Both of the Innova models are virtually identical other than the size and weight. The Innova 18 has an 18-inch throat, with a minimum quilting area of about 11 1/2 inches for a king-size quilt with average batting when it is fully wound up on the frame. The Innova 26 has a 26 inch throat, with a minimum quilting area of about 19 1/2 inches on a fully advanced king-size quilt with average batting.
To help would-be Innova owners decide which model, I ask them to think about the following:
- Will you be quilting for yourself or others? Will you be doing mostly custom work or all-over pantograms? Will you be able to take advantage of the Innova 26's larger quilting area on a regular enough basis to justify the additional cost and space in your quilting studio?
- Do you do a lot of quilts with large blocks set on point? Will you want to be able to quilt inside each block without having to advance the quilt sandwich? The Innova 26 will allow you to quilt a 12-inch block on point without having to advance the quilt or split the design into sections to complete. With the Innova 18, you can quilt an 8-inch block on point without rolling.
- Do you plan to do a lot of ruler work, or even a small amount of large-scale ruler work? Because the ruler plate takes up some of the quilting area, you may be happier with the 26-inch throat.
- Is space in your quilting room a consideration? The 26-inch Innova sits on an 8-inch deeper frame than the 18. Both can be ordered on either 10-foot or 12-foot frames (or other custom lengths), but the widths cannot be altered.
- Are you short, or have short arms? The 26-inch requires a slightly longer reach.
- Are you a "hurried" quilter, where time matters a lot? The 18 will require you to advance your quilt more often. It's not a big consideration, but the 18 will take a little longer to get a quilt done.
- Both machines move easily on their frames, but the Innova 26 weighs about 12 pounds more. Will this extra weight bother you?