Well... I finally upgraded!

This has been several years coming, and it’s taken several trips to multiple dealers to figure out exactly what I wanted in a machine.

So without further ado, here she is!

I opted for a Handi Quilter machine… again! I had an HQ16 as my first longarm, and it was a workhorse! So I upgraded to an Amara. And so far I LOVE it!

I was actually thinking about getting an Innova for a long while, and before that it was a Bernina. There are so many options out there when it comes to longarms.

But here are a few of the reasons I picked my HQ Amara:

  • I already knew the machine – there would be very little learning curve regarding the buttons, mechanics, and operation of the machine
  • All the bells and whistles – Faster stitches per minute, lighted throat space, larger throat, needle laser, lighted bobbin space, adjustable handles, upgraded rails, computerized system, upgraded frame… ?
  • I’ve dealt with their customer service, and LOVE it – when my machine tipped over and almost smashed my two year old (post about that coming soon) I was able to get a thread mast to replace my broken one direct from Handi Quilter Head Quarters! I live super close to head quarters, and they have been great to order me spare parts without going through a dealer.
  • The salesman was *not* pushy and waited for over two years to close the deal – Eric understood how big of a decision this was, and how much money I would be spending. He answered all my questions, sometimes the same question multiple times. And when I came to him frustrated from another longarm dealer experience, he was very professional. He didn’t badmouth any of the other brands or quilt shops, he knew the competition, and he knew which machine could do what I wanted.
  • I’m fact, he tried very hard not to upsell me! – I wanted to upgrade my machine to become computerized, but still wanted the option of free motion quilting. Eric suggested I go for a 20” throat space. It would feel a lot larger than the 16” I was used to, but wouldn’t be so large that I wouldn’t be able to manage free motion quilting.
  • I could save $2,000 by setting up the machine by myself – which we did! Meaning the hubby helped a little. ? Because my old machine was passed down to me, I originally had to figure out all the setup by myself. So I was confident that I could set up my new frame and rails. It was a bit harder than my first setup, but I feel like it is a lot sturdier and will give a stable surface for more consistent stitches!
  • And because I’m so close to HQ HQ (Handi Quilter Head Quarters), I could get my machine in just a few business days and pick it up myself to avoid shipping charges!

There has been a bit of a learning curve with the computerized part of my new machine. Gears on? Gears off? Drag and drop? What??

Surprisingly, my experience with Cricut Design Space has helped me figure out some of the computerization.


But even with the learning curve, I’ve been able to move through my customer quilts. I’d say even a smidge faster than before!

Once I’ve been doing this for a few months I’m sure it will be second nature, just like free motion quilting.

I also wanted the option for computerized and free motion quilting, because I strongly believe each quilt is different, and a computerized edge-to-edge design that looks great on one quilt could totally downplay a quilt crying out for custom quilting.

Such as this quilt – it just screamed at me
“Custom quilting!”

The only problem I have with my new machine is that *everyone* in the family wants to play with my new toy!!

Anytime it makes a noise, my hubby comes running!! I mean, sure, he was supportive of my quilting before.

But now when the thread break sensor goes off, he says “What’s that? What happened? What broke? How do we fix this? Why is it happening?”

At least I know where my 8 year old gets this precocious, inquisitive nature. ??‍♀️

I’ve had to start barricading my quilt studio to keep my baby girl out. She thinks the floating quilt tops are a blanket fort for her to hide in!

Not so, baby girl!

Here’s hoping I can train her not to hide under my customer quilts! ?