I had one lecture today and it was Mary Fon’s Great American Quilt Revival at 9am. It was very informative. I’ve watched Mary on youtube a number of times. But this is my first time seeing her in person. She is funny, knowledgeable and fit a lot of information in a short period of time. A friend joined me in the afternoon and I got to show her around through the quilts. She’s not a quilter but she’s gone with me a few times to various quilt shows and she enjoys looking at them with me. Maybe one day she’ll pick up a needle. 🙂
I tried 3 long arms today. Two recommended by comments from DezertSuz and Sharkiecat: the Gammill and Innova.
A. Gammill –
The Gammill I tried was 18″ and it costs $10,900 with the tablet and frame. I loved it. Very nice and smooth. I was able to go slow and fast and the stitches stayed the same length. There was no vibrations and I loved it. But I can’t add the computer option to it later. To be able to do that, I’d need to get the next one up at 22″ and costs $13,900.
B. Innova –
The Innova was nice too. I didn’t get the measurements but I did learn that the basic model was $9,000 and I could add the computer option later. The close left one in the picture was $30,000 while the further one on the right was $15,000. The expensive one already has the computer with it, while the one on the right has the stitch regulator and some other upgrades. They didn’t have a base one for me to try.
C. King Quilter
So the picture says $3499 but that price tag was for the machine to the left of the one pictured. The one pictured was $12,400, is 24″ and has a computer with it. The drawback is that I didn’t really like the quality of the stitches or the feel of the machine. This one is the most affordable with a computer so I may try it again tomorrow for the last day of QuiltCon. I am probably being swayed by the names Gammill, Innova, HQ, and APQS, etc. I haven’t really seen this one around and because of that I don’t feel confident about it.
I went back to some of the other machines to ask additional questions. For APQS, I found out that I could add the computer to the Lenni machine later. I can’t do it for the Larry. So, since that was the only thing that put the Avante ahead of it, I may lean towards the Lenni. However, now that I’ve tried the Gammill and the Innova that option may be different. The Innova seemed way outside my price range. $15,000 for a machine with BSR seemed out there for me. I felt the Innova and the Gammill had the same quality of stitching, no vibrations, and were pretty similar all in all. But the price range of the Gammill seemed better. Okay to summarize, here are the top machines I’m leaning towards:
Gammill – 22″ – $13,900 – no computer but can be added on later
Innova – I don’t remember how big – $15,000 – or $9k but I didn’t try the one without the BSR so I don’t even know if I’d like that one.
APQS Lenni – 20″ – $10,900 – no computer but can be added on later
DezertSuz mentioned a few others in her comment yesterday and of those, I’ve only heard of Nolting. I vaguely remember seeing their booth at Road.
I won’t have a lot of time tomorrow since I have the wool class in the morning and I’ve got another lecture in the afternoon. But I think my next set of questions will be around set up and service. Is there a shop that services those machines close to me? The Gammill dealer at QuiltCon is located in Glendora (not far but not super close either). I know there are 3 sewing machine shops near me. The closest is on my way home from work and they are a Bernina dealer. They actually have Bailey right now. I don’t know if they sell other machines. The other shop I’ve been to is near our last house in Granada Hills. I know they have Berninas and Brothers. The other shop is between those two and they’re actually at the show. I think they are HQ and Baby Lock. I may just go around and see if I can rent time on their long arms. I know that the one near me has a Bernina long arm I can rent. :0
Another thing I learned is that some of my local dealers will honor show prices a certain amount of time after the show. I was thinking that I would have to buy the machine at Road next year if I decided to do this. But now I know that if my local dealers are honoring show prices for QuiltCon, they may honor show prices for PIQF (in Oct) or Road (in January) and therefore I do not have to buy a machine at one of the shows. I like the idea of buying from my local dealer better since I will need them for training and help answering my questions, etc.
~ every time I play with these machines my questions are getting better and better. I think renting time would be the next best thing and I can see how easy (or not) it is to actually quilt a quilt. I can see how easy (or not) it is to change the bobbin. I’m feeling very good about my research for this purchase. In addition, I may find that I don’t need to buy one at all. If I find that renting a machine works better for me then I may just end up doing that.
I can tell you that on all the top machines, changing the bobbin is no harder than changing one on a sewing machine – it’s basically the same kind of bobbin race and bobbin case as the silver ones that you find in a lot of the older, non-computerized sewing machines that don’t have the drop-in bobbins. Gammill customer service is pretty good, and that’s something to check on. I know that I’ve heard Innova CS is great, and I know that Tin Lizzie CS is great, too. APQS seems really good.
You know what I just remembered? APQS has classes they go on the road to give, they call it Roadshow. You go and meet with their techs, have a chance to ask a bazillion questions, try the machines, get a CD that even has a business plan if you decide to have a business. There’s one in San Jose and one in Sacramento in early June. http://www.apqs.com/event-calendar/category/road-shows/ Keep on eye on the calendar and see if one comes even closer after that.
Susan, you are awesome! Thanks for all your information. It helps me so much! 🙂