jimerickson

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  1. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Sheila S. in Leader canvas   
    Sheila:  You can mark your leader more accurately with a stitched line than with a measured marker line.  Simply extend your take up leader ( or either of the other leaders for that matter) to almost the maximum reach of your machine, apply the horizontal channel lock (either electronic or manual) and stitch a line.  You'll probably have to pin to another leader to keep it tight while you stitch.  You can use that as your reference line, or fold and stitch a pocket then cut the excess off.  Your leader will be straight for a while.  
     
    The long term problem is that the leader fabric will distort over time from pulling and rolling, and eventually be out of alignment again.  I don't know what kind of fabric your leaders are made from.  It seems to me some machines come with a rather light fabric (mine did).  I replaced my leaders with a fairly heavy canvas. and they have held up reasonably well.  I made my leaders quite long (you might refer to them as deep rather than long) so I could keep the selvage on both edges.  The selvage helps to control fabric distortion.  Hope this helps.  Jim
  2. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Beachside Quilter in So Many Questions   
    I have some experience that might help you.  I have both a 26" machine (Gammill Classic) and a 20" machine (APQS Ult 2).  My Ult 2 originally came with an L bobbin, which I converted to M.  I use both machines all the time (they're in 2 different locations and that's why I have 2).  The Ult 2 is on a 12' table, while the Gammill is on a 14' table.  Both have Intellistitch Turbo CL stitch regulators.  I wind all my own bobbins, with industrial bobbin winders.
     
    1) Bobbin size.  Since I went to the trouble of converting my Ult 2 L bobbin to M, you can tell I prefer the M.  I have probably the unique experience of working with both the L and M bobbin systems on the same machine.  Let me assure they performed the same.  No difference with tension or stitch quality.  The only difference is that the M goes twice as far as the L.  Get the M!
     
    2 Throat size.  While the 26" gives you a bit more space, I don't find that to be too big a deal.  I like things about each, and use them almost interchangabily.  I use the 20" machine most for detailed custom work, and the 26" machine more for edge to edge.  The 20" wins for custom mostly because of the tools I have for it, but also a bit for the more compact size.  The 26" machine wins out for big block custom work, and rapid completion.  BTW, the Gammill has a 20.5" quilting field, which I think is significantly larger than the 26" APQS machines.  But then my Ult 2 has a 14.5" field which I think is larger than the Lenni.  No clear winner here.
     
    3) Pre-wound bobbins vs self wound.  I've never used pre-wounds, so my experience here is limited.  I haven't felt a need, and stocking multiple colored thread bobbins seems inconvenient.  If you wind your own, make sure you have a good winder.  
     
    4) Thread.  To start out, use the most reliable combo you can find, and don't try using others until you feel you've master the machine and tension adjustment.  The comb I recommend is YLI Longarm Professional (not machine quilting), and Superior's Bottom Line in the bobbin.  I like them because they produce little lint.  Longarm Pro is very strong, and Bottom Line lets you wind a lot of thread on the bobbin.
     
    5) Table size.  Bigger is better.  While I have mixed opinions about the throat size, I don't about table size.  If it is at all possible for you to fit a table size bigger than the 10' you refer to, do it.  Trying to quilt big quilts on a small table IS inconvenient.
     
    6) Batting.  If you do any amount of quilting try to buy your batting on the roll.  I hate bagged batting.  It's full or wrinkles.  It's no fun to use.  The cost off the roll is also lower, so in the long run it will save you money.
     
    I hope this has been timely enough to help you with your decision.  Good luck.  Jim 
  3. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Quilta93 in Wool Batting   
    Now for all of you that have regularly used wool batting this will not be new, but for the rest of you, I want to share my recent experience.
     
    I began to occasionally use Hobbs wool batting nearly a year ago.  I've been impressed with how it looks in a quilt.  A nice luxurious loft.  I also felt that it did not beard like the  cotton blend (I've never used 100% cotton so I have no experience with it) I use most of the time.  Some of my customers also really like the fact that the wool is about half the weight of cotton,  Well, I recently took in a quilt with a plain black back (no pattern at all), so I decided to test my opinion about bearding.  I chose to quilt the quilt with black bobbin and top thread. That way any bearding would be easy to detect.   I just finished the quilt.  I've carefully examined the stitching on the back, and there is absolutely NO bearding, none.  In the past when I had a quilt with a dark muted or red back, I've chosen to use black 80/20 to minimize the appearance of bearding.  With wool batting I no longer need to do that.
     
