Jump to content

Help with decison on which machine and feedback requested

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone - I have a question regarding which machine....Ive been quilting for quite a few years and started on a domestic machine then upgraded to a mid arm. I'm finding that I can't do what I want to do on a midarm because of the space I need. I'm leaning towards a Millie or Freedom as they are both very similar machines. What are the advantages/disadvantages you have found with your machines if any. I'm planning on going to MQX in April to try out both (hopefully I'll be able to do that. I'm assuming that they will both be there to try out?). I'm planning on doing quilts for myself, guild, charity and such, but I can see myself eventually completing quilts for friends and/or customers. I don't want to put the pressure on to start a business right now besides I do work fulltime and there are only so many hours in the day! I've also had back surgery about three years ago. Right now, sitting at a domestic machine can be uncomfortable after 2-3 hours, but on a long arm I beleive I would be standing which is better for my back. If there is anyone out there that has back issues I would appreciate hearing from them on how their doing with their longarm. I'ts a huge investment but my husband is behind me 100% in what I want to do. I'm not as concerned about the money as I plan to take out a home equity loan to purchase the machine as we need a tax deduction somewhere as we no longer have kids to deduct and are about 5 years from paying off the mortgage. Also, should I buy used through APQS or New? Will I get the same features on a used machine versus new? I am aware the warranty is not as good on a used machine as on a new, but it seems like I haven't found many issues you have all posted regarding the machines really breaking (more operator error). My local quilting shop sells Vikings and I've looked at their longarm and it's ok, but when I tried it out there was a considerable vibration which I was concerned about. Does anyone have any vibration issues with their machine? Sorry for rambling on so long, but Ive been reading the messages on this board and everyone is so nice and welcoming that I thought I would post to get some feedback/reassurance that I'm choosing the right machine. I've contacted my local dealer and have still not heard back from them which is somewhat concerning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Madison, I would go to some trade shows and drive every machine you can get your hands on before you decide. I have a Millie and the things I like about it are motorized fabric advance, lower thread cutter, push button channel locks just to mention a few great featrues. New ideas for our machines come along often so I would take my time and do my homework. Best of luck with your decision.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


You will end up with several responses to your inquiry, I'm sure! I just have a couple of comments to throw out for you, based on your scenario.

You sound like many of us who view quilting as a life-long passion, and you want to continue to enjoy it for many years, taking your health into consideration. With that in mind, I would steer you toward a couple of features on APQS machines that will enable you to quilt for longer periods and will reduce the stress on you back and muscles.

[*] the curved, ergonomic handles on the Millennium and Freedom SR models will allow you to easily change your body position while maintaining optimum control of the machine. They adjust completely up or down to suit your posture, even allowing you to sit comfortably at the machine if you wish. While the Lenni is more lightweight than the Millie or Freedom SR, its upright handles are not adjustable.

[*] The optional motorized fabric advance can be a terrific accessory to quilters who have difficulty turning knobs or rollers (unfortunately that's a problem that we all can encounter as we age...I remember how pleased my parents were when I switched out all their doorknobs for levers:)!) It pulls the fabric layers consistently, maintaining even tension as you advance the quilt. The foot pedal also makes it easy to advance the quilt without lots of extra physical movement on your part.

[*] The hydraulic lift is an option available on the aluminum tables of the Millie and Freedom SR. For someone with back issues, this accessory can mean the difference between quilting for two hours or quilting all day long. With the touch of a button you can raise or lower the machine a fraction of an inch to several inches at a time.

Sometimes all a person needs is a little different position to keep on going (like long car trips...you get farther down the road if you can adjust the seat as you go). But the lift also allows you to position the machine's back handles comfortably so that you do not slouch while quilting pantographs or other designs using the rear handles or laser light.

[*] With back problems, you don't want to push around 100 pounds of bricks for hours. Your muscles will fatigue much more quickly. The Millennium is our heaviest model, and it only weighs 52 pounds. The aircraft aluminum head gives you more control and precision. The reason you don't hear lots of complaints about vibration from APQS owners is due to the table design and that aircraft aluminum head...they help dissipate any vibration.

