Top 8 Long Arm Quilting Machine Reviews (2021 Buyer’s Guide)

Pushing a king size quilt through a small sewing machine can be a struggle.

If you’ve given up on fighting with your sewing machine every time you make a quilt, it could be time to purchase a long arm quilting machine.

Long arm quilting machines offer a larger throat space, making it easier to craft thicker and larger quilting projects.

Like any piece of machinery, long arm quilting machines are an investment and can be found anywhere within $500-$40,000!

To try and make your decision easier before shelling that kind of money out, I’ve read up and compiled a list of 8 great long arm quilting machine reviews.

Which long arm quilting machine is the best for me?

It depends on your budget and needs. I have rounded up my top 4 into categories for you to analyze further.

Top Pick

Juki 2200QVP- S

Has all of the features that you’d expect from a long-arm quilting machine, without sacrificing the comfort of a smaller and domestic machine.

Juki 2200QVP- S

The Juki 2200QVP-S sit down sewing machine is my top pick, as it’s a sturdy mix of modern and classic technology.

Features it comes with include adjustable front handlebars and a built in bobbin winder.

The hand wheel is positioned on the front of the machine instead of the back, so you don’t have to reach behind the machine like on similar models.

Build

It can handle the largest of quilting projects, with a basic area of 18”long x 10” wide, extendable to 34” height x 35” wide with the table and stand.

Fast stitching at 2,200 stitches per minute, LCD touchscreen, thread trimmer, and foot control.

It can also become a stand up sewing machine and be put on the Juki Quilt Virtuoso Pro long arm machine.

It’s a great little quilting machine for home use

Best Value

Juki Kirei HZL-NX7 Long Arm Quilting Machine

Comes with an abundance of accessories and technology which is really excellent for a machine at this price point.

Juki Kirei HZL-NX7 Long Arm Quilting Machine

With the Juki HZL at under $3000, I don’t think you would find a machine at this price point with another company.

The abundance of accessories and technology is really excellent.

It’s one of the best long arm quilting machines, but without the huge price tag.

Stitches

It comes with 350 stitch patterns, including 4 fonts for monogramming.

I love the built in bobbin winder, independent of the sewing machine motor.

Everything can be controlled on the LCD screen central location without control buttons or dials.

Guide

The entire user instruction manual can also be accessed on the screen using the touch panel.

The micro lifter prevents uneven seams when quilting, and owners praise the power of the machine, the fast sewing speed, and intuitive controls.

It has all the features of professional longarm quilting machines that have been wrapped into a tabletop long arm quilting machine.

Editor’s Choice

Grace Q’nique 21 Long Arm Quilting Machine

Has all of the features that you’d expect from a long-arm quilting machine, without sacrificing the comfort of a smaller and domestic machine.

Grace Q’nique 21 Long Arm Quilting Machine

My editor’s choice is the Grace Q’nique 21” long arm quilting machine.

This machine will sit nicely at home and in a studio.

It really closes the gap between short arm and longarm quilting.

Features

It has all of the features that you’d expect from a long-arm quilting machine, without sacrificing the comfort of a smaller and domestic machine.

It’s been encoded for a beautiful, consistent stitch, with stitch regulation available on three of the four different stitch modes to give you maximum control over your quilting.

The hopping foot can be positioned so you have optimal visibility of the needle.

Bobbin Winder

The fast built in bobbin winder will even shut off automatically when the bobbin is full! The high stitching and speed made easier by technology make this a winner for me.

Best for Beginners

Handi Quilter Moxie 15-inch Long Arm Quilting Machine

Comes with a how to quilt kit Included decals to label the frame Straight-forward technology

Handi Quilter Moxie 15-inch Long Arm Quilting Machine

If you’re looking for your first long arm machine and aren’t sure where to begin, I recommend the Moxie Handi quilter.

It opens up long arm quilting machines to the novice looking to make the leap into long arm sewing without breaking the bank.

