Sewing Machine Review: Grace Qnique 14+ / 15R Sit Down Longarm
Welcome to this review of the Grace Qnique 14+ Sit Down longarm sewing machine! I've been quilting on this machine since January 2017 and I'm finally ready to share a full review of this longarm sewing machine.
Note: The Grace Qnique 14+ was recently renamed the 15R, but it's the exact same machine.
Yes, I am now a dealer for Grace Company and we will soon be adding longarm machines and quilting frames to our website. Click Here to contact us for help ordering your Grace Qnique machine!
My first impression of the machine was the simplicity. As a sit down longarm, this machine doesn't have a monitor, extra stuff to plug in, or a stitch regulator. It's very simple - just flip the switch and begin quilting! I played with the Grace Qnique 14+ at fall quilt market and produced great looking stitches almost immediately.
Once I realized the machine had the most single, crucial feature I needed (needle up / down) and a wide variety of feet to make the machine easy to use as a sit down longarm, I was ready to bring it home.
I was also very impressed by the Grace Company and their excellent record of customer service and innovation. Many sewing machine brands have begun offering machine quilting frames recently. Guess who manufactures most of them? Grace Company!
Now a bit more about the Grace Qnique 14+:
As a sit down / table mounted longarm, this is what the machine will look like. It doesn't have a monitor or any other controls other than the on / off switch on the right side.
There are 15 inches in the harp space between the motor of the machine and the needle. You can set the machine up like a home machine with the motor to the right and the needle to the left, or you can set it up to feel more like a longarm with the needle facing forward. I have my machine set up in the Quilty Table, but Grace Company also offers a very simple flatbed table for this machine as well.
With all machines there is an adjustment period required to get used to the machine and how it works. For me, the biggest challenge was learning how to control the speed of the Grace Qnique. Here's a video on how I mastered the speeds on this machine:
As a sit down longarm, the Grace Qnique 14+ doesn't have a stitch regulator so you control the speed with a foot pedal and moving your hands, just like a home sewing machine. It will take practice, patience, and quilting a few quilts to get the hang of quilting consistent sized stitches.
The most crucial feature for free motion quilting in my opinion is a needle up / down feature. On many machines this will be a button or setting you need to set up. On the Grace Qnique it's already built into the foot pedal. To drop the needle down just tap the bottom edge of your foot pedal with your heel. To lift the needle back up, tap it again. You can take one stitch at a time this way which is a very useful feature to have.
Now you might be wondering about the bobbin case and how to change the bobbin on the machine. Here's another video about cleaning and oiling the machine as well as changing the bobbin:
Now I want to be upfront with my partnership with Grace Company. I met Nathan Ernoznik from Grace Comany at fall quilt market and had the chance to try out several machines, including the Qnique 14+ which was set up both in a table as a sit down longarm and on a quilting frame. I was impressed by the simplicity of the machine and the innovation of company behind it and we began discussing ways to work together.
Eventually Grace Company sent me a Qnique 14+ longarm so I could film videos and learn more about using this machine as a sit down longarm. I've now shared dozens of videos in our Sit Down Quilting Sunday series and quilted many projects from start to finish on this machine.
Why develop this relationship? Over the years I noticed a clear trend: whatever machine I use in videos, quilters tend to be interested in it. Many quilters have run out and bought a new machine just because I made a switch.
Unfortunately, this can be a double-edged sword. Over the years a few sewing machines have revealed their true nature as finicky, glitchy, hot messes of malfunction. I made it work, fussed and fiddled until I got decent stitches, but it always made me uncomfortable to know a quilter might buy that awful sewing machine.
In recent years I've been very selective about the sewing machines I use because I never want anyone to buy a machine and be disappointed by it. I've been there and done that and it's no fun!
I also wanted to develop a relationship with a manufacturer. I love making quilting videos, but I also love design and innovation. I know what makes a great machine and what crucial design issues can drive a quilter crazy. I've received machines that require detailed assembly and come packed with terrible instructions. I've experienced every sort of break, failure, and glitch you can think of. Some of this is normal wear and tear and some of it is just plain bad design.
Even more frustrating, I've also found many sewing machine manufacturers don't seem to care when this happens. Some companies have gotten so big and corporatized they're too busy to listen when a quilter - the person USING their machine - writes in to say something isn't working properly.
So when I met with Grace Company, I was actively looking for more than just a machine - I was also looking for a company that would be willing to work with me and listen. I was looking for a company that was small enough to not need seven committee meetings to make a decision. I also wanted a company that would actively respond to machine issues, and not just for me because I can make a video on it, but for everyone.
I found all of that and more with Grace Company. I've been working for months with Nathan and Jaren and both actively ask for input so they can improve the machines and products they offer. I love working with a company that stands behind their products this way and has excellent customer service for everyone.
Moving the Grace Qnique to the Longarm Continuum Frame
After about a year of quilting on the Grace Qnique as a sit down machine, I decided it was time to try quilting on a longarm frame. This is a totally different style of quilting because now I'm moving the machine, not the quilt. See how this works and the process of building the frame in this video:
I hope you enjoyed seeing the timelapse video of us building the frame together. It took about two days to get set up completely, mostly because we realized after a day of quilting that the legs should be adjusted higher. I believe I have the legs set up at the maximum height and that has worked great for me and I find it very comfortable to quilt for long periods of time on the longarm.
I've also just recently become a dealer for Grace Company and will soon be adding these longarm machines and quilting frames to the quilt shop. Click Here to contact us if you're interested in learning more.
Quilting on a Longarm vs. Sit Down Machine
The major difference between quilting on the Continuum Frame verses the sit down version is the speed and movement. I can move the machine so much faster because it's mounted on wheels and I don't have to stop constantly to shift the quilt around.
Yes, I do have to stop to advance the quilt up through the frame, but I don't have to stop and start nearly as much as on a home machine or the Qnique sit down. This speed was really surprising when I first got started and suddenly I could quilt an entire quilt in a few hours!
Yes, it does feel different to quilt on the longarm frame. I'm moving the machine now and sometimes it's hard to control where it's going. I still can't travel stitch perfectly and it's really tough to stitch in the ditch precisely.
But with practice and patience, I know I can build that skill on the longarm as well. Learn more about longarm quilting and how it compares to quilting on a home machine with the following tutorials:
Let's go quilt,