They were smart and had prepared for folks who wanted to try the machine; Machinger gloves and small quilt sandwiches were at the ready. So I had a fine time stitching away!
Fun, free motion, free form feathers? Check!
But look at that foot.....something looks different.....have I gone long arm? Nope. Or not exactly.
This is the new Gammill Charm! A sit-down long arm. Now, the reason I was sworn to secrecy was because they didn't have all the programming set up when I tried it. Turns out this shop is part of the Beta-testers for this brand new machine and they had yet to get the final software installed that helped control the machine. So I ended up stitching without any speed control other than my foot on the foot pedal. This thing has some serious get-up-and-go! Once I figured out how softly to press on the pedal, I did fine.
What did I think of the machine? I really need to go back now that they've got the programming installed. I believe that the features include speed control, maybe even some sort of stitch regulation, and some sort of on-screen pantograph abilities. It has a laser pointer on it for something but I don't know what. So that colors the usefulness of the review. It was great fun to take it for a spin!
But: I really liked the table it comes with! Very sturdy, smooth and a good size. This machine has so much power that it has potential for a lot of vibration in a table less sturdy. It also has a super huge Supreme Slider to make it absolutely smooth for a good-sized area. You can see it in the photo above.
I love that it sits in the same orientation as a domestic machine. I have tried machines that sit perpendicular to me and found it disorienting. Plus, that puts the motor housing directly behind the needle so when sewing a long straight line, the quilt will bunch up right there.
Things I don't like: it shouldn't surprise me that coming from a long arm company that it is expensive and a bit over-kill for what it is. If you can afford it, it looks to be a fabulous machine and I have no doubt that it is well built. You would have no trouble quilting large quilts with this machine.
A New Janome
I also tried out a new Janome this week and I'm putting it on my wish list! To be clear, there's nothing wrong with my wonderful Janome 6600. But the new Janome 8200 has 2 more inches of throat which means more free motion quilting fun on larger quilts! They bill it as a simpler version of their high-end models at a mid-range price and I agree. It still has all the features of the 6600 plus a few more stitches and other features.
It also has better lighting at the needle. The 6600 has a light right above the needle threading lever, which casts quite the shadow. There are more lights on the 8200.
Another feature I like is the accufeed system (a fancy name for built-in-walking foot) has been modified to be more removable. This seems to almost be a step backward from built in walking foot back to a walking foot attachment. But not exactly. The walking foot still attaches better and is more integrated than the usual walking foot attachment, but the important part is when it is removed, there's better clearance around the presser foot area. I find with my 6600 I sometimes get my basting pins or project hung up on the remaining accufeed mechanism when free motion quilting.
I know the dealers aren't supposed to post prices online for these newer machines and my relationship with them is important to me, so I won't give exact prices, plus machines sometimes come with different accessory packages. Let's just say that the Janome 8200 is priced about $500-1000 more than the 6600 (mine was $1700 or so) and the Gammill Charm will cost about 3-5 times the price of the Janomes.
I am toying with the idea of selling my 6600 to get the 8200, but I will have to wait a bit before I can do that. As I said, the 6600 is a great machine and does what I want tit to do which is plenty of free motion quilting, plus sewing, but if the 8200 was available when I bought the 6600, I would have gotten it.
If I thought I could get paid steadily for quilting for others, especially for doing custom quilting as opposed to edge-to-edge designs, I would think of getting the Charm or the lower-priced APQS version. But otherwise, it won't fit in our budget.
I noticed the Gammill dealer (Thread Runs Through It) had posted a pic on their facebook page of this machine at a quilt show: Guess who's quilted feather was sitting on the table? They are great folks who a doing a great job of doing what they do!