Aggravation

The following is my opinion and isn’t a rant. (I’ll let you know when I’m on a rant) πŸ˜‰

If you have a Grace quilting frame and love it you may not want to read any further.

Sometimes, it seems my quilt system is just plain cursed. I bought my Grace Machine Quilter frame and Juki TL98e second hand from a lady in Illinois Michigan. She had taken great care of it and had only used it 3 times so it was practically new except that she had put a nice finish on the wood.

The frame originally came with a pieced track on the table top and every time I would go across one of the joints the stitching would be uneven.

To fix that, I ordered the continuous track upgrade from Grace. I learned the hard way that if you leave your machine sitting on the track too long without moving it, you’ll get permanent dents in the track which mess up the stitching. Wouldn’t you think “upgrade” would mean better in more ways than one? So, I spent more money to replace the track a second time.

The original carriage for the machine was wood and totally weird in the way it worked (in my opinion). Too much froo froo for me so I ordered the carriage upgrade (yep…more money). The upgrade is a metal carriage and is a vast improvement on the old wooden one and I “was” happy with it.

I wanted a stitch regulator so I shelled out another wad of money to buy the Sure Stitch and it was a nightmare to get it to work properly but finally Lynn at Kathy Quilts was able to help me get it straight and now I love it. Thank you Lynn!

Yesterday, I noticed problems with controlling the stitching and thought I had another dent in the track on the frame but after closer inspection, I discovered a long, irregular crack in the top of the hard plastic track on the carriage. What????

Crack in carriage track

Does there seem to be a pattern here or what? I called the Grace company today to talk to them about it and the first thing they wanted was proof of purchase. You know….I understand warranties, truly I do, but when you sell what I believe to be an inferior product…it shouldn’t matter how long you’ve had it. Just replace the blasted thing and don’t aggravate the fire out of the customer. It cost me less than $15 to buy 2 (If one cracked, my logic is that it’s only a matter of time before the other one cracks) new carriage tracks including shipping but that’s not the point. The carriage tracks are too thin and flimsy. They should not crack under the weight of a machine. That’s what they’re made for…to support and move a machine around the frame. So, why aren’t they made of sturdier material? My system is well taken care of. It is not abused.

I might not be so aggravated but I did some research through an online group and discovered I’m not the only person to experience this problem with the carriage track so it’s a known issue. I’ve finished less than 20 quilts on this carriage. Am I to expect to replace track every 20 quilts? How reasonable is that?

I’m currently researching frames and machines so I can upgrade to a larger system but I can tell you this without the least bit of hesitation….I will probably never buy another Grace product as long as I live. I had even been considering their Majestic frame but that’s pretty much out of the picture now. Their track (no pun intended) record with me leaves a lot to be desired. Why would I want to spend that much money on something I have no faith in whatsoever. I don’t want to replace frame track and carriage track like this.

OK….so no Sheryl bashing today or I’ll turn off comments. πŸ˜‰ And again, I’m not ranting….just stating my opinion of this situation.

If you have a quilting system, I’d love to hear about it. I want to know why you love it or hate it. I want to know what it is. I’d love a website to visit to check it out.

One system I’m seriously considering is the HQ Avante. Do you have one? Tell me about it.

That’s it for now. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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32 Comments

  1. Jeri Bordewisch

     /  June 23, 2011

    I have just ordered my HQ18 Avante with Studio frame, it should be here any day. I got mine thru SewingMachinePlus.com My sales rep Nedra was great. I hope I love this machine. I will let you know soon what I think of it.
    Hoping to hear what other will say, praying it good. I agree 100% on the Grace Co.

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  June 24, 2011

      Hi Jeri. Please keep me posted about your new system. I forgot another thing we had to fix on my system. The aluminum rails are so thin that they bowed terribly in the middle and I don’t over-tighten. We had to get steel conduit to go on the outside of the aluminum poles. It seems like it’s one thing after another.

      Reply
  2. I had the same problem with my sturdy lite frame, and ended up buying strips of metal the same width of the plastic tracks and length of the frame, and inserted them where the strips go. It worked so much better after that. I then upgraded to the start right frame this year, and so far no problems, other than the take up pins kept breaking, so another homemade fix there. Marianne

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  June 24, 2011

      Hi Marianne. Where did you get your metal strips? I considered getting a Start Right frame to make do until I can get a larger system but after reading about all the pins breaking, I decided I didn’t need another headache.

      Reply
      • I got my metal strips at Lowes. I took in a broken piece so I could find one that would work. They are very nice to me there, they never know what I will need next!

  3. Robin Moody

     /  June 23, 2011

    Sure sounds like they don’t stand behind their merchandise. Really good to know. I am thankful for your info. There are so many systems out there I am anxious to hear what there is to say about different systems. They are so costly, I want to make sure when my chance comes to get one I want to make the best choice.

