Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use a Longarm Quilting Machine

If you are not new to the word quilting, then you have heard about the Longarm quilting machine. As the name suggests, these machines use long arms or rollers to move over a large area. They hence enable the machine to work on more significant projects with ease.

Longarm quilting machines are massive and bulky compared to the standard quilting machine we use at home. Not only size and weight, but it also uses more equipment types than the latter one.

Many people work as professional quilters or want to increase their working capacity. These people often get confused about operating longarm quilting machines as they are different from traditional machines.

So today, we will learn about the right way to use a longarm quilting machine. We will also look at all steps which we need to undertake to use the longarm quilting machine to its total efficiency.

So let’s start our longarm quilting tour. Buckle up, or should I say, “Needle up.”

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use a Longarm Quilting Machine

Like any machine, longarm quilt machines also operate in some way that we need to learn to use. Due to their size, longarm quilt machines are more complex than regular quilting machines.

So to use the longarm quilting machine in the right way, we need to follow specific points while keeping some tips in mind so that our quilt will turn out great and desirable. 

Let’s discuss those points in detail. 

I. Plan your design before starting quilting.

The first step of using a longarm quilting machine is to plan the design. It would be best if you used professional software to make a draft of your design.

You can also use some templates available on the internet for this purpose. You need to study your design and make some mental calculations on how you will do this or how you are going to cut out specific shapes while quilting. 

Planning is essential before you start quilting to avoid making mistakes while quilting. You don’t want to regret your choice about the wrong approach you took during the quilting process. So it’s better to plan.

II. Practice your design on paper before starting quilting.

If you want to start a project, it is best to practice your design on paper first. If you have a plan in mind, it is also a good idea to try and sketch it out before diving into the work. This will help you understand how much fabric you need for the quilt and how much thread.

Just take a piece of paper and start drawing the quilt design you intend to make. Move your pen in such a way that it stimulates your quilt machine motion. Try to observe how your move will affect your design using your pen.

If you are making mistakes during sketching, practice the same part until you become good at it before moving on a longarm quilting machine. You need to eliminate all possibilities of error before you start your work.

III. Load the Frame

Before starting the quilting, we need to load the frame with all fabrics to work on them. Most longarm quilt machines have three rails in the frame. These three rails are the Take-up rail, Backing rail, and top rail.

These rails ensure that the quilt is kept straight and smooth during the quilting process. All three of them have their purpose.

In a longarm quilting machine, the quilt is fixed at a place, and the sewhead moves over it. It’s like you are moving a pencil over the paper to make the design. The sewhead is a pencil, and the quilt is paper in our case.

So we need first to load up the frame before starting the quilting process. After loading the frame properly with the quilt, we can go to the next step.

IV. Threading Process

The threading process is the second step for using a longarm quilting machine. Threading needs to be done in two places, i.e., needle threading and bobbin threading.

Unlike conventional quilting machines, longarm quilting machine threading is in front. You don’t need to reach backward in the machine and increase your difficulty.

Firstly you should put your thread on the spool provided on the machine. Then take that thread to the sewhead, where you need to insert it inside the needle eye. After doing so, secure the thread in machine slots.

Just remember that before starting quilting, you should pull up the bobbin thread to the top so that you do not get a nest of thread on the back of your quilt. Let’s move to the next step.

V. Calibrate tension and needles.

Controlling the thread tension during quilting is very important. The thread tension should be in the optimal range, or our whole quilting process will be affected.

If the thread tension is too light, then the stitches will be weak, and if the thread has too much tension, the thread will break during the quilting process. So you should check thread tension before starting the quilting.

Many longarm quilting machines have instruments to check thread tension, so always check it.

The second point you need to keep in mind is the needle size and type depending on the thread and work profile. So you need to make sure that your thread type matches the needle type, or the thread will not fit the needle correctly, and your process will be affected. 

VI. Start the Quilting Process.

Hopefully, you have completed all the above steps, and now it’s time to start the quilting.

Grab your sewhead and start moving it to quilt your fabrics. You can move your sewhead according to your will quite quickly, like moving your sketch pen on paper to create a pattern or design.

Longarm quilt machine will make sure that you can work on large quilts efficiently, thanks to its frame size. After you finish the quilting, you can quickly unload your quilt from the machine. Hence, you now know how to operate the longarm quilt machine.

How is a Longarm Quilting Machine Different from a Regular Quilting Machine?

The longarm quilting machine is not much different from the regular one. However, there are a few differences which will be discussed below.

The main difference is that the longarm quilting machine uses a more oversized frame to work on a larger area. The frame is usually broader and higher than the frame of a regular size machine. This makes it easier for the machine to work on more complex projects.

Another difference between these two types of machines is that a longarm quilting machine has an extra arm used to hold the needle in place while it stitches. It also has rollers or arms that help move over a large surface area and help the user stitch multiple pieces at once. This allows you to complete big projects quickly.

Lastly, unlike standard machines, longarm quilting machines use many more tools like zippers, needles, thread clamps, etcetera, designed for large-scale projects.

Why Should You Use a Longarm Quilting Machine?

Longarm quilting machines are worth their price. These giant machines have some disadvantages, but their advantages entirely outweigh them. However, not everyone should use these machines, especially if you are a novice to quilting in general.

If you are sewing a giant quilt, then longarm quilts are the best way to go. These machines are designed for extensive quilt work with minimal effort. Having a longarm ensures that size restriction cannot stop you from big quilting projects.

Another reason which you should keep in your mind is time. Having these longarm quilt machines can save your time as there is no need to baste when using a longarm quilt machine as we load all three layers onto the machine.

However, before considering the longarm quilt machine, you should keep in your mind that these machines are heavy and oversized. They require a large area inside your house. So make sure to go through these issues first.

Otherwise, it would be best if you tried your hand on longarm quilting machines. These machines will increase your output and decrease your time waste while quilting.

Is Longarm Quilting Complex?

No, long arm quilting machines are not that hard. You need to practice a little bit and familiarize yourself with the machine working. After doing so, you can efficiently operate the longarm to its total efficiency.

The longarm quilt machine is designed to reduce your workload and increase productivity. So you will love it while quilting. 

Final Words

We have discussed all the steps required to operate a longarm quilting machine. Using a longarm quilting machine is hard. It just needs some practice, and then you will be good to go. 

Always read the guidelines provided by the manufacturer to understand the machine better. Each machine model is different, so always keep an eye on policies.

I hope you like the information provided here. Happy Quilting!

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