Ask Jo: Longarm Quilt Machine Follow Up

I had a ton of responses after last week’s post on my longarm quilting machine.  I have an APQS Millenium that I purchased after having lots of problems with my Pfaff Grand Quilter and Next Generation Frame.   Read the previous post HERE  to get all the details.

Here are some of the follow up comments.

Janet made a comment, “You also have to be physically able to do it (longarming). There is a lot of bending involved.”

This is a very good point.  I had shoulder issues for some time.  Running the quilting machine was really hard on my injured shoulder.  For the most part my shoulder is better now and I’m not having trouble but your physical health is something one should consider when buying a machine.

Many people commented that you should try a machine out before you buy.  Then would be a great time to test how it might be for you physically.  Does it bother a bum shoulder?


Doris G asked, “Where do you buy your longarm quilting patterns? I have a Juki QVP and I love it but I would like to buy more patterns to download on it. ”

ALL of the machine quilting I do is free motion.  I do some custom and some edge to edge.  I do not have a computerized machine.  I do not use pantos so, I have no experience with buying patterns (motifs).
As you can see, I’m no pro but I’m content with the work I do for my own quilts.  This is my custom work.

Because I only do free motion, I don’t buy patterns to download.   However, in the comments Becky said, “Urban Elementz is my source of Pantos and I usually buy thread from Superior Threads and Aurifil. I buy at the Houston Quilt Show for better deals.”

I personally have heard that Urban Elementz is a popular place.


Joanne wrote:  ” I bought a used Nolting 17″ Fun Quilter on a 10′ frame from someone who lived an hour away. The frame was disassembled so I never tried it. It has been easy to use and the customer service is excellent. I love having it.

Like with anything on the market nowadays the longer ago it is on the market, the easier it is to find a used one.  Just to check my theory I went on Facebook Marketplace.  There were many longarm quilting machines for sale.  Here is one in St. Joseph Missouri.  The want just under $8500.  It’s a 2004 APQS Millenium on 14′ table.

It’s an older model but if you just want to do your own quilts and don’t need bells and whistles…it’s not a bad price.  Of course I am not recommending it, just letting you know that there are machines that are available.  I still recommend you try the machine if at all possible or at least try a new machine of the same brand.


Joy wrote, “I am quilting on my friends longarm Avanti 19 inch. She has taught me everything she knows …she has been longarm quilting for 30 years. I am wanting to get an APSQ but don’t know where to go to get training on one. I live in Powder Springs, Ga. She said they are all basically the same. Is there a dealer in Ga.”

Joy, I went to the APQS website HERE and found their store locator HERE.  I typed in your zip code.  There are stores in Acworth, Lilburn and McDonough.  All seem well within driving distance.  Others, feel free to type in your zip code to find a store near you.


One of my favorite comments was from Kay, “And if you only quilt for yourself, is it worth the money? Yes, you can be creative. It is like the boat that goes in the water 10 weekends a year.”

She wrote this in response to what I wrote , “Also another consideration…If you can get a machine for $10,000 (and that would be cheap) you’d have to quilt 58 quilts for you to have paid equivalent of $175 (about the cost for longarming a quilt) for each quilt you quilted.  I say that as I know someone else who bought a machine and thought they’d save “all this money”.  The person only made about 4 quilts a year….there was not money saving in that.”

This is a good point.  If you only do 10 quilts a year, it really isn’t any difference than owning a boat…and with this you don’t have to buy a trailer or have any of the boating expenses.  Great point and so true.

Someone else said that my price of $175 is cheap for longarming.  The point I wanted to make is that buying a machine doesn’t always “save money”.  Other pointed out that they took in a little custom work to offset the cost of the machine.  All good points.


Patricia made a good point, “The quilting is nearly 1/2 of the quilt making part and I wanted to do that also.”

Great point.  If you want to do it all, you need a longarm.  If you don’t mind, pass the work on to a longarmer.


The last question comes from Sally, “Can you quilt just straight lines across the quilt? Right now, that is my favorite way to quilt. I love the simplicity of it.”

