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Thread: What long arm do you own?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Bubblegum0077's Avatar
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    Just wondering if anyone regrets getting their long arm machine one brand over another. Does anyone have any suggestions for an inexperienced person who wants to buy one what to look for and what to ask.? What about buying a used machine? and repairs for it?

  2. #2
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    I think the Bailey is about as inexpensive as you can get one. I paid right at $1000 for my 15" in 2008, do not regret it for a minute. now the frames are pretty high I think, I got a GMQ Pro for about $1800, it was a package deal. there is of course a learning curve, it's not as easy as it looks when you watch someone do it. I had watched so many videos before I got mine I just knew I'd be a pro in a week! NOT! :shock: as with anything else you continually get better with practice.

  3. #3
    Super Member KathyAire's Avatar
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    Go to a quilt show and test drive every one that is set up.

  4. #4
    Senior Member MamaHen's Avatar
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    My suggestions are to try before you buy! Decide if you want one just for yourself, or do you plan to make a business out of it. For oneself, I think a smaller mid size like the HQ 16 or the Avante, Babylock Jewel, or others are best for the home user. The price are fair. If you want to go into the business of doing others, a larger one would probably be in order. Mostly it all depends on what suits you, what you like and how much you want to spend. I have the HQ Avante, glad I got it. It is easy for one to learn to use and serves the home quilter just fine. If I decided to upgrade to a larger one, it would be the HQ Fusion or an A-1.

  5. #5
    Super Member MaryStoaks's Avatar
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    I have a Tin Lizzie 18 and love it. I bought it used from a seller an hour from my house. She had the machine serviced before I picked it up and everything was/still is perfect. Whatever machine you buy delivery or pick-up is an issue. I only considered machines within driving distance and we rented a small delivery van at Uhaul to move it. I've never regretted buying my Lizzie but you should check out all the different machine brands you can. Like anything else : different strokes for different folks.

  6. #6
    Super Member quilttiludrop's Avatar
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    I am very happy with my Gammill Premier Plus (18" throat). I have a 12 ft. table with it. We have converted our former garage to be my sewing room. :-) Sometimes I think I would like a larger machine, but then it would be heavier (require more muscle to push around).

  7. #7
    Super Member charismah's Avatar
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    I have an INnova...it is the best!

  8. #8
    Super Member whinnytoo's Avatar
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    I have a Nolting 17" Fun Quilter and it has been fantastic. Am now upgrading to a Nolting 24" and selling the Fun Quilter.
    the staff at Nolting is wonderful, always ready to help. I highly recommend their machines.
    Diane

  9. #9
    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    I have a Pfaff Grandquilter 18.8....and I'm VERY pleased with it. I can use ANY thread I want and I just tried different fabrics in a test run and discovered I don't have to adjust the tensions.

  10. #10
    Super Member BKrenning's Avatar
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    I started with my domestic sewing machine (Elna 7200) on a B-Line Studio frame. You can do meanders, stippling and small designs easily with that. You just have to roll up the quilt more often & break designs into smaller sections. I then got bitten by the bug big time when I saw a PC Quilter in action at the Paducah quilt show so added that and Max Throat to my setup. Max turned my 9" machine into a 16" machine when I wanted to do larger designs. A deal on a Voyager 17 with stitch regulator came up that was too good to pass up so I now have a Voyager 17 SLR on a Pro-Flex frame. I haven't used it very much yet and am keeping my old setup until I've convinced myself it will work as well as my old toy--LOL. I'm sure it will. I just haven't had the time to put it through it's paces yet. It is setup, timed & tested so it's ready. There is a quilt in progress & 3 tops laying on it right now that need to be finished before Christmas so hubby & the kids are going to have to feed themselves for a few weekends before then!

  11. #11
    Super Member 0tis's Avatar
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    I have an HQ Avante and I love it - it is my first longarm and since I am new to quilting I am still in the learning phase - definitely a learning curve and I am finding that each time it gets easier. I think test drive is the way to go and also space is another factor - a long arm takes alot of room so that is something to think about.