    Now wool batting is more expensive that 80/20 cotton.  About twice the cost, and some have questioned laundering such a quilt.  Hobbs labeling about shrinkage states that their wool shrinks a bit less than their 80/20.  My customer's experience seems to support that claim.  The wool batting holds up to reasonable laundering as well as cotton blend, and a lot better than 100% poly.
     
    I am now recommending to my customers the use of wool batting in all their quilts that don't require some kind of look wool doesn't give.  I'll be able to discontinue using black cotton blend batting as well.  One less product to stock.  To all of  you who haven't tried wool batting, I strongly suggest you do.  I like everything about it but the cost LOL.  Jim
  4. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from LibbyG in Wool Batting   
    Now for all of you that have regularly used wool batting this will not be new, but for the rest of you, I want to share my recent experience.
     
    I began to occasionally use Hobbs wool batting nearly a year ago.  I've been impressed with how it looks in a quilt.  A nice luxurious loft.  I also felt that it did not beard like the  cotton blend (I've never used 100% cotton so I have no experience with it) I use most of the time.  Some of my customers also really like the fact that the wool is about half the weight of cotton,  Well, I recently took in a quilt with a plain black back (no pattern at all), so I decided to test my opinion about bearding.  I chose to quilt the quilt with black bobbin and top thread. That way any bearding would be easy to detect.   I just finished the quilt.  I've carefully examined the stitching on the back, and there is absolutely NO bearding, none.  In the past when I had a quilt with a dark muted or red back, I've chosen to use black 80/20 to minimize the appearance of bearding.  With wool batting I no longer need to do that.
     
    Now wool batting is more expensive that 80/20 cotton.  About twice the cost, and some have questioned laundering such a quilt.  Hobbs labeling about shrinkage states that their wool shrinks a bit less than their 80/20.  My customer's experience seems to support that claim.  The wool batting holds up to reasonable laundering as well as cotton blend, and a lot better than 100% poly.
     
    I am now recommending to my customers the use of wool batting in all their quilts that don't require some kind of look wool doesn't give.  I'll be able to discontinue using black cotton blend batting as well.  One less product to stock.  To all of  you who haven't tried wool batting, I strongly suggest you do.  I like everything about it but the cost LOL.  Jim
  5. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from brendasr8 in Wool Batting   
    Now for all of you that have regularly used wool batting this will not be new, but for the rest of you, I want to share my recent experience.
     
    I began to occasionally use Hobbs wool batting nearly a year ago.  I've been impressed with how it looks in a quilt.  A nice luxurious loft.  I also felt that it did not beard like the  cotton blend (I've never used 100% cotton so I have no experience with it) I use most of the time.  Some of my customers also really like the fact that the wool is about half the weight of cotton,  Well, I recently took in a quilt with a plain black back (no pattern at all), so I decided to test my opinion about bearding.  I chose to quilt the quilt with black bobbin and top thread. That way any bearding would be easy to detect.   I just finished the quilt.  I've carefully examined the stitching on the back, and there is absolutely NO bearding, none.  In the past when I had a quilt with a dark muted or red back, I've chosen to use black 80/20 to minimize the appearance of bearding.  With wool batting I no longer need to do that.
     
    Now wool batting is more expensive that 80/20 cotton.  About twice the cost, and some have questioned laundering such a quilt.  Hobbs labeling about shrinkage states that their wool shrinks a bit less than their 80/20.  My customer's experience seems to support that claim.  The wool batting holds up to reasonable laundering as well as cotton blend, and a lot better than 100% poly.
     
    I am now recommending to my customers the use of wool batting in all their quilts that don't require some kind of look wool doesn't give.  I'll be able to discontinue using black cotton blend batting as well.  One less product to stock.  To all of  you who haven't tried wool batting, I strongly suggest you do.  I like everything about it but the cost LOL.  Jim
  6. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Sheila S. in Wool Batting   
    Now for all of you that have regularly used wool batting this will not be new, but for the rest of you, I want to share my recent experience.
     