The answer is yes you can.
The machines come with a channel lock.  It stops some wheels from working so the machine can only go one direction.  Many people use them.  I personally don’t.

I don’t feel comfortable with how straight I get my quilt on the frame.  The quilt has to be totally square for the lines to fall in place correctly.  Instead I just do straight line quilting free hand.

Here’s a quilt I did….I loved doing it.

Ambers-Wedding-Quilt-10-1Mary at Country Threads did a tutorial on how to do it free hand and that’s how I learned.  You can find that tutorial HERE.

I really like the look.  Here is Jingle Bell Square another quilt I did with straight line quilting.

Jingle-Bell-Square-Quilt-1I have to admit, doing the straight line quilting is super fast, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s a little boring.

Here is a charity quilt I did on the longarm.  The colored part is straight line quilting.  The white part is not.

This baby quilt is straight line quilting.

All I know is I really love my APQS Millenium.  They come with more bells and whistles now but I don’t mind having mine.  From time to time I think I might want a computerized option but that’s another HUGE chunk of money.  I’ve thought I could more charity quilts if I had it but that might only be a bit of a fantasy.  For now, I’m pretty content.  If I ever retire, which is very doubtful, I might like to have it…but I’m not holding my breath for that.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in and left comments or shared the post.  I love having great conversations here.  You can read the original post HERE and read all of the comments.

9 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Longarm Quilt Machine Follow Up”

  1. Thank you for your articles on longarming. I am going through this decision now, and your points have been very helpful.

  2. You can quilt straight lines without a channel lock by putting a spring clamp in front of the front machine wheel and pulling slightly against it.
    Like a boat, the basic machine is only the start of what you accumulate. I’ve bought thread, clamps, micro handles, rulers, a dead bar, material for a batting cage, zippers for the leaders, lights, a flashlight for looking at stitching under the quilt, several rolls of masking tape – different colors and sizes-, a shelf unit for the thread, mats to cushion the floor, books on the quilting, and a number of other things that didn’t work out. No pantos – I do free motion work.
    I also took some classes on free motion quilting. For me, it was money well spent.

  3. With my back, I know owning a long arm wouldn’t be good for me, but I admire the rest of you who have them. There is beautiful work done on long arms. I’ll have to stick to quilting by check :-)

  4. I am lucky there is a long arm studio within half an hour’s drive – there are actually two nearby. I rent a four hour block after work about once a month. Depending on size I can usually quilt two a session. I highly recommend renting to develop skills and figure out if you want to purchase. Some studios have a few comfort (charity) quilts from area guilds you can use for practice when first starting out.

  5. I enjoyed the questions and your answers on this topic. I just wanted to pipe up and say that these machines hold their value. As you said above one could buy a used machine and save some money.
    A 15 year old machine is $8500. Compare that to the price of a new one.

  6. Many helpful comments from Jo and those who contributed questions. I appreciate hearing these perspectives. I had considered buying a long arm and would have needed to quilt for others to pay for it. I leaned towards wanting to avoid having to deal with wonky quilts and difficult customers. I am lucky to be able to rent a Gammill near me so I can still build my skill. It seems that many more people are going into the long arm quilting business and I might choose to let them quilt for me so I can pursue more sewing time for myself. I hadn’t thought of the boat owner analogy, but it makes sense in my case. Thanks.

  7. Earlier in the year I did a class with Jamie Wallen (he’s a great teacher). When it came to the hands on part there were two of us to a longarm. I was a little concerned because I didn’t want to be watched whilst I played, and I was greatly relieved when the other woman stayed at the table and drew whilst I played on the longarm. When she came back from her time on the longarm I was rather surprised when she said that it had been hard for her, she has a sit down machine. She has had a double mastectomy and she found moving the machine very hard. Just another thing that might be worth adding into the things to think about when buying a longarm.

  8. Jo – More doggie pictures not to say I don’t enjoy the rest of your blog. It always brings a smile to my face when the little faces turn up.

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