Everyone wants a long-arm quilting machine, that is until they see the price tag! After you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, you’ve likely started looking for an affordable long arm quilting machine. Well, I do have a few suggestions, but it will require a bit of sacrifice on your part to save your budget!
Use Your Old Machine With A Quilting Frame
Did you know that there are quilting frames out there that you can use with your existing sewing machine? The Grace Q Zone is one such frame, and not only does it allow you to take long arm quilting for a test drive without spending a fortune, but it’s also conveniently sized.
Unlike a standard long arm quilting frame, which is HUGE, this one is 4.5 feet by 3 feet wide, making it easier for you to find a space for it in your home. However, you can still make any size quilt thanks to the smart way it is set up, allowing you to quilt section by section.
This frame is easy to set up, and it works with pretty much any machine, domestic or long arm with throats up to 19 inches. So, if you do decide to get a dedicated long arm machine later, you can use the same frame! Its height can also be adjusted so you can quilt standing up or sitting down if you prefer.
So, how does it work? Well, just like any other frame, your machine sits on top, and you can move it freely just like you would with a regular long arm machine.
Okay, so what’s the catch then? Well, if your current sewing machine has a small throat space, you may regret not getting a real long arm, or at least a large throat sewing machine. You’ll also notice that it might not work exactly the same as a regular long arm if you’ve used one, adding a compatible stitch regulator to your machine can help.
Look For Used Long Arm Machines
If you’ve got the patience to wait it out, you can try camping Facebook marketplace or Craigslist to find a used long arm quilting machine, but these machines will obviously not be serviced and could need repairs. It’s also pretty rare to find one, so be prepared to wait.
That’s why refurbished is probably a better way to go. You’ll likely have a better selection, and the machine will be factory serviced by the shop so you know that you’re not buying a lemon. However, it does still take a bit of luck and a LOT of patience to actually snag one.
BUT, there are online vendors who frequently have refurbished long arms available, which you can pick up for a lot less than a new machine. The best place to find refurbished machines online is Sewing Machines Plus.
EDIT: I’ve since found a second site which has good used long arm machine inventory!! Sew Vac Direct, is a good place to look for used machines too. The call theirs “recertified” but it’s the same thing as refurbished.
Grace Q’nique 16 X – 16″- $3,499
If you’ve struck out on finding a used long arm and you don’t want to wait… then the Grace Q’nique 16×16 is one of the most affordable new machines you’ll find on the market.
Not only is it affordable, but it’s also easy to use and comes with some great features. It has a large, color touchscreen, and it’s quite speedy. The base model will tackle your projects at 1,700 stitches per minute, and if you spring for the elite, you’ll get a speed upgrade to 2,000 stitches per minute.
The below chart shows the difference between the available models of this machine. For reference, the base model is $3,499, the upgraded model is $4,499, and the Elite model, with all the bells and whistles, is $4,999.
Performance-wise, all three machines will work just as well. So, there’s no need paying for extra features if you’re not going to use them.
Juki Kieri NX7 – $2,499
If you don’t need a dedicated quilting frame, or even if you don’t have the space for it – then the Juki NX7 is an affordable long arm quilting machine which will fit pretty much anywhere.
This machine offers 12 inches of throat space, which while less than the Q’nique is still pretty nice, and it has other benefits as well. For starters, it does a lot more than just quilt!
It’s also the cheapest new machine on the list, and you can even get it for even less if you can manage to find a used one – though used inventory is rare on these.
Phew! Well, that’s our list folks. Hopefully you found something that fits into your budget, but we understand that long arms are pretty pricey. If you’re having trouble, then you might also want to check out our other article – where to find used long arm quilting machines for sale!
While you may need to be patient to find a good used long arm quilting machine – you can potentially save thousands of dollars over new if you get lucky.
Barbie Koehler learned to love sewing from a young age in home economics. Though only recently did she decide to start blogging about that experience. She loves quilting, and spending free weekends at the lake with her grand kids.