    I began to occasionally use Hobbs wool batting nearly a year ago.  I've been impressed with how it looks in a quilt.  A nice luxurious loft.  I also felt that it did not beard like the  cotton blend (I've never used 100% cotton so I have no experience with it) I use most of the time.  Some of my customers also really like the fact that the wool is about half the weight of cotton,  Well, I recently took in a quilt with a plain black back (no pattern at all), so I decided to test my opinion about bearding.  I chose to quilt the quilt with black bobbin and top thread. That way any bearding would be easy to detect.   I just finished the quilt.  I've carefully examined the stitching on the back, and there is absolutely NO bearding, none.  In the past when I had a quilt with a dark muted or red back, I've chosen to use black 80/20 to minimize the appearance of bearding.  With wool batting I no longer need to do that.
     
    Now wool batting is more expensive that 80/20 cotton.  About twice the cost, and some have questioned laundering such a quilt.  Hobbs labeling about shrinkage states that their wool shrinks a bit less than their 80/20.  My customer's experience seems to support that claim.  The wool batting holds up to reasonable laundering as well as cotton blend, and a lot better than 100% poly.
     
    I am now recommending to my customers the use of wool batting in all their quilts that don't require some kind of look wool doesn't give.  I'll be able to discontinue using black cotton blend batting as well.  One less product to stock.  To all of  you who haven't tried wool batting, I strongly suggest you do.  I like everything about it but the cost LOL.  Jim
  7. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Gail O in Wool Batting   
    Now for all of you that have regularly used wool batting this will not be new, but for the rest of you, I want to share my recent experience.
     
    I began to occasionally use Hobbs wool batting nearly a year ago.  I've been impressed with how it looks in a quilt.  A nice luxurious loft.  I also felt that it did not beard like the  cotton blend (I've never used 100% cotton so I have no experience with it) I use most of the time.  Some of my customers also really like the fact that the wool is about half the weight of cotton,  Well, I recently took in a quilt with a plain black back (no pattern at all), so I decided to test my opinion about bearding.  I chose to quilt the quilt with black bobbin and top thread. That way any bearding would be easy to detect.   I just finished the quilt.  I've carefully examined the stitching on the back, and there is absolutely NO bearding, none.  In the past when I had a quilt with a dark muted or red back, I've chosen to use black 80/20 to minimize the appearance of bearding.  With wool batting I no longer need to do that.
     
    Now wool batting is more expensive that 80/20 cotton.  About twice the cost, and some have questioned laundering such a quilt.  Hobbs labeling about shrinkage states that their wool shrinks a bit less than their 80/20.  My customer's experience seems to support that claim.  The wool batting holds up to reasonable laundering as well as cotton blend, and a lot better than 100% poly.
     
    I am now recommending to my customers the use of wool batting in all their quilts that don't require some kind of look wool doesn't give.  I'll be able to discontinue using black cotton blend batting as well.  One less product to stock.  To all of  you who haven't tried wool batting, I strongly suggest you do.  I like everything about it but the cost LOL.  Jim
  8. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Quilting Heidi in Easier Machine Movement   
    Trudie:  I don't think you have the wheels properly adjusted.  The machine should move very easily.  One problem with the horizontal wheels is that they are very sensitive to adjustment, so you might have to adjust them from time to time.  It is also possible that the quilt "sandwich" is dragging on the machine bed.  Check and make sure that there is adequate clearance between the machine and the leveling roller.  Good luck.  Jim 
  9. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Battynurse in 2010 Lenni For Sale   
    Ma:  I'm not the owner, but yes the Lenni is stitch regulated.  BTW, this is a good buy if you're in the market for a first rate long arm.  Decide quickly cause at this price, it won't last long.  Jim
  10. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from vanessadking in Occasional Loops on Back   
    Try increasing your top tension to make sure thee are no issues on the back.  You'll notice issues on the top (well maybe not so much on pantos as stitching from the front) as you quilt, and can deal with them immediately. Keep your bobbin full so you don't have to change during any single pass.  Clean your bobbin case before you start, and clean the lint out from the hook each time you change the bobbin.  Good luck.  Jim
  11. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Lovemyavy in Long Arm reviews   
    C:  If I were buying a new machine it would be an Innova.  That being said, I'd be pretty happy with an APQS, A-1, Gammill, Nolting, or Prodigy.  There are things I like about each, and things I don't like.  I have an APQS Ult 2 ca. 1997, and a 2000 Gammill Classic.  Both were unregulated machines when I got them.  Helen and her husband Tony came to my house and studio in early 2011 and installed Intellistitch regulators on both.  The Intellistich regulator is great, and I'm happy with both.  The only thing I've had to do with them is replace a couple handle switches.
     
