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Which Machine to Choose???

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I have just attended Longarm University in Renton, WA, and have come to the conclusion that I need to support my quilting habit and purchasing a longarm and starting a business seem to be the ticket. That said...which machine?

Class is taught on a Gammill Classic Plus. I was also able to demo a Proto. I have tried the HQ16 and the Tin Lizzie, but don't think that either of them would hold up to business use.

I'm now very strongly leaning toward the Freedom SR. It doesn't have the auto channel locks or the bobbin-thread cutter. For those of you that use the Mille with these features, do you think they're worth the extra $800? Also, I will only be able to fit a 12' table (this after moving our bedroom to the office!). What would be the largest quilt it will accomodate?

Thanks for any and all advice.

Dorothy Miller

Quincy, CA

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Hi Dorothy,

Congratulations on your decision to "treat" your quilting habit:)!

The Freedom SR does have a horizontal channel lock (it\'s a manual channel lock as opposed to electronic like the Millennium). You can use it to baste quilts, stitch straight parallel lines, create a reference line for "floating" the quilt top, etc.

For vertical lines, you\'ll be surprised how well all APQS machines track; you only need a gentle pull and the machine stays on target. You may find you don\'t need the vertical lock, or may be happy using the extended base and a ruler when accuracy is paramount.

As for the thread cutter, I\'m sure you\'ll get a variety of responses from owners. Some Millie owners use it every day; others never have. It is useful for quickly cutting the bobbin thread if you do pantographs, and can be used if you intend to "bury" your starting and ending thread tails since it leaves a tail of about 3-4 inches on the back of the quilt.

Other quilters quickly learn methods to pull the bobbin thread to the quilt\'s surface and snip it, so that they don\'t have to worry about accidentally catching that loose thread tail into the quilting.

No matter which way you go, I\'m sure you\'ll be happy with how easy your machine is to move; and, the stitch regulator will help you begin quilting right away without worrying about uneven stitches and "toenail" catchers!

Let us know how we can help!

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I have a Freedom SR!!! I just got it last fall and love it! It was a really long, hard decision. I was really really swayed by another brand\'s good press, but just couldn\'t fall in love w/the machine no matter how much I wanted to.

I started out w/a Proto, and it was a nice machine, but it was heavy and hard to control a lot of the time. I bought it w/out ever having touched a LA or going to a show. It was the best price at the time and I had cash.

After quilting on it for almost 4 years, going to 2 MQS shows taking classes both there and in private classes on many different brands and then test driving ALL of them with the idea of switching in mind the Freedom was the one for me.

For weight/feel, ease of movement, stitch consistancy and especially the customer service. To be able to handle things myself with just calls to the factory. W/out having to rely so overabundantly on my dealer as some brands do, or in the case of my Proto being pretty much on my own. My dealer in WA state was helpful for everyday things, but if there is a real problem of any kind you are a sad camper.

Lucky for me I never had a problem w/my Proto, but I have friends that are having problems as we speak. The hard thing w/Proto is that they are a VERY small company and don\'t always have the same people around.

Remember, there are problems with ALL brands. They are machines. Machines have problems from time to time. The big decider for me was how the company deals w/them. What I liked about APQS is that not only is there this great chat site that has lots of help, but I can call the company and get fabulous tech support, whether the machine needs adjusting or I just need a slap for stupidity. They never tell me I\'m stupid thankfully. :P Proto is NOT abundant on customer service.

I chose the Freedom over the Milli due to the ease of movement I felt in both classes and on the show floor at MQS. The Freedom moved easier everytime except one at the show in Denver. They both were stiff. I\'ve since learned how VERY easy to just give the wheels a quick adjustment and get a different feel. The Freedom weighs 3-5 lbs less I think. Most people do like Dawn said and pull up the bottom thread to trim so the thread cutter wasn\'t anything I\'d miss. And I only had manual channel locks on my Proto, and only used the horizontal one to load quilts anyway, so another thing I wouldn\'t miss on a Millie. But my good friend who has a Millie likes her channel locks for different types of quilting.