It’s an ideal purchase for the first home sewing machine.

User Friendly

The simple technology with an instructional app is easy to use.

It allows you 15” of free motion freedom.

Combined with the 8ft frame space, it will allow you to complete wall hanging and quilts of all sizes, no matter the space.

Top Long Arm Quilting Machines

Editor’s Choice

Grace Q’nique 21 Longarm Quilting Machine

Has all of the features that you’d expect from a long-arm quilting machine, without sacrificing the comfort of a smaller and domestic machine.

Grace Q’nique 21 Longarm Quilting Machine

I’m starting off the review with the Grace Q’nique 21” longarm quilting machine, which comes with a continuum 10’ quilting frame.

The handles are the main way that you can interact with the machine.

They’ve been designed to easily pivot up, down, left, and right so you get full use of the frame when micro-stippling and quilting.

Display

All major functions can be controlled on the 5” LED display, which has plenty of quick access control buttons.

The LED screen is also height adjustable.

Speed won’t be a problem with the Grace Q’nique Long Arm 21 PRO, as it sews up to 2600 stitches per minute.

The large power supply high motor means faster sewing and more accurate stitching.

Think about drawing; the faster you draw, the easier it can be and the more likely you are to get your desired end result.

Features

One of my favorite features about this model is the bobbin winder and estimator.

Bobbins can prove a big challenge on longarm quilting machines, and at some point you are going to run out of thread.

The bobbin estimator flags up when the bobbin is at 20% and 10% so you can switch out in time.

Customers rave about how buttery smooth it is to use manually.

Specs

  • Stitches per minute: 2600
  • Throat space: 21 x 10.5 inches
  • Built in stitch regulator: Yes

Pros

  • Built in stitch regulation
  • Bobbin estimator
  • Quiet

Cons

  • Can be tricky to get the tension settings worked out.
  • Poor lighting

Top Pick

Juki TL-2200QVP-S

Has all of the features that you’d expect from a long-arm quilting machine, without sacrificing the comfort of a smaller and domestic machine.

Juki TL-2200QVP-S

Next up is the sit down Juki 2200QVP, 18 inch long arm sewing machine, one of the best long arm quilting machines for home use.

The Juki 2200QVP is a mix of classic and modern machinery, featuring an automatic needle threader, auxiliary hand wheel that sits alongside the LCD screen display.

Display

You can use the 2 x 3” LCD screen to adjust the needle position, automatic thread cutter, foot pedal control and screen brightness.

You’ll be able to see exactly what you’re doing with the Juki TL – 2200 sit down model. It offers an 18 inch wide throat size x 10 inches high for extra visibility.

It comes with a transitional work area and can be mounted on an interchangeable frame, the Juki TL 2200 Quilt Virtuoso for stand up sewing instead.

Workspace

An additional 20” (or more!) can expand your workspace further with extension tables and optional leafs.

The Juki 2200QVP is great for free motion quilting, and can be programmed in a variety of ways to suit your sewing style.

Positioning

This Juki comes with an automatic needle positioner and dual directional lighting so you get a crystal clear picture of what’s happening on the plate.

Bonuses are faster sewing at 2,200 stitches per minute and stitch regulation.

Specs

  • Stitches per minute: 2600
  • Throat space: 21 x 10.5 inches.
  • Built in stitch regulator: Yes

Pros

  • Built in stitch regulation
  • Bobbin estimator
  • Quiet

Cons

  • Can be tricky to get the tension settings worked out.
  • Poor lighting.

INNOVA m24" Longarm Quilting Machine

A durable and powerful longarm quilting machine. With all its features you can tell that this unit has been precision engineered.

INNOVA m24" Longarm Quilting Machine

Beauty meets the beast with the Innova m24” series industrial long arm quilter machine.

It’s built with a fan cooling system, required by the high powered motor when it races to 4000 stitches per minute!