    You might ask why I say Innova, and there are a few things unique about them that I like.  First the head turns on the Innova, so it can be removed from the table without removing the take-up roller.  I think maybe the Prodigy's head might also turn.  I also like the Lightning digital stitch regulator.  I like the table configuration as well, but I'm not quite so sure about the wheels.  I don't much like the "erector set" look of the table frame but that just cosmetic.  Now I must confess I've only removed the head of my Ult 2 from the table a couple of times, and never on my Gammill, so maybe the turning head feature really isn't a real winner.  I don't know about their service, but I've been told the machines are quite problem free.
     
    APQS.  I don't like their horizontal wheel system.  It seems unnecessarily  complicated.  They've improved it somewhat by using linear bearings on the rails in their Bliss system.  But it is expensive.  I like their 4 roller system table.  I don't really like the batting access system (or more precisely lack of).  Their roller configuration accommodates it to some degree.  Also on models other than the Millie, there seems to be little adjustment capabilities on the rollers and rails.  What I DO like is their customer support and service.  It's absolutely great.
     
    Gammill:  While their tables are well engineered and robust, the batting access system is a joke.  I don' think it was designed with how we quilt today in mind.  It could be improved, and made simpler by going to a 4 roller system like APQS.  The Gammill is strong and dependable.  I've heard people refer to them as the Mercedes of quilt machines. But I'd classify them more as the Peterbuilts of quilt machines.  
     
    The A-1 is a nice machine, maybe the perfect size.  The table is very well built, but like the Gammill it's a 3 roller system which requires more adjustment, and adjustment mechanisms that wouldn't be necessary with a 4 roller system like the APQS, Innova or Prodigy.  Maybe it's the most user considerate table of all the makes.  I don't know much about their service though.  It's probably good, but pretty dependent on their MO headquarter.
     
    The Nolting Pros are good machines.  They use Intellistitch regulators on this line, and the I/S is great.  Their tables are well made, but not nearly as refined as the A-1.  I think their service is probably quite good.  They've made pretty much the same machine/table system for quite some time, so they've had a long time to work out any issues, and I think it's pretty sound.
     
    The Prodigy is a nice looking machine.  They have a very nice user friendly table.  Nice manual lift system (it can be power if you'd like).  The one thing holding the Prodigy back as far as I'm concerned, is their rigidly sticking to the L bobbin system.
     
    I personally wouldn't consider any other manufacturer.  All the machines I've referenced are industrial quality machines built to last decades.  While I don't know first hand about support, I think all is pretty good.  I can't say that for some of the other machines out there.
     
    Size is an interesting issue.  It probably has more to do with how and what you quilt than anything else.  I personally wouldn't want a machine that wouldn't sew at least 14 inches front to back.  Seventeen would probably be better.  You have to look at individual machine set ups to see what a machine can actually do.  Some smaller measured machines will actually sew a bigger field than other "larger" machines.  It has to do with the roller configuration and the "harp" shape of the machine.
     
    You can feel pretty secure buying a used model of any of these machines.  If there's something wrong with the machine when you get it, it can be repaired and put back into excellent service, but probably there will be nothing wrong to begin with.  These machines don't break.  Pick a price point, and buy with confidence. 
     
    This is my personal opinion.  I'm not promoting one machine over any other.  What I've said reflects the experience I've had, how I personally quilt, and my own personal likes and dislikes.  I'd probably be happy with any of them.  Jim
  12. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Roxitlc in Long Arm reviews   
    C:  If I were buying a new machine it would be an Innova.  That being said, I'd be pretty happy with an APQS, A-1, Gammill, Nolting, or Prodigy.  There are things I like about each, and things I don't like.  I have an APQS Ult 2 ca. 1997, and a 2000 Gammill Classic.  Both were unregulated machines when I got them.  Helen and her husband Tony came to my house and studio in early 2011 and installed Intellistitch regulators on both.  The Intellistich regulator is great, and I'm happy with both.  The only thing I've had to do with them is replace a couple handle switches.
     
    You might ask why I say Innova, and there are a few things unique about them that I like.  First the head turns on the Innova, so it can be removed from the table without removing the take-up roller.  I think maybe the Prodigy's head might also turn.  I also like the Lightning digital stitch regulator.  I like the table configuration as well, but I'm not quite so sure about the wheels.  I don't much like the "erector set" look of the table frame but that just cosmetic.  Now I must confess I've only removed the head of my Ult 2 from the table a couple of times, and never on my Gammill, so maybe the turning head feature really isn't a real winner.  I don't know about their service, but I've been told the machines are quite problem free.
     
