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Thread: will be purchasing a long arm in 2013--any suggestions welcome!

  1. #1
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    will be purchasing a long arm in 2013--any suggestions welcome!

    My Mom, who taught me to sew long before jr. high home ec(and much to my teachers dismay!) passed away right before Christmas after a shockingly brief illness. Both my sister and I are still in shock and struggling with it all. But she left us some money and my DH says to "buy something you want--your Mom would like that". Since I'm been comtemplating the purchase of a long arm for about a year now (love to work on one at the store where I can rent some time) and I'm sick and tired of trying to quilt on my regular machine (I want to quilt big quilts and just too hard to get tension right, manuver the quilt, etc) plus I just hate crawling around on the floor doing the sandwiching with a knee replacement--I'm going to make the leap! My Mom always liked to watch me play with one of the vendor's machines at quilt shows so know she'd approve.

    My question: Any of you that have a long arm, can you please give me some advice on the brand, and features, you'd recommend? I know I want to be able to quilt at least queen size, want to have ability to pantograph designs, want it to be problem free and have the ability to add computer design if I want in the future. The one I've worked on is a Nolting and there is a "local" dealer for that I know.

    In the meantime--if you are quilting on your regular machine and having problems with needle nests and skipped stitches like I was, try changing to a heavy wt. needle (size 16)--the thread shreds less and it ended the skipped stitch problem. Needle nest? Run the machine faster than your hands are moving.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    I am very sorry for your loss. Your DH is right, your mom would be happy that you get something you enjoy. You mentioned that you work on a LA at your LQS, and it seems like you enjoy it. How about buying a similar set-up? Good luck!

  3. #3
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    Sorry to hear about your mom.

    Just think every time you use it you will think about her.

  4. #4
    Super Member Justquilting's Avatar
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    I'm so sorry for your loss. I got a fun quilter by nolting a couple of years ago and I love it. The dealer I had was selling magic frames to go with it. All I do is panto's.It was affordable for me. Not too small and not to big. I only have my frame set up to a queen ...I didn't have the space to put it to a king. I can do a 10" panto on a queen. So I'm happy with it.good luck. I did pay extra to get the stitch regulator.
    Last edited by Justquilting; 12-31-2012 at 11:33 AM. Reason: Wording
    Do what you want...Love what you do!!

  5. #5
    Super Member TexasSunshine's Avatar
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    I have a Nolting that I bought a few months ago and it is a long learning process. I really enjoy it and have good customer support.
    Texas Sunshine, piney woods of NE Texas

  6. #6
    Super Member carolaug's Avatar
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    So sorry for your loss...I think its awesome that you are getting a long arm...you will have Mom looking down smiling at you, knowing she bought you so much joy. I am sure she would approve.Good luck on your search! I hope you have a few dealers in your area.

  7. #7
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Here is a great article on this topic:
    http://r.b5z.net/i/u/10076798/f/shop...or_longarm.pdf
    hope that link works...
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  8. #8
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    I'd go to one of the big machine quilting shows this year and try out several machines and get firm prices on them first.

  9. #9
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    I know nothing about long arm machines but I think it sounds like a great gift for your mom to give to you. She will be able to help you do every quilt!

  10. #10
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    I'm so sorry for your loss.

    I have a Nolting 24" PRO for about 6-7yrs now. I only quilt for myself. I do love it. You probably won't find a longarm dealer in your backyard or even your City, mine is 3hrs away but a phone call in a second. The longarm doesn't operate like a regular sewing machine and the learning curve is high. I also do mostly pantographs and I like them. I also own the Circle Lord which I dearly love.

    If you attend any of the big quilt shows check out the longarm machines. And usually you can get a good deal from the dealers. Most dealers and the manufacturers have used machines. Don't be afraid to buy used. I suggest that you might want to join some of the longarm groups on Yahoo, you never know what you'll find and who might be selling. Good Luck

  11. #11
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I recently purchased a used Voyager 17 and Hinterburg frame and ***love*** it! It was an affordable setup for me and is a nice entry level setup.