    Reply
  4. Quilting Tizzy

     /  June 24, 2011

    Hi Robin. So many people say they have great customer service but I haven’t had great experiences with them and I’m really frustrated with this whole thing. It was pointed out to me that my GMQ is older and that’s true. However, I’ve paid the money for all the upgrades to make it a better system. I don’t feel most of that money was spent well. I am so determined to learn how to machine quilt but I think I’m being held back by these issues.

    Look around and do research. I’m sure you’ll find a system just right for you. Just don’t make any snap decisions. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  5. Martha

     /  June 24, 2011

    I don’t have a quilting system but I thought this website might be of some interest to you. http://www.machinequilter.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  6. Jo Ann

     /  June 24, 2011

    Check out the abm Innova 18,22, or 26 head with variable frame sizes. I bought my 26 inch head and 12 foot frame from Texas quilt machines with 2day training included. Carrie is easy to talk to and very helpful. An advantage is ability to upgrade system as you can afford, like channel locks, Table lifts, different stitch regulators, etc. I live in gretna if you would like to see my setup.

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  June 24, 2011

      Thanks Jo Ann. I think I talked to her once in Houston. I would love to see your setup. I don’t know anything about the Innova but I’ll look it up.

      Reply
  7. quiltapillow

     /  June 24, 2011

    Hi, Sorry about your problem. This might help. My hubby found a used Ken Quilter( real old) and bought for me. He called the manuf.(owner here in U.S.A.) and being and Ind. Elec. Mech.Eng. Specialist found out that the whole thing is made out of metal sliding door frames. He was told if something broke to go to the hardware store and just buy what you need. So, you might consider going to the hardware store for a metal door frameparts. Of course those new ones are a little more streamlined these days. But he has put all the extras on it. ie: lazer light etc. If my hubby can help you let me know, he would try to ans. your question.

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  June 24, 2011

      Thanks for the suggestion. I might look into that.

      Reply
  8. If you want to talk to a lady who knows all about Handy Quilters, talk to Karen Bailey at the Quilt Corner, Morton, Illinois. She began with them when they began and there is not much she does not know about them. She also sells them and one of her employess, a good friend of mine, is one of their instructors at the shop, and had done beautiful things on their machines. Here is a link to their web site. http://www.thequiltcorner.biz/ – This is my favorite shop to go to and they are very helpful. Tell them I told you to call, if you like.

    Sorry for all the frustration you have gone through. This should never have happened, but it has and you seem to have made up your mind to move on. Bravo. I hope life is treating you well now.

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  June 24, 2011

      Thanks Marcia. I’ll keep this info handy. πŸ™‚ I’ll probably have to just deal with this system until next spring when DH’s tractor is paid for. Lol.

      Reply
  9. Jeanne

     /  June 24, 2011

    Hi, I have a grace frame and have had troubles with the poles sagging. Would you please explain to me in more detail how you fixed this problem. I was also thinking of upgrading to the metal carriage. I was hoping for better control. Does it help enough for the extra cost?

    I also had the rails split and had to replace them. If I had the money to buy a bigger better machine this one would be out the door in two seconds but I don’t sooooooo I have to make do. 😦

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  June 24, 2011

      I do think the metal carriage is much better than the wooden one except for the cracking issue with the rails. The rails on your frame must be different from mine because mine aren’t something that would crack but they do get dents if the machine is left in one place for too long. That’s a huge flaw in the design of the track in my opinion.

      Reply
  10. Paula Portanova

     /  June 24, 2011

    I also had the cracking issue I have the pinnacle also in southeast la.

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  June 24, 2011

      Hi Paula. Is your Pinnacle track the same hard plastic that is used for track on the metal carriage?

      Reply
      • Delores

         /  January 6, 2012

        Hi, I’m Delores in Houston and yes the track is the same.

  11. Kim Tyson

     /  June 24, 2011

    I know the expense is a lot more, but it’s well worth it. I have a Gammill Statler Stitcher and LOVE it! It’s the 3rd Gammill I’ve owned (because I’ve upgraded) and I will never go to another brand. I have never had a problem with the machines in 10 years and if your trying something new, there’s always someone you can call with questions and they’ll walk you right though it. They are well worth the investment.
    Sorry to hear that you’re having all the problems that you are, but I sure am glad that I talked a friend out of but a Grace now. My husband was very concerned about how filmsy the frame was and said that he did’nt want to see anyone spend their hard earded money on it.

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  June 24, 2011

      You’ve got a top of the line machine, Kim. We can’t keep my frame “squared”. It’s so humid here that it affects the frame. I know it’s birch plywood and not supposed to be affected by humidity but it is. Hopefully when we get everything moved to the barn studio, the concrete floor will help with that problem.

