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Thread: What is the best inexpensive long arm?

  1. #1
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    What is the best inexpensive long arm?

    Hi Ladies and Gents;

    I'm looking for an inexpensive long arm. Any suggestions? I have a singer sewing machine but when I roll up the quilt its very hard to fit the quilt in the middle of the machine and sew it. Any suggestions? I would appreciate everyones help on this. Its the batting; top and bottom that i'm sewing together.

    Thank you and Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

    Susan

  2. #2
    Super Member Sandygirl's Avatar
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    Pre-owned. They are expensive "new". What is your budget???
    Sandy
    Sandygirl

    Janome 9900 / Janome 9700 / Janome Decor 3050 / Janome 1100D serger
    Singer Centennial model (inherited from my late, fav aunt!)

  3. #3
    Senior Member imnywoman's Avatar
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    Hi Susan,
    Wow, I hear you but going "cheap" isn't always the right way. I used to think the same thing and you do get tired of wrestling that quilt. I thought anything that was cheap would fit my requirements. Not true. While I did buy a used short arm (Hinterberg Weekender) off ebay, it really doesn't satisfy my "hunger" for quilting because it is such a limited space. It did however, enable me to get a quilt together because I had moved from a house to an apartment and there was absolutely no room to spread out a top and make my quilt sandwich and I have learned basics and techniques that I will use on a real longarm eventually, including pantographs and quilt marking.

    So I thought, well, I'll buy a real longarm and whatever is cheap will do. Now I am glad that I didn't jump into that idea. The more research I have done, the more I realize that even used, it's a big investment and I don't want to have a bad case of buyers remorse.

    After looking at everything that's out there, I started to really pay attention to customer reviews. That speaks volumes. What they had to say about not only the machine, but the reliability and customer service from the company led me to rethink some of the machines that I originally thought were good options.

    I have also been trying out the demos at quilt shows and I surprised myself now that I am really serious. I've tried them out before, at shows and at LQS and always thought, wow, this is great I wish I had this. Well, now that I am truly serious, it took on a whole different light. This time when I demo'd 2 of the 3 available (3rd was so crowded, couldn't get the chance) I could immediately tell the difference between the 2. And even though the 2nd one offered me a trade, I wouldn't have taken it, there was too much vibration in the machine. So, now I am patiently waiting to try some others, while I save my pennies. While I am doing this, I am still researching the used machine market and looking to see what the going rate is for the various machines, and what people are including with them.

    I know this is long, but there are other factors to consider and I wouldn't want you to have regrets. In the meantime, I will also say that I am determined to learn more about the shortarm I own and I have actually just completed the first quilt that I didn't have thread breakage. I joined a users group on Yahoo and gained an enormous amount of insight from the wonderful ladies and gents there. I can send you a links to sites and leads after the holiday if you would like. Hope this helps.

    Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.
    Patti
    Patti
    __________________________________________________ ________________________
    Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.
    ~Mark Twain

  4. #4
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    Great comments Patti.

    Susie -- check to see if you have any dealers in your area -- or better yet someplace you can rent time on a long arm machine -- even if you have to drive a bit. I first found a place that was 2 1/2 hours from me, but didn't get my act together to take the class so I could rent time. Eventually, I found a place about an hour from me and it was great. I think I did 11 or 12 quilts before I found a local place. I took another machine certification class again and have quilted 5 quilts since summer.

    All of this quilting has shown me that I really would like to have a long arm -- once I find space and money. But there are others that after taking the certification class who have not come back. They decided it's just not for them.

  5. #5
    Super Member KalamaQuilts's Avatar
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    Rolling a quilt is the hardest way to do it, although it was standard advice 20 years ago. Bicycle clips and all that.
    Today's advice is to make a puddle under the needle big enough for your hands and just spread out the quilt in a bigger puddle. It is still a job on a domestic machine

    I'm not interested in a long arm, just watching someone else use one makes my back hurt so my choice was a Janome Horizon. 11" harp space. Then you have a machine for all your uses instead of a giant space taker. Unless you want to get into quilting for others. Anyway, that is my three cents.

