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Thread: so, I'm intrigued at the thought of buying a longarm

  1. #1
    Senior Member bigredharley's Avatar
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    so, I'm intrigued at the thought of buying a longarm

    and will be at the Lancaster quilt show tomorrow. What should I look at, and what questions should I ask?

    I figure that if I remain afraid of it I'll never move on, and my daughter seems to be doing ok with just a cheapie regular machine doing FMQ, so let the quilting begin......
    ​Nancy

  2. #2
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    Try them out, see what feels good to you. Have an idea of your budget before you walk in the door. Don't be afraid, look at it like drawing on the fabric while driving the head ontop of the quilt, instead of shoving it under the needle. Do you prefer sit down or stand up quilting? Do you have medical issues where hand cranking would be an issue, or do you need the hydraulics? Go and have fun and keep test driving!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Karen's Kreations's Avatar
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    It took me three years to make a decision before I purchased - price, ease of use, and availability of local repair person and support were at the top of my list.

  4. #4
    Super Member wolph33's Avatar
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    Going to a big show where you can test many brands on the same day is a great way to start.Some machines are old style-meaning you have to oil them-others are new style-like our home machines and do not need to be oiled-my preference is these.All long arms need the hook oiled after bobbin changes.Feel how easy they are to move-varies from makers.will it take the larger bobbin-some do not.How good is the warranty?how good is tech support-very important.We test drove many and ended up with the Innova and love it.they are many beginners learning curves and Innova has 24-7 tech support always-and they are very nice even on a holiday.Price is important-but you get what you pay for also.good luck on your search and have fun trying them all-some vibrate way more than others when quilting also-a problem for me.
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/Upnorthcrafter

  5. #5
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    Test all the machines they have, you will love them.

  6. #6
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    All of the above, test, test and test. If you get serious about one don't do just a quick test - really spend time on it

  7. #7
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I don't have a lot of space in my house AND I can't stand for long periods due to a back injury so I bought a sit-down machine (HQ Sweet 16). Have not regretted the purchase one second. Test-test-test. I'd check things like maintenance, bobbin load, stitch regulator, how does it work with rulers, how does it handle different threads.......
    Martina
    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Karen's Kreations's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadQuilter View Post
    I don't have a lot of space in my house AND I can't stand for long periods due to a back injury so I bought a sit-down machine (HQ Sweet 16). Have not regretted the purchase one second. Test-test-test. I'd check things like maintenance, bobbin load, stitch regulator, how does it work with rulers, how does it handle different threads.......
    That's what I bought too. Love it.

  9. #9
    yel
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    i have an innova love it and great service .....good luck ...i went to paducha and tested all them twice some 3 times ..

  10. #10
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    You might also practice loading a quilt. That is trickier than I thought it would be. Other than that (and the other advice you have gotten here), test drive and enjoy the process.

    Dina

  11. #11
    Senior Member mosquitosewgirl's Avatar
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    We have a couple of places that, for a fee, will give you a class, and once certified, will let you rent their LAs at their shop. If you can find some places like this near you, you can really spend some time with a single machine before you buy. My LQS encourages folks to take a class like this before you even begin seriously shopping, because you have a much better idea of what you are looking for in a machine.
    Heidi
    Life is like a tornado watch. You can hunker down in the cellar or stand on the roof and let the wind give you rock star hair!

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    Keep in mind that the TinLizzie machines are the same as the Pfaff/Viking machines. The HQ are the same as the BL machines. If you find you really like HQ for instance, you may be able to get essentially the same machine for a better price under the BL name (although HQ has a frame with the additional take up bar (dead bar) which I wish I had on my machine).

    Michael from SewNPlace is there with the new Juki. I suspect that machine will be great and he'll probably be offering a great deal since it was just recently released. It has the extra take up bar and an extra high harp. It also has automatic scissors.

    I saw Innova, APQS, Gammill, Juki and Tin Lizzie.

    Good luck looking around. Remember, if you can't decide yet, the Hershey show is only a few months away!

  13. #13
    Senior Member fromzstore's Avatar
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    bought the sweet 16 also love it

  14. #14
    Super Member alleyoop1's Avatar
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    I think the best advice is to find a machine that has local support and see how long they will honor the "show price" so you can go home and do some on-line research before making a decision.

  15. #15
    Senior Member cedarvalleyquilts's Avatar
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    Test drive several models. Some move easier than others due to weight of machine, drag on the rails, etc. Ask about service...if you run into a problem, is there someone nearby who can service the machine? Ask about warranty. I would highly recommend Nolting....awesome customer service and knowledgable staff. On our 3rd machine from them and have loved all of them.

    Christine

  16. #16
    Member lynnefaye's Avatar
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    For over a year I tested longarms at shows and went to 4 different dealers and tried some again. Went back to the DesMoines show and had DH test my favorites, too. He doesn't quilt but anyone can feel how a machine runs and handles. I chose the Innova, basic 18". After two years, I am very happy with it. I had never even used a longarm other than the test drives so had a learning curve and know I made the best choice for me. I have fibromyalgia big time and arthritis in my feet. This machine moves so smoothly I can go an hour at a time without physical problems--love it. My only wish was that I had gotten the 22" and not have to roll so often.
    Enjoy your journey.
    Lynne

  17. #17
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    I've been researching information on a long arm for about a year now. I was pretty set on getting an Innova 18" or 22" machine until I went to the show expo in Puyallup, Wa at the beginning of this month and tried out the new Juki 18". I loved the Juki! The price with everything was $7995. I was familiar with Juki's as I had a TL98Q on a B-line frame that I just sold to make room for my new long arm. Over the 5 years I had the Juki it never needed service... I took it in to our local dealing recently to service it prior to selling and he cleaned it and fine tuned it but nothing was wrong with it at all. That machine is a workhorse and the new long arm I suspect will be the same. Definitely try the long arms out. I was told by the Juki dealer at the show that the new long arm was modeled after an industrial Juki that is used worldwide...pretty much the same machine but made into a home long arm. I don't plan to quilt in a business any time in the future so this is now my quandary ...get the Innova or the new Juki!