  12. #12
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    I have a Gammill Optimum Plus with the 30" throat on a 12' table. I love it and it is worth every penny that I paid for it. I bought it brand new. But I do know that most of the dearlers do take trade-ins when people upgrade to a bigger or different model. So they go thru them and service them before they resale them at a much lower price. So you might want to check that avenue out also. Good luck.

    Sherryl
    Candlequilter

  13. #13
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I was thinking of buying a LA until a friend let me go from start to finish using hers. Loading the quilt on the frame was tedious and took too much time. I know me and the thought of loading the quilt, the quilt would be on the shelf like they are now waiting to be quilted. All the details before actually getting to quilt made it not fun at all. I'll stick to machine quilting on my home machine after my friend machine bastes them for $20 each.

  14. #14
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo
    I was thinking of buying a LA until a friend let me go from start to finish using hers. Loading the quilt on the frame was tedious and took too much time. .
    Really? This surprises me. The first quilt I ever loaded on mine took a little over an hour and this is only because I loaded it wrong on the take up bar. I find loading a quilt on a LA rack much easier and quicker then sandwiching and basting (either with safety pins or needle and thread) on the floor or on a table. Granted sandwiching and basting were the things I hated most about quilting. Literally, I hate that step so much it was totally worth it to get a LA and rack just to avoid that step! Oh of course that isn't the only reason I got one but loading a quilt on is very quick and easy and I don't have zippered leaders, I do it with pins.

    I also have an Innova and love it.

  15. #15
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    I have the tin lizzie18 and the only complaint i have is the lack of builtin channel locks.

  16. #16
    Super Member Eddie's Avatar
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    I have the Gammill Premier 18" and really like it. I think any longarm will have pluses and minuses, but overall a car sure beats walking any day. :) My decision for the Gammill was based in large part on local support and others in my guild who own them, so I knew I could get help locally if I needed it. So far, I haven't had to, though. Regrets? Not having gotten it sooner!

  17. #17
    Super Member KathyAire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo
    I was thinking of buying a LA until a friend let me go from start to finish using hers. Loading the quilt on the frame was tedious and took too much time. I know me and the thought of loading the quilt, the quilt would be on the shelf like they are now waiting to be quilted. All the details before actually getting to quilt made it not fun at all. I'll stick to machine quilting on my home machine after my friend machine bastes them for $20 each.
    Like anything, the loading of a quilt is tedious the first time. Once you get the hang of it, it doesn't take that long to do it.

  18. #18
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    I have an A-1 machine with 12 foot table. I love it I have had in since 1999 and have had now problems. wouldn't trade it I went to MQS and tried every machine along with a spreadsheet with all the features I wanted and indicated prices then decided from there. best for my money and smoothest machine to run.
    Sharon J

  19. #19
    Super Member wolph33's Avatar
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    Innova-tried them all liked this one the best

  20. #20
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I may change my mind later about buying one. For now I can get my quilts machine basted for $15-$20 each so that eliminates the basting part for me. I do pretty good FMQ with my Brother 1500. I just can't do anything that bores me or becomes tedious, I lose interest in minutes.

  21. #21
    Super Member BKrenning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by feline fanatic
    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo
    I was thinking of buying a LA until a friend let me go from start to finish using hers. Loading the quilt on the frame was tedious and took too much time. .
    Really? This surprises me. The first quilt I ever loaded on mine took a little over an hour and this is only because I loaded it wrong on the take up bar. I find loading a quilt on a LA rack much easier and quicker then sandwiching and basting (either with safety pins or needle and thread) on the floor or on a table. Granted sandwiching and basting were the things I hated most about quilting. Literally, I hate that step so much it was totally worth it to get a LA and rack just to avoid that step! Oh of course that isn't the only reason I got one but loading a quilt on is very quick and easy and I don't have zippered leaders, I do it with pins.

