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Choosing a Long Arm Quilter

Before you take the plunge

And buy a long arm quilting machine hereis an easy guide to making the right choice for you.

Now please ask yourself:

·  Are you predominantly a ‘freehand’ art quilter , or a maker of large and more formal quilts?

·  How much space do you have?

·  Are your floors strong enough/not ‘springy’ ?

·  Have you checked your electricity supply ?

For the ‘freehand Art quilter:

·  Do you need more than a machine with a 20”arm set in a table? 

·  It is much more important that the machine sits absolutely flush with the tabletop so that the quilt can be moved freely around the needle head.

·  If you are short of space the ideal is a table on castors with flaps, so that it can be moved out of the way, but extended when in use to take the whole weight of the quilt.

·  Do you really need a stitch regulator? Make sure the options that suit you are available.

If you make larger, more formal quilts:

·  Space availability is a key issue.  Will your supplier make a frame to fit your workroom if their standard size does not suit? 

·  Save space. Look for a machine which can be operated from one side. This also saves frustration;  you do not have to keep walking round the machine to rethread needles. 

·  Control from one side means you are closer to the needle giving increased accuracy.

·  Do you need pantographs and stencils ? They should be an optional extra.

·  Computerized systems maybe should can wait  until you are used to the machine. A good manufacturer will supply them as add-ons.

Service and support:

You are making a big investment. Be sure that:

·  The price quoted is the final price you pay and that there are no hidden extras, e.g. delivery charges, customs duties, VAT. And, if buying from abroad, beware of the currency risk.

·  Your supplier is reputable and easily contactable. Can you speak to someone who will help to solve your problem?

·  Spare parts are readily accessible and there is supplier support to help if you have trouble fitting them.

·  Delivery does not mean that it is just left in a packing crate at your door, but is set up, working and level.

·  There is ongoing support .You may have to pay for upgrades, but check that your machine will not soon become obsolete.

·  Your supplier offers a ‘trade-in’ facility if you want to upgrade your machine.

·  There is a meaningful warranty.

Henry Head, K&K