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Looking for Long Arm Advice - Need your experience

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MNnancy replied on Wed, Feb 13 2013 8:53 PM

A good way to learn is to volunteer to do quilting for a local guild's charity projects.  We've had several guild members do that and then move on into starting a business.  


On the banks of the Mississippi River in north central Minnesota (Brainerd lakes area)

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Congratulations, Eva! You will love your Statler. Let us know when you get it.

 

 

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Two years ago, I bought my HQ18 Avante. Yes, I would buy it again! I have it set up at 12 ft, it takes up most of my basement. I do not have the ProStitcher. It's an extremely easy, forgiving machine to learn on.

Things I would want to know:

1) At the time I bought my machine, the Handihandles would have been on sale; instead I bought them at a later time for full price. I have carpal tunnel in both hands, and I would be lost without my Handihandles. I use them almost exclusively, and quilt sitting down. It's a formula that totally works for me. So, I would have bought them with my machine if I knew that I would love them this much.

2) Also, don't go hog wild purchasing Pantographs, boards for your Stylus, rulers, etc. I did one quilt with the Pantograph that came with the machine, and I decided right then and there I will never do another Pantograph. I hated the unoriginal, rigid over and over pattern. I tried ruler work, and I love it. I tried free motion, and I love that too. If I had bought a ton of Pantographs and boards, I would have wasted my money. So now I spend money on items that make my quilting more enjoyable. Wait to see what you like so you can only buy the things that you will actually use.

3) Do look for sales on batting and thread- you can never go wrong stocking up on those. Superior Threads has "Try Me" specials- it was a wonderful way to try lots of threads in lots of different weights, and for me to see which I loved the best on a sampler quilt. It also taught me how to change tensions between different weights of thread with every change. Also stock up on cheap fabrics at garage sales or the thrift store (even sheets) for your first quilt or two to practice. Don't waste your expensive fabric for your test projects!

Negative- I ran something over with my needle (my bad!!), broke the needle and threw off the timing. This happens to every quilter sooner or later- your machine will need retimed; it's no big deal! (However much you feel like crying the first time it happens to you.) The quilt shop I bought it at is where I would take it to be serviced, but I quickly found out that they send it down to another store in SLC to have it done, and so I would be without my machine for several days for what amounted to me to be an hour and 15 minute drive one way. I suggested that I could drive it there myself, and so the two times it needed to be retimed, I called to the shop that it would be repaired at, made sure the repair guy was there, made the trip with my baby, and I was back home with my fixed machine within 3 hours start to finish. The negative part of that experience? HQ doesn't trust you to retime your machine. Other quilt manufacturers do, and teach you how to do it. Given that I have seen this process twice now, I am fully convinced that I could do this myself. I had to buy a special tool to do it, but next time I won't be left high and dry during an important quilt! So check when you buy your machine where it will be repaired, and if it will actually be send out somewhere else that will cost you days of quilting time. And check to see if they will instruct you to do the simple things- oil your machine, adjust your timing, etc.

The computer part- the ProStitcher- is the cost of the machine and frame, effectively doubling your costs if you go that route. I am almost glad I didn't get that first- there is so much that you need to know first- how to set tension for each thread, lining a quilt up to get it straight, basting it down, how to deal with wavy edges or quilts that don't lay flat, etc, that you really need to focus on getting that right before any of your computer-assisted work is going to look right. Besides, if you find you LOVE FMQ, you aren't going to need the computer. :-) Maybe save that part for when you get serious about actually doing a business and you will make it pay for itself.

- Shelley

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Christine replied on Fri, Feb 15 2013 8:57 PM

Wow, I have a tin lizzie and just love it!  I have the 26" Ansley, and when I upgrade next fall I'm getting another Tin Lizzie.  It doesn't vibrate at all.  I'm on a Tin Lizzie forum and haven't heard a thing about vibrating.  

I love pantographs myself.  I chose patterns that are smoothly laid out and have interesting combinations.  My favorite pattern is called hearts a flutter.  I use this one on all the American Hero quilts I do. It has one heart plus feathers and it's easy to do.  I also do freemotion line drawing styles as well as rulers.  I love them all!  I decide how a quilt speaks to me and then decide which method to use. 

I hit a ruler with my machine (I wondered when I would, it seems everyone does eventually LOL) and my Tin Lizzie kept right on stitching.  It didn't need retiming at all.  LOVE my machine!  I highly recommend a Tin Lizzie.

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Oops, didn't see that you bought your machine, but some of the advice about practicing on it will help. Best of wishes!

- Shelley

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Christine replied on Fri, Feb 15 2013 9:21 PM

Here's my 2 cents, for what it's worth.    I love pantographs!  I use both pantographs and rulers together in quilts, depending on the design of the quilt.  I use a laser light to follow the panto, and use the rulers to do custom work on the borders.

