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Thread: Thinking about a Long Arm

  1. #1
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    Thinking about a Long Arm

    I am finally breaking down and looking at long arm machines. Once I recovered from the sticker shock my head starting swimming from all the brands, models, features and accessories out there. Any suggestions from anyone who already has a long arm, happy or not, both sides of the issue would be greatly appreciated.
    On a side not, my 79 year young mother wants to learn how to use it too

  2. #2
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    I have changed set ups 3 times. Glad I did all 3...ended up with an Innova. Its light weight, digital stitch regulator (upgrade) is awesome. Only have to oil it one place and the take up bar never has to be adjusted. Try out as many as you can. Here are two sites that show used machines for sale. If they remove the links, PM me and I will give them to you directly. I have no affiliation with either site.

    Formerly Owned Machines (house of hanson)
    machines_for_sale (Long arm university)

  3. #3
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    One of the more important things you will have to make a decision on - and probably need to make it early on in your search - is whether you want a computerized setup or not. It will make stitching quilting designs much easier, but will also increase the cost significantly. Or, if you're comfortable with FMQ on a long arm, maybe you'd rather not have a computerized system.

    You might check to see if there are any quilters or quilt shops in your area that rent time on a longarm. This would be a great way for you to test drive a machine or two.

  4. #4
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    If I had $15,000 or so I would get an Innova with lightning stitch. However, what I have started with is a used Voyager 17/Stretch Hinterberg setup that I purchased from a local quilt guild member for $3,000 (she upgraded to a used $7,500 Nolting setup). My Voyager/Hinty is a wonderful entry-level frame quilting setup.

    There are advantages to purchasing used, especially if you can buy locally. Aside from lower cost, a lot of the things you need are already in place -- such as leaders. Often the seller can offer you help getting started. Also, a used system at lower cost is simply not as intimidating to a beginner. On the homequiltingsystems group (a great group to join at groups.yahoo.com ) I have seen a number of posts from people who bought an expensive new quilting frame setup and then let it sit for a year trying to work up the courage to get started!

    The rule-of-thumb at the homequiltingsystems group is to research and test machines for a year before making a purchase.

  5. #5
    yel
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    have to agree love my innova ....bought it 550 quilts ago

  6. #6
    Super Member DebraK's Avatar
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    well, aren't you a busy beaver ;-)
    I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health - Voltaire

  7. #7
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    Hi,

    I have ended up with an APQS Lenni on a 10 foot table. I love my new system I did have a Nolting Hobby Quilter but it did not have a stitch regulator, this is a must have so I sold my Nolting and bought a second hand Lenni from APQS.

    Another thing that I bought were hydraulics this enables me to adjust the height of the machine depending on what I am doing, wouldn't be without them. When I had the Nolting I had a custom table but it was fixed height and I got a terrible back ache. I was told about the hydraulics and now I can quilt all day with no back ache.

    APQS also have their own computer called Quilt Path I have just ordered this to help me.

    Go and have a look on the APQS website as they do have second hand machines all nicely serviced, website is
    apqs.com I had the first second hand machine sold here in the UK direct from APQS, they are now doing very well over here.

    Good luck but please go and try as many machines that you can as they all feel different.

    Jenny in the UK

  8. #8
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    I bought a new long arm in January. I have a Pfaff PowerQuilter P3 with computer. I chose this machine after a great deal of research because it came with unlimited training classes. I have to be honest, I'm still struggling. I'm not sure why piecing, cutting, pressing etc came easily to me but long arming is such a challenge.

    If I'd purchased a used machine or one that didn't come with classes, I would be sunk. It amazes me how many people here can just figure out these machines but for some reason it's a struggle for me.

    My best advice is to take your time and do your research. If you can, go to a big quilt show where there will be vendors for multiple brands of long arms. Try as many as possible. Take a notebook and jot down what you did and didn't like about each. Sometimes, using one machine will make you realize you need to go back and look at another to see if it had a particular feature you like. Often you can get a sale price if you purchase at a show.

    If you can rent time on a machine, that's great. It not only gives you experience, but it gives you time to see what features are must haves for you and which aren't so important to you.

    Good luck and keep us updated!

  9. #9
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    I also have an innova. I don't have the lightening stitch but sure wish I did. I bought my dealers demo machine. I have absolutely ZERO regrets. I love my Innova (even with plain vanilla stitch regulator)

  10. #10
    Super Member LynnVT's Avatar
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    Three things hold me back on long arms. I don't have room for that honkin' big thing, I don't like standing up for hours, and feel way too detached quilting with handlebars. Oh, and the money, too. So I'm going HQ Sweet Sixteen which is way better on all those. Test drove at three quilt shows and just fell in love with it. JMHO

  11. #11
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    I do feel you have to really give this some long and hard thought. They are so pricey. Someone asked me once if I wanted one, it would be wonderful to have, but then my past time would owe me. I am happy with what I do and when I do it. Now maybe after I get my current quilt done, it is 96 by 96, going to be a handful for me and my machine, I may have a change in thought. Have fun with whatever you choose.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the input. I think I have it narrowed down to the Innova or APQS. I have bee on every website, collected all tge literature/promotional stuff, test driven everything except the APQS and I am just trying to schedule a time with one of the "local" (anyone less than 2 hours from my home) dealers.
    We are empty nesters and the husband has allowed me to take over the living room ( in fact I can have the house except his den and our bedroom) so I have the space. I figure this will be my new car payment for the next few years since I am writing the last payment on my car this week, so that is checked off my list.
    Thanks for all the great input!