Build

The sealed ball bearing sewing machine comes in either red or black. It might be one of the toughest machines on the market at the moment, built with industry aluminum that’s specifically coated for a longer life.

It features a thread break detector, stitch regulation, and a needle laser light.

Light

The LED strip light built on the runway and overhead will change brightness settings, depending where you will use it.

There’s an integrated needle laser light in addition to LED runway lights that can be switched from dark black to bright or dim.

Positioning

Fully adjustable handles with multiple joints allow for nearly 360 degrees of rotation for perfect needle positioning.

By rotating the sew head, you can gain good access to the bobbin area, making it easy for repairs and changing feet.

This one has really been precision engineered.

Specs

  • Stitches per minute: 4000
  • Throat space: 21”
  • Built in stitch regulator: Yes

Pros

  • High speed stitch
  • Pinpoint needle laser light
  • 10 year no frills warranty.

Cons

  • Large work area required
  • High end of price range

Best For Beginners

Handi Quilter Moxie 15-inch Longarm Quilting Machine

For novices looking to make the leap into long arm sewing without breaking the bank.

Handi Quilter Moxie 15-inch Longarm Quilting Machine

You can quilt up to 108 inches wide with the Handi Quilter Moxie 15 inch long arm quilting machine.

Although it could technically be a mid arm sewing machine, the included 8ft or 10ft frame with the 1,800 stitches per minute makes it a long arm wonder to me.

User friendly technology is accessed through a small, full color screen on the Handi quilter.

Build

It boasts simple icons that can be selected through control buttons on the handlebars.

The company has partnered with the app BILT that gives 3D assembly instructions straight to your phone.

As well, there’s a USB port for easy Handi quilter software updates.

Customers say the Handi quilter is a simple setup and easy to use, and they love the pop of lime green color on the machine.

Foot

Included with the machine are a ruler foot and toe foot, great for free motion sewing and stippling.

It is interchangeable with all other Handi quilter feet.

You can purchase a table top to attach to the rear of the frame for pantographs.

Specs

  • Stitches per minute: 1800
  • Throat space: 15”
  • Built in stitch regulator: Yes

Pros

  • Comes with a how to quilt kit.
  • Included decals to label the frame.
  • Straight-forward technology.

Cons

  • Not as technologically advanced as other machines.
  • Have to purchase a table top separately.

CONSEW 744R30

An industrial sewing machine with a huge workspace. It comes with a fully assembled table and a Servo Motor.

CONSEW 744R30

The Consew 744 – R30 is an industrial sewing machine with a huge workspace, 30” long! It comes with a fully assembled table and a Servo Motor.

Although it’s big, it’s a sit down quilting machine and simple to use, available in 20”, 12” and 30” sizes.

The triple feed walking foot machine is better to make sure you have stress free sewing with thicker quilts and pattern matching.

Build

The top casting and the bed are one piece casting making it an extremely strong piece of engineering

 It’s a fantastic workhorse of a machine for simple and industrial sewing.

It comes with features such as a manual button to change the pressure on the presser foot; lift it for thinner fabrics and press it down for thicker fabrics.Customers comment on the simplicity to thread and the easy to use stitch size adjustment, up to 2 stitches per inch.

Features

Manual features include the foot pedals and the push button stitch regulation.

The center handwheel prevents unnecessary movement during high production work.

The casting of the machine has been set up for the two-needle machine conversion and the bottom of the machine will disengage if a needle snaps.

Specs

  • Stitches per minute: 1800
  • Throat space: 30”
  • Built in stitch regulator: Yes

Pros

  • High presser foot
  • 1,800 stitches per minute
  • Large workspace

Cons

  • No touch screen display
  • No needle threader

Consew 206RBL-25

A versatile walking foot sewing machine compatible with many brands. Great for huge projects with tough fabrics.

Consew 206RBL-25

The Consew 206RBL – 25, 25” long arm walking foot industrial sewing machine with table and servo motor has been built with few electrical parts.