  18. #18
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    I've been researching information on a long arm for about a year now. I was pretty set on getting an Innova 18" or 22" machine until I went to the show expo in Puyallup, Wa at the beginning of this month and tried out the new Juki 18". I loved the Juki! The price with everything was $7995. I was familiar with Juki's as I had a TL98Q on a B-line frame that I just sold to make room for my new long arm. Over the 5 years I had the Juki it never needed service... I took it in to our local dealing recently to service it prior to selling and he cleaned it and fine tuned it but nothing was wrong with it at all. That machine is a workhorse and the new long arm I suspect will be the same. Definitely try the long arms out. I was told by the Juki dealer at the show that the new long arm was modeled after an industrial Juki that is used worldwide...pretty much the same machine but made into a home long arm. I don't plan to quilt in a business any time in the future so this is now my quandary ...get the Innova or the new Juki! Susanne

  19. #19
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    Do you have a LQS where you can rent time on a machine? I wish I had been able to do more than just test. True confession is I don't really enjoy the quilting process. I could piece or applique forever, but feel so disappointed in my efforts to quilt them. I have a Janome Artistic 18 which is a good system in my opinion. All I feel confident doing is very basic meander and loops with an occasional wonky heart. I do practice, but am really having a hard time with the quilting process. All that to say I would really think about whether you want to make the investment and try to do more than test before you invest. I tend to get easily sucked into purchases, so I would really look before you leap if that is your tendency. Hope this isn't too negative. Just my experience with my LA.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigredharley View Post
    and will be at the Lancaster quilt show tomorrow. What should I look at, and what questions should I ask?

    I figure that if I remain afraid of it I'll never move on, and my daughter seems to be doing ok with just a cheapie regular machine doing FMQ, so let the quilting begin......
    i was on the edge of buying a long arm machine. I looked on Longarm University and bingo, I found one. I have quilted on it with my mom and we are loving it. Looked for a used one at an affordable price and just do it. You will love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. #21
    Super Member caspharm's Avatar
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    I tried many different machines before I purchased one (Innova). I agree with clements about finding a shop where you could rent time on a machine and see if you really like doing it, since it is a large investment. I am a person who likes doing my quilts from beginning to end.

    I started with the LQS near my old house. They bought a LA (Nolting) that they gave a 6 hour class on its use and after completing the class, you could rent time on it. Then they upgraded to a Gammill. I used both machines. I tried both a Tin Lizzie at a dealer and an HQ at a quilt show, but wasn't thrilled with them. The HQ dealer told me that I would have to bring the ~ 45# head into the shop once a year for servicing.

    We moved from SFBay area to LV and I tried to find a rental place here. However, the LQS that did rentals was in the process of switching from being a Tin Lizzie dealer/rental to a Gammill dealer/rental and the machines were not available for rental at that time. My husband also said since we now had room for a LA, that I could get one, so I started shopping in earnest. I joined a local guild at that time as well. I mentioned to the then president at the time that I was looking into buying a LA and she recommended that I try an Innova (she didn't own one, but knew about them). I went to the dealer in St George and tried it out and fell in love with it after trying it at their store and also at a local quilt show. The Innova doesn't leak oil like the Gammill and is very easy to move.

    However, that being said, you definitely need to try the machines for yourself before purchasing, because everyone is different and likes different machines for different reasons. You definitely have many things to consider with a purchase from feel of the machine to price and space.

  22. #22
    Super Member Christine-'s Avatar
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    The Tin Lizzie is a wonderful machine. I bought mine a year ago and love it. It isn't fussy, and I've put it through the ringer at times. It really works well, and tech support is THE BEST I've ever seen from a company. When I get ready to upgrade, I'll buy another Tin Lizzie solely because of the tech support. I'm very impressed with them.
    Bernina 640, Singer 201-3, Singer Centennial 15-91, Tin Lizzie 26" long arm

  23. #23
    Super Member Pam S's Avatar
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    For some really good information on what to look for in a long arm, questions to ask of yourself and the dealer and links to major manufacturers sites, go to www.longarmuniversity.com
    I found this site very helpful when I was in the market for my longarm. I used the info there and was very happy with my purchase decision. I was looking at several brands but decided on a Gammell.
    Last edited by Pam S; 03-17-2013 at 11:35 AM. Reason: miss typed url

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    MadQuilter Thanks for the info about the HQ Sweet 16, I'm going to look into that! I'm in the same boat with the back problems..6 surgeries behind me literally.

  25. #25
    Super Member sewbeadit's Avatar
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    Try them all out and if you have a budget buy the best in that price area. That is what I did and have not regretted it.
    Sewbeadit
    W. Washington

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