Why to get a long arm quilting machine?
Quilts consist of fabric pieces and multiple layers. It’s possible to make them by hand or with a regular sewing machine but doing so is difficult and takes a great deal of time and effort. A long arm quilting machine lets you layer all those fabrics at once, sewing them together quickly and easily.
There are seated ones that use a large attached work table to give you more room to work. You can also choose a frame model that uses a separate frame with rollers and clamps to hold everything in place while you move the quilting machine along a track.
You can even choose the best computer guided long arm quilting machine, which connects to your computer and allows you to select or design a sewing pattern. Then you just push a button, and the machine does all the work for you.
Features to consider while choosing a long arm quilting machine
With so many different models and features to choose from, it may be hard to figure out just what you need in your new long arm quilting machine. The following sections may take some of the guesswork out of your decision.
The motor speed tells you how many stitches the quilting machine can perform every minute. The faster it goes, the quicker your stitching is completed. For instance, the Juki TL-2200QVP-S has the fastest motor speed of all the products reviewed here, completing up to 2,200 stitches per minute, so at top speed, you can complete even large projects in record time.
You may also want to look for speed regulation. This ensures that the stitches are consistent throughout your project. Otherwise, moving faster may make wider stitches while slower movements bunch them together.
Stitches, stitch functions and buttonholes styles
Though many long arm quilting machines use only basic stitches, requiring you to use your own creativity or some included patterns to add decorative stitching, some models, like the SINGER 8500Q, come with numerous built-in stitches. These include the usual straight and zigzag stitch, plus include a number of decorative ones as well. Some models even include monogram or word stitching for adding some extra flair to your pieces.
You may also want to check out buttonhole styles as well. Though these aren’t necessary for quilts, if you plan to use your machine for clothing, buttons may be a necessity. A few buttonhole styles give you the right look and size for each button with ease.
Automatic needle threader
Threading the needle can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re using a small needle with an even smaller eye. That’s where an automatic needle threader comes in handy. This feature allows the quilting machine to do all the threading for you, so you can start sewing your quilts, blankets, or anything else on your list much faster.
Working area/frame dimensions
The working area you need all depends on the projects you have in mind. For smaller pieces, an attached table like the one on the Brother PQ1500SL gives you plenty of space to spread out your work. These can be rectangular or square, and some even have extenders to make your workspace even bigger.
The frames allow you to move the quilting machine back, forth, up, and down, all while holding the fabric in place. These are rectangular in shape and take up quite a bit of space, so you need to buy one that fits in the area you have. They range in size, too, from about 5-14 feet long, with varying depths and heights, so you can get the right one to fit your room and your projects.
The machine’s physical dimensions need to fit the space you have if you’re using it on a table. If you’re using a frame, you also need to check out the throat length as well, which is the distance between the back of the machine and the needle. Smaller throat dimensions are better for smaller frames, while a larger throat needs a larger frame to be able to reach the entire span of the quilt as you move it up and down.
Of course, if you are using a seated quilting machine, like the SINGER 8500Q, the throat length will only matter if you need to roll or bunch up fabric in the confined space beneath the machine as you work.
Warranty is one of the most important features to look for. Most machines are not backed by a warranty for the whole machine. Different parts may have different coverage.
Be sure to check out what is covered and for how long before you buy, so you know what issues you’ll have to deal with on your own.
The extras may be what pulls you towards one machine over another. One thing to look for is the weight, especially if you are in the market for a portable quilting machine. The heavier it is, the harder it is to transport.
For frame models, you should check out the grips, to be sure they will be comfortable when using them for longer periods of time. If it comes with accessories, like extra bobbins, needles, feed dogs, or feet, that’s super convenient as you don’t need to buy all these things separately. To keep your work well-lit, you should check that the machine has at least one light included near the needle.
For computerized sewing machines, like the Grace Q’nique Long Arm Quilting Machine, an LED, or OLED screen is a must. This way, you can see all the settings you’ve chosen and adjust them easily with the touch of a button. Software is also a plus, giving you easy access to patterns that you can program in, leaving the work to the quilting machine.