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Thread: Thinking about buying my first quilting machine... Any advice?

  1. #1
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    Thinking about buying my first quilting machine... Any advice?

    I recently retired and am now giving the quilting and sewing that I love more of my time. I have 7 quilt tops that I have completed over the years but just couldn't face wrestling them through my sewing machine. I have looked at several systems, from sit-down to frame-and-machine. I'm definitely not in the market for anything as big and expensive as a Gammill. Can anyone point me in a direction? I'm not looking to make money with it. I just want to be able to make my quilts start to finish myself.

  2. #2
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    It might help if you can post your price range. Their are people on QB that have a variety of longarm machines that could help if they knew what you were aiming for.

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    I would like to keep it under $5000, if possible.

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    Are you only interested in new or is used an option? Can you give a general idea of where you live?

  5. #5
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    this is a nice setup and their customer service is fantastic!
    http://www.baileyssewingcenter.com/bahoqupro17p.html
    Nancy in western NY
    before you speak THINK
    T is it True? H is it Helpful? I is it Inspiring? N is it Necessary? K is it Kind?


  6. #6
    Super Member Yarn or Fabric's Avatar
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    I just bought a Tin Lizzie sit down model - it can be converted to a frame if I ever decide to go that route as well. I've done the frame once and didn't really love it, so I doubt I would convert to a frame.

    In fact.... I'm waiting for the UPS truck to arrive now.
    I got it at a quilt expo. It was $4k and I got a lot of free goodies to go with it I'm not sure where you live, but if you are in the southeast, I can recommend a dealer if you go Lizzie.

    I would strongly suggest that you hold off on buying a machine until you go to a quilt show that has A LOT of machines both stand up and sit down for you to try out. I don't think you'll be able to get a new framed machine for $5k at a quilt show - you'd be able to get a Bailey, Voyager or a Sunshine for that but if you are looking for new then you are in the sit down category. I'd suggest the Lizzie, HQ Sweet 16 or Babylock Tiara - the HQ & BL are identical machines & tables. They both have an optional stitch regulator as well. The Lizzie does not at this time but I didn't think I needed it after playing with it for awhile.

    No matter what you get, I'm sure you'll like it! Also - keep an eye on Craigslist in your town and surrounding driveable areas. If you wait long enough, one will come around at a price that you like

  7. #7
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I just purchased a Voyager 17 and Hinterberg stretch frame setup used for $3,000. The previous owner bought it new, used it for 5 years, and is now upgrading to a used APQS. For me, this is a good beginner setup. The only reason I might eventually sell it is if I want to upgrade. My setup came with several extras (including a bobbin winder for the size bobbin the machine takes), but does not have a stitch regulator. It is nice to have a setup with a stitch regulator, especially when starting out, but it's something I can add for about $500 if I decide I really need it.

    One of the biggest considerations is the throat size of the machine. When the budget is closer to $2,000 than 5,000 a buyer typically needs to look at smaller throat size (such as the 9" harp of the Juki). This becomes very limiting very quickly but, in my opinion, is still a lot better than trying to push a large quilt through the throat of a domestic machine!

    Frame quality is important. My Voyager is a very heavy machine (about 70 pounds), but the Hinterberg frame is sturdy and the bearings on the carriage are very good, so the machine moves very smoothly. This machine would probably not work as well on a flimsier frame because of the weight.

    There is a Hinterbergquilters group on groups.yahoo.com you might want to join. They maintain a database of machine setups for people who are buying and selling. You might find someone wanting to sell their setup in your area! Another good group to join is the homequiltingsystems group, also on yahoo. That is a large, active group of quilters with a wide variety of setups ranging from extremely economical to top-of-the-line.
    Last edited by Prism99; 11-02-2012 at 10:10 AM.

  8. #8
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    There are lots of good used machines 'out there' right now as some quilters trade up. You just have to search for them.

    Other than budget concerns how much room do you have. I have a HQ 16 I got used. Originally had an 6 ft homemade table. Then enlarged that to 10 1/2 ft long. The machine and table take up a total of 4 ft without including me working on it. Personally, if space were limited I'd go with the HQ Sweet 16 sitdown model.

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

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    I am open to used but am not sure that I know enough to be able to assess the quality of a used machine. I live in south-central Wisconsin, about 30 miles from Madison.

  10. #10
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    Check with local quilt guilds (check the newspaper and quilt stores if you aren't aware of any groups). There are usually several members with longarms who will be more than happy to share their experiences with you plus someone might have a system for sale as they want to upgrade. I had just upgraded and while at a quilt guild meeting, I overheard another member say she wanted to buy a used system. Two days later my old quilting set-up had a new home.

  11. #11
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Very similar to how I got my used setup. Went to a quilt guild meeting and right there on the table was a stack of ads for the setup. Took one home and called her right away. We are in a rural area, so I think she was surprised to sell it so fast! But it was exactly the setup I was planning to buy online next year.

