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Thread: What brands of Long Arm machines would you recommend?

  1. #1
    Super Member Christine-'s Avatar
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    What brands of Long Arm machines would you recommend?

    Is there a source that gives a comparison of each brand of LA? I'm hoping I can find an honest comparison, someone who's actually used different brands as opposed to someone well-meaning but is passing along information she's only heard. :~)

    I was at the Mid-Atlantic quilt festival last month and saw every brand of LA there is. I was able to test drive 2 of them, the Tin Lizzie and the Gammill. I wish I could have tested more though. The vibration in the handles of the Gammill was very noticeable on high speed, the Tin Lizzie felt soooo smooth, and I was going as fast as it could go. I'm thinking no one in their right mind could possibly quilt that fast, but it does have me wondering what the differences are between machines.

    Anyone care to give their experience with a brand? I'm very interested in the Tin Lizzie.
    Bernina 640, Singer 201-3, Singer Centennial 15-91, Tin Lizzie 26" long arm

  2. #2
    Super Member Ripped on Scotch's Avatar
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    I have a gammill... I never go a full Speed and i have no issues with it. Do you know what kind of wheels were on the table that you test drove? I know that there is an upgraded wheel package and they make a difference. I did use a different brand at a conference and I didn't like itit. can't remember the brand though.

  3. #3
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    check out the machine quilters society- or forum---you will find all kinds of comparison charts- views & recommendations- my recommendation is--to visit and test drive as many as you possible can and ask as many questions as you can think of- like space requirements, set up, delivery, customer service, maintenance, tech support, owners classes/training, upgrading, ... the list really goes on and on- as you try out different ones you will think of other questions that pertain to you & your situation- but training, and customer support/service should be a large part of any decision- it is a big (investment) so you should be as informed as possible before making it.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  4. #4
    Junior Member An Arm Long's Avatar
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    I went to the Cincinnati Quilt Show last year and tried every one there - about 8 or 10. I shook every frame and tried each machine on both days of the show. I realized that the frame is important too.
    I ended up getting a Baby lock Crown Jewel with a Grace Majestic frame. I am very happy with both. The Jewel was very smooth. One of the best things was the 4 day class in St. Louis that was included in the deal and the 0% interest loan which I have already partially paid off now. The HQ Avante is the same 18" arm machine as the jewel but the frame they give you is different. I have a friend who has that but I don't like her frame as well. She also did not get much help in using it although they did spend a day with her setting it up and teaching her some.
    The big issue is the space that you may have. Mine is a 10 foot frame and fits well in my 15 foot wide sewing room. I can do a large queen or a small king on it but not a large king as you cannot quilt all the way to the edges of the frame. The 12 foot frame would not fit well in the room.
    I have had no problems with the 18 inch arm length. Have been able to do everything I needed on it easilly.

    Good luck in your looking. Hope you find something that is as much fun as I have had.
    Beth in Maryland

  5. #5
    Super Member quilter1's Avatar
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    I have a Tin Lizzie 18LS and just love it. No problems at all.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Jennie and Me's Avatar
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    Definitely an APQS(American Professional Quilting System). Great service and they are made in the good ol' US of A. Seldom ever have a problem with tension...if I do it's usually something that I am doing wrong...not the machine. I love my Millennium. They do have smaller machines with smaller tables. Great company to work with. Can you tell that I am a happy customer??

  7. #7
    Senior Member almond's Avatar
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    I have the Viking 18" mega quilter. Have had some issues with it. Is in the shop now, but all that aside to love the way it handles. It just glides so easy. I do not care for the frames as it puts the quilt top down the front so I cannot look at how it is sewing underneath. The Viking and the Tin Lizzie are very simular.
    Mary

  8. #8
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I have an Innova, love it, but there are lots of good machines out there and you will find people who recommend each of them. Most people only have experience on one or two. Comparison charts don't exist as far as I know, and even if they did they wouldn't be unbiased. The other thing to remember is that most longarms can be purchased with different options, and some of those options are important to some people and not to others, so configuring a longarm is a very individual experience. Here is a link to an excellent article about purchasing a longarm. (You have to go to the bottom of the page, put it in your shopping cart, but it is free.)

    http://www.quiltsonthecorner.com/inc/sdetail/1349

  9. #9
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    The best machine for you is .... whatever fits your budget and space and that you can bond with. this is highly individual like what shade of lipstick or lip gloss you like.

