Long Arm Quilters, Quilting

What Is a Long Arm Quilting Machine?

Quilting is a type of sewing that requires a durable machine in addition to a range of feet to support the thickness of the fabric. But there are some benefits to be found when considering a long arm quilting machine, which can cut the work in half and provide you with comfort and support thanks to the customization of the machine. With this in mind, what is a long arm quilting machine?

 

A long arm quilting machine is a type of sewing machine that is designed solely for quilting. This sewing machine commonly features elongated sewing arms and longer threading mechanisms to supply quilters with ample space and maneuverability when stitching quilts. 

 

I must confess that quilting is one of my favorite types of sewing. Therefore, I am looking forward to telling you everything there is to know about long arm quilting machines in this comprehensive guide. We will explore how these machines work, various long arm quilting machine terminology, as well as the many different types of accessories you can purchase for your long arm. Read on to find out more. 

Woman Tailor in Red Measuring White Cloth
Image credit: [email protected], Deposit Photos

What Does A Long Arm Quilting Machine Do?

A longarm quilting machine allows you to quilt your top batting and backing together, and part of the reason this is achieved is thanks to the large amounts of space you have available under the long arm of the machine. 

 

In most cases, a long arm machine will allow you to not have to worry about pre-basting (tacking) the fabric, such as pinning your quilt to the floor due to the need for tension and space with the thick fabrics

 

These types of machines are perfect for larger quilting projects, and any type of quilting that goes beyond the parameters of what is accessible with available quilting feet with regular machines. 

 

You can get a long arm quilting machine that stands up or, you can get a long arm machine that is designed for sitting down. To be honest, I tend to prefer both models, and I have used both types of models before. 

With a sit-down long arm machine, you will still have to do some form of basting in order to quilt effectively, however, you will have a bigger throat reach on this machine than you would on your normal home-based sewing machine. 

 

With a standing long arm quilting machine, you will normally have a table between 10-14 feet, and your machine is based on a tracking system where you are standing up quilting. All of your basting is done on the machine between two leaders that are on the frame and you just start quilting from this vantage point; there is no need to crawl around on the floor!

Do I Need A Long Arm Quilting Machine?

One of the top things to consider before you purchase a long arm quilting machine is what the overall purpose of the machine will be. Are you getting this machine just for yourself, or are you getting this machine so you can quilt for others in a business model? 

 

Because of the varied prices that come with long arm machines, you need to determine if you’re not going to quilt professionally, if it then makes sense for you to purchase such a complex and specific machine? 

 

The reason why I ask this is because if you just want to make a quilt or two every now and again, you may not need to invest in this type of machine. However, if you are a professional quilter, or an aspiring professional quilter since you are reading this guide, you are certainly in the right place when considering a long arm quilting machine. 

Woman sewing in the laundrette
Image credit: londondeposit, Deposit Photos

Having this type of machine will remove the need to contract out work to other quilters, and this is because you will now have the efficient technology to quilt with ease. It still takes time of course, but you can feasibly cut the time you were spending quilting in half with a long arm machine at your disposal whenever you need it. 

 

The next great thing to keep in mind about long arm quilting machines is space. Do you have the needed room for a stand up machine that is a minimum of 10 feet long? Do you have enough available space that will allow you to work on both sides of the frame? These machines are long and wide, therefore, be sure to keep that in mind when considering a purchase or a rental for that matter. 

 

If your place is small or cramped, you can consider getting a sit down long arm quilting machine instead. 

 

With all of this in mind, it is certainly beneficial to get a long arm machine if you do a lot of quilting. It is also great to purchase or rent a long arm machine if you are wanting to start your own quilting business. It will save you so much time and additional hassle. Just keep these tips in mind. 

How Does A Long Arm Quilting Machine Work?

The longarm quilting machine comes equipped with a sewing machine head, a worktable, several fabric rollers, and a metal frame. The overall dimensions of the frame can range from 10 to 14 feet in length by two-and-a-half to four feet in depth. The machine comes equipped with a table region. The table size ranges in lengths like the machine. 