The assembled table is a single foot sewing machine that comes with simple stitching options, including a reverse stitch.

Speed Control

The adjustable speed servo-motor gives the user more control of the motor’s speed, and the motor is completely silent when not in use.

A servo-motor consumes 90% less energy than a clutch motor, and there’s nothing to wear down or adjust—the speed will remain the same, no matter how hard you press down on the pedal.

LED

It’s a manually operated machine, and in replacement of high tech LED screens are stitch length set dials and a hand wheel located on the right side.

The feet control the pressure foot, as well as the sewing speed.

It comes with a built in bobbin winder, a pre-wound U bobbin, and a semi-automatic lubrication system.

Safety is key for Consew, who have installed a safety clutch to protect the hookas well as a safety hand wheel.

Specs

  • Stitches per minute: 2200
  • Throat space: 25”
  • Built in stitch regulator: No

Pros

  • Dial adjustments
  • Foot pedal control
  • Safety handwheel.

Cons

  • Handwheel is on the side of the machine.
  • No built in stitch regulation.

Grace Long Arm Quilting Machine Q’nique 19

Light and easy-to-use unit with a powerful motor and great features

Grace Long Arm Quilting Machine Q’nique 19

The Grace Long Arm Quilting Machine Q’nique 19” is compatible with many different quilting frames.

The computerized longarm quilting machine system is accessed through a responsive touch screen display.

Build

The Q’nique offers a long arm range of motion, but with the comfortable feeling of a smaller machine.

Comfort grip handles sit on the adjustable, telescoping handlebars. Quick-access control buttons situated on the handlebars can control all the main settings.

The built in stitch regulator controls the stitching speed to match faster or slower movements of the quilting machine.

Easy To Use

Customers are impressed with how light the Q’nique is to move and how it’s easy to use. The powerful motors run at an impressive 2000 stitches per minute.

A bright and powerful LED light illuminates the workspace.

Features

One of my favourite features is the easy access drop in top bobbin and the built in bobbin winder—essential for time saving during busy periods of crafting!

It runs on its own separate motor, so you won’t have to run the machine while refilling.

Specs

  • Stitches per minute: 2000
  • Throat space: 19”
  • Built in stitch regulator: Yes

Pros

  • Compatible with many quilting frames
  • Computer automated system
  • Balance of long arm with comfort and intimacy of short arm sewing.

Cons

  • Some customer reviews note problems with tension.
  • Can be delicate to use.

Best Value

Juki HZL-NX7 Next Generation Long Arm Sewing and Quilting Machine

Comes with an abundance of accessories and technology which is really excellent for a machine at this price point.

Juki HZL-NX7 Next Generation Long Arm Sewing and Quilting Machine

The Juki model Kirei HZL-NX7 Long Arm is a computerized long arm quilting machine. Although the throat space at 13.6” isn’t as big as other long arm quilting machines, it comes with a removable extension table to facilitate quilting.

Display

The LCD computerized touch screen comes with a touch pen to keep the Juki screen fingerprint free.

Stitches, tension, and stitch length are neatly stored in a folder system, along with built in instruction imagery.

Preview

The foldable panel gives the catalogue of stitches and buttonholes, but pay attention to the screen, which provides visualisation of the stitch you have selected.

The inbuilt Juki software comes with updates and lots of safety features to prevent needles from snapping.

Accessories

Its generous features include a built in dual feed walking foot, a bobbin sensor, needle up down button, and a sensor based knee lifter.

A micro-lifter and interchangeable feed dogs are useful for free motion sewing.

Foot

The long arm quilting machine includes a big box full of feet including a patchworking foot, ¼” foot, zipper foot, overcasting foot, and a foot for open toe embroidery.

Specs

  • Stitches per minute: 1050
  • Throat space: 13”
  • Built in stitch regulator: Yes

Pros

  • Automatic needle threader
  • In built instructions
  • Dark LCD screen is easy on the eyes

Cons

  • Computer sensors are very sensitive when stitching thick fabrics.
  • Not as big as other machines.

