Having Fun Testing Out Longarms At Quilt Week!

Having Fun Testing Out Longarms At Quilt Week!

One of the best parts about AQS Quilt Week is being able to see and play with all the machines! Most of the biggest dealers are there and you get to test all the machines. There are usually longarms, embroidery and sewing machines. I realized that I didn’t get enough pictures, but I was able to play with all the longarm machines that were there! I was disappointed to see that Gammill wasn’t there this year.

Grace Company

Of course the Grace Company was at the show! Their booth had many frames set up and a wide range of machines. The 19x, 21x and 16x machines were all there! Plus they had the new Little Rebel set up on a frame and set up at a table so you could test it as both a quilting machine and a piecing machine! I loved that I could play with it a bit and confirm what I thought. When I first got my Cutie frame I would have most definitely purchased the Little Rebel to go with it! What I really want to test on it is free motion quilting while it is sitting at a table. Because of the sensors it has, it has stitch regulation even off the frame! That’s the most exciting feature for me! For more information on the Little Rebel, check it out here on the Grace website!

I didn’t get a photo of the Grace Company products, but I did get one of me and Bonnie Kempke! She’s a fellow Cutie Quilter, and actually is the founder of the Cutie Quilters Group on Facebook!

Bernina Longarms

Bernina Q20 Longarm

I was able to test the Bernina longarm right before we left for the day. Honestly, I was a little disappointed. I am not sure if it is because the needle needed to be replaced after all the testing and playing others have done with it. However, I noticed that it skipped stitches and that it didn’t feel as smooth as the other machines I had tested, or even the 19x that I have at home.

The machine felt like it got hung up or stuck a couple of times. I had to really force the machine to move a few times and at others it felt like the machine would go in a direction it wanted instead of where I wanted it to go. It could have been the setup that they had at the show, but I’m not sure. You can find out more information about Bernina longarms here on their website.

My test stitching on the Bernina.

Handiquilter Longarms

I’ve always wanted to test Handiquilter longarms. If you ever speak to anyone who owns a Handiquilter they are die hard fanatics for the company. I’ll be super honest, I never thought much of them based on their prices. The machine is definitely a home based machine, like the Grace machines, but their price point is a bit steep for that category of machine in my opinion. (Yes, I’m a brutally honest person and will always tell you my real opinion!)

I wasn’t surprised that it was actually a super nice machine! It ran smoothly and gave beautiful even stitches. Here’s more information on Handiquilter machines from their website. For the price point though, I’m happy that I bought a 19x Elite as a home-based quilting machine. Here’s my blog post about my 19x Elite!

APQS Longarms

Now, APQS was not at Quilt Week. However, last year I was able to go to a “road show” event for APQS. The event was advertised almost as a seminar where you could learn all about the machines, test them out and get a lot of information. It was instead at a quilt shop and was more sales pitchy vs. informative than I expected.

I was able to test out a Lucy and a Millie. They were nice machines, and I understand that since they are industrial they are pricier than the home-based machines. I just wasn’t sold on it when I left. It was more than I could afford and I was made to feel like my interest in Grace machines made me inferior. I’m not fan of looking down on anyone for any machine they may decide to purchase, so that soured me a bit I’ll admit.

They do offer lifetime warranties on their machines. Basically the machine is under warranty as long as you own the machine. It’s a huge upgrade from the warranty offered on longarms from other companies. The machines are made in the United States in Iowa. It’s a good company and also has a super loyal following.

They have recently gotten into the hoop frame market, probably since Grace is doing so well!! Here’s their website with the information on their machines.

Innova Longarms

I have done a lot of research on industrial longarm machines in the past year or so since I went to that APQS road show. I knew I wanted to play with an Innova. They are also made in the United States by ABM International in Texas. I’ve always wanted to get to play with an Innova and I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally get to test one!

I’ll admit I spent a LOT of time at the Innova booth!! The people manning the booth were so helpful and had lots of information about the machines. They were also locals like me, so we had an instant connection. I got to play with the M24 model and it was seriously like sewing through butter! It was such a smooth machine, the stitches were beautiful and it wasn’t as loud as I expected. Now, that could have been due to the noise around me at the show, but it truly didn’t seem very loud.

It also didn’t have a lot of vibration in the handles. It really was smooth and moved where I wanted it to and as fast or slow as I wanted it to go. Here I am testing out the machine. You can see by the smile on my face that I am very happy and could have stayed there all day!

I had so much fun, I even tried some feathers! They are not my favorite, as I need to practice them a lot more. I of course did swirls, which are my favorite, some loopy meandering and my name a few times.

What I really like about the Innova, besides how it feels, is that it doesn’t need oiling! That is a huge deal since oiling is such a big part of maintaining your machine. From all the information I was told, and have read, Innova machines are built really well and need very little maintenance.

If you are interested in learning more about Innova Longarms, check out their website here.
Or you can contact the salesman I spoke with at the show. Chris Beckendorf and his wife were so fun to chat with! Chris can be reached at 936-441-4401 or chrisb@abminternational.com.


Buying a longarm machine is a big investment. I love my 19x Elite, but do know that if I ever wanted to upgrade to an industrial style machine, I would want to test out the machines available to me before I purchase one. Now that I have tested most brands, except Gammill and A-1 Quilting Machines, I think I can make a better decision as to which industrial machine I would want to purchase.

I hope this summary has given you some insight and that you get to test out a variety of machines before you make your first purchase too!

Happy Quilting!

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