I've loved that machine, but have to admit that what I really wanted was a Bernina machine. Even knowing as little as I did back in 2015, I could tell it's just superior. But the room I've been using for my quilt room isn't large enough for the 12 foot frame, and Bernina didn't have a smaller option. Handi Quilter, on the other hand, can be set up at 8 feet, which just fits my space. So the decision was made.
My circumstances have changed - and I now have space for a 12 footer. And because my long-awaited inheritance came to me last year, I had the money... ...so last April I splurged big-time and bought a Bernina 24" longarm.
I couldn't take delivery until our renovation was over - so it was a long, long wait since April - but finally on July 21st she arrived!
Bernie's frame is 12 feet x 4 feet - so she takes up about half of the room. Of course with a longarm, you really need to be able to get to both the front and back of the machine, so Bernie takes "her half" out of the middle.
I splurged on a few extras, such as the pantograph kit (which includes a stylus for groovy boards), chanel locks, casters and a hydraulic lift.
The chanel locks are attached to the machine - which is great because that way, I never have to go looking for them.
The casters are just a godsend; I can shift the entire frame Bernie is on with ease:
The hydraulic lift is just so cool!
And the bobbin gage - what a great idea!
Other features I really like include:
- You wind bobbins right on the machine (no need for a separate winding device) - and you can wind bobbins while you are quilting
- There's a hand-wheel for the needle on the front AND back of the machine (the Handi Quilter has this on the back only)
- Instructions and even how-to videos for many tasks (such as threading, cleaning and oiling) are inside the machine and can be viewed with the operator panels on the front and back. This is great, because it frees you from having to dig out the user manual
- Special sensors can be turned on to alert you when the bobbin or top thread run out
- It's super easy to change the position of the handlebars
- The head has task lighting in it, illuminating the area immediately around the needle - but also along the throat of the machine, so more of the project is well-lit.
Matilda has a 18" throat. Bernie's is 24". That means I can work longer without having to advance the machine - and WOW! Without having to stop and advance, quilts get done faster! My first project would have taken just over 3 hours to complete on Matilda. On Bernie it got done in about 2.5 hours.
And, of course, with a 12' frame, I can now do Queen and King bedspreads (and I've got 3 king sized tops ready now!)
So far, there's only one thing I've found that I don't like. For free-motion quilting, I prefer to use the stitching mode where the machine stops quilting when you stop moving the head. Both Matilda and Bernie have this feature. But on Bernie, when you stop, the machine continues with "tie off" stitches. I can control how many stitches it makes, but I can't turn it off completely (2 stitches is the minimum).
So now I'm a woman with two longarms - and I love them both.