 

Larger table sizes can accommodate up to king sized quilts. Typically, the table contains a flat region on which a layer of thin, clear plastic lies, on which patterns and other designs to follow can be placed.

 

The sewing machine head is large and made of industrial strength metal. It can be either hand-guided or computer guided, with controls at both the front and back ends to guide the head. For a full range of movement, the sewing machine head is placed on wheels that run on metal tracks along the frame of the machine. The sewing machine head can also come with a laser pointer, which can be used to guide the quilter along patterns, called pantographs. 

woman working on laundrette
Image credit: londondeposit, Deposit Photos

Pantographs are placed underneath the clear plastic region of the table. The hand-guided machine head contains handles by which the quilter can guide the machine along the fabric to sew the design of choice. A computer-guided machine head is hooked up to a computer system that allows the quilter to select the chosen design to be sewn onto the fabrics. 

 

With the push of a button on the computer’s keyboard, the longarm sewing machine will sew the design onto the quilt with minimal physical assistance.

 

The frame of the machine consists of several rolling bars onto which layers of the quilt sandwich are placed. On one side of the machine, two rollers, known as the feeder bars, are present with a muslin leader onto which the backing and the quilt top can be attached. 

Positive young woman sewing with professional machine at work
Image credit: sonerbakir, Deposit Photos

Material is attached by sewing pins, a snap system, or sewing zippers to the muslin leaders and then the material is stretched tight over the belly bar, which ensures that the layered material is smooth and taut according to the sewers’ desires. 

 

The backing of the quilt is attached by sewing pins, a snap system, or zippers to a third roller, known as the “take-up” roller. The take-up roller is the region onto which the quilted layers can be moved to allow the quilter to gain access to a new region of quilt top. The backing, quilt top, and batting are commonly basted together by a single-row of stitching, but can also be pinned together onto the muslin leader on the take-up roller. 

 

The stretched region of fabric that spans between the take-up roller and the feeder rollers is the area over which the fabric layers are actually sewn together into the finished product. The longarm quilting machine typically comes with electronic controls that allow the user to adjust the fabric that spans the area over which the machine runs. 

Learning How To Use A Long Arm Quilting Machine

To learn how to use a long arm quilting machine, you should first gather all of the needed supplies—thread, bobbins, and needles need to be purchased. Once you have your supplies, you will then need to load the backing, with the right side facing forward onto the belly bar, or the bar closest to you. Find the center of the backing and align it with the center of the rail. 

 

Using the stitching line on the rail fabric, align your fabric, pinning it in place before using the clamps to fasten it. A helpful hint to keep in mind is that the backing needs to be 8” wider and 8” longer than your quilt top.

Dressmakers working with the sewing machine
Image credit: marinobocelli, Deposit Photos

You can then roll the backing onto the rail, and make sure you follow these directions: 

  • Keep the fabric straight and loose. Don’t twist the fabric over the rail except to tighten any seams on the backing. Because of the thickness of any seams used to join the backing, that area needs particular attention when rolling the backing onto the rail. 
  • Please also keep in mind that 108” backing is nearly always rolled onto the bolt in such a way that the grain is crooked and needs to be re-aligned before use. 
  • It is also important to let the batting relax about a day before using it by spreading it out on a flat surface. 
  • Once you have both the backing and the quilt top on the rails, pull the backing under the leveler bar before attaching it to the back rail. Once the backing is attached to the back rail, check to make sure that it is not too tight or too loose. 
  • You will want to be able to hold one hand under and one hand on top of the fabric and be able to grasp your fingertips through the fabric. If you can bounce a quarter off of it, it’s too tight.
  • You may also want to trim the batting to match the size of the backing to make it easier to clamp the sides and roll the quilt.
  • Once everything is in place, use the side clamps to stabilize the fabric.

 

Once you have the quilt loaded, you are ready to quilt. Also remember to clean and oil the machine, wind the bobbin, check the bobbin tension, change the machine needle, and thread the machine. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind if you run into problems:

 

  • Oil the bobbin race every 2 bobbins of thread used.
  • If having issues with the thread breaking, change the needle size to 18. If still having trouble, change the position of the needle. If the stitches are skipping, turn the eye of the needle to 5:30 position. If the thread breaks, turn the needle to 6:30.

