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Thread: Ready to purchase a long arm & quilting frame - need suggestions on how to select one

  1. #1
    Senior Member rrhaigh's Avatar
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    Ready to purchase a long arm & quilting frame - need suggestions on how to select one

    I want to purchase a long arm & quilting frame, but don't have any idea on what features are important or what to look for. I would love to hear suggestions on how to find the right machine. There are so many out there that it makes it confusing to me. A local dealer sells Handi Quilters and Tin Lizzies. I would love to hear from anyone out there that has one of these. Thank you

  2. #2
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    I have the viking 18x8 on the inspira imperial frame. I really love my set up. I think you should see if you can test some of the machines you are interested in. Also do some checking on line and compare machines to see which machines have what would meet your needs. Good luck and enjoy your new set up.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ksdot417's Avatar
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    I have an Avante. It's more of a midarm but I really like it. The dealer we bought it from is about 1 hours drive from me, but I chose to purchase it from him instead of a local dealer simply because of the quality of service. The machine is great and the dealer has been wonderful. I think the product is the first concern when purchasing, but the quality of service definitely ought to be a close second.

  4. #4
    Super Member #1piecemaker's Avatar
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    I'm going to follow this thread because I am going to be purchasing one soon and I'm just like you, I don't have a clue. I did play with a Nolte at a quilt show last year and it was fabulous!! I am going to check out a Gammill before long. We are so far from any dealer that I'm worried about making the wrong choice in case something goes wrong. So, I want the best and I want some instruction. Good luck!!!
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    Senior Member Aubrey'sQuiltingCreations's Avatar
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    I have a queen quilter 18 which is the exect same thing as a tin lizzie without the 'lizzie stitch'. I LOVE mine!!! A few things I was looking for was a stitch regulator, at least 15" or longer, would come with a frame and be able to do a quilt 110" quilt, and like most find the biggest bang for your buck. We do not have dealers within 250 miles of where I live so I went online to find the best deal and for my test drives around here I have seen a nolting, gammill, and a viking. I knew right away after seeing the Gammill this was way out of my budget as she had every bell and whistle available. It also had a computer which did all of the quilting while she watched her grandkids. My personal opinion I do not care for a computer as yeah you pick the designs but you are not quilting it and to me the stitching looks too perfect and I prefer the character added my doing the quilting with your hands rather by machine or the best of hand quilting. I found my machine on the website www.sewingmachinesplus.com for less than $5000. It included the machine, stitch regulator, wooden frame, laser light, a few packs of needles, a few bobbins, grace cloth leaders, the table on te back side of the frame, extra parts such another set of encoders and wires for the stitch regulator and plenty of other bolts, nuts, etc. For the frame I did have to go and purchase my own metal conduit pipes but was way cheaper then having them shipped. Again we live in a rural area and the selection for these pipes was limited and we ended up having to grind down each one as the metal was bumpy. If I was willing to wait six weeks I could have purchased them at a home depot with no problem but I wanted to get busy right away. If you have any questions about any of this please feel free to ask.

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    Don't get apqs i have one an have had trouble with it since day one

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    Senior Member rrhaigh's Avatar
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    I actually live about 40 miles from Sewing Machines Plus and was planning on going there today to check out machines. Thank you so much for your info on the queen quilter. It will be very useful in helping with my decision. I don't understand about the metal conduit pipes. Does the frame not come complete - was this to make it sturdier? Or, did you puchase it without the pipes only due to shipping and figured you could improvise?

  8. #8
    Senior Member rrhaigh's Avatar
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    What does apqs stand for? Thank you for the info!!!

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    I have the queen quilter and the shirley stitcher ll which is the
    computer. I got mine from sewingmachines plus. The conduit is for
    the machine to glide on and they are very long so it would be hard
    and expensive to send so I just went to homedepot and bought them.
    I like mine but as with all of them there is a learning curve. It takes time
    to learn how your machine works.

  10. #10
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    While I have the HQ 16 with the ProStitcher, I would love a Avante or fusion but just plain 'ol don't have the money or room. Of course if I won the big lottery then I could get a house with a really big studio and the Statler Stitcher.

    In the meantime i absolutely love my HQ. I can call them and they will walk me through whatever problem I might have. I did this when I upgraded. Maintenance is easy. Service is great.

    ali
    Have fun quilting! If it isn't fun, you will miss a lot.
    ali

  11. #11
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    You might want to join the homequiltingsystems group at yahoo.groups.com. This is a large, active group of quilters using a wide variety of mid-arm and long-arm setups. The rule-of-thumb advice on that group is to allow yourself a year to research options and try out various machines at quilt shows, dealerships, etc.

    A lot depends on your price range. Also, having a dealer close by where you can take lessons could sway a decision.

