Anita's quilts and quilting

A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.

Buying a machine?

Sandy asked me what advice I can give to someone looking to purchase a quilting machine. I have a Gammill Classic Plus.

I do love my machine but if I were in the market for a new one today, I’m not sure I would choose the same machine. Why? Well there are so many new ones out there now. So many new features since I bought my machine. I would have to check out all the new things before choosing.
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Choosing a quilting machine (in my opinion) is much like choosing a car or a house. It’s a hugh investment that you will be living with for a long time. It shouldn’t be a hasty decision. I know there are people who can make a decision in a few minutes but not me. I need time to make a decision I know I can live with.
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So how would you go about looking for a house or a car? For this post let’s use a car purchase as an example. Would you look on line? Would you go to a dealer? One dealer or several? Would you have some type of car in mind before starting to look? Do you have an idea of special features you want? Good gas mileage? Luxury? How much money are you willing to spend? Finance or cash? New or used? What about maintenance? Can you work on it yourself or must you take it out of state for repairs? Or pay mileage for the dealer to come to you? Are you getting the idea?
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When I look for a car to purchase, it’s not the initial cost of the car that concerns me most. I’m more concerned about how much repairs and parts will cost to maintain it. How often it breaks down is a concern too. A Corvette for $200 is no bargain if the cost of batteries, oil changes, or tires are more than I can afford and the repairman lives 300 miles away. Or if it will be down more often than running. Must I buy parts from a dealer or can I buy them at Auto Zone? I’d rather pay $3000 for an old clunker that I know the parts are affordable and the repairs can be done just about anywhere at affordable prices. You see what I’m getting at?
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If I were choosing a new machine today I would first decided how I plan to use the machine. Will it be used several hours a day to earn a living or would I just want to do my own every now and then? The answer to that question would then give me the next question. How reliable should the machine be? For the answer to that question I would get onto some online machine quilting groups and observe the complaints. If you see one or two machines with constant complaints then you know they are not the machine for you.
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Next I would look at the cost of parts for the machine I have in mind. Most machine dealers also sell parts and you can see the costs online. Check out prices on things like bobbins, felt disks, light bulbs, button switches, needles, etc. How close is the nearest repairman? How quick is the dealer’s response to complaints or questions? Do the dealers have good instruction manuals for doing repairs yourself? What features do you want in a machine? Stitch regulator, computerized stitching, single stitch function, overhead lights, large table, etc.
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Going to a major quilt show (like Paducah or Machine Quilter’s Expo) with lots of machine dealers is a good way to test drive several machines and ask lots of questions. Don’t fall for hard sell tactics. If they are pushing too hard to sell you a machine then something is wrong. A confident dealer doesn’t have to push, the machine will sell itself. A confident dealer should be willing to answer all your questions and let you walk away to think about it. He/she will know it’s a big decision and you will be back if you decide to buy his/her machine.
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About the learning curve….. I’ll write a post on that tomorrow. I have a quilt waiting on me and this post is already very long.
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This entry was posted on December 3, 2009 by in Buying a machine?.

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