[*] You asked about used vs. new machines. Since you are considering financing the machine through a home equity line, now would be the time to create a machine package that will suit you and your quilting plans for the long haul. Depending on the used machine's age, these are some of the differences you may find:

[*] fluorescent light tube on older machines was upgraded to bright LED lights (cooler, easy on the eyes, and the Millennium and Freedom SR models also include an LED black light feature used with Glow-in-the-dark chalk)

[*] rear-mounted power switch was moved to the center of the machine to make access from both sides easier without having to stretch across the table

[*] improved indicator lights for easier visibility

[*] upgraded computer technology--CAT-5 cables make connecting encoders and handles as easy as plugging in a phone jack; future upgrades more easily added as they are invented

[*] Optional Quilt Glide is only available on '08 and newer models...this cool accessory is a godsend if you enjoy doing fine stippling or close detail work, because it smooths out the machine's motion by marrying regulated and manual sewing modes together (Here's a link to watch a video about it: Video on Quilt Glide

Finally, as you mentioned, the new machines come with an 8-year warranty, whereas used machines from APQS come with only a 1-year warranty. You're right, APQS hand-builds each machine to last, so even used machines hold their value. As you've already discovered on this Forum, customer service is something we make a top priority.

Feel free to contact me or any of us at "APQS headquarters" directly if your local dealer is not meeting your needs...we're here to help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I got my machine, APQS told me the warranty does NOT transfer. Unless you buy from them, and I think they give you some kind of warranty. That being said, my DH pointed out that since they are such good machines, the warranty might not be needed. But I know my luck!! So I bought a new Millie. They had a promo going; $1400 cash off, Quilt Glide for free ($1250 option), and fabric advance free ($1350 option); so I could not justify buying used. Haven't seen that deal since!! It was last January 2009.

I've had my machine just over one year and I love it! And if you run into any problems; Amy and Christy are the BEST at helping you and walking you through it!!

I was having 9 fits getting my edgeriders on and I posted on the Forum. About 15 minutes later Amy called ME, and said "I hear your having trouble getting your wheels on?" HUH??? Talk about customer service!! APQS doesn't even sell edgeriders!:P:P:P:P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another thing to consider:

With motorized fabric advance, it is much easier to position the quilt for the next row if you are using the templates from Circle Lord !! I didn't get motorized advance, and now I regret it. I've had my Millennium since 2003 and have loved it except when I started using the templates. The coggs on the manual advance are too far apart!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also have a very serious back injury and a brain tumor, both of which affect the muscle and nerve bundle branches from the waist down. This left me with considerable pain, weakness and disability. I only share this so you know I understand the challenges. I studied all these points to find what works best with the least strain on the body, for me.

I found the most important things for the stress on the body, are the lightness of movement, ergonomic handles, fabric advance and hydraulic lifts. Additionally - I bought a drafting stool with a foot rest and back. This has been invaluable! If I get tired of standing, which happens frequently, then I sit. Then I stand, then I sit. It keeps me going much longer than I otherwise could. The lifts would be invaluable - moving that table up and down to a comfortable spot would be critical to being able to quilt longer. Maintenance schedules were a big item for me - some machines require a lot (including bending, lifting and frequency), some don't. Take a close look at these. Also pay close attention to the handles and the types of controls on it - are there any located elsewhere that are frequently used?

On the frames - I highly recommend a 4 pole frame. Make sure there is no need to raise or lower the leveler (or 'dead') bar every pass or 2. In addition, if you anticipate moving the frame, be sure to purchase one with rollers/sliders on it. Then it will roll/slide easily. I'm amazed at how often I move mine, but it is best if you never have to move it all.

I would strongly recommend a true mid/longarm over a 'stretched DSM-on-a-frame'. There are significant differences, in performance, movement, vibration, and for someone with serious disabilities, in simple everyday ease of use. I'd rather buy a good used longarm than a new DSM-on-a-frame system. Folks with disabilities will be able to use it easier. (Note there isn't anything wrong with the non-longarm systems, just that a person with serious disabilities can use a true longarm easier. I speak from my own experience here. IMHO)

With all of this, I find I can sit/stand and quilt for a couple of hours, take a 15 minute walk, and quilt some more. I can quilt longer at the LA then sitting in my chair at the DSM!

Hope this helps you some. If you make a checklist of the items important to you, then at the end, you will have your answer. Have a great time shopping - it's a lot of fun! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...