How Much Room Do You Need For A Long Arm Quilting Machine?

I know that a longarm machine on a frame seems like it will take a lot of room, but you would be surprised when you start looking around your home or your studio where you can find room. The frames come in many different sizes, but think about what you want to quilt. If you are doing mostly throws, baby quilts or even runners, then a small frame may be just what you need. 

 

If you are wanting to do king size quilts, then you should make sure you have room for the largest frame. We have found that many people get really creative with where they place their frames. Dining rooms are used if you don’t entertain a lot. Spare bedrooms and formal living rooms may also be good choices, as these rooms are not used very often.

 

Another great thing to think about if you have a longarm at home is that you can quilt anytime you want. Early in the morning while still in your pajamas, or even late at night when everyone is in bed. Whenever your creativity sparks, you can just go quilt.

 

Did you know you can get a quilt finished faster with a longarm on a frame? When using a frame, there is no need to pin baste, spray baste or stitch baste a quilt before you start. You simply load the frame with all three components of the quilt. Load the quilt top, the batting and the backing onto the rails of the frame and you are ready to start.

empty room with white walls and wooden floor
Image credit: ChristinaKrivonos, Deposit Photos

Once the part of the quilt you are working on is quilted, you will advance it onto the Take-up Rail, and it is out of your way until you have completely finished the quilt and are ready to take it off. Quilting on a frame helps to keep your quilt square (providing that is if it starts off square). You can also use the frame to help make a not-so-squared quilt more square. 

 

When the layers of the quilt advance at the same time on the frame, you are far less likely to get a tuck in the back or front of the quilt.

 

There are two primary kinds of quilting that can be done on a frame.

 

The first is free-motion or custom quilting. This is when you move the machine where you want to quilt the stitches into the quilt. It is very freeing, and you are able to express yourself with your own particular style. You can start with the basics and go on to more advanced techniques. Ruler Work is a free-motion style of quilting, but using the rulers can help you keep your stitches where you want them.

 

No matter what type of quilting you choose to do based on your frame, finding enough room to quilt comfortably and efficiently is easier than you think.

Dimensions Of Long Arm Quilting Machine

Of course, the size table frame you choose will dictate the maximum size quilt you’ll be able to finish on your frame. The canvas leader that is attached to the poles of the frame are slightly smaller than the full length of the table so that there is room to attach the side clamps to your backing fabric when you have loaded the quilt to the table. 

setting up thread rolls in an embroidery machine
Image credit: rustycanuck, Deposit Photos

As you can imagine, a 10-foot table would allow you to quilt up to an average Queen-size quilt but would not be big enough for the average sized King quilt. For a quilt that size, you’d need at least a 12-foot table. When determining which sized table you desire you should consider what size quilts you anticipate quilting.

 

Then you can adequately determine the proper dimensions of a long arm machine you may need. 

Moving A Long Arm Quilting Machine

Moving a long arm quilting machine can be difficult, but not too bad granted you have enough space to move the machine around within. The arms that hold the take up bar have metal extensions with an elbow that extend down to a long pipe that travels along the inside back of the table. At the ends of this elbow bracket, two set screws hold a cap on the long pipe. 

 

Loosen these with a 4mm Allen wrench, and they will pull off the pipe. Carefully cover the inside and outside of these caps with painter’s tape to prevent the set screws from becoming lost. The table legs can now be removed from the tabletop. Wrap these with blankets.

dressmaker in her work room
Image credit: Satura_, Deposit Photos

The table can now be lifted off the sawhorses. If possible, this can be transported as one unit. If it is two heavy or difficult to get out of a tight area, it can be broken down further, but this will add extra time to reassembling the machine. Please keep in mind if you will be going up or down stairs, the pipe that travels along the back of the table (part of the take up bar assembly) can slip out of the table. 

 

You may wish to secure this in place with tape. For transport, the table can be placed on the floor of the trailer. The front pivotal assembly will nest onto the top of the table unit, and the other long bars will also nest in place. The tabletop can then be stored on top of these. The leg units can be attached to the side of the trailer, standing up (lock casters).