What is a long arm quilting machine?

Woman Using a Long Arm Machine
Woman Using a Long Arm Machine

A longarm quilting machine has been specifically designed for large projects.

  • They consist of a sewing machine head, a heavy-duty metal frame with rollers attached, and a worktable.
  • They are used to construct large quilts with ease.
  • Long arm is generally defined as being 16 – 30” long.
  • Long arm quilting machines tend to be made with large motors for high-speed sewing.
  • They are industrial grade machines with large throat space to accommodate bulkier projects.

What is a long arm quilting machine used for?

A longarm quilting machine is designed to quickly sew large fabrics together.

There are two primary styles of quilting with the most common type being a pantograph.

Here, a design is traced with the arm of the machine, although many crafters prefer to use their own designs to personalize a quilt.

How does it work?

A longarm quilting machine is similar to a hand quilting frame.

The frame of a longarm quilting machine has rollers attached to it.

Fabric is attached to the rollers, keeping it tight and allowing smooth and wrinkle free quilting.

Top Roller

The top roller is loaded with the top of the quilt, and the bottom roller gets the back of the quilt.

The batting usually is sandwiched between the two rollers.

The automatic roller sits opposite and is sometimes operated with a foot pedal.

Sew Head

The sew head is sat on two sets of wheels that move vertically and horizontally.

You can move the sew head around with the handles for free motion sewing in a loose movement on to the quilt.

Presets

If your machine is computerized, you can use a preset built in design, press the start button, and watch the magic happen.

The handles at the front of the machine are used for free motion sewing and the handles at the back of the machine are built for pantograph quilting.

Why buy a longarm machine for home use?

Operating a Long Arm Machine
Operating a Long Arm Machine

If you are a quilter, you cannot deny the labor it takes to try and squeeze a large quilt through the tiny throat space of your quilt!

Longarm sewing machines offer you a large throat space, making it easier to craft thicker and larger projects.

They’ve been designed to help you make quilts efficiently, especially with free motion quilting.

Types

You can choose from a stand up model where you move the machine (think pen to paper), or a sit down quilting machine (think paper moves and pen stays).

If you’re making a lot of quilts, or at least 2 per month on average, it could make sense for you to own a long arm.

Who should buy a long arm quilting machine?

Quilters get excited when they hear the term long-arm and want to go ahead and make the purchase immediately.

Yes, they’re amazing machines, but they can be a pricey investment if you’re not going to get maximum use from it.

Use

You might only get a couple of hours a week to use your long arm quilting machine to finish some quilts you’ve been using your home sewing machine for.

It would be a shame to let your long arm get buried under piles of fabric and projects half completed.

Skill Level

Make sure you know how to quilt, or are going to take quilter lessons.

You need to spend some time investing in quilt making skills!

Knowing that you have the skills and passion for your home sewing machine is a good indicator that this passion will transfer to your work on your longarm quilting machine.

NOTE

If you don’t like free motion quilting or don’t have the time to finish projects, then a longarm quilting machine is probably not the best way to spend your money.

What’s the best brand of long arm quilting machines?

Above is my list of the top eight brands for quilter sewing machines.

Ultimately it depends on what you need it for, as different brands offer different features.

Some brands have complex computerized systems, whereas others keep it simple.

Only you can make the decision as to which brand you think is the best.

How much does a longarm quilting machine cost?

A long arm quilter machine can set you back anywhere from $1000 to $40,000, depending on the brand and features.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you seriously love to quilt before investing in a longarm quilting machine.

They’re costly due to the size of the machinery, add ons, and the high powered motor designed for efficiency, precision, and speed.

How do I learn to quilt using a longarm quilting machine?

There are lots of online resources to help you with your long arm quilting machine if you are a total beginner.

