After examining options, I have made a big change to my sewing room. I purchased a used APQS Millennium long arm sewing machine. Here we are getting to know each other in my newly rearranged sewing room:
I spent 2.5 hours testing her out in the home of the seller with an APQS representative / mechanic on site on Saturday morning. The seller had owned the machine for 10 years, but she had barely ever used the machine. In getting the machine set up to photograph for sale, several thing were mis-installed, and she broke a needle testing it out after getting it set up (thus scarring the hook mechanism – more on this later). Right away I was impressed by the APQS representative for his cool, calm, and reasoned approach to troubleshooting difficulties with the machine. I could stitch for about 3 inches before the upper thread would break. We methodically worked through everything from type of thread to bobbin casing to tension adjustments, and in the end he installed a new hook. I kept the old hook and my husband and I should be able to file it smooth again to have on hand as a backup. The new hook cost $95; what a vast cost difference from the $600 for the new hook that was just installed on my Bernina. And note that the hook on the Millennium fixed the problem; no one knows what is really wrong with my Bernina after over a year of troubleshooting.
Another interesting thing about the machine was that while I was testing her out, she was MUCH stiffer moving side to side than she was in and out. When we got her home, my husband and I took a lot of time and great care to level the frame and adjust the rollers. We even switched out the cam rollers on the side to the new “M&M” style that have less friction. She is now really nicely tuned so that I feel like it takes the same effort to move side to side as it does in and out. We moved the stops on the rail so that the machine will not bash into the rollers. We are going to have to do a few more minor changes, but it is a dream come true to have such an industrial item that we can work on, though, and it has been fun spending time working on my sewing room with my husband since we got her home on Saturday night.
We rented a 14 foot UHaul trailer, and it worked out perfectly to transport her home. Her leader fabrics are in wonderful condition, and having the shipping box for the head was a wonderful bonus!
We had done a lot of measuring before making an offer on this machine, and we were confident a 10 foot table would fit (just barely) in my sewing room. In the photo above you can see part of the frame laying in the floor of my old sewing room set up. Obviously a lot had to change in the room for us to get the Millennium set up.
The room that I use as my sewing room was built as an “optional” fourth bedroom. There is a recess where a closet could be put in to finish out the room as a bedroom. Previously, I had my paternal grandmother’s china hutch in the recess. I kept all my current WiPs in the china hutch. The china hutch will no longer work in the new sewing room, and I am going to have to look into selling my grandmother’s dining room set (a shellacked cherry set including a drop leaf table, 6 chairs and china hutch). In the recess, we are installing a custom work table where I will be able to cut fabric and sew at my Bernina. It is going to be set at counter top height (which is perfect for me for cutting as I am fairly tall) and I plan to stand to sew a lot more often now. I also have a bar height stool that I can use to sit on, but I will need to create a step stool / box to put my sewing machine pedal on when I sit down to sew. I am also planning to move all my fabric storage into the sewing room. This is going to force me to face my stash and work to contain it instead of keeping it tucked away in a separate room!
For now it is a tight squeeze to fit my sewing machine off to the side so that I can continue to do some piecing work this week while the new room design begins to take shape. I am really excited about this new adventure in sewing, and I can’t wait to go load up some fabric to start learning and playing on the Millennium. I think it is time for that right now!