    In your situation, however, I would probably be looking at an Innova, which is considerably more expensive but also has a lot of very nice features. A lot depends on what dealers are in your area, as it helps a lot getting started to have a supportive dealer nearby.

    Plan to attend a large quilt show and try out the longarm setups there. You might be surprised at how different the various major setups can "feel" to you. I tried out several, and the Innova was my favorite.

    It would be a good idea to join the homequiltingsystems group on groups.yahoo.com for additional information from users of the machine/frame setups you are considering. This is a very large, active group of quilters using many different kinds of setups from the ultra-inexpensive to the ultra-high level.

    Some time ago I read an article (that has since been removed from the internet) that, for most home quilters, 24" is usually the maximum comfort level for arm reach. The longer arm setups (26", 28") are more appropriate for professionals. I did find this article online, although it doesn't offer a lot of specific information or comparison info:
    http://www.quiltsonthecorner.com/inc/sdetail/1349
    Last edited by Prism99; 12-31-2012 at 01:50 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member cmw0829's Avatar
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    Hi, sorry about your mother's passing. But your DH is right.

    Having tried them all at several quilt shows, I'd suggest you seriously consider the Innova.

    You might want to subscribe to Yahoo groups for the brands in which you're interested and check out the message history.

    Good luck.

  13. #13
    Super Member Kooklabell's Avatar
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    I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I've had a couple of unexpected losses over the years and they certainly sent me spinning for a long time.

    I bought a longarm - Baby Lock on a Grace frame. I wish I had: 1. classes on its use nearby. 2. I wish it was an easier frame to set up. 3. Getting the tension right on this machine is a real challenge. You might think I didn't shop around and try things out, but I did. I'm still amazed that I think there is a better set up out there.
    I hear many on this site talk positively about the Innova. But again, there isn't anyone around my area that sells these.

    So, bottom line, take your time choosing just the right machine and frame for your needs. Local classes/assistance (face/face) would be wonderful.

    Hope this helps a bit
    Kookie (Patti)

  14. #14
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    Hi, so sorry for your loss.

    I had a Nolting Hobby Quilter on an eight foot frame but didn't get on with it very well, the machine did not have a stitch regulator so it went too fast for me.

    I sold that machine and bought an APQS Lenni with stitch regulator on a 10 foot frame and it is so much lighter than the Nolting, I love it. The only extra thing I bought was hydraulics so that I can raise and lower the table to the height I want it at.

    Do search around till you find something that you can use with ease.

    Jenny

  15. #15
    Super Member wolph33's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=cmw0829;5752819]Hi, sorry about your mother's passing. But your DH is right.

    Having tried them all at several quilt shows, I'd suggest you seriously consider the Innova.

    You might want to subscribe to Yahoo groups for the brands in which you're interested and check out the message history.

    Good luck.[/QUOTE
    Innova-well built-made to last-we tested them all and kept going back to the Innova-best decision we ever made
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/Upnorthcrafter

  16. #16
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    So sorry for your loss. If you are getting proficient on the machine you have been using, that's where I would start looking. I know your Mom will be helping you every step of the way and smiling. Going to a show and trying the different machines is a good idea. Good luck, and there is a lot of discussion on here about the different machines.
    Sue

  17. #17
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    There are so many great machines out there. I think you should really check out as many as you can.
    I have a Viking 18x8 on a 10 ft. frame with a qbot robot. I love my set up. Good luck with what ever machine you get!!! It will bring you hours and hours of joy!!!!!

  18. #18
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Sorry for your loss. It is hard losing a parent, no matter your age. I have Innova and love it. Support is 24/7 by phone, and it is by excellent technicians who enjoy providing support and are actually upset if you don't call when you have a problem. I highly recommend it. The computerized quilting (AutoPilot or Navigator) can be added at any time, as can other options, so you don't have to buy every option at once. However, other people have their favorites, and so it is best to go to a big quilt show where there are lots of vendors. Find the brand that is right for you.