  12. #12
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    I have a Tin Lizzie 18LS on a wood frame (can't remember the name of the frame). I purchased it from a local dealer last March. I love Lizzie! I can stitch in manual mode or stitch regulated mode (Lizzie Stitch). I am learning to quilt free motion, but if I want I can do pantographs also. I have my frame set up to do up to a queen sized quilt. It can be set up to do a king size, but I don't have room. I never do a king sized quilt anyway so it wasn't an issue for me. Everytime I use Lizzie I fall in love with her all over again. There is a learning curve when you start to use a long arm, whether it be a Tin Lizzie or one of the other brands. You just practice, practice, practice. You will soon find that most of the time the problems you have are operator error - not the machine. And you also find that your fear goes away the more you use your long arm. At the beginning you almost feel like if you do something wrong it might blow up. It won't. : )

    Good luck on your decision. For me I wanted a local dealer, which is one of the reasons I went with Lizzie. Plus, the price was more affordable for me than some of the other brands.

    For my purposes Lizzie is wonderful. I don't quilt for other people - just for myself. Although a friend has talked me into quilting a couple of her quilts for her. : )

  13. #13
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    I have a longarm...but if i was shopping today...i'd be here early monday morning with a check in my hand...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soGt7kmW0aI

  14. #14
    Senior Member maryfrang's Avatar
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    APQS stands for American Professional Quilting Systems from Carol Iowa. I have a Mill that we bought in 2004. I love my APQS. I have had two problems with the machine in the 6+ years that we have owned it. Both of the times, the factory personnel in Iowa emailed the instructions for correcting the problem and also sent the parts to us right away. My husband cleans the machine after every other quilt and it runs smooth and has a really good stitch. I really think you need to contact the different machine companies and read their material. Then get to a show or a the Machine Quilters Showcase in the spring and try all the machines you would be interested in. Live a sewing machine, each machine is different and we are different too. Try them out and get what you like.

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    Wow Deemail - just watched the you tube video. Very impressive machine - how much are the Lacresta?
    Linda

  16. #16
    Super Member Annaquilts's Avatar
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    Some features to look at are-
    stich regulator
    12 foot table so you can do King size quilts and smaller
    atleast 22 inch troath opening and a good hight so you can do 12 inch blocks on point

    I am short $ but else I would get a ABM Innova 26 inch throat opening on a 12 foot table.

    A mid arm machine that has a lot of appeal to me is the Avante. It has an 18 inch opening. I will most likely not settle for a machine with a smaller opening Less tehn 22) as most of my quilts are rather large. (up to 10 feet) Smaller quilts I just do sit down on my Janome 6500.
    Anna Quilts

  17. #17
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    I also have an HQ16, bought it second hand, and love it. So far the only problems I've had with it are 'cockpit errors'.

    I use a pcquilter with it on a pinnacle frame. I don't really like the frame, but it was a package deal. Someday I'll upgrade the frame, but for the kind of quilting I do, the HQ16 is plenty big.

    Good luck on your search!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by #1piecemaker View Post
    I'm going to follow this thread because I am going to be purchasing one soon and I'm just like you, I don't have a clue. I did play with a Nolte at a quilt show last year and it was fabulous!! I am going to check out a Gammill before long. We are so far from any dealer that I'm worried about making the wrong choice in case something goes wrong. So, I want the best and I want some instruction. Good luck!!!
    I see you had a chance to play with a Nolting? I have one, the Fun Quilter, and love it. I also have the Side Saddle computer system with it.

    The Noltings are made in the USA. Gammill used to be made by the same company as the Nolting, but moved its manufacturing over seas.

    The reps for Notling are very helpful - at the shows, in person and on the phone. I was able to have ours delivered, set up and brief lesson on how to operate it by our rep.

    Things to look for ---- stitch regulator, a frame that fits your space and the size quilts you want to be able to longarm. I have the 12 foot table. I also have hydraulics on mine so it is easy to move it if I want or need to.

    The Side Saddle computer system is easy to learn and to use. It is easy to attach to the LA and to disconnect it so I can do computerize designs and free motion easily on the same quilt.

    If you have any questions send me a PM or contact me via email.