  13. #13
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I also have an Innova, with the basic stitch regulator. If I were doing longarming as a business I would like to have the AutoPilot computerized system, but for my own quilting I prefer to do free motion. I am very glad I purchased the Innova.

  14. #14
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    I have a Nolting with a 14' table. Love it. The one thing you must consider is the service of your machine. How close is the person that will be servicing your machine or doing repairs. If someone has to come a distance they usually charge for their time on the road and that can be expensive. Check and see who else near by has long arms and try as many as you can. If there are several with the same type of machine you can schedule maintenance and share some of the cost of travel if it is a distance. Another feature I have with mine is a hydrolic height regulator. My daughter-in-law and I share the machine and we need to adjust the height. Much easier than doing manually.
    Another place to check on the web is longarm university. If you type in long arm quilting machines several will come up.

    Happy shopping

  15. #15
    Senior Member bigredharley's Avatar
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    I am going with the BabyLock Crown Jewel. Just need a little more time to put the cash together since they don't finance that much. By this time next year I'll be living in my rec room with it!
    ​Nancy

  16. #16
    ro
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    Have you looked into a sweet16 handi quilter. At $5,000 its really nice machine. f you love to free-motion machine quilt but struggle to fit your project in a small throat space, you’re going to love the HQ Sweet16. Sixteen inches of throat space gives you room to quilt even a king-size quilt. The smooth surface of the included table allows your project to glide under the needle. The powerful motor handles quilting with ease and stitches up to 1500 stitches-per-minute. Choose your three favorite top speed settings, on the easy-to-use color touch screen and let the machine remember them. Just thought I'd give an option. Sorry I forgot to mention. They come in. Set up machine. and "they" give you lessons.

  17. #17
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    Just purchased my 2nd longarm a Baby lock Crown jewel, pearl frame, quilt motion, and creative touch. I love it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member cedarvalleyquilts's Avatar
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    Try out as many different models as you can to see which setup works best for you...which is easiest to manuever, weight of the machine, etc. Make sure you will have enough room in your house to fit the table size you want. Check into service and warranty...if you have a problem, how easy will it be to get help either on the phone or from a dealer?

    With all that info, we decided on Nolting machines, first with a Fun Quilter and then a 24 Pro Series. Would highly recommend the machines AND the service the Nolting has. Top notch in our book. www.nolting.com

    Christine

  19. #19
    Super Member TexasSunshine's Avatar
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    We first bought a used Voyager 17 and had a lot of problems with it, mostly user error, I'm sure. It was on a Hinterberg frame. We finally traded it just the machine for a Nolting Fun Quilter (it fits on the Hinterberg frame) and have been very pleased with it. We have good support system and enjoy quilting with it. LA quilting is so different from sewing, piecing, quilting and it takes patience and a lot of practice.
    Texas Sunshine, piney woods of NE Texas

  20. #20
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    I up graded to a Nolting after a very unpleasant experince with with both the Tin Lizzie machine and the Tin Lizzie Company. The Nolting on a good metal frame is as good as it gets for me. I tried them all out on the second go round and it came down to the Nolting and the Innovia. I decided on the Nolting because there was a pretty good difference in price and not much difference in anything else in the comparison of the 2 machines. I am a very satisfied customer.

  21. #21
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    Like usual a lot of good advice from those who know what they are talking about! I read it all with interest just in case some day I have a room big enough for a long arm! Good luck with whatever machine you choose.

  22. #22
    Super Member jmoore's Avatar
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    I agree with an earlier post, you should test drive any longarm you might be considering. Considering the price of these machines, I think each has its pros and cons. I, too, have done some research but have only had FMQ'ing experience on an APQS Lenni that I rent locally. Although I love the APQS, I would still want to try an Innova or one of the other highly recommended machines.

  23. #23
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    I bought a used APQS - I love it! It is not stitch regulated and only cost me slightly more than a high end sewing machine. I purchased it for mainly for myself so it was a good way to get the benefits of a long arm without paying more than my car for it.
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  24. #24
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    My suggestion is to "play" with a few brands before you buy. Some are very heavy to move around and others just don't have a good "feel" to them. It has to be what is best for you. I bought one a year ago and that was after I was able to use it on a "rental basis" for 4 quilts. I am so glad I did it this way. I was able to learn it with supervision in it's previous home and it's previous owner was there to help with questions. Go for it if you can. I don't think you will be sorry you did!

  25. #25
    Member lynnefaye's Avatar
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    After trying all the brands at machine shows for 2 years, decided on the Innova 18" on a 12' frame with the basic stitch regulator. It is a wonderful machine and very easy to maintain. I do only free motion quilting but still wish I had gotten the 22" just to roll a little less often. If you want a computer system, get the 26". Their service is a phone call away. I have only had to call twice for operator error issues and were resolved in a friendly helpful way.

    Be sure wherever you buy to get some classes in the deal. If you are totally new to longarming, there is a learning curve. Even with that, it is so much fun.

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