How Can you Load a Longarm Quilting Machine?

In today’s age, all business organizations want to produce mass products in less time. The same goes for the quilting industry. Quilters tend to create more quilts in less time. And this is the reason why quilters prefer longarm quilting machines rather than traditional ones. 

If you are a newbie and want to step into the world of professional quilting, better you learn how to load a quilt on a long arm frame in depth. 

Before you start quilting, you learn the most essential step. How to load a quilt on a long arm frame?

Keep reading this article and give a kickstart to your favourite job with confidence. 

Basic Terms You Should Know

You must know the machine you are using in detail. When you become familiar with each part of the machine and its role, it will be easy to handle the machine more efficiently.

Let us look at the essential parts of a longarm machine. Also, what are their roles?

  1. Sew head (It is the most important. It makes the stitches on your quilt)
  2. Throat space (It is the space between the needle and the back of the sewing to the head)
  3. Leaders (A leader is a canvas on which you will attach the backing and the top of your quilt. It is the place where you load your quilt)
  4. Take up bar (As the name suggests, it takes the quilt as you complete it. It means as you quilt the layers of fabric, they roll onto the take-up bar)
  5. Rear Bypass Bar (The bar helps the batting, backing, and quilt top remain at the same level throughout the quilting process)
  6. Quilt top bar (If you have a questioning mind, which partly helps load a quilt frame? This part of the machine does the job. This bar packs the quilt top onto the frame.)
  7. Quilt back bar (Along with the quilt top, the backing also needs support. So this bar gives support to the back of the quilt.)
  8. Snappers (You can use pins to attach the quilt top and back. But you can use snappers to de the same.)
  9. Stitch regulator (As the name suggests, it regulates the stitches on your quilt. It keeps an eye on the stitch length irrespective of the machine speed.)
  10. Pantograph (It is used to make patterns on the quilt.)

Steps of Loading a Longarm Quilting Machine

Follow the steps below to get a clear idea of how to load a quilt on a longarm?

i. Place the backing

  • Take the sewing head to the end of the frame. 
  • Ensure that the backing is 3-4 inches larger than the quilt top. Also, the backing must be straight and square.
  • Place the backing of the quilt over the frame. You will make the back lay over the quilt back bar. Make sure that the wrong side of the frame is on the top and right side below, facing the frame. 

ii. Pin the quilt back

After placing the quilt back correctly, it is time to pin the backing. Pin the backing properly along with the leader.

iii. Pin the quilt back on the Take-up bar

Roll up the roll under the rear bypass bar after you pin the backing on the quilt back bar. Pin the other part of the backing with the take-up bar. 

iv. Roll-up the backing

After you have pinned both sides of the quilt back, roll up the back. Roll until the backing becomes flat and smooth.

v. Place the batting

Now, it’s time to place the batting. Place the batting over the quilt backing bar. Roll it under the quilt baking bar adjacent to the quilt backing. 

vi. Place the quilt top

After placing the quilt back and batting fabric on the frame, it’s time to spread the quilt top over the batting surface in the same way you put the betting on the quilt back. Now all three layers are correctly adjusted on the frame.

vii. Baste the layers of fabric

As a quilter, you must be knowing how basting is a step you can never skip. So before you start quilting, baste the edges of the fabric. Now you are ready to quilt.

Some Pro Tips

Although you have learned how to load a quilt frame, some things you always need to remember to carry out the process smoothly:

  1. The leaders on the machine must be installed properly. Make sure they are straight and centred. Also, ensure that the centre lines of the leader line up.
  2. It does not matter whether you are working on a larger or smaller quilt. It should always be placed at the centre of the frame.
  3. Always keep the backing larger than the quilt top. Keep at least 4-6 inches of extra support from all four sides. Keep extra will help you while pinning it with the bar. It will also help you to check stitches before quilting.
  4. You can also work on multiple small quilts at the same time. In that case, take one piece of backing and place the quilt tops around the frame. 

Pros and Cons of Longarm Quilting

Before you buy a longarm machine, look at the pros and cons of using it.


  • Faster than other options

The most crucial advantage of longarm quilting is that it works very fast. It is 4-5 times faster than its other alternatives.

  • NO basting require

Quilters using longarm machines are relieved. Now they can baste their quilt without even using pins. In longarm machines, the layers are pasted to the frame. It saves the unnecessary hard work of pinning, which takes almost two hours. 

  • Computer controlling

In longarm, there is also liberty to create designs through a computer control automatically. But most quilters prefer pantographs as computer controls are tough to operate. 


  • No chance of sitting

Longarm quilting has the most significant disadvantage, i.e., it does not allow you to sit and quilt. You have to keep standing all the hours you do your work.

  • Expensive

The longarm machines, along with the frames, are costly compared to other alternatives.

  • Requires large space

You may not be equipped with ample space. In that case, you cannot buy longarm machines. Longarm machines take ample space for setup. 

Final words

All the industries around the world have benefited from the advancement of science and technology. Traditional methods seem inefficient in today’s fast pacing era. Longarm quilting machines are an example of how they are helping quilters around the world to produce quilts much faster. 

If you are still using the traditional machines, then it’s high time you must shift to longarm quilting machines. Yes, longarm machines are pretty expensive, but they are worth spending money on. I hope this article could provide you with enough ideas on how to load a long arm quilting machine.  So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and create wonders. Happy Quilting!

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