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    The "Bailey" has a pretty good reputation, and although they're not considered a true "longarm", they have a lot more throat space than a typical sewing machine and they're very reasonably priced compared to a "true" longarm. It's the brand that I'll be buying when I have space and money for.

  7. #7
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    All good ideas. I have a mid-arm that I really like, and it's on a handi quilter frame. I tried to do my quilts on the sewing machine but had too many wrinkles. I like the frame because it keeps the quilt pieces smoothe and taunt. I agree to try different machines to see which one you like.

  8. #8
    Super Member Belfrybat's Avatar
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    I had long arm envy for a while until I started reading reviews and realised that even with the lower price range (Bailey on a frame), I was looking at $3000-4,000. The LQS charges $55 - 85.00 depending on the size, and that includes the batting and their binding it. I can do lapsized (up to 50" wide) on my domestic machine, so I figured it would take me quilting 40 full sized quilts before I broke even. And that's figuring I didn't need maintenance or repairs. Not worth it. Plus I hate doing the binding, so am very happy to let the ladies at the LQS do it for me.

  9. #9
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    The other option, if you can't afford or don't want a longarm and still want to quilt your own quilts, is to quilt in sections. I used Marti Michell's book, Machine Quilting in Sections, and finished quite a few large quilts that way before I bought my longarm.

  10. #10
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    Look at used APQS machines. Their support is great. Hop on over to the forum on their website and lurk for awhile you'll learn a lot. Keep checking their used machine sales area. Ask questions about the different models.
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

  11. #11
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    You may find a pre-owned Gammill for a decent price...but....what I consider a decent price may not be, to you. I bought one new and have put it through its' paces, as I quilt professionally and also for my family and for charities. My advice is to buy the best one you can afford and take good care of it. Also, I would stick with a well-known brand name...there's something to say about the fact that they are well-known...they generally will meet your expectations a little more. Good luck, and Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
    If you feel like you're special...it's 'cause you are!
    Momto5

  12. #12
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    If you have your heart set on owning one... test drive several. the best plac to do that is at a large show where the "names" in the industry will be there. The ability to go from machine to machine.. and have the memory of which one felt right to you and is valuable.
    For me the cost of the machine, the maintenence... etc its cheaper for me to send my quilts to a pro. Operating a longarm is not as easy as it may seem.
    I have mentioned this before.. owning a longarm has the same implications as owning a pool on a hot summer day.. in a power failure!

  13. #13
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I recently bought a used Voyager 17 with Hinterberg stretch frame (plus some extras) for $3,000 from a fellow quilt guild member. This is a nice beginner setup. Someone else on the QB recently purchased a similar setup near Chicago for $2,200 and hers even included the stitch regulator. The Voyager is really a midarm rather than a longarm, but it's at the larger end of a midarm. I am loving mine so far.

    Edit: The quilter who sold me my setup had had it for 7 years. She sold it to upgrade to a used APQS longarm for about $7,500.

  14. #14
    Member kkdolls's Avatar
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    I bought a previously owned Handi Quilter Sixteen a couple of ,on this ago and I absolutely love it. It is very easy to work with and I have a dealer about 20 miles from me. I knew the lady who owned it and knew it was in good shape. I would highly recommend this machine.

  15. #15
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Here is a link to a recent thread on this same topic:
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f1...e-t204885.html

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    I do "Quilt As You Go" style of quilting. I am disabled/retired and will never be able to save enough money for a long arm. I also can not sit for long periods of time at the machine. I do some by hand and others on the machine and do each block individually or in sections. There are several books that have been written on the subject and also a number of online videos on the subject. I have also found a woman in a small town that has a quilt shop and does quilts for people all over the country and will do a simple quilting pattern-full size quilt for $35, $10 more for batting, and bind the quilt for an additional $10. I would have to do a lot of quilts to pay for a long arm, plus I really don't have a room large enough for a long arm. Good luck with whatever you decide.

