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What are the requirements in purchasing a Long Arm Quilting machine

What are the requirements in purchasing a Long Arm Quilting machine

Old 05-29-2013, 11:28 AM
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Default What are the requirements in purchasing a Long Arm Quilting machine

I have a Bernia 440 quilter's edition sewing machine and still have not mastered quilting on it. Is it easier with a long arm quilting machine since you don't have to move fabric???. I realize the cost difference in a long arm but not sure what to look for in a long arm. Which company has the best reputation........ I usually send out my large quilts and try to do the small ones on the Bernia but get frustrated in handling all the material.
Would appreciate some feedback.
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Old 05-29-2013, 11:52 AM
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Id suggest that you find several different dealers and test drive them. Quilt shows usually have a few longarm dealers set up and ready for you to test. Its easier on the body using a longarm. But not easier to draw. Buying a longarm will not make you a quilt artist I found that out real quick. Of course if you got money to burn you can get one that will even do the quilting for you!
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Old 05-29-2013, 12:31 PM
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It is a lot easier for me to quilt with my midarm than it was pushing a quilt through my domestic machine. If you have not mastered free motion quilting on a domestic machine, you will have a learning curve with a longarm. However, if you get one with a stitch regulator, that learning curve will be quite short.

What I did is buy a used Voyager 17 with Hinterberg stretch frame from a fellow quilt guild member who advertised her setup for sale. She wanted to upgrade to a setup with more bells and whistles, common among longarmers so there are often good used setups for sale. Mine does not have a stitch regulator (I will want to add one when I decide to do ruler work) and cost $3,000 total; however, someone on the board found a similar setup near Chicago (with a stitch regulator) for $2,400. A good used setup can be a relatively inexpensive way to get started with longarming. My 17" Voyager is technically a midarm rather than a longarm, but fine for my usage. If and when I have $15,000 or so to invest in a more technologically advanced system, I would be looking at an Innova with lightning stitch (regulator).

There are several online sites that advertise used longarms for sale. Here are two:
You can also look through your local Craigslist.

You really want to be able to try out a setup before purchasing. At minimum you need a machine and compatible frame. Machines range widely in price, features, and arm length -- everything from a Juki with a 9" bed to 28"+ longarms. Frames likewise vary widely. A stitch regulator is very helpful for many people, but not strictly necessary.

Edit: If at all possible, attend large quilt shows where you can try out a variety of machines. This will help give you an idea of what is on the market new, what features are available, and costs (which can become astronomical!). I did this but did not want to spend $10,000+ on a setup. From researching on the internet I knew that a Voyager/Hinty would be sufficient for my startup needs, so when one came up at the guild I knew right away that I wanted it.

Last edited by Prism99; 05-29-2013 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 05-29-2013, 12:59 PM
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I think first is to identify what you want in that LA. Then the size/place to locate a table. 14 ft will take a king size spread (120x120). 12 ft has a quilting space of 110" so one side of the quilt must be [U]
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Old 05-29-2013, 01:08 PM
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I can quilt a twin quilt comfortably on my Bernina 440. A queen is a bit of a stretch but I quilt it in quarters so I only have one quadrant in the machine at a time. (I just finished a 94 X 94) I use Hobbs 80/20 fusible batt and it helps me to not get wrinkles on the quilt back and it reduces bulk. My Machingers gloves really help me move the quilt well and I support the rest of the quilt on extra tables.
A long arm will be easier of course, if you can afford it.
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Old 05-29-2013, 01:10 PM
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I have 10" rollers on my frame (120") and have been able to do quilts a little over 100" wide with no problem. It is possible to do king-sized quilts on a frame like mine -- just not all at one time. I have zippered leaders and, to do a king-sized quilt, I would simply work on the center 100" of the quilt first, then re-load to finish the right hand side of the quilt and re-load once more to do the left hand side of the quilt. Not ideal, but would work for me the few times that I would want to work on quilts larger than the 10-foot width of my frame.
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Old 05-29-2013, 01:35 PM
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I have a 9" throat Juki and have been able to quilt any quilt I have made. I have no room for a Long Arm. I do like reading about them and dreaming.
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Old 05-29-2013, 01:52 PM
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first step is to locate and try out long arms to see if you like the process= and which machines YOU like- there are a number of very good reputable long arm companies- and a vast range of prices- but it is an investment- not to be made (blind)...like purchasing a car- we all like certain things- and need to 'test-drive' and find the right one for us- same with the investment of a long arm- when you are considering spending over $10,000 you should be sure you choose the one you like best- offers the things you need most- quilt shows often have long-arm vender booths set up so you can try their machine out- some quilt shops are also dealers- they will let you try out the machines- some shops will allow you to take a certification class to learn the machine- then rent time on it to quilt your own quilts...if you are truly interested it's time to start looking/test driving- check with friends, long armers- try out as many as you can find- do lots of research & test drive as many as you can find---then decide which machine you really like---that fits in your budget and available space- remember it takes a pretty large dedicated space...when spending that kind of money you want to be happy....also look at the websites of the machine companies- read the comments, check the accessories the prices, the customer service, recommendations and complaints.
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Old 05-29-2013, 02:04 PM
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I have a Juki 98Q and have quilted up to a 92" square quilt...you can see some of my quilts in my photo album here. I did not have room for a longarm, and not enough money for one even if I did. I took the plunge and bought the Juki without ever trying then out...just read on a forum. I could not believe the difference that added space made. I had quilted quilts on my regular Pfaff and my Viking, and would always swear off ever trying it again. And that was even with the bigger baby quilts I make. Now, I actually look forward to the quilting.

But if I had room for a long arm, or mid arm, I would read all I could and test drive all I could, and make my decision from there. I think there is a longarm yahoo group...you might learn a lot there.
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Old 05-29-2013, 03:47 PM
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I would plan a trip to the next large quilt show in your area. Even if you need to spend the night, the expense is worth it! Many of the long arm manufacturers will be there. take your time and test drive them all. Be sure and ask about warranties and classes.
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