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Looking for Long Arm Advice - Need your experience

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Eva Posted: Tue, Jan 15 2013 4:16 PM

For those of you with a Long Arm machine..... would you buy the same machine you have now again?

Last year I was looking at the HQ Avante with the Pro Stitcher but now more manufactures are coming out with computerized quilting.   And I'm lost on which machine to really look at for purchasing.  

Here's is what I'm looking for.... 12 foot frame, 18" or 24" machine with stitch regulator, and ability to do free motion, computerized and pantographs.  I want to do quilting as a hobby but someday a business when I get comfortable.

Forgive me if my request sounds alittle dumb, but without real experience on a long arm, I am VERY inexperienced and ignorant.

Its alot of money to spend without getting all the information I can on it and what better source is to go to the people who do it.  If I go to a dealer, of course theirs is the best.  What do you think is the best machine without  going overboard on cost?  What are your pros and cons from experience?  

Thanks so much in advance.  Any information will be appreciated.

 

 

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There are so many variables here, but If I had it to do over and money and space were not a problem - I honestly think the only thing I would change is I would have upgraded my frame when I bought my Fun Quilter, other than that I think I would do it all over again. 

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I don't ever do FMQ-- can't get the hang of it, so I can't help you there. But I can tell you that I love my Gammill with Statler Stitcher. I suspect most of the computer programs are basically the same. One thing, buy the largest machine that you can. Every inch of quilting space counts!

Is there a quilt show near you anytime soon? There would be a few different machines being sold there and you could compare them yourself.

I had a Bailey Home Quilter for a couple years. I bought it thinking I could learn FMQ with it and it was inexpensive in comparison to other machines. The biggest problem is that, at the time, it wasn't equipped with a stitch regulator and there was none that would work with it. I was sorry that I bought it. So when I decided to trade up, I went with the best that I could so that I wouldn't wish later on that I had purchased something better. So my Gammill ended up being my retirement gift to myself.

Something to compare, also, is the availability of service and instruction. Most service questions can be answered by phone, but if you need something major, how far away is the store/service person who will come help you out? Ask your seller if they provide classes beyond the original instruction that comes with the installation of the machine.

Again, the easiest way to decide is to go to a quilt show and see all the machines you can. Good luck!

 

 

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Kelley replied on Tue, Jan 15 2013 7:42 PM

Hi Eva,

 

  I have a Gammill machine and I love it.. Ofcourse if I were rich I would have gotten the biigest with the Satler,instead of the 18 inch without... but I would buy Gammill again...

 

Good luck in your search.

Kelley

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Bonnie replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 7:10 AM

Hello there Eva,

I have not been on here for a while due to health, busy quilting and the hollidays, but happened to notice your question, so I thought I would answer this one. You are asking all the same questions I asked my self last year because of my illness. I asked all those questions because there are times I would just rather use computerized quilting. Because Babylock uses the Gracie Co you can get a good quilting program for a lot less money then HQ has to offer. The Babylock CJ is the same machine as the Avante. Sometimes the have 0% financing to offer so use that to your advantage. I also went to school that Babylock has to offer and learned a lot. I was also told I was a custom quilter. Who would of thought that. I love to FMQ, but when my illness gets me down I do use the computer. FMQ is actually faster and I love doing it, but there are times when using you computer to drive is a good idea and you can always combine the two. That being said, I love what I have. I did my research and the only reason I chose Babylock over HQ was the computerized quilting. It was more affordable by a long shot. Both are great companies! Service is a big deal, so also put that into the factor. I chose the Babylock CJ with Quiltmotion and a 12' quilt frame. Love it. I have done a lot of quilts with it and have never said I was sorry. Moves with the touch of a finger and glides like a dream. I paid to have them set it up also. Worth every penny.

Bonnie

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Jeanine replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 8:03 AM

I have the APQS Millenium and love it!  I would not even consider the computerized options but they are available.  Buy the best you can afford and make sure there is local support.

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Granny M replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 9:15 AM

Eva, I can only add that if you live in a rural area, you will have smaller options.   I have a baby lock crown jewel and later foiund out it is the same as the handiquilter Advante.  I thought I would get instruction etc.  No such thing happened.  I have had the most support from people here and the people at Handiquilter if you can believe that.  While I love the machine, if I ever have to get another it will be the Handiquilter Brand.  (At my age that is probably not going to happen anyway.)  Oh yes, I don't have the computized stuff.  I like FMQ even if it does give me panic attacks when I start a new quilt.

Granny M

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gini replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 9:50 AM

it's been a couple of years since i tried them all out, but the innova was the best product on the market and the handiquilter was the most improved.   i go tp the big quilt shows and try them out.  it is amazing how much better the machines have gotten over the years.   the handiquilter is as good now as the gammil was 10 years ago.  i am referring to hand feel and smoothness of quilting.    i would recommend going to a big show where you can try them all out and meet the dealers close to you. 

gini in north idaho

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gini replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 9:57 AM

i've also tried out the tinlizzies a few times and they have terrible vibration in the handles.  they always tell me it's the set-up.   but i'm telling you, if that is how bad the vibration is when they are set up and trying to sell at a big show, i bet the vibrations don't go away.  my hands would go numb trying to use it. 

gini in north idaho

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Eva replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 12:46 PM

No shows here til Feb 10-12 (HQ VDTA/Quilting Pavilion) and the local quilting show in April 27-28 (Desert Quilters Annual Show).

No rush in buying a long arm - even though I now have 10 top quilts to be finished - ha ha :).

Thank you so much for your input.

 

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gini replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 3:39 PM

eva. if one of the shows is big enough to have long arm venders, go early and spend some time trying them all out.

gini in north idaho

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Eva replied on Wed, Feb 13 2013 5:46 PM

OMG!  Im in the process of getting a long arm.   WEEE!!! :)

Gammill Statle Stitcher 26"

Just going through the paper work now in getting financed.  But its exciting to me.  

 

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Michelle replied on Wed, Feb 13 2013 5:51 PM
Yeah!! Such exciting news! You are going to have so much fun. Is this your first? It's like having a new baby or grandbaby!! haha

Michelle B
Enjoy family, friends and hobbies

 

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Eva replied on Wed, Feb 13 2013 6:03 PM

First longarm --- 5th sewing machine (hahaha).   its going to be adventure.  I figure for the first year - learn and get confidence - then open up a business quilting for others.  :)   

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Michelle replied on Wed, Feb 13 2013 7:52 PM
Let me know how you start that business, that is what I would like to do next.

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