Which APQS longarm machine is the best buy for me?

October 14, 2014

APQS, longarm machine, Lenni, Lucey, stitch regulator, George, Freedom, Millennium, Quilt Path, computerized quilting, buying a longarm

If you’re dreaming of owning your own longarm quilting machine but aren’t sure which APQS model to choose, it helps to explore your own quilting style and goals to find the best fit for you. Answer these questions to discover which one is right for you:

1. When I buy a longarm, I want to quilt projects….

a. Just for myself (and maybe some friends or for charity)

b. To earn a little money as a hobby

c. To earn a living

2. I want my longarm to be….

a. Easy peasy—no bells and whistles

b. Simple to use, but I wouldn’t mind some creature comforts

c. Full-featured to save me time but simple to operate

3. I think I’d use my longarm…

a. A couple of times a month or so

b. A couple of times a week or so

c. Nearly every day

4. The quilts I make tend to be….

a. Small, but I occasionally make larger ones up to queen-size

b. Bed-size for the most part

c. All over the map for size and shape

5. My favorite quilting design style is….

a. All over designs (but I might like custom quilting some projects)

b. I like both all over designs and custom quilting about the same

c. Custom Quilting (but I might like all over designs on some quilts)

6. My budget for a longarm is…

a. Under $10,000

b. Between $10,000 and $20,000

c. Anything I want because my husband has (fill in the blank:___________ fancy golf clubs, a sports car/tractor/boat, expensive woodworking tools, etc.) and I’m worth it!

Okay, so we’re teasing a bit with that last question, but we find that there’s also a kernel of truth when it comes to women rewarding themselves with something they’ve always wanted or dreamed of. We women tend to put everyone else’s needs before our own, and sometimes don’t even consider that we deserve to be happy too. That’s the wonderful thing about a longarm quilting machine—not only can it make you happy, but if you want to, it can also earn you money! How many spouses can claim that their fancy golf clubs can do that?

Back to deciding which APQS machine is right for you. If your answers were mostly “A’s”, then a simple-to-use machine like Lenni or Lucey will be just right for you. Both machines include our precision Stitch Regulator so that your quilting stitches will be consistent, even if you don’t touch the machine for a month or longer. And since they are both easy to use with simple controls, you won’t need to dig out a detailed manual every time you want to quilt to re-learn how to run the machine. Just flip the machine on, turn on the stitch regulator, and press the “Go” switch to begin quilting! The Lenni machine provides 20 inches of throat space to handle even big patterns and blocks, while the Lucey provides an additional 6 inches of space for even bigger patterns, on-point blocks, and more room for helpful tools like guiding templates and rulers. Both machines work extremely well for overall quilting designs, but can also do a great job of custom quilting.

Both Lenni and Lucey can handle small and large projects, depending on the table length you choose. Select a 12-foot table if you think you’ll make any king-size quilts out to 126 inches. Otherwise you can conserve space with a 10-foot table which will handle up to a 104-inch-wide queen size quilt. Home hobbyist quilters often choose a Lenni or Lucey machine as an affordable way to reduce their UFO pile while regaining the fun of making their quilts from start to finish. However, both machines also work well for someone who is thinking about quilting for others on a part-time basis to earn a little spending money.

It’s possible to sit at all of the APQS longarm frames, but if you prefer to sit all the time while you quilt, then the APQS George is just right for you. You’ll move the fabric through George’s 20-inch throat, just as you do a traditional machine. The extra space you gain means no more scrunching and hunching over to get a large quilt done. George is not stitch regulated—you can easily choose the top motor sewing speed you like so that you can press the pedal and quilt at your own consistent pace. His ample 24” x 60” table leaves plenty of maneuvering room even for bulky oversize quilts in additions small projects or art quilts.

If you answered “B” to most of the questions, then either the Lucey or the Freedom models would be a great fit for you. Both machines are the same size with 26 inches of throat space. Each one will do a fine job of all over quilting and custom quilting. And both would serve a cottage quilting business well. However, if you prefer to have a few more creature comforts at your fingertips, then consider the Freedom, which lives up to its name in time-saving features. The low bobbin indicator, thread break sensor, and simple one-touch panel controls combine simplicity with functionality. These features are a lot like automatic car windows. While a crank gets the job done, once you have a car with power windows turning a crank seems prehistoric! The Freedom also includes a deluxe table with extra sturdy single-piece legs, heavy-duty 2-inch fabric rollers, and the ability to add more helpful features such as a power quilt fabric advance and overhead lighting.

If you’re reading this far then you’ve most likely answered “C” to most of those questions! If you’re considering starting a business with your longarm, OR you simply want to start out with a machine that has everything you want right at the start, the Freedom or Millennium models will fill the bill. The Millennium adds two more sought-after features to save you time and increase your quilting comfort—a lower bobbin thread cutter, and electronic locks for straight line quilting horizontally or vertically.

Both the Freedom and Millennium models are excellent for overall quilting, but their unique features also make custom quilting much more enjoyable. The Quilt Glide (only available on these two models) really makes custom detail quilting effortless and more precise. Quilters who quilt professionally or who want to compete in national shows most often choose a Freedom or Millennium model. But just as many hobby quilters choose the Millennium because it is simple to use while offering special features that make it a machine that they will use for a lifetime. The Millennium is our top-selling model for quilters of all skill levels.

The Quilt Path computer system can be added to all APQS stitch-regulated machines, so hobby quilters and professionals alike can create intricately stitched quilts or simple overall designs with ease and precision. Adding a computer system makes even a weekend warrior look like a quilting rock star! And the great thing is that you don’t need to be computer guru to turn out stunning quilts!

Click here for more information about comparing our machines. | Download our complete buyers guide by clicking here.