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

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

Old 11-02-2012, 06:57 AM
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Default 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.
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Old 11-02-2012, 07:08 AM
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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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Old 11-02-2012, 08:36 AM
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I would like to keep it under $5000, if possible.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:35 AM
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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?
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:52 AM
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this is a nice setup and their customer service is fantastic!
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:03 AM
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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
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:08 AM
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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.
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:44 AM
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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.

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Old 11-02-2012, 05:30 PM
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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.
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:55 PM
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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.
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