Michele over at Quilts from my Crayon Box left me a really nice comment the other day and asked to be updated on how my search for a long arm is going. She has a lot to say and a really nice blog so check her out if you get the chance - I really enjoyed it!
If you know me offline then you are probably going to be sick with irritation as I embark on an entire post (mostly - I have quilting progress too) discussing my favorite topic of late...next to thread...and that is long arm quilting machines. My family knows immediately that when I put my arm up in the air and mimic a feathering sweeping motion as if to ... quilt on a long arm ... to run the other direction because I'm on the verge of an I'm-a-gonna-get-a-long-arm freak out. I have been passively shopping around, but more gathering information so that I can make the best purchase for myself and my family in the spring.
Our goal as of now is to try to get something used or refurbished to save a little money. Ideally I'd like something around 20" with a 12 foot frame. I WANT stitch regulation but I'm discovering, unless I buy a 20 year old machine that may not happen in with my budget. Other than that as long as it sews I'll be happy. I could easily plop myself in the middle of a $25,000 loan and have all the long arm goodies I've been dreaming of - but my Husband quickly brings me back down to reality and reminds me...I don't work. Lol* So unless we get a GREAT deal (or I can talk my Husband out of his sensible reserve) a used long arm it is. The hope is that my endeavors will be successful enough that in a few years I can justify an upgrade. *Fingers Crossed* I am not looking to store 50 quilts in my living room and book myself up until next Christmas but I would just like to earn enough extra income to fund my increasingly expensive quilting habit and possibly some repairs/updates around the house.
Right now the two machines on my radar are the Handi Quilter and the Innova. I tested a Handi Quilter at a local dealership...it was very light and easy to use. I have ZERO long arm experience and I felt like within a few hours of practice I could have jumped right in and practiced on a real quilt. I tested the Avante - and I see these used a lot around here (likely because they sell them nearby) - it was on an older less expensive folding table/frame. I know it looks cheap and sounds cheap but I'll tell you, it was very sturdy - and I pushed that baby to it's limits. I did notice that I felt like my range of motion was a little limited....or awkward, or something. A friend turned me on to Edgerider wheels...maybe that would help? I don't know if they make them for the Avante though, I only saw the HQ16 on the website - does it matter? I also find that it tops off at a slower speed...1800 stitches per minute I want to say? Or something comparable. I thought at first this would be a real negative. But realistically, how fast do you NEED to sew? I want to offer the option of less expensive pantos or edge to edge free hand designs but my heart is pulled towards custom quilting...and detailed quilting just doesn't go fast by nature. One negative - the micro handles are $300. OUCH. But, there are TONS and I mean TONS of gizmo's and gadgets for the HQ machines. Major plus.
The innova I have not tested yet but I'm stalking the Sewing Expo website (figuratively speaking lol*) to see who the vendors will be and if Innova will be there. The Husband said he'd be willing to go to the show and I hear you can get good deals on new machines at shows *fingers crossed*. From what I've read it's light...and I think that's what I'd like for myself in a machine. Also it seems to come with a lot for the price. The real clincher for me, the customer service has rave reviews. That is HUGE. Customer service has just been lost on this generation. It's sad, because we make more money than ever, and I feel like a lot of companies don't value it. I have read such amazing stories about the great lengths Innova's owner has gone to in an attempt to help a customer. That alone puts them at the top of my list. It also stitches to much higher speeds and has a couching attachment available...love that. Oh - micro handles - $200. Plus. :)
So that's where I am. A big huge, wait. Unless we find the deal of the century that we have to move on FAST, probably there won't be much more to tell until spring. We need to replace the roof on our house and then we can really seriously start the hunt. Right now it's kind of all preliminary. This is going to be the LONGEST twelve weeks of my life.
Ok so in other news...what was truly nothing less than a miracle, I was able to find some time to sew yesterday. Today I won't get to do much until later...the kids went back to school and the house looks like we spent the last week and a half eating all over the place leaving dishes around and throwing our dirty laundry about. Ugh. Here's how my oldest daughter's Dresden's are coming...
I accidentally cut those stripes the wrong way. I think I'm going to go back and recut...I just ran out of time last night.
I did my nails too! I'm on a purple kick right now. I want lots of purples in everything. I always start to crave bright colors like this around this time of year. Everything is gray and white outside...cannot wait for warm weather.
What a happy mess! :) This is the kind I'm ok with.
Most of the pieces have been turned but need pressing. I think she's going to love this quilt. One more top to set aside for long arm play! :)