long arms vs. my arms which are also long…


detail stitching, no 15

For most of the time that I have been working on this series of 25 large pieces, I have been ruminating about my machine. I actually have three at present. I have a Pfussy Pfaff workhorse which does great free-motion stitch, I have a Janome 3000 for when the workhouse is in the shop and I have a Baby Lock serger that threads itself.

Yet everytime I stitch large work I get into a tug of war with the small apron on the workhorse through which passes a lot of fabric. Last time I took Pfussy in for service I was seduced by a mid-arm placed strategically by the door. Oooh, aaah I thought, for a mere $6K I could stop fighting with Pfussy and acquire this dream machine with its three foot table and my life would be perfect! And hey it is a lot cheaper than a long arm machine, I rationalized. I didn’t buy it, but I have given it a lot of thought.

The long arm, for example, would take up a lot of real estate but I could put it in the basement, as in out of sight, out of mind; which of course would mean standing on that cold hard concrete floor to stitch. Ok, a rug would fix that but must I stand to stitch, really? The mid-arm would allow me to sit but where would I put it?

There is nary three square feet of space available in my studio, let alone for me to pull up a chair and sit next to it. I suppose I could put it in the living room but then would have to move it for entertaining, or I could also put it in the basement, but then would have to put in better lighting to use it there. And so it goes.

This weekend is PIQF, the big Mancuso quilt show in Santa Clara, which is a perfect chance to see all my choices front and center, to tear and compare. And yet I decided to stay home and stitch #15 on Pfussy. Apparently I don’t want one bad enough!

Today I encountered even more challenges such as the machine and slanted board on which it sits, hitchhiking near the table’s edge; the dog having a corner of the quilt in her mouth thinking this was a game and my ongoing covet of the slick pulley system to lift the quilt’s weight, for which I put in my order to the honey-do list at least 3 months ago. I trudged on. I fretted about my curved stitching on this manly piece. I envisioned my conversation at the hardware store asking in clear mud for just the part I need…I need one of those do-hickeys that cord wraps around in a figure eight. And I need a thin mat of rubber, like those round jar openers that realtors sent out twenty years ago, to put under my machine so it doesn’t walk. Huh?

Why am I procrastinating on buying a machine & table that will greatly enhance the quality of my life as textile artist? The real reason is I don’t know how much longer I will be doing this type of work. My brain is overflowing with ideas of work to do after this series but I don’t know how they will manifest so I don’t feel like investing in major equipment that I may or may not be using for another decade.

Or in plain English decluttering has taken possession of my brain.

10 Responses to “long arms vs. my arms which are also long…”

  1. Have you looked at the Sweet 16? I really like mine

  2. Hi Carol,

    A few things to add to your internal debate: your prices are for new machines. You can get used ones for much less. There’s no warranty but how often to they break?! I have a previously owned mid arm. It’s 5ft table has wings that fold up and down bringing the 5ft down to 2 for storage. Not standard with the machine but hubs can surely add some hinges and a couple of boards to extend your table. Down is great for storing it when not in use. If you do get a long or mid arm, there is a good market for reselling them, should it not work out well for you. Some places near me have mid and long arms for rent by the hour. (Couple of quilt shops) why not take one for a test run for an hour and see if you like it. I sit at my mid arm, comfortably. It’s a dream. What is alarming to me is that you are considering not working at all any more. Frustrating as wrestling with a 5″ harp is, I can’t imagine my life without art. Your art is fabulous! Do you really want to give it up? Makes me sad to hear it.

    All in all, wish you the best in your deliberations!

    • Carol says:

      Great idea Nancy to buy used! As for the table it can’t be extended. It is the slickest operation ever. Hubs built my entire studio back in the days when I was a weaver. The table is hinged to the inside of the closet door so it can be all closed up, as needed. It has happened for one year out of the past 40! I won’t give up art entirely,though. I just may go in a different direction with medium other than large textiles. Who knows? A meandering path this art-making is.

  3. debby says:

    Loved hearing your thought process. A couple of thoughts–I did buy the Juki long arm/sit down machine in February. After some frustration at learning it, I loved it! Quilted quite a few unfinished tops, but most of all loved the stitch, the stability and dependability of it. Right now I am having a serious problem with it–maybe the electrical system–and its very frustrating. My BF tells me this is just a part of owning a long arm. The trouble with that is that its not so simple to just load it into the car and take it to the repair shop. In the middle of all this, I had the thought that getting rid of all machines and doing everything by hand would be a very good thing. But really, I do like it very much and am anxious to get it fixed so I can get back to quilting.

    Second, Jenny did a blog about something that would possibly work for your pulley system, without waiting for anyone to build it–here’s a link to their website:

    • Carol says:

      Hi Debby! Yes I did see Jenny’s blog post about the Thompson pulley system which would not work as my table is only 20″ wide. There is no place to clamp on. But I had downloaded images of Melinda Bula’s pulley setup and put it on the honey-do list. Yesterday I guess I was vocal enough about my displeasure with the process. So today while I was out visiting art studios, hubs rigged it up. It was just $30 worth of parts and works like a dream. A good man, etc…

  4. Liz Berg says:

    Carol….my George is still available and at a much lower price! I too need to declutter!

    • Carol says:

      good to know, thanks Liz! Does that require a big table?

      • Liz Berg says:

        it comes with a wonderful table that breaks down to about 2 x 4 feet when all the drop leaves are down. Love the machine. You are welcome to come by some time to see it….need to get it out of my house…just no room! AT ALL!

  5. […] after my blog post about the rationalization of why I should not buy a mid-arm machine, I decided to buy one! Two […]

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