    As for assessing quality, I had done a lot of online research first so I had narrowed it down already to this particular setup within my price range. When I called, the seller arranged for me to come out and try the system (it was all set up) and she also showed me some of the items she had quilted on it. She also offered to come to my house and give me some lessons on how to use it. There is so much information online, however, I don't think I will need that.

    Edit: I can see, however, why people like to upgrade from a beginner setup. Just from fooling around, I can see the advantages to having a 24" or 28" arm. Maybe in another five years or so.......

  12. #12
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    there is a website called thehouseofhanson.com that lets people list their machines for sale. Yesterday there was a Voyageur 17 with a stitch regulator and a Hinterberg frame for $2500. It is in the Chicago area. I've not used this machine but several people here have good things to say about both the machine and the frame. Good luck in your search.

  13. #13
    Super Member JNCT14's Avatar
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    Another option (and Rhonda I think did an article on it) is the midarm selection. If you don't have the room for a frame and you don't want the learning curve of the long arm, a mid arm is a great option. I have a Babylock Quilter's Pro with a 9" throat that has some of the features that you don't get with a tradtional machine - they are a lot faster, they have the thread cutter which is unbelieveably useful, needle down, but the biggest thing is that the free motion ability is far superior to a short arm. I never need a walking foot on my machine - I drop the feed dogs and off I go - no puckering or bunching. A stitch regulator might be nice but I do just fine with the foot pedal. They run between $1000-$2000 depending on model and extra stitches. I have quilted queen size quilts with no trouble at all.

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    I am open to used. I live in south-central Wisconsin about 30 minutes outside of Madison.

  15. #15
    Junior Member An Arm Long's Avatar
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    I think that 16 inch would be the minimum as any shorter arm would be frustrating. Mine is 18 inch and I have had no problem with any of the designs or pantographs I have tried. I also like the Grace Majestic frame. (That comes with the Bailey). I have a Baby Lock Crown Jewel (Same as HQ Avante) which is pricier than the Bailey but not as much as a Gammill. Haven't seen one used, but if you could find one, it is a terrific machine. Some of the new machines can be purchased with 0% financing.
    A huge help is to attend a quilt show where you can try several different setups. It is important, though to find a dealer not too far from you.
    I think the biggest help for me was the 4 day class offered by Baby Lock (8AM to 8PM). When I was done, I felt confident and was able to start right in to more difficult quilting.
    Beth in Maryland

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by aab007 View Post
    I am open to used. I live in south-central Wisconsin about 30 minutes outside of Madison.
    You can also go on the APQS Forum and look at the For Sale section. There are many used machines on there that are a good deal. Most of them are APQS but once in a while there is a HQ on there that is used and very reasonably priced. I would not hesitate to buy a used HQ--I have never heard any negative comments about the HQ's. I have a couple friends who own them and love them. I personally have an APQS that I bought new--simpler so I could finance it--but they are probably more money than you want to invest--unless you find a good deal on a used one..

  17. #17
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    I agree! Love mine and she is soooo right about the awesome customer service!

    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltnNan View Post
    this is a nice setup and their customer service is fantastic!
    http://www.baileyssewingcenter.com/bahoqupro17p.html

  18. #18
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    I contacted the woman advertising this machine on houseofhanson.com and plan to go to look at the setup at the end of this week. She told me that Hinterberg was bought out by Nolting, so I'm a little concerned about support if any problems arise with the machine. Does anyone know anything about the support given by Nolting? Certainly the price is good, but support is important, too.

  19. #19
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    Nolting has awesome customer service. They fully service and stand behind both the Nolting and Hinterberg products. You won't have any problems in that area...

  20. #20
    Super Member knlsmith's Avatar
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    I purchased my dealers Tin Lizzie 18LS model almost 2 years ago and also add the Quilt Magician robot to it this summer. I had a bit of a learning curve at first, but that's the case with anything a person buys.

    Never really had any trouble and when I did it was taken care of by my dealer very well.

    I do wish I had a metal frame instead of the wood frame. And get the biggest throat size you can afford. Mine is 18 and I am thinking about getting the Ansley 26 made by Tin Lizzie (with a metal frame this time.)

    And don't forget, it takes practice and patience to learn a longarm. They are different than a regular sewing machine.

    Good luck!

  21. #21
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    I agree about the Nolting. The service is fantastic. They are like family and go out of their way to be helpful. I have a collection of Singer Featherweights that I learned to service myself. The Nolting is like the Featherweight of the longarm world. Its simple and replacement parts are very reasonable. You can get good deals on used ones.
    Linda in Nevada

  22. #22
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    Thank you

    Annie123, Thank you so much for the information. I bought it! After looking at all the information here on the forum and trying more expensive setups, I went to see this Voyageur 17 and loved it. The woman I dealt with was very informative and pleasant, and I wound up paying $2200 for it. Now I get to start on my backlog of completed quilt tops and actually produce a useable quilt.

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