Tag Archives: long arms

QuiltCon 2016! Day three

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 –

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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 –

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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

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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.

~melanie

QuiltCon 2016! Day two

I made my way to QuiltCon.  I woke up this morning with an idea to spend the day playing with long arms. And so I did.

Since I arrived in the afternoon, instead of early in the morning, the parking at the Pasadena Convention Center was horrible.  It looks like it is under construction so there were not a lot of spots to park.  The ways were dark and narrow with random dead ends.  There was a lot of turning around for me.  But once I got through that, the rest of the day went by fine.

Better than fine.  I spent a brief break with the ladies of Hobbies up to Here and we got to know each other a little more.  We had so much fun that I forgot to take a picture! 😦

I bought black batting for my Moon Glow quilt.  I didn’t know that black batting only comes in 100% poly or 80/20 cotton/poly blend.  I got the blend.

Okay on to the big stuff… long arms.  Here’s what I paid attention to:

  1. Vibrations.  The Bailey vibrates a lot and I get tired pretty fast.
  2. How the stitch runs while I’m moving it.  How the machine feels while I’m using it.
  3. How much it costs
  4. And later… whether I could upgrade to a computer attachment or not.

A. Juki – long arm on a frame – I don’t have the exact name of the machine I tried but after a quick search on google, I think it was Juki TL-2200QVP.  I ran this machine fast and I didn’t like the vibrations.  I honestly can’t remember the show price on this but it might have been around $8,000.  It didn’t pass my first test so I moved on pretty quickly.

B. Baby Lock Crown Jewel – This was a nice one.  The vibrations weren’t too bad.  The stitching was nice.  The show price was $5,000 with the frame so I felt it was affordable.  The only thing I didn’t like was the frame.  That’s not a big reason to say no to this machine and I didn’t ask about the possibility of upgrading to a bigger frame.  Maybe I’ll ask tomorrow.  I also didn’t ask about whether there was an option to upgrade to a computer later on because I didn’t think about it until later.  However, I don’t think it’s possible.

C. Bernina Q 20 – This is a sit down machine.  They didn’t have the long arm on a frame so I tried this one.  I loved the machine.  I didn’t love having to sit down.  I think now that I’ve been quilting on a frame, I do not like having to move my quilt underneath a machine.  Even with such a big harp space, the idea of trying to quilt a Queen or King size quilt under it was not appealing.  This was around $13,000 show price.  The price included the cool desk that would pull out, get bigger around and behind the machine.  There were a lot of cool features on the machine like all the thread and stuff was in the front and accessible.  I didn’t realize this but it reminded me of how often I have to go around my frame to turn the machine on or off or to thread the machine or to move the needle up and down manually.  The only thing in the back is the power and the sales lady said to put the machine on a surge protector and have the surge protector under the desk so I could easily turn it on and off with my foot.  The machine itself was really nice.  I just don’t want a sit down machine.  I believe the long arm on a frame is WAY too out of my price range.

D. APQS – I tried the new machine called Larry and the the Lenni.  It seemed that Larry was 18″ harp while Lenni had a 20″ harp.  The Larry was $8,900 show price while the Lenni was $10,900 show price. There were more differences between the Lenni and the Larry but I felt that I loved the Lenni the best between the two.  I actually really liked this machine.  There was no vibrations at all, the stitching whether I went fast or slow was even and it was easy to move the machine around.  When I asked about possibly upgrading to a computer later, I discovered that it was not possible.  The ones with the computer now was $17-$18k and that’s way out of my price range.

E. HQ Avante – I played with this machine while at Road for my long arm class.  At QuiltCon, I actually tried this out after I tried all the others since it had been some time since Road.  I liked it better today than when I played with it at Road.  It didn’t vibrate at all and the stitch quality was really nice.  The show price was $8,500.  AND if I wanted to add the computer component I could add it later!  🙂

F. Gammill – I didn’t even try this one out.  They look so big and intimidating.  Maybe I’ll have enough guts tomorrow.  I think its way out of my price range but I don’t know that for sure.

If I was to buy a machine today, it would probably be the Baby Lock Crown Jewel because it’s affordable, and it’s good enough.  I’m not a professional quilter.  This is just my hobby.  However, I would have to upgrade the frame because even though the sales people said I could quilt a King size on it, I’d have to move it around a lot.  I’d rather get a big frame I can easily load a King onto.  So, maybe it would be more than $5,000.  Since I am not going to buy a machine today, I’m thinking APQS Lenni or Larry or the HQ Avante.  I really like how the APQS machines ran and felt.  In fact, I like it better than the HQ Avante.  But the only reason I’d get the Avante over the APQS machines is for the option to later add the computer component.

I totally forgot to take pictures.  I’ll try to remember tomorrow. 😦

Should I be looking at other things in a long arm?  I definitely want the option to move the needle up and down, a needle threader, bobbin winders.  Let me know if I’m totally missing something.

~ wishful dreaming

~melanie