Good luck! Have fun shopping! Taking classes is a great way to test drive.

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Wow...you guys are all great!

Dawn, I just saw the video on the APQS site with your quilting style. Amazing!! When I grow up, I want to quilt like you!!!!:D Yes, admitting my addiction was the first step--now I require intensive quilt therapy.

Linda, I haven\'t had the privilege of test-driving a Millie yet, however, I\'ve been in touch with Cheryl Uribe and am trying to get to her place next Friday. No easy feat--I live in Northern CA (up in the mountains between Reno and Chico) and we have several feet of snow on the ground now with more expected all week. Cheryl is about 5 hours away and then the trip continues to Watsonville to pick up a repaired motorcycle that will be sold to help offset the cost of my new machine.

Tracy, thank you for your enthusiasm regarding the Freedom. I learned to pull the threads up, so don\'t think I\'d miss the thread cutter; and since I\'ve never used the channel locks extensively, I don\'t think I\'d miss them either. Cheryl Uribe suggested saving the extra $600 to use on supplies--supplies!! I forgot all about supplies!! Good to hear your comments with regard to the Proto as well. My husband was concerned with everything you mentioned.

Where & when is the MQS? I plan on attending Innovations this fall, but I will be the proud owner of my very own machine by then and hopefully well on my way to earning some $$.

Thanks again everyone!!!!

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Thanks for the link Tracy. I love going to shows. I used to always go to PIQF in Santa Clara, but this year I will attend Innovations in Tacoma, WA, and perhaps MQX after I look at the link and see when/where it is. Gotta check the budget.

We spent a good portion of yesterday determining that the Freedom (or maybe a Greenie if I get lucky) will be going in the bedroom; this means our bedroom will be our office and our tiny office will become our bedroom. As it is, with my husband\'s business equipment, the longarm, my sewing stuff, etc., its still going to be a tight fit. The good thing is that we can close it off so the dogs won\'t ever go in there (we have two Border Collies), so that will keep it cleaner.

Thanks for the help!

Hey Tish...I\'m hopefully on a list to get notified if/when a Greenie becomes available. I\'m keeping my fingers crossed!


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  • 9 months later...

I'm considering buying a new 2008 Milli because of the deal that's going on right now. Should I wait for the 2009 to come out? I'm getting the Hydralic Lift and the new "Easy Glide".. which I really don't even know what it is!!! It just sounds like something I would use. I don't want a computer with mine yet.. I have been quilting for about 4 years and have quite the addiction but REALLY don't want to be cured !!! Sounds like the Milli is a good choice, just don't know if I should wait until 2009's come out. I know there will always be a "new machine" coming out. Since I am buying this for myself and not really a business, I'm not sure it really matters. Any thoughts and advice would be appreciated.

Thanks. Virginia

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Hi Dorothy,

I don't think I have used my channel locks on purpose yet and I have had it 21/2 years. I will use it for piano keys I'm sure. I do love my thread cutter. While I have a millie I'm sure I could love a freedom also. Tried a gammil and was concerned about the large bobbin and tension problems. Loved the A-1 but hated the table and the large bobbin again tension problems. My girl never lets me down. Just my 2 cents.



Washougal WA

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Virginia, it's a fact that when you buy something new, there's a newer model on its way. The great thing about APQS machines is that they maintain their value now matter the year. If you're ready to buy now, you may want to go ahead and take advantage of the year end sales. No, matter what you choose, congrats on picking APQS.

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Hi Dorothy

Check out the prices of the Freedom SR and the Milli - there is a great deal on Millis just now - they may even work out cheaper than Freedom SRs. For resale value, I think it might be better to get the Milli and,, down the track if you want Quilt Studio - a Milli might be the way to go. Also Quilt Glide is only available on the Milli.

Don't forget, APQS dealers offer free training with all new machines -your learning curve might be shorter than you think.

Sue in Australia

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