    Are you up for a used machine? or do you only want a new one?

    I have a HandiQuilter and love it. I got the HQ16 used and upgraded it. HQ has great tech support. I can phone them anytime and they will walk me through whatever I might need free of charge! HQ has lots of classes locally and nationally, even a HQ University in Salt Lake City, Utah. They also have great DVD's available and net groups.

    The most basic thing to know is that if you don't bond with it you probably won't use it. I have a few friends in that position.

    I do like the Statler Stitcher but am not ready to 'buy another house.' They are waayyy to expensive for me. Great machines but pricey.

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

  10. #10
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    I have a Gammill and there's not enough money in the US to get me to give it up...I love, love, love it!
    If you feel like you're special...it's 'cause you are!
    Momto5

  11. #11
    Super Member jgriinke's Avatar
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    You might want to join the yahoo group - homequiltingsystems. They have tons of information on the many different brands out there.
    You need to figure out what is on your "must have" list and go from there.
    I have a homestretched old Singer that my DH made for me. It has no bells or whistles, but does a fine job.

  12. #12
    Super Member hobo2000's Avatar
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    We just sold our Tin Lizzie 18ls and lost a bunch. We could never get repairs, parts, never had an operating manual for the Lizzie Stitch. Two years and 4 quilts later it had to go. We lost encoders, motors and each time it took 6-8 weeks to get anything done. Fell in love with the APQS Lucy 26" and it cost less than the Lizzie did and it is a real LA machine. You can move it with your little finger. The Innova is another fine machine. Easy to use and 24/7 support. We wasted lot of money on the Lizzie because we were afraid to look at the big machines.

  13. #13
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    I have the viking 18x8.

  14. #14
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    I have a Nolting Fun Quilter with Side Saddle computer system on a 12' steel frame ----- LOVE THEM.
    Made in USA, Nolting rep delivered and set it all up for us. Then spent time with us to show us how to use it. He is there for us any time we have questions (which isn't very often). I was up running it on customer quilts within 2 weeks or so.
    If you are able to make it to Gray, TN the end of April the Nolting rep will be at a quilt show at the Appalachian Fair grounds (quilt show going on ) with at least one machine for people to test drive.

    Send me a PM if you want info on the show or machine.

    Phyllis
    QuiltingGrannie
    Last edited by PatriceJ; 03-31-2012 at 03:54 AM.

  15. #15
    Super Member Ripped on Scotch's Avatar
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    if you want the computerized option there is a system called the IntelliQuilter. its not gammill or any of the major LA brands but it attaches to them all. my mom has been looking at it and its the easiest one to turn off the computer if you want to run the machine on your own. it looks like an ipad that gets attached to your machine and allows you to have it like a statler but alot cheaper! it was actually really neat to watch and looks easy to set up. Then we got to turn it off and just run that machine.
    Last edited by Ripped on Scotch; 03-08-2012 at 05:55 AM.

  16. #16
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    APQS Milli is what I have and I have not had any problems with it. I also added the IQ (Intelliquilter) and love it. You can remove the IQ tablet and work on designs at any location.

  17. #17
    Super Member Annaquilts's Avatar
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    I tried several and I really like the Innova for how light and smooth it is.
    Tried-
    Gammill
    APQS
    Innova
    A-1
    HQ Advante and 16
    Babylock Crown Jewel
    Nolting
    and some others

    Remember that generally there is more vibration noticeable when the throat opening is larger.

    I am hoping to eventually own a Innova 26 but have not counted out other options.
    Anna Quilts

  18. #18
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    I bought my APQS Mellinium in 2007. No problems whatsoever, except operator error. The tension is always good, I did put upgrade wheels on and it made a world of difference. You get what you pay for.