I have the Tin Lizzie Ansley 26 on a king size frame.  I absolutely love it!  It isn't a bit fussy, it takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.    

If you're able to attend a quilt show, I'd recommend trying each of the brands at a show.  They're all under one roof that way, and you can remember from one to the next as you move to the different brands.  That's what I did at the Mid-Atlantic quilt festival last spring.  I bought my Tin Lizzie there. 

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ls2116 replied on Fri, Feb 15 2013 9:42 PM

I'm just wondering is the HQ sixteen amid or longarm?

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MNnancy replied on Sat, Feb 16 2013 7:43 AM

HQ16 is usually referred to as a mid-arm - maybe because they have a sit-down table model?


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The HQ 16 comes in two ways- on the large frame or as the sit-down table model. It's designated by length, not how the machine is mounted.

I have heard the range go both ways- calling up to the 16 inch as a midarm, but most of the time, it's called a long arm. Personally, I think it's a long arm. My domestic is short, a 9 or 12 or 14 inch throat is mid, long starts at 16 and up. The distinction is purely cosmetic- 16 inches of throat space is 16 inches, KWIM?

Shelley

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Michelle replied on Sat, Feb 16 2013 9:19 PM
Shelley, I also have a HQ18 and love it. I did practice on several others at local quilt stores and this one was the easiest for me to learn on. I was very confused on the others on the loading of the quilt as well as the smoothness of the actual machine. I think you have to really just keep trying several out til you find the perfect one for you. You had some great points, I do wish I had known a bit more when we bought, but I am learning every day. I also don't have the computer part, as I knew I wouldn't force myself to learn to free motion if I could have the computer to do it for me every quilt. I really enjoy the free motion, so creative. Good point on being careful on breaking a needle. I do have a local dealer, but I am sure I would get in line for repairs as it is a busy quilt store. I take my embroidery machine there for repairs and it is usually at least 2 weeks before its back. I haven't tried the Pantographs yet. I do want to learn to use them and the lasar, just to have another skill in my "pocket". I'll be watching for more ideas and pointers from you. Thanks.

Michelle B
Enjoy family, friends and hobbies

 

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ls2116 replied on Sun, Feb 24 2013 8:54 PM

Just wondering Jeanine I know you've been sick too,  are you feeling better haven't seen posts has any one else just wondering about her and what shes busy with.

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Christine replied on Mon, Feb 25 2013 4:34 AM

I attended the Mid-Atlantic quilt festival over the weekend, and I tested several of the long arms that were there.  The APQS has nice features, I like the extra roller before the take up roller.  It's located at the level of the quilt top so the take up roller can be mounted up higher, in the middle of the throat space.  That's a nice feature.  but the handles vibrated the entire time I stitched with the machine.  The handles are padded of course, but the vibration was still high. 

I liked the Tin Lizzie the best.  NO vibration whatsoever, their new machines have a different motor style which no longer uses a brush motor.  Comparing the new machine to the one I'm used to at home which has a brush motor, I can tell the new motor will never let me 'out sew' the motor.  WOW, I want a new Tin Lizzie now... have a daughter in college, a son who needs occupational therapy, etc. so it'll be a long time before I can get a new machine.  I LOVE the machine I have now so I'm happy to wait.  The extra bells and whistles will be a nice reward after the kids are settled.  I'll definitely buy a Tin Lizzie when I'm ready.  Love their machines!

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Eileen replied on Thu, Feb 28 2013 8:27 AM

ls2116,

Jeanine posted a while back in the "longarmers share" thread that she'd be spending less time, if any, on QCA. She'll be posting pictures of her quilts on her facebook (?) page. Let me see if I can find that post.

Found it - she posted on 2/8 in Longarmers share # 2 - http://www.quiltersclubofamerica.com/forums/t/35371.aspx?PageIndex=26 (her post is near bottom of page).

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Granny M replied on Wed, Mar 6 2013 11:39 AM

Eva:

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.  :)   

Way to go Eva!!!   I remember how excited I was to get Momma Jewel.  Just remember that you have to take time to practice.   One other thing I would recommend, but you do however you want.   Leave the computerized stitching for the last thing to learn.   It does in so pefect that you might feel you can do FMQ, etc.  If you start with the computerized stitching you might feel your own quilting not good enough big mistake.

Most of all   HAVE FUN, MAKE UP DESIGNS, AND PLAY

Granny M

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I was at the Mid Atlantic quilt festival a couple weekends ago, and tried out a few long arms.  I'll upgrade in a year or so, but until then I'm having a ton of fun with my Lizzie 26". 

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