Classes in your area might also be available for you to get hands on experience with a knowledgeable quilter.

There are also some top tips for a beginner too

Here’s a short but informative video for beginners

Grace Longarm Quilting Tip #7: WHERE TO START FOR BEGINNERS

Don’t be afraid of your machine

It might seem intimidating at first, but just see it as a bigger sewing machine.

If you have one, by now you’ve most likely been around sewing machines for a while!

Play

The most important thing is to play around with your machine every day.

Figure out the control buttons and new features that you may have never seen before.

Work out what you can do!

Have a piece of material loaded in your machine and dedicate time every day to build your quilter skills.

After all, it’s only fabric and thread, you can buy more.

Draw

When you’re not sitting at your machine, doodle as much as you can without lifting your pencil.

You will develop the skills for creating continuous line patterns in your muscle memory.

When you do make it to your machine, put away the first piece you sew on and bring it out again in 6 -12 months.

I bet you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come.

Be kind to yourself

We can all be our own worst critics, so it’s important to not be too self-critical of your stitches.

You do need to have a good look at your handiwork to see what you can improve on, but don’t beat yourself up if it’s not perfect. No one is perfect!

Keep learning

Whether this is through classes online or at a local quilters club, don’t stop learning. You can never know too much about quilting.

Some companies offer classes and quilter retreats (yes please!). There are also many groups on social media you can join to help you with all of your quilter queries 24/7.

How much space do you need for a long arm quilting machine?

Grace Q'nique 21 Throat Space.jpg
Grace Q’nique 21 Throat Space.jpg

Every longarm quilting machine is different and will require a different size space.

Sit down machines can be preferred for home quilting as they require a much smaller area.

Others come with 8ft – 14ft frames and tables, plus depth and height – you can imagine the room you’ll need!

TIP

Check the unit dimensions and the frame size against the space you are considering making a home for your long arm quilting machine.

Can I make money using a longarm quilting machine?

Absolutely! After spending on a longarm machine, it’s easy to put some money in your pocket by becoming a quilter for other people.

It is possible to pay off your investment in the longarm machine in a couple of years if you decide to make products to sell.

Share Your Work

If you have a longarm quilter machine and someone sees a beautiful quilt you have made for yourself, I guarantee it won’t be long before they ask for one for themselves, or for a gift for someone else.

It’s a good idea to know roughly how much you should charge and price your work fairly.

If you are thinking of selling quilts, decide what you would like to make as an hourly wage.

Will it be subsidizing a full-time income, or do you only want to cover your costs?

Money Considerations

The average quilter can charge anything from .01c – .05 c per square inch.

For example, a quilt that measures 60” x 72” = 4320 square inches. 4320 x .02 = $86.40. Then add on the cost for materials, and time if you would like.

Another way to boost an income would be to offer custom quilts where you could charge on a piece by piece basis.

Pricing

Some without sewing experience might say quilts are costly, but it’s important to take quilters’ expenses into account, such as the cost of machine, supplies, rent (for the studio / shop / home), insurance for the machine, and advertising.

Plus, the hours spent making the quilt!

Don’t forget prep time – we all know prepping before sewing can be the most time consuming part!

Things to consider before purchasing a longarm quilter machine:

It’s easy to jump in at the deep end when choosing a longarm quilting machine (especially at quilter fairs!).

You don’t want to lose thousands of dollars from not really doing thorough research. Here are some things to consider:

Purpose:

Will the machine be at home for personal use? Will you let anyone else use it, even if it is for personal use?

How much experience do you have in longarm quilting?

Are you thinking about investing in a longarm machine for a part-time or full-time business? Typically people might have a quilter machine in their house for full-time quilting work.

Hobby

If it’s for personal use, it might be worth looking at a slightly smaller and cheaper machine that can be used easily for 4/5 quilts per month.

If you’ll be using the longarm machine for professional use around 4/5 quilts per week, it might be worth looking into an industrial machine.