 

The head should be carefully strapped in place, making sure the straps do not come into contact with thread guides, etc. Some people will also occasionally transport the head in a car, using the seatbelts to secure it. If you are using ratcheting tie downs, do not over tighten. It is possible to damage the head if the needle end of the head is strapped too tightly.

Long Arm Quilting Machine Terminology

When it comes to long arm quilting, there are likely some terms and phrases that you may not be familiar with. Let’s take a look at each and explain what each term means as it pertains to long arm quilting. 

Throat Size

If using a quilting frame, the short arm sewing machine will only allow for the stitching of small patterns or blocks. These smaller machines are typically the least expensive option. Since most long-arm machines are mounted on a frame, they have throats 18 inches or longer. 

 

The material and batting are fed through the machine from rollers. The quilting machine head moves around the frame while the fabric stays in place. The head can be hand or computer guided. These are usually the most expensive quilting machines. 

Quilting Frame

Quilting frames run the gamut across virtually any type of commercial sewing machine. Those that make quilts for commercial purposes tend to favor long arm quilting frames. They’re often too large and expensive for residential purposes, but some quilting supply shops will allow customers to rent one of these frames.

young woman working as a seamstress
Image credit: everyonensk, Deposit Photos

These frames are designed to work with long arm sewing machines. As the machine stitches the quilt, the frame unrolls new sections.

Computerized Long Arm Quilting Machine

A computer-guided machine connects to a computer system that allows you to select the design to be sewn. All you have to do is press a button to start the sewing process – very little assistance (if any) is required.

 

The machine’s frame has several rolling bars, and these are where the layers of the quilt are placed. There are two rollers on one side of the machine, known as the feeder bars, onto which you place the top and backing of the quilt.

Electric Long Arm Quilting Machine

An electric long arm quilting machine essentially refers to a regular type of long arm machine, just as it does with practically any type of sewing machine. This term is not used often but may sometimes pop up every now and again. 

Industrial Long Arm Quilting Machine

In their essence, long arm quilting machines are a form of industrial sewing machine. When we think of the word industrial, we typically conjure up images of factories mass-producing reams and reams of fabric at high speeds, and in many ways, this is what an industrial long arm quilting machine does–it mass produces quilts while making the work as easy as possible for the sewist. 

Commercial Long Arm Quilting Machine

When you hear the phrase, commercial long arm quilting machine, this also refers to a long arm quilting machine. It is just a way to highlight the type and volume of work the machines can perform. 

What Is The Best Long Arm Quilting Machine?

Since there are so many different long arm quilting machine models to choose from, opting for a somewhat affordable model is likely the best option for those just starting out. Here is a model worth considering:

Handi Quilter Moxi Longarm Quilting Machine

 

With the Handi Quilter Moxi, now every stitch can be yours—from pieced top to finished quilt. Forget basting with pins or cramming quilts through a domestic machine, enjoy 15 inches of free-motion freedom and the space to get creative with this innovative and easy-to-use unit. 

 

Practical features and optional accessories make this budget-friendly unit the perfect longarm quilting machine to customize and make your own. The HQ Moxie longarm quilting package is upfront, and includes everything you need to get started quilting, including the frame. The versatile HQ Loft Frame features the essentials of a professional quilting frame system and optional accessories to create a personalized quilting experience. 

Moxie Longarm Quilting Machine
Moxie Longarm Quilting Machine

The HQ Moxie Longarm Quilting Machine features a 15-inch throat space for free-motion quilting in Cruise or Precision stitch regulation or Manual Mode High-resolution, full-color display with convenient handlebar controls, and you can quilt up to 1,800 stitches per minute. Additionally, there are 4-18 stitches per inch, and a built-in LED light to illuminate quilting space.