      Reply
  12. dee

     /  June 24, 2011

    Sheryl, I loved reading your “Aggravation” because it taught me alot of what I don’t want, so I thank-you for sharing. I am just at the research stages of machine quilting & feel I still have alot to learn before I come to the actual buying stages. But it was reassuring that I was on the same thought process as you with the HQ Avante.
    I am so sorry you had to go through all that buying pieces/parts in learning what you did. Nothing ticks me off more when you make a huge purchase like that, then the company doesn’t stand behind thier product…that just WRONG.
    Again i thank-you for sharing so the rest of us can possibily avoid the same situation.
    Please keep us posted.
    dee

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  June 24, 2011

      It’s been a learning process for sure. I’m not really sorry I bought this set-up because I’ve learned so much on it. However, I think the upgrades I have made with their products should be better quality. I don’t like to say “never”, but I’ll probably never buy another wood frame again. I’m waiting for the DVD to come from HQ about the Avante and can’t wait to watch it. There is a dealer about 35 miles away and I’m hoping to be able to see it. There’s also a dealer in Lafayette which is about 90 minutes from here so I’ll probably drive over there one day.

      Reply
  13. Christina

     /  June 25, 2011

    Sheryl, you’ve confirmed my suspicions about the Grace frames. Now I adore my Juki TK-98Q but won’t bother with what you have had to go through. No matter what Grace says… wood absorbs humidity. I have 85% humidity and 70 degrees in Cleveland today so a wooden frame is going to warp. The issues you have had with the tracks and the poles seals the deal. I’ll take my money and run far, far away from Grace.
    All the best,
    Christina in Cleveland

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  July 3, 2011

      The track issue sure sealed the deal for me as far as ever purchasing from them again. I won’t say absolutely never, but it would be an exception.

      Reply
  14. LK Smith

     /  June 26, 2011

    Sheryl, The only frame I have ever owned is the Grace Original. I have upgraded it with everything available, pouring way too much money in it. I have experienced all the frustrating situations you have mentioned, and I will never, never, never buy another frame from Grace or made by Grace for another company. One of your readers suggested checking out the Innova, and I agree with them. Carrie Dugan designed the frame for the Innova. It is a very nice machine. I wish I had one!
    I enjoy your blog. Linda

    Reply
    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  July 3, 2011

      I’m glad you like my blog, Linda. πŸ™‚ The last few weeks have been pure torture with this thing but it is wonderful now. I did some micro stippling last night and it was so smooth & easy to do. I can’t believe I put up with this.

      Since it’s working so well now, I’ll probably set it up in the barn so Vanessa(baby sister) can use it. I had planned to have a big bonfire this coming winter and toast marshmallows.

      Reply
  15. Mayme

     /  August 11, 2011

    I have been reading all these comments with interest. I have the OGF. Had it for 8 years. Bought it from Kathy Quilts. The only problem I had was the track had a skip in it. I called Grace and they sent me knew ones at no charge. This was when I first got the frame. My poles have never bent. I was thinking of doing the upgraded carriage but maybe I should stick with what I have. Did you put the steel rods in the plastic track?

    Reply
  16. Quilting Tizzy

     /  August 22, 2011

    Hi Mayme. The upgraded carriage really is much nicer than the original wooden one but the tracks on it are poorly made (in my opinion). We just pulled the plastic track out of the upgrade carriage and laid the steel rods in the grooves.

    Reply
  17. Karen Moss

     /  October 29, 2011

    I am so happy to read about your experience! I, too, got the original GMQ from a friend who had upgraded. First thing after I got home and attempted to set it up — I noticed that one of the cog wheels/ratchet wheels was missing. I called The Grace Co., they told me they thought they had some in the back and would check and call me in a day or two. Well, it’s been 6+ weeks and I’ve not heard one word from them, in spite of my phone calls and emails. I finally gave up and found The Moses House online. He told me that he knew he had some somewhere, would check his storage unit after he thought about it, and it might take a week. He called me that afternoon, said he’d found one, and if I’d send a check, he’d mail it right away. Yippee! I don’t know that I’d ever ever buy something from Grace again. I live in Arizona, so the humidity is not a concern, but I think if I had it to do over again, I’d wait for a metal frame. I know a lot of people have wonderful experiences with The Grace Co — and I realize that keeping old parts for all the old machines that aren’t made any more is cost prohibitive. I just wished that they’d called or emailed and said they don’t have it, won’t get it, they’re not made any more, whatever –and so sorry.

    I think I’ll look into replacing the tracks with metal. Sounds like a great idea. I did get the upgrade carriage because that original wooden thing felt like a torture device! lol

    Reply
  18. Debbie

     /  November 8, 2012

    I feel your pain! I too bought a used gracie II frame with a Juki TL 98 Q. Right away I noticed something was wrong in a certain area and found that the front track had cracked. I bought new replacement tracks (shipping was more than the product) and after a few months I noticed that the same problem and found that the new track had cracked. I still have the old carriage & was thinking of upgrading to the new carriage, but now I’m not so sure of that after reading your post. UGH! What to do?

    Reply

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