TIP

Do some research and see if anyone else has a longarm machine in the area and what kind of products they are offering.

Price:

Longarm machines can be expensive, some going for up to $40,000, yet the most expensive isn’t always the best.

Bear in mind that the price for the machine usually means the machine only.

This means you will have to additionally purchase the frame which comes in different sizes, and therefore different prices.

There could be more costs for any extras you want such as:

  • wheel castors
  • warranty and touch screen upgrades
  • ruler base
  • optional rear handles (for pantographs)

Some software such as the Pro-Stitcher can cost around $10,000, yikes!

But, it is the quilting robotic software.

It will allow the machine to stitch out the patterns for you, so you don’t have to manually stand there and quilt the pattern yourself.

NOTE

Only you can set your budget, and you can decide if your skills and passion for quilting are worth the price you will pay.

Size

If you have the space at home and you will be using the machine for commercial use, why not buy a larger machine?

It’ll give you more flexibility in terms of quilt size however because they are so big they can be hard to conceal.

Try to separate it from your personal life, it’s easy to mix business and personal life because it’s at home.

Table

The sewing machine head size that you choose will affect the table space you have on your frame.

For example, if you buy a machine with a throat space of 24”, you may only have 23” due to the sewing machine head.

You need to consider the frame size too. Choose at least a 12ft long table or frame to do king size quilts. 10 ft tables will do queen size quilts.

Build

There are so many different builds of longarm machines.

I cannot stress how important it is to research and see if you can test drive the machines.

Check if there are any quilting expos in the area to see which build of the machine feels comfortable for you.

Stitches per minute

Stitches per minute could be one of the biggest factors in your decision when looking at longarm quilting machines.

The higher the stitch, the faster you will be able to produce quilts.

The stitch per minute varies from around 1000 – 5000 in longarm heavy duty quilting machines.

Power

Quilting Blue Fabric Close Up
Quilting Blue Fabric Close Up

The higher number of stitches with a quilter longarm machine is made possible by the high powered motor they are built with.

They come with a choice of two motors.

  • A servo motor is much lighter and quieter than a clutch motor. The user can control the speed at which it runs with the foot pedal.
  • A clutch motor, however, is available in more powerful varieties making them more suitable for heavy duty sewing machines.

Format:

You can choose from a stand up or sit down quilting machine.

Let’s have a look at the difference.

Sit down long arm quilting machines

A sit down long arm machine is exactly that.

You are in a seated position in front of the needle position, and rather than moving the sewing machine head, you move the material underneath the needle.

Table

The table attached to the machines has a large flat surface for you to move the quilt around. The table is custom made to fit the machine with an opening for the needle plate, fits snugly to the throat or back of the machine.

Workspace

Sit down models are the best long arm quilting machines for those who don’t have the space for a long arm frame, those who can’t stand up for long periods of time, and those who feel comfortable in moving the material instead of moving the machine.

Stand up quilter machines

You will most likely spend time to the side of your sewing machine head, making adjustments with a stand up quilter machine.

Your computer will be connected to the side of the machine.

Operation

Unlike the seated longarm machines, you will be moving the sewing machine head during free motion quilting (moving the pen on the paper).

These are really good for people who feel confident with stand up free motion sewing, and those who have the space for a frame that will ensure a wrinkle free quilting process.

Features:

Advancements are consistently being made with long arm quilters in their build technology and speed.

I’ve rounded up three of the most important features:

Handles

Handles at the back are typically used for pantograph patterns that lay on the material on the table at the back, and you quilt from the back, tracing along the designs.

Most longarm machines come with moveable handles so you can adjust them according to your height and the area of the frame you are working in.

Stitch regulation

Grace Q’nique 21 Foot Close Up

A problem when using even the best long arm quilting machine can be the dragging of the machine.

You don’t want to be pushing and pulling the fabric or changing the stitch length.

Stitch regulation will sew at the speed you are moving the machine when free motion sewing.