    APQS.  I don't like their horizontal wheel system.  It seems unnecessarily  complicated.  They've improved it somewhat by using linear bearings on the rails in their Bliss system.  But it is expensive.  I like their 4 roller system table.  I don't really like the batting access system (or more precisely lack of).  Their roller configuration accommodates it to some degree.  Also on models other than the Millie, there seems to be little adjustment capabilities on the rollers and rails.  What I DO like is their customer support and service.  It's absolutely great.
     
    Gammill:  While their tables are well engineered and robust, the batting access system is a joke.  I don' think it was designed with how we quilt today in mind.  It could be improved, and made simpler by going to a 4 roller system like APQS.  The Gammill is strong and dependable.  I've heard people refer to them as the Mercedes of quilt machines. But I'd classify them more as the Peterbuilts of quilt machines.  
     
    The A-1 is a nice machine, maybe the perfect size.  The table is very well built, but like the Gammill it's a 3 roller system which requires more adjustment, and adjustment mechanisms that wouldn't be necessary with a 4 roller system like the APQS, Innova or Prodigy.  Maybe it's the most user considerate table of all the makes.  I don't know much about their service though.  It's probably good, but pretty dependent on their MO headquarter.
     
    The Nolting Pros are good machines.  They use Intellistitch regulators on this line, and the I/S is great.  Their tables are well made, but not nearly as refined as the A-1.  I think their service is probably quite good.  They've made pretty much the same machine/table system for quite some time, so they've had a long time to work out any issues, and I think it's pretty sound.
     
    The Prodigy is a nice looking machine.  They have a very nice user friendly table.  Nice manual lift system (it can be power if you'd like).  The one thing holding the Prodigy back as far as I'm concerned, is their rigidly sticking to the L bobbin system.
     
    I personally wouldn't consider any other manufacturer.  All the machines I've referenced are industrial quality machines built to last decades.  While I don't know first hand about support, I think all is pretty good.  I can't say that for some of the other machines out there.
     
    Size is an interesting issue.  It probably has more to do with how and what you quilt than anything else.  I personally wouldn't want a machine that wouldn't sew at least 14 inches front to back.  Seventeen would probably be better.  You have to look at individual machine set ups to see what a machine can actually do.  Some smaller measured machines will actually sew a bigger field than other "larger" machines.  It has to do with the roller configuration and the "harp" shape of the machine.
     
    You can feel pretty secure buying a used model of any of these machines.  If there's something wrong with the machine when you get it, it can be repaired and put back into excellent service, but probably there will be nothing wrong to begin with.  These machines don't break.  Pick a price point, and buy with confidence. 
     
    This is my personal opinion.  I'm not promoting one machine over any other.  What I've said reflects the experience I've had, how I personally quilt, and my own personal likes and dislikes.  I'd probably be happy with any of them.  Jim
  13. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Quilta93 in permacore ?   
    Scraphappy:  Don't take this wrong, but you need to master your machine, and that starts with tension.  If you're flat lining on the back you need more top tension, or less bobbin tension.  If you're flat lining on the top you need more bobbin tension, or less top tension.  I found it most helpful when I bought a TOWA bobbin tension gauge.  It makes measuring bobbin tension easy. The TOWA also helps me ID other thread/hardware issues.  I suggest you invest in one.
     
    I don't know exactly what thread combos you've used, but that can be a real issue, especially for a new longarmer.  Early on I discovered YLI Longarm Professional (not to be confused with YLI Machine Quilting), and Superior Bottom Line, and they have come to be my go to threads.  In fact I hardly ever use anything else.  When I began longarning I used PermaCore, but found it to leave a lot more lint than I liked (I've found that lint from the hook can cause isolated stitch problems on the back, and it clogs up the top tension) and have since stopped using it.  It was cheap, and that was attractive, but the lint was a deal breaker.  I discovered YLI Longarm Professional, and have been using it ever since.  YLI Longarm Professional is a very strong poly thread.  It's 40 wt, almost lint free, and comes in about 50 -70 colors (I probably use 30).  Bottom Line is a 60 wt (Tex 23) poly thread.  Being Tex 23, Bottom Line gives you a lot of bobbin thread (maybe 110 yds for L bobbins, and 220 yds for M's).  IMHO this combination of threads is probably the easiest of all to use.  Many people like Glide, but I've had a lot more trouble using it than Longarm Professional.  It's a two strand embroidery thread wound counter clockwise, while Longarm Pro is a three strand thread.  I can easily unwind Glide, but cannot get Longarm Pro to unwind.  The fact that Glide will unwind has given me an occasional problem.  I offer this not to condemn Glide, but simply explain why threads perform differently.  My suggestion to you is that you begin using the YLI/Bottom Line combo.  Since these both perform so well, you can eliminate many thread issues while you learn to use your new machine.  Once you feel like you're in complete control, you can begin experimenting with other thread combos. 
     
