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Thread: Sit down quilting machine

  1. #1
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    Sit down quilting machine

    Hi everyone,

    i currently have a Pfaff long arm. I never really loved working with it and I'm thinking of downsizing to a sit down quilting machine. I've barely quilted anything in the past year, so I'm having a hard time remembering what important things I should even look for as I comparison shop. I'll probably end up going with another Pfaff since I'm more likely to be able to trade in (with a nice sized credit of course) on the same brand (although I don't know this for sure until I call and ask), but I really don't know much about these machines other than that they're more like a traditional sewing machine, but with a large throat size.

    I'd appreciate any advice or input you can provide. Are there any good comparison web sites? Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    I would encourage you to go to your Pfaff dealership and test drive to see if it sometime you would enjoy using. I have been quilting on my Bernina 1530 since the very late 90s and I still am. To me, they just look like sitting down at a larger sewing machine. No more pantographs.
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  3. #3
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    See what they have but still try them and see what your options are.

  4. #4
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    I would go to a large show (like Houston) and try them all out. All the dealers were there. But first ask around with friends who have them, some machines are Porsches and some are Fords. Both work but one requires a lot of maintenance and fiddling.

  5. #5
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    They are essentially like a regular sewing machine with a large throat area aren't they? I've realized that I prefer free motion to the computerized quilting anyway, so I won't mind giving that up. Also, I can do embroidery "quilting" if I want a design here or there so I'm good with that, and I cannot stitch in the ditch on the long arm to save my life although I'm really good at it in my regular sewing machine so I think I will be able to do it on a sit down machine.

    I have a stitch regulator on my long arm so I suppose I'd want that on a sit down machine?

  6. #6
    Super Member QuiltingVagabond's Avatar
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    I am a relatively new owner of a Handiquilter Sweet 16 sitdown machine, I really enjoy using it. There are no feed dogs so the sitdown machines are not exactly like a domestic machine with a larger throat area.
    I found the stitch regulator to be cumbersome while FMQing but I like to use it when quilting with rulers. You can do an amazing stitch in the ditch with rulerwork.
    I highly recommend taking classes - I overcame my "new machine fear" when I learned how to adjust my tension and how to use the accessories correctly.
    Good luck on your search for the best machine for you!
    QuiltingVagabond aka Kathy

  7. #7
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    Thank you for the info QV. No feed dogs? I guess I will have to try it out to understand how that feels when quilting. With the long arm it's a whole different approach since you're moving the machine.

    I've never really clicked with my long arm and I'm probably going to downsize my home next year so switching to a smaller quilting machine seems like a good idea. Now I just need to learn about something else new....

  8. #8
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    I LOVE my Handiquilter Sweet Sixteen sitdown. I've never used a LA though. There's something about a LA and how it rolls and not being able to be anywhere in any movement that doesn't seem to make it through my skull LOL. But with a sitdown you can quilt any direction you want and there are no rollers, so no boundaries. I also tend to like to turn my quilt to quilt in certain directions (I just don't think well upside down or backward).

    I do a lot of ruler work now...I didn't in the beginning. But I have gotten better with practice. But prior to that I was doing FMQ on my domestic sewing machine.

    I highly recommend it!

  9. #9
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    I have a Tiara by BabyLock and I really love it. One bit of advice....any machine is only as good as the dealership who stands behind it. My LQS gives lessons and has great service and so I really didn't look anywhere else (their prices are pretty good too!)

  10. #10
    Super Member blahel's Avatar
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    You might want to check out the new Simply Sixteen as that is kind of between a sit down and a long arm..
    True friends are like diamonds
    They are precious and rare.

  11. #11
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    Thank you everyone for your input. I think I'm going to call my dealer next week and see if she will work with me. If not, I'll have to figure out how to sell my long arm before I do anything else.

  12. #12
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    I tried out a Pfaff sit down and then looked at a Sweet Sixteen. Handiquilter makes sitdowns for Pfaff and has more features. It also makes Baby Lock's sitdown, I think and it is so much cheaper. Do some research. I love my Sweet Sixteen. I was able to take two days of classes at my dealership for $50.given by a factory teacher. Really learned a lot. My dealer also gave a good lesson on how to run and clean the machine when I first bought it. The factory teacher told us how to use templates, how to take it apart to thoroughly clean it, etc.

  13. #13
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    I have an Innova sit down with the stitch regulator and I love it. I downsized from a Gammill classic long arm.
    I purchased my Innova from Hunter Heirloom Quilting in Centerville, Missouri.

  14. #14
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    Sit Down Quilting

    I own the Tiara111 and I'm just learning it,
    so far its good, takes lots of practice

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by judi43 View Post
    I own the Tiara111 and I'm just learning it,
    so far its good, takes lots of practice
    There is a baby lock dealer near me. I don't think they have the Tiara on the floor to test drive, but I'm going to stop by there just in case. My biggest issue is that I currently have a long arm and I'd love to be able to just trade it in for a sit down and hopefully a generous store credit as well, but we'll see. Since my long arm is a different brand, they may not be willing...