  19. #19
    Member KyTriplets's Avatar
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    I have an APQS Millennium and I love it. (I loved it so much I became a dealer! LOL!) APQS stand up machines are lightweight, move like melted butter, come standard with a phenomenal stitch regulator and is backed up by highly responsive, caring customer support. (yeah, I'm biased.

    I really recommend you go to a show and lay your hands on each of the brands because picking out a machine is a personal thing. Pay sharp attention to how the vibration of the machine feels to your body. Also, read the warranty! Boring stuff but super important as there are MAJOR differences out there between warranties and if you are spending this much money... you want some backup.

    One more thing, talk to owners of the machine, not just dealers. Find out why they bought that brand as they've been in your shoes and walked this path. Learn the good and the bad. Most machine brands have online forums. (Some will only let you in if you own the brand). Look at the resale value of the brand. Are they holding their value or are people having to slash the prices to sell their machines if they need to?

    When test driving, try to make a diagonal line of stitching (that's one of the hardest things to do on any brand). How easy is it to control while making that diagonal line? Make circles with the machine and see how it feels to you. Just spend some quiet time moving the machine around and focusing on how it feels to YOU.

    Oh, and don't forget to have fun with this process! Owning a good longarm machine is a wonderful adventure and my APQS Millennium makes my heart sing every time I turn her on!

  20. #20
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    I've been debating whether or not I should purchase an Innova machine. They are having a very good sale going on right now and I am VERY VERY TEMPTED to buy one. I even went up to the dealers shoppe to test it out. Its as much as a car, I even went so far as checked my finances to see if I could afford one...and I could but now its a matter of parting with the money and JUSTIFYING the purchase!

  21. #21
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    I would buy a Nolting machine. My mom has one and it is wonderful. The factory is not very far away so the service she gets is great. Service is very important with a long arm machine. Nolting will set them up and you get lessons and help with any question you have.

  22. #22
    Super Member Christine-'s Avatar
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    Thank you, thank you for your input ladies. I'm buying a Tin Lizzie Ansley DLS, with a 12' frame, rear handle, extension table. It's a used machine only 1 year old. (does not include the Shirley Stitcher). The owner is buying a new one to replace this one.

    She's going to spend a few hours showing me how to use it when I pick it up. I'm renting a truck to haul it home in one piece so we won't need to take it apart.

    Is $6,300 a good price?

    I'm not worried about service, with tech support, I can fix anything that might go wrong. I have a 15 needle embroidery machine that I've torn apart a couple times.
    Last edited by Christine-; 03-10-2012 at 07:42 AM.
    Bernina 640, Singer 201-3, Singer Centennial 15-91, Tin Lizzie 26" long arm

  23. #23
    Super Member hperttula123's Avatar
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    Each person is going to have their own preferences and budget. I had went to a quilting expo where they have almost all the different brands out there, set up to try. The ones I liked the best are the Innova and Gammil. The only reason we picked the Innova over the Gammil is because we don't have to oil it.
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    Heather

  24. #24
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    I too, am an owner of the Innova 22" and LOVE it but 'dunster' has good advice. I would add, try your favorites out many times. 24 hour service, happy with many threads, smooth, easy movement is what finally sold me on the Innova. I'd be happy to talk to you more about it. I just got it in Dec. :-) fun, fun.......
    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    I have an Innova, love it, but there are lots of good machines out there and you will find people who recommend each of them. Most people only have experience on one or two. Comparison charts don't exist as far as I know, and even if they did they wouldn't be unbiased. The other thing to remember is that most longarms can be purchased with different options, and some of those options are important to some people and not to others, so configuring a longarm is a very individual experience. Here is a link to an excellent article about purchasing a longarm. (You have to go to the bottom of the page, put it in your shopping cart, but it is free.)

    http://www.quiltsonthecorner.com/inc/sdetail/1349

  25. #25
    Super Member Chasing Hawk's Avatar
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    I have about 7 months to shop around and research different machines. I have the frame it's The Stretch Machine Frame made by Hinterberg Design. So far I really like the Juki TL-2000Qi 9" Long-Arm Quilting Machine.

    Any other suggestions within the 1k price range?
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