    A lot is made of thread texture, color and the like.  While there is some truth to how they look in a quilt, and how they enhance the quilt's appearance, I personally think that's way overdone.  I regularly quilt for several people, and I almost always decide what thread color to use.  I sometimes ask the owner what color thread I used, and more often than not, she can't identify it.  So much for the how important careful thread color match is.  A good technical outcome is a lot more important to me than how a thread "enhances the pattern" or looks so "wonderful".  Being confident in an outcome, and not having to alter the speed that I normally stitch, or tear out bad stitches, makes my work a lot more pleasant.  I strongly recommend that you begin using that approach.  Keep things as simple as possible.  I think the control and lack of frustration will keep you quilting a lot longer.   Good luck in your journey.  Jim
  14. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Scraphappyquilting in permacore ?   
    Scraphappy:  Don't take this wrong, but you need to master your machine, and that starts with tension.  If you're flat lining on the back you need more top tension, or less bobbin tension.  If you're flat lining on the top you need more bobbin tension, or less top tension.  I found it most helpful when I bought a TOWA bobbin tension gauge.  It makes measuring bobbin tension easy. The TOWA also helps me ID other thread/hardware issues.  I suggest you invest in one.
     
    I don't know exactly what thread combos you've used, but that can be a real issue, especially for a new longarmer.  Early on I discovered YLI Longarm Professional (not to be confused with YLI Machine Quilting), and Superior Bottom Line, and they have come to be my go to threads.  In fact I hardly ever use anything else.  When I began longarning I used PermaCore, but found it to leave a lot more lint than I liked (I've found that lint from the hook can cause isolated stitch problems on the back, and it clogs up the top tension) and have since stopped using it.  It was cheap, and that was attractive, but the lint was a deal breaker.  I discovered YLI Longarm Professional, and have been using it ever since.  YLI Longarm Professional is a very strong poly thread.  It's 40 wt, almost lint free, and comes in about 50 -70 colors (I probably use 30).  Bottom Line is a 60 wt (Tex 23) poly thread.  Being Tex 23, Bottom Line gives you a lot of bobbin thread (maybe 110 yds for L bobbins, and 220 yds for M's).  IMHO this combination of threads is probably the easiest of all to use.  Many people like Glide, but I've had a lot more trouble using it than Longarm Professional.  It's a two strand embroidery thread wound counter clockwise, while Longarm Pro is a three strand thread.  I can easily unwind Glide, but cannot get Longarm Pro to unwind.  The fact that Glide will unwind has given me an occasional problem.  I offer this not to condemn Glide, but simply explain why threads perform differently.  My suggestion to you is that you begin using the YLI/Bottom Line combo.  Since these both perform so well, you can eliminate many thread issues while you learn to use your new machine.  Once you feel like you're in complete control, you can begin experimenting with other thread combos. 
     
    A lot is made of thread texture, color and the like.  While there is some truth to how they look in a quilt, and how they enhance the quilt's appearance, I personally think that's way overdone.  I regularly quilt for several people, and I almost always decide what thread color to use.  I sometimes ask the owner what color thread I used, and more often than not, she can't identify it.  So much for the how important careful thread color match is.  A good technical outcome is a lot more important to me than how a thread "enhances the pattern" or looks so "wonderful".  Being confident in an outcome, and not having to alter the speed that I normally stitch, or tear out bad stitches, makes my work a lot more pleasant.  I strongly recommend that you begin using that approach.  Keep things as simple as possible.  I think the control and lack of frustration will keep you quilting a lot longer.   Good luck in your journey.  Jim
  15. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Lovemyavy in Long Arm reviews   
    C:  Sharon's comments should be helpful.  I've not had personal experience with either the A-1, or the Nolting.  However, I was a member of Nolting's users group, and everyone there seemed quite happy with their service.  Similarly, one of our Guild members recently (a couple years ago) bought an A-1.  She had a problem with it which they finally solved by replacing the entire head.  She's not the easiest person to deal with, so solving her problem to her satisfaction probably speaks well of their service.  You haven't asked about Gammill, but I do have first hand experience with them.  I replaced the needle bar on my Classic, and one of their service folks walked me through the process over the phone.  I felt the experience was pretty positive.  I think all three (A-1, Nolting, and Gammill) are relatively easy to repair.  They all are industrial machines and require very little repair.  (Except for replacing the needle bar on the Gammill - and that was my choice, I wanted the lighter aluminum one, not an item that had worn out,- it's required no repairs)
     