 

Other Details to be aware of with this unit:

 

  • Comes with a height-adjustable 8-foot HQ Loft Frame for quilts up to 84” wide
  • 15-inch throat space and high-resolution, full-color display, and up to 1,800 stitches per minute.
  • Built-in stitch regulation and manual stitching modes.
  • Built-in LED lighting around the needle.
  • 3D interactive assembly instructions with the free BILT app

What To Look For In A Long Arm Quilting Machine

With a long arm quilting machine, there are many things to look out for and keep in mind. Run the machine with various stitch lengths and test your stitches in various directions. Do your stitches look consistent on the top and bottom of the quilt, both in stitch length and stitch quality in all directions of sewing?

 

These stitching dynamics are perhaps the most important thing to know before you purchase. Don’t forget to test the machine in straight lines (left to right, right to left and straight back and forward). This lets you check that the needle bar is set to the right height and that it’s timed properly. If it isn’t, you’ll see skipped stitches on the front or back, or thread breaks/fraying.

 

Does the machine speed up and slow down while doing free-motion work? Can the machine stitch regulation keep up with your movements or are you seeing stitch length variations or stitch quality issues? 

Female clothier stitching with her hands
Image credit: anatoliy_gleb, Deposit Photos

These questions are important to consider because the motors on some machines can be easily outrun by the quilter when in regulation mode leaving you with some undesirable results. Think about whether you could stand and quilt for several hours and how you would feel, would you get easily fatigued? 

 

A quilt machine should bring joy, not aches and pains. Also take a look at the basting process of the machine if possible–does the machine have a specific basting stitch mode or do you have to manually take a single stitch for each basting stitch? (manual basting is not only tedious but can be a real pain.)

 

An additional consideration to ponder is if  the table has leaders with zippers? This is a particular consideration if you are considering using your longarm machine to build a quilting business. There are customers who are in a hurry and you may have to bump one quilt to put another on your machine. Zippered leaders make this process super easy.

 

Last but not least, does the machine suit you? Make absolutely sure that you have finalized if you want a standing or sitting long arm machine. 

How Much Does A Long Arm Quilting Machine Cost?

Long arm quilting machines are expensive; there is no extremely affordable option when it comes to this versatile and convenient machine. 

 

A long arm machine will typically start around $5,000 as an initial price point, and can scale upward to about 40 to $50,000 depending on the size of machine that you need. 

cost and benefits infographic
Image credit: Olivier26, Deposit Photos

Financing A Long Arm Quilting Machine

The good news is that you can finance a long arm quilting machine from a variety of different retailers. Financing for a long arm machine works just like financing for any other product or service that consumers may need. 

 

A credit check is typically performed, and based on the results of this preliminary check, a monthly payment plan and a term of finance is decided. Monthly installment payments for your machine can range in price depending on the machine in question and the prices offered by the individual company. 

 

Sewingmachinesplus.com is a great company to consider, and you can read more about their financing options here

Where Can I Buy A Long Arm Quilting Machine?

When you are looking to purchase a long arm quilting machine, finding a retailer that offers a range of different purchase options, such as financing and quality used options, is your best bet. 

 

Sewing Machines Plus is a comprehensive site to consider. This company sells long arm quilting machines ranging from a neck length of 18-inches to up to 30-inches for some industrial quilters. Paired with a quilting frame, long arm quilting machines can vastly speed up your quilt production time when compared to normal quilters or hand quilting. 

King Quilter II demo
Image credit: Sewing Machines Plus

These industrial quilting machines do this by sewing together your quilt’s top, batting, and backing into a finished quilt in one smooth process.

 

At Sewing Machines Plus, the retailer offers a wide array of long arm quilting machines and frame combos at incredible prices. Their selection includes long arm machines from reliable brands such as King Quilter, Handi Quilter, Grace Company, Juki, Brother, and more. Get everything you need to set up your dream quilting workshop, from long arm machines to needles to software and more. 

 

If you are unsure what equipment suits your needs, you can give them a call and they will gladly assist you with your selection process.

 

Sewing Machines Plus operates the largest sewing and quilting machine website in the nation. Their mission is to have experts available to help answer any and all of your long arm quilting machine questions. The company offers shipping within the United States for orders over $49 and most orders ship the same day and arrive within 3-7 days.

Where Can I Rent A Long Arm Quilting Machine?

