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How Does A Long Arm Quilting Machine Work

Quilts are versatile, beautiful, and above all, purposeful. There was a time when quilters were a separate tribe responsible for weaving quilts for the entire village. Today, with the advent of technology and evolving, anyone can get into quilting and try their hands in this weaving art. There is nothing complicated about quilting if you have learned the right way to complete the quilting process. You need the right supplies that will help you in the process.

It is essential to understand what it takes to quilt correctly. There are plenty of things you need to quilt from quilting needles, threads, and the right fabric. But what is just one item that can do the entire work? Sounds interesting, right? Anyone would want to skip the step of making hundreds of stitches to make a complete quilt. A long arm quilting machine is the answer for you.

It is a sewing machine that helps in making the quilt top, quilt backing, and quilt batting into a finished quilt. The machine is generally 10-14 feet in length that comprises a sewing machine, a table of layered plastic under which is the pantograph, and plenty of rollers on which you attach the fabric layers and batting. In this article, we will learn about these long arm quilting machines.

How Does A Long Arm Quilting Machine Work?

A quilting machine gives just a single stitch. It does not have any needle to move up and down or any feed dogs. It is powered by a motor that allows the quilter to move over the fabric and does the magic. The fact that long arm quilting machines are big makes them effective and easy to quilt. The big opening allows even king-size quilts to weave effortlessly. This machine will take up the challenge of stuffing big size quilting into a regular sewing machine.

How To Use A Long Arm Quilting Machine

Use A Long Arm Quilting Machine

  1. The first step you need to do is buy a quality product that can cater to all your quilting requirements. Theirs is an abundance of products available in the market, and you need to choose one that has better features and reviews from the customers.
  2. It has a big sewing head that creates an opening for the fabric to set beneath it. You can even use large-sized fabric for quilting, due to the availability of a wide opening.
  3. Stand up quilting machines stand on wheels with a track on the long table that is generally 10-14 feet long and 5 ½ foot wide.
  4. Now you need to attach the layers of quilt to different poles on the table that creates a sandwich of the fabric on the machine’s throat. This will also allow the fabric to move around the table, giving you the freedom to stitch the layers together.
  5. Two rollers are attached to either end of the machine, which is known as the feeder bard. They come with muslin leaders on which the quilt top and backing. The fabric needs sewing pins, a snap system, or zippers to firmly attach on the stretch.
  6. You can think of this machine as a giant doodler; only you use fabric instead of paper. The machine handles allow you to move the machine over the fabric and create unique designs. The latest long arm quilting machine comes with a robotic arm that supports computer designs. You simply need to insert your design in the computer, and the machine will automatically create that pattern on the fabric.
  7. You can control and monitor the movement of the machine with the help of a stitch regulator. With this device, you can control how slow and fast the machine will move. So, you just need to focus on the design part, rest everything will be taken care of by the machine.
  8. If you are a beginner, you must start with a free motion quilting. The pantographs and the rulers are easy to use, but it may take a while to get used to them. So, it is better not to risk it at the beginning and use free motion quilting.

Types of Long Arm Quilting

Types of Long Arm Quilting

There are two major styles that you can create on a long arm quilting machine. These days, long-arm quilting machines have also become computerized to create the design of your choice by setting the entire machine.

Pantograph Design

It is a long design that spreads across the length of the table. The machine will use the pantograph design and put it beneath the layers of plastic and trace the design with a stylus or laser, equipped on the machine head. This design can be repeated in different rows throughout the quilt top. It is the most commonly used design for long arm quilting due to its ease of work and minimal supervision required. You can also experiment with this design by making your design more efficient and aesthetically appealing.

Custom Work

As the name suggests, you can work out this design the way you want. When you need to quilt blocks with individual patterns in it, you can use the custom work design. Though it is a more time-consuming and expensive method, the end result is certainly worth everything.

According to the complexity of the design, the process of quilting might extend, and the requirements of resources may also increase. Meandering, sewing style will need less time than other designs. So, it totally depends on how hard and simple design you choose for the custom work. Feathers and motifs are the most time-consuming designs that will need your constant attention.

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

Space requirement For A Long Arm Quilting Machine

This quilting machine is indeed giant, and you need to spare some space for it to sit efficiently in your room. If you are buying a 12-foot machine, you would need 15 feet long, and 8 feet wide space in your room spared for the machine. For a 10-feet long table, you need 13 feet long and 8 feet wide space. There are two different environments meant for long arm stitching machines: commercial setting and home-based setup.

In an industrial and commercial setting, you don’t need to do anything extra to create space for the machine, but in the case of a home-based setup, you would need to add some essential items that will create the ideal environment for your machine. You need to keep your room always organized as it is quite easy to make things messed up in the presence of a long arm quilting machine.

How Long Does It Take To Long Arm Quilt?

How Long Does It Take To Long Arm Quilt

The time duration of completing a quilt on a long arm quilt depends on your expertise level and the pattern you intend to create on the quilt. The more experience you have with the machine, the lesser would be the time taken to complete the quilt. Basically, a queen size quilt takes around 90 minutes to 2 hours to complete a quilt for the first time on the machine.

With regular practice, you can cut short the duration to 1 hour. If your pattern is easier to quilt on the fabric, you can save more time. If you are new to the quilting, make sure to take some guidance from tutorial videos and refer to someone who has experience working on a long arm quilting machine.

Do You Need To Monitor The Long Arm Quilting Machine Every Time?

Monitor The Long Arm Quilting Machine

If you are using a computerized long arm quilting machine, wherein you just need to provide the computerized design, and the robotic sewing hands do the magic, you don’t need constant monitoring. But, in the traditional long arm quilting machine, you need to maneuver the hands and create patterns. So, yes, it would need your constant supervision. Make sure to prepare your design beforehand in order to avoid the delay.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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