    APQS's service and support is outstanding.  If service ends up being the determining factor, APQS should be your choice.  Jim
  16. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Quilting Heidi in Customer Questioned Back Tension   
    Just a comment on the problem.  It's caused because of unbalanced tension.  The top tension needs to be tightened, or the bobbin tension needs to be loosened.  There are directional tension differences, which can be helped by using a stiffer needle, but if the difference is noticeable, you need to work on the tension adjustment.  I hope this is helpful.  Jim 
  17. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from peanut18 in Houston area looking for a beginning machine   
    Peanut:  It would be possible to buy a good unregulated machine in that price range.  Kasa Engineering has sold stitch regulator up grades in the past for APQS, Gammill, and A-1 machines, and I think Nolting still does upgrades on some of their models.  These were all Intellistitch regulators which are great.  I've had both my APQS Ult2, and my Gammill Classic upgraded and am very happy with the set up.  The cost for in home upgrade was $3200 each.  Unfortunately Kasa seems to have scaled back their upgrade service, so I'm not sure if the in home service is still available, or if in fact, they still do it.  You'd have to contact them to make sure.
     
    From an economical stand point, due to the cost of the upgrade, you'd probably be better off upping your budget and looking for a good used  regulated (I'd only consider APQS, A-1, Gammill, Innova, Nolting, or Prodigy) set up.  Occasionally you'll see one offered for less than $6000, but not often.  Move the number to $8000, and the frequency increases quite a bit.
     
    I've heard that there are other stitch regulator firms out there, but do not know for sure.  Also the price I've seen bandied about is more than what Kasa offered the Intellistitch for.  
     
    A stitch regulator is not an absolute necessity.  There are at least a few long armers who do great work with unregulated machines.  The single stitch feature is really more important (it gets tedious turning the hand wheel to pull up the bobbin thread when you're custom quilting).  It really comes down to which is more important; the cost of the machine, or the convenience of stitch regulation.  When I got into longarm quilting I thought the cost was most important, and bought a used APQS for $2000.  Just 10 months later, I spent $3200 to have it up graded with an Intellistitch Turbo regulator, so I guess it really wasn't.  However, that 10 months did allowed me to learn to use the machine, and confirm that I really did like longarm quilting.  I have no real regrets.  Jim
  18. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from dbams in Houston area looking for a beginning machine   
    Peanut:  I can't say for sure, but I think you'll be hard pressed to get a quality stitch regulated machine for under $3000.  It would probably be a challenge to get one for $5000.  In MHO, it's money wasted to buy a second line machine.  You'll probably need to re-set your sights at a higher budget, or look for a quality un-regulated machine.  I hope this helps your search.  Jim
  19. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Battynurse in APQS Ultimate II   
    Batty:  Are you sure it has a 10' table.  I've never actually seen one that was 10'.  All I've seen are 12' tables.  Jim
  20. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Battynurse in APQS Ultimate II For Sale   
    jcox:  I'm not the owner, but the answer to your question is no.  Sometimes folks who post here, especially if they aren't a regular member, don't follow closely and answer questions.  Jim
  21. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Quilta93 in Check spring   
    Your check spring (take up spring) is not working as it should.  If is isn't dragging on the head of the machine, it needs the tension on it increased.  To increase the tension, you need to take the tension assembly out of the machine, loosen the screw that holds the assembly together, rotate it clockwise about 1/4 turn, tighten the screw, and re-install the assembly in the machine.  When you put it back in the machine, make sure it sits out far enough that the take up spring never rubs on the machine head, and that the top of it's travel  is at about the 10:30 - 11:00 position.
     
