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Helen Baczynski

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  1. Any machine from one of the companies that's been around for a while will last you indefintiely. APQS, Gammill, Nolting, Innova, A-1, Handiquilter - I really think choosing between any one of those is hard. These are all heavy duty industrial machines. I don't think you need to worry about buying second hand APQS machines. Most people sell because they either just don't like quilting, they've decided to retire or just can't handle the machine physically anymore. I would guess that very few are actually bad machines. If you are worried then go to the machine manufacturers sites - they often sell reconditioned machines which can be quite a bit cheaper, and since they've been gone over by the company, you know they'll be good. Machines from the early to mid nineties might be really good mechanically but chances are they aren't going to have a regulator, unless the owner added IntelliStitch, which is the regulator I have. Many of us used unregulated machines for a long time but the regulator is a bonus and definitely helps beginners get up and in business faster. I would definitely test drive an older machine like that before buying. There might be worn parts that need replacing. I used to install IntelliStitch regulators but I'm not sure how many they still do. Since most machines now come with a regulator, that retrofit business isn't needed as much. It is a good regulator, however, so if you come across a machine with IntelliStitch that you love after trying it out, don't worry about buying it. The company also makes IntelliQuilter so they are still around and will support IntelliStitch. My Premier has an 18" throat/harp but in reality that means I can't quilt more than about 11" safely. It might be possible to do a bit more on a small APQS because they have a different take up bar system. I've only found the limited space to be a problem once or twice. My table is 12'long simply because I didn't have a room big enough to take anything longer. I have never wanted a bigger table. I never turned a quilt away because it was too big for my machine. There are several different wheel systems out there. APQS has a couple and so does Gammill. I'm sure there's information about them on their web sites. Some wheels ride horizontally, some vertically. Really the best way to decide is to go to either one of the MQX shows or to MQS or another big show and try out the machines. You might find yourself in love with a machine you've never considered before. MQX is holding its midwest show in October, in Springfield Illinois. I don't know where you're located, but that show might be worth going to. Since it's more heavily weighted to machine quilting, you're going to find lots of machine vendors there. I'm not sure which machine I would choose if I was shopping now. I know immediately of one I wouldn't choose simply because I don't like its table. I do like my regulator and Nolting is the only manufacturer to use it on their machines, so that would put them at the top of my list. I also recently tried out the brand new and really expensive Bernina and quite liked that. However, my little Premier keeps going and there's no need for me to change it, especially since these days I'm retired from quilting for customers and only work on my own things. I haven't used any Gammill with Vision long enough to have an opinion about it. Has this only confused you more? I hope not!
  2. It's hard to give advice about one machine or another because everyone has their own preferences. What I like, may not suit someone else. I'm just glad I'm not buying now because there are so many to choose from. When I got my Gammill Premier back in 1997, there were no stitch regulators and no-one even had extended bases or small guides. I chose my Gammill for the size, the price, and the style of the table. That last one was very important at that time because I wanted to use Gammill's long guide for custom work and their table was the only one where I could rearrange the bars so I wasn't stitching down in a valley. I had never used a one of these machines and only seen one up close before I bought mine. I thought, how hard can it be, it's only a sewing machine on wheels. It was drop shipped because there was no dealer near by. My husband and a friend put it together and I started to sew. There were no classes and no videos by teachers at that time either. We all taught ourselves. I have never had a problem I couldn't fix and have never once thought I needed to send it away for service. The first time I had to time it, I was nervous and watched a video for help several times before starting but now I can do it much more easily. (I know some people who have never needed to time their machines.) Yes, the screws are a bit awkward to get to and if bending is difficult for you or you have very poor eyesight, that's an important consideration. Like I said, though, it was a very basic machine so no electronics, display screens or computer parts to go wrong. It's a different story these days. Since then I have added an after market stitch regulator and then the IntelliQuilter computer. The computer cost twice what the original machine cost! I am still happy with my smaller stitching space but that's because I work at the front doing mostly custom work. You've been looking for several years, so you should know what you want your machine to do but if not, first make a list of all the must have capabilities of the machine and include on that list any size limitations you might have. Don't forget to consider the table and wheel system - those are both important features. If, for example, an hydraulic lift is really important that will immediately narrow your search. Don't worry about the computer yet, but just know that IntelliQuilter can go on whatever machine you get
  3. There are some good second hand machines for sale right here - maybe one of them will tempt you.
  4. You had a terrible experience, Carrie and there are no excuses for it. Even though you spoke to several people, I would write a letter or e-mail to MQS repeating what you've said here. They need to be reminded and they will be grateful for the feedback. I've had problems with their quilt entry forms in the past - had to use a different browser in order for them to get through, but they seem to have that sorted out now. However, the problem still hasn't been solved for everyone it seems.
  5. When MQS was in Wichita it was so much worse. Cedar Rapids has been much better than Wichita but still not like it used to be. Remember when all the APQS dealers all dressed up to match the theme? And there used to be many booths that had Gammill machines. Has the fact that some of the major machine companies have changed their owners had anything to do with the changes in the shows? Bernina was a big sponsor and had their new longarms in some of the hands on classes. I was pleased to see Dave Hudson, The Pattern Man, had a booth selling pantos and there was a stencil booth, which was well stocked. I went to the awards ceremony and it was disappointing to see so few ribbon winners there.
  6. I am teaching at the Australian show this year. I'm combining it with a vacation, which is a good reason to go. The show will simply be a bonus. The first time I taught there, I was honored by being invited, which had benefits. This year I submitted class proposals just like everyone else. When I've taught in England , it's also been combined with vacation and family visits. I've also noted how many of the teachers I took classes from way back when, no longer teach at shows. I think that has more to do with time passing and people considering retirement rather than anything else. This is my last year teaching because I've decided it's just time. I'll still probably go to MQS because I enjoy being there. I keep trying to encourage others to teach iQ classes - there are many users out there now and I know some are talented enough to teach. With the rise of online classes, perhaps these big conventions have had their day?
  7. Just a note from a teacher's point of view - at both MQX and MQS the price you pay for classes doesn't all go to the teacher. A hefty chunk goes to the show - a larger percentage at MQX than MQS. As teachers, we say how much we want to get per student then the show tacks on their percentage. Teachers also have to pay their own expenses at both these shows, so unless a decent number of students sign up for the classes, it's just not worth our time to teach classes. We spend a lot of time preparing handouts, samples and coming up with class ideas long before the show starts and then if the teacher also quilts for customers, they loose time away from their business. I held classes one year at HMQS but only had abut 6 students so it just wasn't worth submitting classes again. I do enjoy going to the shows just to meet up with other quilters and see the quilts. MQS has 2 categories that are great for anyone to enter - edge to edge and Bread and Butter. They have tightened the rules for bread and butter so you won't see over the top quilting there, and if you do, that quilt will not get a ribbon. The edge to edge or overall category quilts must be hand guided - no computer work allowed. There were only 3 quilts in that category this year, which was very disappointing. It should have had lots of entries. Also not one person entered for the rookie prize.
  8. Here's the link to the iQ web site with the information about CQ support. http://www.intelliquilter.com/compuquilter-home.php
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