What is Longarm Quilting?

It wasn’t that long ago when hand quilting was the only option available for humans, but technology has provided us with numerous options today. A good example of this is longarm quilting.

Longarm quilting is where the quilter uses a longarm quilting machine to quilt. Unlike regular sewing machines, longarm quilting machines have long throats. These machines can load the top, batting, and back of the quilt into a metal frame, and sew the three layers at once.

During quilting, the head of these machines rolls in both vertical and horizontal directions, keeping the fabric in place. Longarm machines can be operated manually or automatically, depending on how they are programmed.

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The history of longarm quilting

The idea of a quilting machine arose when sewing machines were first introduced in the early 19th century. Quilting machines were first introduced in 1871 and consisted of a frame with two bars and a machine. The machine was moved over the fabric and along the rails using a hand crank before electricity was available. 

Longarm quilting machines, which we see today, are based on the original design of the “quilting machine” which was modified in 1877.

With time, the designs and patents for quilting machines changed drastically, and today’s longarm quilting machines rely on sophisticated technology. During the past 20 years, longarm sewing machines have become a popular and familiar concept among quilters.

Tools and supplies needed for longarm quilting

  • Basic quilting supplies
  • Space for setting up and quilting around the machine.
  • Longarm software or paper for pantographs.
  • Rods from 10′ to 14′ for the quilt, backing, and batting.

Longarm Quilting Types

The two main types of quilting done on a longarm machine are pantograph and custom.

Pantographs are overall designs that run across the whole surface of a table. The quilting is done over the entire quilt without regard to the piecing or applique design of the quilt top. Pantographs are popular among quilters because they require minimal effort.

On the other hand, Custom designs are great when you want to add different designs to individual blocks. The cost of this type of design is higher because it is more time-consuming and requires closer attention to detail.

Benefits of longarm quilting

Longarm quilting machines allow you to move the quilt top and batting under the machine while it is stitching. This allows you to quilt large quilts quickly. Longarm machines are faster and more accurate and also allow you to create custom or all-over quilting designs.

Longarm quilting machines can quilt multiple layers simultaneously. In other words, you can quilt multiple layers of batting and fabric at once, which can save you a great deal of time.

Additionally, longarm quilting reduces fabric waste as well. By using a longarm quilting machine, you can finish beautiful quilts much faster than by hand.


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