Mid-Arm Quilting Machines: Tips and Tricks Only Advanced Quilters Should Know

A mid-arm quilting machine bridges the gap between a domestic sewing machine and a long-arm quilter. An advanced quilter, someone who has mastered the craft and is looking to enhance their skills further, would benefit greatly from using a mid-arm quilting machine.

So, Why Are Mid-Arm Quilting Machines Popular Among Advanced Quilters?

Mid-arm machines offer several advantages that make them highly sought after by advanced quilters.

These include more quilting space, faster speeds, increased precision, and the ability to handle larger quilts. Their design allows for a seamless combination of the control found in domestic machines and the capabilities of long-arm machines.

Tips and Tricks That Advanced Quilters Use With Mid-Arm Quilting Machines

Here are some tips and tricks that might help you more while quilting and which i also consider as an advanced quilter myself:

Tip #1: Use the Right Needle for the Job

Every quilting project begins with the selection of the right needle. The type of fabric and thread you’re working with significantly influences the needle choice.

For example, a larger needle (like a size 16) might be suitable for heavier fabrics like denim or canvas, while a smaller needle (like a size 11) would work well with delicate fabrics like silk or satin.

The needle’s eye should be large enough to accommodate the thread without causing fraying or breakage. Keep in mind that a dull or damaged needle can lead to poor stitch quality, broken threads, and fabric puckering, so replacing your needle regularly ensures a smoother quilting experience.

Tip #2: Adjust the Tension Settings for Different Fabrics

Tension settings on a mid-arm quilting machine play a critical role in creating even, consistent stitches. While the perfect tension setting depends on various factors, including fabric type, thread thickness, and even the quilting style, understanding how to fine-tune it is a critical skill.

If the tension is too high, it can lead to tight, puckered stitches, while too low tension can result in loose, looped stitches. To adjust the tension, start with a test piece of fabric and continue adjusting until you achieve the perfect stitch. Remember, the ideal tension should allow the top and bottom stitches to interlock in the fabric’s middle without pulling or looping.

Tip #3: Use a Walking Foot for Even Stitching

A walking foot, also known as an even feed foot, is a quilter’s best friend when it comes to sewing multiple layers of fabric or maintaining even stitch lengths. It works by synchronizing the fabric’s movement with the sewing machine’s feed dogs, reducing the risk of the layers shifting apart.

This is particularly useful for quilting straight lines or geometric shapes where precision is paramount. Regular practice with a walking foot can greatly enhance the overall finish and look of your quilt.

Tip #4: Practice Your Free-Motion Quilting Skills

Free-motion quilting is a technique that allows the quilter to stitch in any direction by manually moving the fabric under the needle. It provides the quilter with a high level of creativity and control, perfect for creating unique, intricate designs.

However, free-motion quilting requires a good deal of practice and patience to master. Start with simple shapes and patterns and gradually move on to more complex designs. Using a darning or open-toe foot and lowering the feed dogs will help you smoothly move the quilt under the needle.

Tip #5: Use Templates and Rulers to Create Precise Quilting Designs

Templates and rulers are invaluable tools for quilters. They allow for consistent and accurate designs, especially on larger quilts where precision can be a challenge. These tools are designed to work with specific free-motion or ruler feet to guide the machine’s path and maintain a consistent distance from the edge of the ruler.

Start with basic shapes like circles and squares, and as you grow more comfortable, you can experiment with more complex designs. Remember to move the fabric and the ruler together to ensure accuracy.


For advanced quilters, a mid-arm quilting machine can significantly enhance the quilting process. These machines offer a balance of control and capability, allowing for greater creativity and efficiency. By following the tips provided, you can optimize your use of a mid-arm machine and take your quilting to the next level.

Some final tips for advanced quilters include keeping the machine clean and well-oiled, changing needles regularly, and always testing tension settings on scrap fabric before starting a new project.


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