  19. #19
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    Sorry to hear of your loss--but you are smart to use the money to buy something special--that every time you use it, it will remind you of your mother. I have a APQS Freedom and love it. I have only had it one year but have quilt 82 quilts on it already and have not had a single problem. It is gold in my eyes as I previously had a different brand and had many, mnay problems with it while I quilted only 60 quilts on it before getting rid of it. I did go to a big show and try out many of the brands. I do feel there are many good brands out there, but for me--I felt the APQS just had the most comfortable "feel" for me. My Dealer is about 3 1/2 hrs away but it really doesn't matter. I didn't need classes as I was already an experienced quilter so if I do have a question, I call her. I would highly recommend that you get a stitch regulator on whatever you buy. I think it really helped me tremendously with my learning curve when I furst bought a long arm machine. I didn't ever think I would get a long arm machine, either, but I got my first one, also, when I came in to a little bit of money so I could make a down payment and didn't have to finance the whole thing. Good luck with your search and when you buy one someday, let us know all about it! It is very exciting to get a long arm.

  20. #20
    Member Chiclet's Avatar
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    I am so very sorry about your loss. I think it sounds like your mom would approve of your decision to make such a special and personal purchase with the gift she left you.

  21. #21
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    Sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. I bought an APQS milli and later added IQ (computer) to it. I really like it. I don't have a dealer near me but I have been able to do anything that needs to be done to my machine myself. It is a great machine.

  22. #22
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    I have also worked on a Nolting 17" Fun quilter at a local quilt store where I was employed . I really liked it and I was most happy to call the Nolting company in Iowa, also got a response and when I had a problem their machanic wood tutor me on the phone until I got it fixed. Their support is great.

    I am unemployed now but have many quilt tops that need machine quilting, it's about $600 worth in machine quilting. so I bought an ANCIENT Kenquilt machine off of craiglist for $1000.and am thinking of selling and moving up.

    All of this does not help you and I am truly sorry for your loss, so take you time and research, try them out. I don't know what your budget is but I would start on the lower end of your wish list and move up.

  23. #23
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    I am so sorry about your mom. Please accept my deepest sympathies for your loss.

    My mom has a Nolting 18 inch machine. She lets me use it when I want to quilt a large quilt. I really like how the Nolting handles. When she first got it, Nolting let me go to her lessons with her since I worked at a quilt shop and could advertise for them that way. It was a real learning experience. I have played on other brands at quilt shows but I think I would go with a Nolting. The Iowa MFG plant is just over an hour away so service would be really handy for me. Service is a big thing with any machine. I think they are like a car....you would drive your car without regular maintainence and your sewing machine is the sanme way. You know what you want. Shop around and take your time so you get the machine you want. Good luck.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by intoquilting View Post
    Sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. I bought an APQS milli and later added IQ (computer) to it. I really like it. I don't have a dealer near me but I have been able to do anything that needs to be done to my machine myself. It is a great machine.

    I also have APQS Millenium with Intelliquilter. I am lucky to live in IA so am close to them. Their support is excellent as is that of IQ. Though I would recommend setting aside some $$ for classes like I took with Suzanne Moreno for the IQ. I like the setup of the Millenium frame as it is very sturdy and reduces vibration. I also like the add ons of motorized fabric advance and hydraulic lift. They make the quilting more comfortable for your body. You also need to consider $$ for changes to the room you will put it in: extra overhead lighting, APQS recommends a particular surge protector, which I'm very glad I took their advice on. All of these things add up and should be taken into consideration.
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

  25. #25
    Super Member slk350's Avatar
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    Sorry for your loss. You can also try to find a refurbished one. I remember seeing a really nice one at a qilt show for about $4000.00 for the frame and machine. Good luck

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