If you’re going too fast, it’ll let you know!

You can preset the type of speed you want so you can baste fabrics before making the final sew.

This special feature helps ensure even stitching during free motion sewing.

Function

It is a tiny computer attached to a longarm quilting machine that constantly adjusts the stitch speed, accommodating the speed of the fabric during sewing.

You can stitch in any direction without the foot pedal.

The computer reads the speed of the movement and adjusts the stitching speed to match, ensuring even stitches.

If you go fast, the machine will stitch fast and when you slow down, so will the stitches.

Automatic needle positioner

You set the needle position to automatically stop in the down position when you want to pivot the work, or needle position up so that the work can be removed from the machine and the thread cut.

Types

There are two predominant types of longarm quilting machines.

Manual

Long arm sewing machines that are mechanical allow you greater control over the design of your quilt.

There is no start / stop button where you can leave the model to sew for you for hours. You will have to use free motion sewing and make use of the stitch regulator.

Computerized

HQ Moxie Quilting Machine Side View
HQ Moxie Quilting Machine Side View

A computerized long arm quilting machine enables you to choose your design in advance and then watch your model as it goes to work.

With a computerized longarm quilting machine, you’ll want to make sure the device is integrated with the software and hardware on your model. It will provide more control, better function, and precision.

NOTE

Learning the quilting programs can take a long time.

Check if software updates are provided for free (for at least 12 months).

The software can save you time and stress and is becoming more popular.

Set up

Companies will occasionally offer to set up and train you on your long arm quilter machine either at home or in a shop.

If you have to assemble the product yourself at home, read the manual carefully.

Companies like Moxie have created an app with 3D instructions for you to follow when putting the model together.

Educational videos can be easy to find online, as well as assistance for maintenance and technical issues.

Warranty

Find out what kind of warranty you want e.g. for personal use it’s covered, but not for a business.

Most companies will offer a comprehensive warranty for 10+ years.

Are all parts covered? Casting, the motherboard, the frame, and rollers?

These can be pricey, and if something malfunctions, you don’t want any monkey business when trying to source repairs.

NOTE

Verify if there’s a repair shop close to you. It wouldn’t be fun to travel out of state to try and replace parts.

Maintenance

Keep your longarm machine clean to prevent malfunctions.

They can be like jumbo jet engines—high powered and fast, so any small bit of mess can cause huge problems.

Get it serviced at least once a year, more if you use it for long periods every day. Ask a knowledgeable service person to come and take a look at your model.

Conclusion

Most of the components in a longarm sewing machine are the same as a regular sewing machine.

Think of moving the material when using a domestic sewing machine.

With stand up long arm quilting machines, you’re moving the machine instead of the material, and often instead of a power foot, you’re using control buttons that are placed in the handles.

Top Pick

Just to recap, my top pick is the Juki TL-2200QVP sit down longarm machine, which is sturdy enough to avoid damage and handle large projects.

Editor’s Choice

My editor’s choice is Grace Q’nique long arm quilting machine 21”, with its fast stitching, easy control through the adjustable handles, stitch regulation, and large throat size.

Best Value

The best long arm quilting machine for good value is the Juki HZL.

Consumer ratings for this Juki model are through the roof, all priced under $3000.

Best For Beginners

The best long arm quilting machine for a beginner is the Handi Moxie.

The Handi quilter provides long arm quilters a simple and easy approach to completing a quilt, no matter your experience.

Maximize Your Crafting

While being on the pricey side, the long arm machine is worth the money.

They are fairly heavy duty longarm machines built to work well and last a lifetime.

Make sure to read plenty of customer reviews.

Although these models can be expensive, you can rest easy knowing your investment will last!

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Kris Daub
Kris Daub
[email protected] byCurated I'm a maker at heart! I love to create and tech others to create. I particularly sewing and hand crafts like ebroidery. I also love larger home decorating projects. ✂️ 🧵