  16. #16
    Senior Member Maire's Avatar
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    I have the Babylock Tiara and I love it, it can't be programmed for designs like the long arms, but I totally love sitting moving the fabric around as to whatever strikes my fancy while listening to an audio book. My happy place. Pfaff has the same machine, made by the same company, American made, I think in Utah, not sure if I have the right state. The Pfaff model has a different name on it, otherwise the same machine. HQ 16 is also the same machine.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Maire's Avatar
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    PS this yahoo group has a lot of information, it covers the Babylock Tiara, HQ 16 and the Pfaff, and there might be another one made by the same company.
    [email protected]

    Maire

  18. #18
    Super Member purplefiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nilla View Post
    They are essentially like a regular sewing machine with a large throat area aren't they? I've realized that I prefer free motion to the computerized quilting anyway, so I won't mind giving that up. Also, I can do embroidery "quilting" if I want a design here or there so I'm good with that, and I cannot stitch in the ditch on the long arm to save my life although I'm really good at it in my regular sewing machine so I think I will be able to do it on a sit down machine.

    I have a stitch regulator on my long arm so I suppose I'd want that on a sit down machine?
    These machines have no feed dogs, so you can't do walking foot quilting. It's all FMQ, you really need a bigger table to support your quilt; if you're doing larger quilts.
    I do all of my quilting with a Pfaff QE 4.2, it has a 10" throat, IDT(built in walking foot). I really like it, have it in a Horn Quiltmate 2 cabinet. I have been machine quilting since 1992, on both a regular sewing machine and have rented a LA machine for larger quilts.
    Sharon in Texas.

  19. #19
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    I went and tried out the Bernina Q20 since that's what my baby lock dealer had in stock (he also sells Berninas). Now I think I understand. As purple fiend said, there are no feed dogs, which makes a huge difference. My stitch in the ditch is really nice on my regular sewing machine, but not with the sit down machine since there are no feed dogs to guide the fabric, and rulers are annoying to me. My stipple and free motion are really nice on the long arm since you move the handles, but not nice at all on the sit down since you move the fabric. Well shoot, there goes that plan....... Does anyone have any other ideas for me? Is there a regular sewing machine out there with a gigantic harp/throat space? This is not looking good for me....l

  20. #20
    Super Member JENNR8R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nilla View Post
    I went and tried out the Bernina Q20 since that's what my baby lock dealer had in stock (he also sells Berninas). Now I think I understand. As purple fiend said, there are no feed dogs, which makes a huge difference. My stitch in the ditch is really nice on my regular sewing machine, but not with the sit down machine since there are no feed dogs to guide the fabric, and rulers are annoying to me. My stipple and free motion are really nice on the long arm since you move the handles, but not nice at all on the sit down since you move the fabric. Well shoot, there goes that plan....... Does anyone have any other ideas for me? Is there a regular sewing machine out there with a gigantic harp/throat space? This is not looking good for me....l
    It just takes a little practice. I can stitch in the ditch with my HQ16 just as well as on my domestic without rulers.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Maire's Avatar
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    Brother & Babylock have machines with 11 inch harps, the Brother (and I assume the corresponding Babylock model) does fantastic free motion with their free motion setting-you do have to move the fabric though. But since it is also a regular sewing machine you could easily do stitch in the ditch, and use the decorative stitches, etc. I did much quilting on my Brother before I bought the Tiara

  22. #22
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    Thanks everyone for the great input. I think I just need to let it all sink in for a while now before I make any decisions. I really, really don't want to make another decision that isn't right for me!

  23. #23
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    I'm glad I thought long and hard about it before I traded in a long arm for a sit down machine and I'm glad I made the switch. I attended an AQS show and sat down to try every single brand of sit down machine. Turns out HandiQuilter makes many of the other 'brands' of machines. Each 'brand' has different specifications that are made to order for them. And the HandiQuilter sit down quilter is the same machine head as is on the long arm frame, only it is inserted into a table instead of on a frame. This may be true of other brands, I don't know that information. But if I wanted to put my HandiQuilter Sweet 16 on a long arm frame I could. This means I have the same good quality stitching as those girls that stand on their feet for hours. I made the switch and never looked back. Good luck and have fun with it.

  24. #24
    Senior Member JeannieT's Avatar
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    I also have the HQ Swet Sixteen and LOVE it. Easy to use, has lots of rulers available too. The table comes with it but I also bought the 18" extension tables for both sides.....absolutely do not regret that! So much space now. Comes with the bobbin winder too. I got a great deal on mine because it was a demo at the Sewing & Quilt Expo last year....only had 2500 stitches on it. Funny thing the dealer delivered it to my house (at no charge) and it tipped over in his truck and got damaged, so I ended up getting a brand new one for the demo price !! SWEET. Good luck in your search.

  25. #25
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    Thanks everyone for all your helpful input. I talked with my dealer and one other local dealer, since I want to trade in my long arm. They're working up a value on my long arm. Apparently they lose a significant amount of their value in just a few years.

    Anyway, I'm looking at the BL Tiara or the Pfaff sit down (can't remember the name). Apparently from what you've told me here, they're both made by HQ. I tried out the Bernina sit down. It has stitch regulator built in, but from what I understand, the other machines don't. You have to buy it and it sticks with a magnet? Is that effective at all?

    I've been vacillating about whether or not to even get a sit down since it feels really different than either a long arm or a domestic sewing machine. I suppose I'll wait to see what my dealer is willing to offer and go from there. I'll keep you updated....

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