    Phyllis
    QuiltingGrannie
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  19. #19
    Junior Member An Arm Long's Avatar
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    I have a Baby Lock Crown Jewel (18") which is the same machine as the HQ Avante. To me the 4 day class in St. Louis was the most important thing in the deal. I bought it at a quilt show and received the class as part of the deal. When I got home, I was so comfortable with my machine and able to take off and quilt with it immediately. My nearest dealer, however is 1 1/2 hours away, but have not had to go there yet. I purchased my Jewel in April and have done 16 quilts on it so far.
    Classes are so important. (Not just a day to help set it up and learn how to use it)
    Beth in Maryland

  20. #20
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    if you are thinking of purchasing a long arm you should think of it like buying a car- or your house- it is an investment! you should try out (test drive) as many different ones you can find- check out the local shops- see what they offer- try them out- visit shows---try out the machines- as you try out a few different ones the questions will start coming to you-
    don't buy one because (sally down the block has it and likes it) buy one because you have checked out dozens- and it is "the one you like the best" has the features you like/want- is in Your price range- service/tech support/warrenty/free owners classes/set up/start up---all of these things should (play into) your decision-
    i've seen so many people buy the first one they saw---had no support/assistance- nothing but frustration for years-until they sold it (loosing sometimes thousands of dollars) never having quilted a quilt with it-
    think of it as a Large Investment---that's what it is--- and check out as many as you can- take your time and find the machine / set up that works FOR YOU.
    the likes and dislikes are as varied as we all are....and to put out $10,000+ on something without being sure...
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  21. #21
    Super Member decky's Avatar
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    I would think that you should try out the ones that you think you would like and then decide which one works best for you. Go on line and read about the different ones and decide which ones you want to try. What works for one person does not always work for someone else.


    Pat

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    Quote Originally Posted by lfstamper View Post
    Wow Deemail - just watched the you tube video. Very impressive machine - how much are the Lacresta?
    I have watched this video as well. Please rewatch it. The stitch quality on the top is lousy, who knows what the bottom looks like. I would think in a selling video, one would put their VERY best foot forward. Well, the top stitches are loose. The man doing the video makes claims that just aren't true. This makes me question how lagit the rest of his statements are. Just sayin

  23. #23
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I wondered about the stitch quality too. Not good for a demo!

  24. #24
    Junior Member peggymunday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deemail View Post
    I have a longarm...but if i was shopping today...i'd be here early monday morning with a check in my hand...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soGt7kmW0aI
    Be careful with these machines, the Martelli Lacresta Longarm Quilting Machine is a wonderful concept, but I was warned by a dealer in Memphis that the company is in China and it's hard to get someone to work on them or respond with help. She advised that a Gammill is the best choice (well, duh!) and it's American made and easy to get repairs. I too, would love to have a Gammill, it's always been my dream machine, but had seen that same video you saw and was amazed. I called the supposed dealer in Memphis who sells Martelli Lacresta (not now I don't think) and just wanted a little info. Either way, I couldn't afford that or a Gammill for now, so I searched Craigslist and found a wonderful machine - a WOW quilting machine and table. It's a "stretched" Singer 201 and I love this machine. It can be a bit picky with tension and threads, but I think a lot of that is my inexperience. It doesn't have a stitch regulator, but I'm getting better at that, too. The price was great, only $800, and came with machine and 12ft table. The machine has an 18" throat, so it has plenty of range before having to roll the quilt. The company sells them new for about $3700, and centrally located in Coweta, OK. It's an excellent starter machine. The company's website is http://www.wowquilts.com/machines.htm I have pics of my machine on my blog http://peggymunday.blogspot.com/ just scroll down to the Sept 22 post to see the pics. (Need to add some posts, gee, where does the time go....)
    Good luck on your quest, just check out the machine you choose thoroughly. Search online to find everything you can on it, and you should be okay. There's alot of good machines out there, new and used, it just depends on how much you can afford.
    Peggy Munday
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    Quote Originally Posted by CRELLA View Post
    Don't get apqs i have one an have had trouble with it since day one
    I bought a new APQS Freedom in November and have done approximately a dozen quilts on it already and love it. I quilt for customers and had a Tin Lizzie 18 before this and had to replace parts 3 times on it in the 10 months I had it so I switched to a heavier duty long arm since I do quilting for customers. If I was only doing quilting for myself, I would not spend the money I spent on the APQS. If I was only quilting for myself, the Tin Lizzie would have been fine--as it probably would've taken me 10 years to have those three problems with the parts as I quilted many quilts on it in the 10 months I had it. Other people on this Board have Tin Lizzie's and have had no troubles with them. I think with every brand, there can be a lemon--just like when you buy a brand new car--you can get a lemon. Good luck with your decision. Make sure you try every kind that you can as you may base your decision on "the feel" of the machine. FYI--when I was going to buy a different long arm in November, the Handi Quilter Fusion was my second choice--but I went with the APQS because of the "feel" of the machine for me when I quilted with it. The different brands of long arms have different styles of handles --even the APQS had long arms with different style of handles and I bought the one that I liked the feel of the handles for me.
    Last edited by aborning; 01-04-2012 at 07:12 PM.

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