    I also have an Innova and love it.
    Loading the quilt is a pain the first few times but is definitely better than crawling around on the floor or dragging your top, batting, backing & pins to the library or church and then having to setup the tables. I still lay some baby quilts out on the floor to tie them. If it weren't for hubby & the kids I'd use the dining room table but they seem to think it's only for sitting food on!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewyscrewy
    I have the tin lizzie18 and the only complaint i have is the lack of builtin channel locks.
    I ahve also beeen researching LAs because I am in the dreaming stage right now and hope to get one eventually. What is a builtin channel lock?

  23. #23
    Super Member LindaM's Avatar
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    I've tried a few different methods of loading the quilt - found that process horrible too. I am now liking a system with velcro ... I made leaders that have a strip of velcro (loop side), and sets of secondary leaders that have the velcro mate (fuzzy side) - different sizes for baby size to queen size.

    I sew the secondary leaders to the backing, float the top and batting. Am liking this now!

    I have the Pfaff GrandQuilter Hobby 1200 (it has a 9" throat space), on a 12' table. I have not been happy with it - there is just not enough throat space, would like to move to at least the 18' throat.

    I DIDN'T do enough research before I bought ...

  24. #24

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    I had a 14" LPQS Millineum that I sold a few years ago. I think it was a very nice machine but a bit too much for me. I'm now considering getting a smaller machine (longarm or midarm). Not sure which one yet.

  25. #25
    e4
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    I have an Ansley 26 (Tin Lizzie's big sister) and like it very much. I second what others have said - invest in going to a quilt show and try every machine and get all the prices. Some machines are really easy to move, others a bit harder and your style of work dictates what you will like. I used an HQ Avante in some classes and found that the movement was so easy that I wiggled way too much, but some people loved it's soft easy flow. The Ansley gave me a bit more control. Also, a quilt show will let you try larger and smaller throats. Realistically, if you are doing the movement yourself, you will have the best control in the first 1 ft deep area of quilting so a larger throat may not be helpful to you if you have short arms and need to stretch too much. If you are going to get a computerized version a longer throat definitely is a help since you can quilt a larger area and roll the quilt less often.
    At the show:
    1) Test every machine - don't assume that one machine by a maker is like all the others - each has different features and feel.
    2) Ask them to show you how they load and unload and roll the quilts. They may balk since they don't want to have undo a quilt, but they can undo a small section or at least show you step by step how it is done on their machine. Some roll much easier than others.
    3) Find out what comes with the machine (standard) and what options there are. Some have adjustable length and height frames, some don't come with rails (you buy your own at a local building supply store), some have electronic lifts others don't; some have special handles and/or feet for doing micro work, but those often are extra. Think about what you want and will do and that will help you decide what features you want and are willing to pay for.
    4) If they say the frame is "adjustable" find out how the frame is adjusted. It is not a simple process to extend the length of most frames - it takes time and elbow grease. What size quilts do you want to quilt? Also, height's typically are adjustable, but some are on pneumatic lifts and others you practically have to take apart to raise or lower. That may not be important to you - again, know what you are paying for.
    5) Know how much room you have and talk to the dealer about the amount of space the machine and frame and room to quilt really takes. I got a 12 ft frame (4 feet deep) and just barely had room to set it up even in a large room I thought would be plenty big enough. For a 12 foot frame, you would need at least a 15 X 8 or 9 ft space if you want to quilt free motion from the front and pantographs from the back and be able to get around without crawling under the frame!
    6) Ask where the closest local dealer is. For the machines you are interested in make sure the dealer is close enough for you to get to classes, get help, make repairs, and get supplies if you need them fast.
    7) Go visit the dealer and talk to them to make sure you are compatible. I finally made the decision on the Ansley because the Tin Lizzie dealer is closer and friendlier than any other dealer within an hour and a half radius of me. That means a lot.

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