could not have got another as good as this one. I do not have any regrets..

  25. #25
    Super Member Nanny's dollface's Avatar
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    Well I took the plunge last summer and purchased a Hanquilter Simply Sixteen on a 6 foot frame and have no regrets. Space was limited to the second floor loft area by a wall. No more aching neck and shoulders. My quilts are full sized and I have not had any issues. I love how I can quilt without tugging and pulling the quilt through a 5 inch throat! I did a king size quilt in the 5 inch throat and vowed I would never do that again on a domestic.
    i purchased my Simply Sixteen with a 0% interest over 5 years comes out to $84 a month. Love it
    "I may not believe in what you say but will defend your right to say it"- Voltaire

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