Renting is a great option when it comes to longarm quilting machines! Of course, if you are a professional quilter, you will need to bite the bullet and acquire your very own long arm, but renting is the most economical option you can make when you have various quilting projects to complete or, if you just wish to rent the machine for an elongated period of time to finish quilting projects in bulk. 

 

You can rent sewing machines from many different venues. Most rentals provide sewing machines for an affordable hourly or daily fee. Some provide options such as renting a sewing studio or other equipment as well.

 

Why would you want to rent a sewing machine? One of the most common reasons people rent sewing machines is to find out whether or not they truly like to sew. Better to give sewing a try before committing to a large, final purchase.

tailor working at studio
Image credit: serejkakovalev, Deposit Photos

Perhaps you enjoy sewing, but know you will only have time to make one or two projects a year. It’s probably more cost-effective to rent the machine once in a while instead of buying your own.

Or maybe you don’t have space to store such a large piece of equipment, or your job requires you to move regularly and you don’t want to pack and repack a heavy machine all the time.

 

Then again, maybe you know how to sew but prefer to borrow a machine to complete certain brief projects cheaply because you can’t afford to buy an expensive sewing machine right now.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to try renting a sewing machine. Did any of these examples strike a chord with you? 

 

If so, keep reading to find out more about typical rental costs.

Long Arm Quilting Machine Rental Costs

Most sewing machine rentals offer either an hourly charge that ranges anywhere from $10-30 per hour or a daily fee of somewhere between $30-$60. Some rentals also offer the option of renting to own a sewing machine. This means that every time you pay a rental fee, a portion of the fee goes toward the cost of the machine, and eventually, it will be yours to keep.

 

Another option many beginning sewers find particularly useful is the chance to take a class or rent a sewing studio that comes equipped with everything you might need, often including an instructor to help you learn the ropes.

Two women tailors work in the studio
Image credit: Nicolaos, Deposit Photos

A beginner’s class somewhere like Joann Fabric will cost around $40-$150, while renting a sewing studio typically costs at least $50 a day. Alternatively, some studios offer in-house use of machines for hourly fees as low as $15.

 

Remember that some rental companies require you to either take a course before you can rent their appliances or demonstrate your ability to sew before renting a machine. This may involve additional fees, so look into the prerequisites before committing to a rental.

Used Long Arm Quilting Machines

Quilting machines must have the power to sew at constant and varied speeds for hours on end, while maintaining the precise timing necessary to provide a beautiful stitch as the machine moves rapidly across a quilt. A quality machine will do this not just in the first month or the first year. A quality machine built to industrial standards should keep performing for decades − stitch after stitch, quilt after quilt. 

 

That is the kind of company you want to work with if you’re in the market to buy a used quilting machine.

 

Start by looking at a company’s “new machine” warranty. If the company believes in their quilting machine and its quality, that will show in the length of their warranty. A company that offers a lifetime warranty on new machines expects those machines to last and last, and they are willing to stand behind each and every one they build. 

 

That means you can look at a used machine from that same company with confidence about its performance − even if it’s not brand new. Check out the company’s warranty on used machines as well. Are you forced to buy it “as is” or will the company stand behind their used products with a warranty? Next consider the company’s reputation for service and support. 

 

Will you receive the same level of support whether you buy the used machine from the company or another person, or will you be left to fend for yourself if you have problems or questions?

Find out more about the company’s reputation in general. Have they been in business a long time? Are they respected in the industry? What do current machine owners have to say about the company? 

Alt Text
Image credit: kikkerdirk, Deposit Photos

Ask current owners about their experiences with their own machines. Would they buy their model again? How do they feel about the quality of their machine, the company’s support, education and service? What made them buy from that company in the first place? Quilters are pretty honest and will not hesitate to tell you what they love about their machines, as well as what they’d love to change.

 

Be wary of models that are readily available in the “used market” or are exceptionally low-priced. That’s a telltale sign that the machine’s quality is substandard, or that the machine didn’t meet the quilter’s needs or expectations. The adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies to longarm quilting machines. Quality longarm machines tend to hold their value for a long time, and quality doesn’t come at bargain-basement prices.