    You also need to check how deep the bobbin basket retainer finger (the black finger that keeps the bobbin basket from rotating) is set.  It should be in no more than 1/3 of the depth of the slot.  If it is deeper in than that, the thread loop can catch on it, which will cause the thread to break.  Good luck.  Jim
  22. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Beachside Quilter in New Lenni... Thread breakage, tension issues, jerky movements...   
    Susan:  I'm late to the discussion, but if you have bird's nests on the back, and you have pulled the bobbin thread and held the top thread when you started, the problem is too loose top tension.  The top thread gets pulled down, tangles, and breaks because of the tangle. You've apparently already discovered that your tension wasn't balanced.  The best way to adjust tension is to start with the top thread too tight, and then loosen until you get the stitch balance you're looking for.  Sewingpup gives good advice.  Start with some really strong thread combos, master tension with them, then move to the more difficult choices.  I'd recommend YLI Longarm Professional (not their cotton quilting thread) or Superior's Sew Fine, both of which are poly threads.  These are probably the least demanding of all the threads.
     
    By starting with this kind of thread, you eliminate a lot of thread related problems, which allows you to master other machine operations, like tension, movement speed, stitch length etc.  Similarly, I'd keep to easy quilting (something like a random meander) staying away from ruler work and patterns until you feel completely comfortable starting, stopping, pulling up bobbin thread and tying off.  That will give you time to get a feel for the machine, and it's operation.  The fewer variables, the fewer things to puzzle over, and quicker discovery.  Good luck.  Jim 
  23. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Battynurse in Quilting T-shirt quilts   
    Cagey:  The needle bar height is really a part of the timing process.  It's the fist step in timing.  You take the side cover off, loosen the clamp screw on the needle bar, slide the bar up or down depending on the adjustment needed, and then tighten the clamp screw at the new position.  It has nothing to do with what you're quilting.  I think some folks mis-identify the hopping foot adjustment as a needle bar adjustment.
     
    As an aside, I think a lot of folks have their needle bar clamp too loose.  You see people talking about frequently adjusting their needle bar from hitting a ruler, or even seams.  I've buried a needle in rulers on both of my machines occasionally, and never knocked the needle bar out of adjustment.  Hope this helps visualize the process.  Jim
  24. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from MoonlightLadies in Gammill / Qbot question   
    An update about Q-Bot and Gammill.  A friend and I just installed a Q-Bot on her Gammill Classic Plus.  The Q-Bot folks she bought it from had to build a special installation kit for her.  Apparently they hadn't done a Gammill Classic Plus's before because she had to send them pictures and detailed measurments.  They made parts that didn't fit, and even mis-labled some, but in the end we got it done.  Actually it was really pretty easy once we got the parts we needed and got through their installation instructions.  (wrong parts, missing parts and photos that didn't match parts or machine)  She has just got it up and running this last week, and has quilted two quilts with it.  She's thrilled, thinks she'll love it.  Seems to be quite easy to use.  Jim
  25. Upvote
    jimerickson got a reaction from Quilting Heidi in Long arm needles   
    I've been quilting a series of whole cloth charity quilts on my Gammill, and decided that such a quilt offered an excellent opportunity to compare stitch quality and tension variations of the MR and SERV7 needles.  Being whole cloth quilts there would be no piecing seams, or variations in patch fabric to mask actual results.  I did a random meander, so I sewed rather rapidly.
     
    Now both needles performed well.  Both needles were 18/100.  I used Tex 40 YLI Longarm Professional as a top thread, Bottom Line as a bobbin thread, and polyester batting. All stitching was done from the front of the machine.  No skipped stitches, and no occasional loop on the back was noted with either needle.  (I've had an issue with the Gammill leaving an occasional single stitch loop on the  back recently, but increasing the tension on the thread take-up spring seems to have eliminated that problem)  I closely examined the stitch appearance both top and bottom, for both needles.  The directional tension changes was my focus.  While the difference was not great, I think the Schmetz SERV7 needle out performed the Groz-Beckert titanium coated MR san 11 needle.  The Schmetz needle produced more uniform stitches.  Going in bad directions (back and to the left) the Schmetz stitches were more balanced, making all the stitches look more uniform.  I emphasize again, there was not a great deal of difference.
     
    While the difference was not great, in my opinion, it is enough to convince me that the Schmetz SERV7 needle gives me better performance.  I plan to switch and use the Schmetz needles in the future.  Jim