  17. #17
    Senior Member newestnana's Avatar
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    I highly recommend the online Craftsy course Quilting Large Projects on a Small Machine. The instructor teaches several techniques that make it doable. Watch for sale prices on the course...might get it for $19.99, money well spent in my opinion. I learned lots of hints that helped with all my quilting (not just big projects).
    marcia

    To be a good sewer, you have to be a good ripper.

  18. #18
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    Test, test, and test even more machines before you decide to buy. I purchased my first LA, a used one, without testing any at all. Wasn't happy with it, then sold it to fund my new LA-HQ Avante. I traveled to test and performed online research for two years before buying again. I am very happy with my Avante. Not everyone has the luxury of living close to resources; my closest dealer/maintenance is three hours, which was not a negative factor for me. HQ telephone support in Utah is quick and responsive. A friend of mine purchased an Innova, and she has equally satisfying service from ABM International.

  19. #19
    Member Julielhs's Avatar
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    I have an HQ 16 and LOVE it

  20. #20
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    I purchased mine online in June. Got a great deal. Hubby put it together in a few hours and I've been over the moon using it!

  21. #21
    Super Member deedum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KalamaQuilts View Post
    Rolling a quilt is the hardest way to do it, although it was standard advice 20 years ago. Bicycle clips and all that.
    Today's advice is to make a puddle under the needle big enough for your hands and just spread out the quilt in a bigger puddle. It is still a job on a domestic machine

    I'm not interested in a long arm, just watching someone else use one makes my back hurt so my choice was a Janome Horizon. 11" harp space. Then you have a machine for all your uses instead of a giant space taker. Unless you want to get into quilting for others. Anyway, that is my three cents.
    I agree! I puddle and works just fine. I am not interested in a long arm. I would look for a used good quality one if I was.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Go to www.baileyssewingcenter.com and see what you can see. Call Chuck and talk to him. Both him and his son are awesome people. Being built in the USA by a family business the Bailey has probably the best support you can ever hope to get. You get to talk to people who built your machine. I have 17" Bailey and the Majestic frame finally in the assembly stage. Not Going to bother you why it took me a month to finally start putting it together (Sandy storm, no power, and no room big enough for the huge frame we bought - hahaha, we did not measure). I still have to meet a person who complains about a Bailey machine. Good luck!

  23. #23
    Super Member wolph33's Avatar
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    I agree that it is an investment and price is a big factor.With that said -buy the best one you can afford-you will not be happy with cheap.We all have our favorites but a long arm is not where you want to go too cheap and be disappointed.There are plenty of used ones out there if you can not afford new.
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/Upnorthcrafter

  24. #24
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Go to www.baileyssewingcenter.com and see what you can see. Call Chuck and talk to him. Both him and his son are awesome people. Being built in the USA by a family business the Bailey has probably the best support you can ever hope to get. You get to talk to people who built your machine. I have 17" Bailey and the Majestic frame finally in the assembly stage. Not Going to bother you why it took me a month to finally start putting it together (Sandy storm, no power, and no room big enough for the huge frame we bought - hahaha, we did not measure). I still have to meet a person who complains about a Bailey machine. Good luck!

  25. #25
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    I agree with Tashana! I purchased my 17-inch Bailey as part of an affordable package which included the Grace Majestic frame and stitch regulator late Sept., same as she did. I am so glad I bought it now that the learning curve is out of the way. It is a very basic, no nonsense machine which does a fine job. I also really like the frame..it works like a dream. I recently finished a third quilt on my Bailey (yes, that what I named my machine !) and I look forward to doing many, many more! Chuck Bailey and his staff have been very helpful and so is the Bailey forum.
    Last edited by quilttiger; 11-22-2012 at 07:09 AM. Reason: deleting a typo

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