How Much Space Do You Need For A Long Arm Quilting Machine?

I know that a longarm machine on a frame seems like it will take a lot of room, but you would be surprised when you start looking around your home or your studio where you can find room. The frames come in many different sizes, but think about what you want to quilt. If you are doing mostly throws, baby quilts or even runners, then a small frame may be just what you need. 

 

If you are wanting to do king size quilts, then you should make sure you have room for the largest frame. We have found that many people get really creative with where they place their frames. Dining rooms are used if you don’t entertain a lot. Spare bedrooms and formal living rooms may also be good choices, as these rooms are not used very often.

 

Another great thing to think about if you have a longarm at home is that you can quilt anytime you want. Early in the morning while still in your pajamas, or even late at night when everyone is in bed. Whenever your creativity sparks, you can just go quilt.

 

Did you know you can get a quilt finished faster with a longarm on a frame? When using a frame, there is no need to pin baste, spray baste or stitch baste a quilt before you start. You simply load the frame with all three components of the quilt. Load the quilt top, the batting and the backing onto the rails of the frame and you are ready to start.

 

Once the part of the quilt you are working on is quilted, you will advance it onto the Take-up Rail, and it is out of your way until you have completely finished the quilt and are ready to take it off.

 

Quilting on a frame helps to keep your quilt square (providing that is if it starts off square). You can also use the frame to help make a not-so-squared quilt “more” square. When the layers of the quilt advance at the same time on the frame, you are far less likely to get a tuck in the back or front of the quilt.

Accessories for Long Arm Quilting Machines

There are many accessories for long arm quilting machines to keep track of. Here are some of the most common with details of what the accessories are and their intended use. 

sewing supplies
Image credit: Sewing Machines Plus

Dust Cover For Long Arm Quilting Machine

Any sewing machine needs a dust cover to ensure that dust does not damage the internal compartments of the unit. Dust covers for long arm quilting machines are larger than traditional sewing machine dust covers.

Light Bar For Long Arm Quilting Machine

Since a long arm quilting machine is such a large workspace, a light bar is a fixture that you can purchase to run across the entire length of the frame and the table. This is similar to lights that are made for desks or other large workstations such as seen in construction. 

Laser Light For Long Arm Quilting Machine

The easiest way to trace patterns or pantographs when quilting is with a laser light or stylus. Just place a pantograph on the back table of your longarm frame and follow along with the laser light as your guide. This accessory truly comes in handy and gives you a clear visual of the pattern. 

Thread For Long Arm Quilting Machine

A 40 or 50wt cotton quilting thread is probably one of the most common and widely used options for longarm quilting. One of the perks of cotton thread is that it carries no stretch to it, making it easy to sew with. It’s also ideal for use in quilts where you don’t want the thread to stretch in the fabric, which can pucker and distort your quilting lines when using low quality threads.

Handles For Long Arm Quilting Machine

Enjoy complete precision while longarm quilting when you consider adding handles. These centralized, adjustable handles fit perfectly in between the existing handles on a machine for the ultimate control during micro-stippling or close-up work.

 

Something like Micro Handles include fully integrated built-in buttons, keeping all stitch controls at a quilter’s fingertips. The Micro Handles also include an additional LED light, providing extra illumination to even the smallest areas.

Side Clamps

Side clamps that grip and pull on only an inch or two of the quilt thereby distorting the side of the quilt can easily be fixed when considering the use of side clamps. Side clamps are super lightweight providing a secure 6-inch grip and easily opened with one hand. Each clamp comes with 6 feet of double-sided VelcroTM and a short elastic strip for fast attachment to the frame. And testing your machine’s tension has never been easier with these accessories.

Quilter Leaders

Thread nesting underneath the seams is a common problem we all face with quilting. A leader can prevent it successfully and produce clean stitches only. We quilters can also feel quite irritated when the thread comes out of the needle’s eye as we start working. It kills our valuable time. Such an unthreading incident will never occur with leaders regardless of the number of garment blocks. They restrict the fabric pushing tendencies of needles too.