long arm, quilting

FAQ About Long Arm Quilting

Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask!

Long arm quilting may be new to you, but trust me, we all started somewhere! In this blog post I’ll discuss long arm quilting, what it is, how much it costs, and answer some frequently asked questions.

What is long arm quilting?

Long arm quilting is using a long arm sewing machine to sew together three layers (quilt top, batting, and the quilt back). Long arm sewing machines have a deeper throat and are much sturdier to withstand thousands of stitches.

When you think of a traditional sewing machine (like you’d see in a home ec. class) you’re most likely thinking of a short arm machine. Most short arm machines have a bout 8 inches of sewing space between the needle and the “throat” of the machine.

short arm machine
Me sewing on a short arm machine. Notice I only have about 8″ of sewing space between the needle and the inside of the machine.

Long arm machines, by contrast have significantly more sewing space. My Gammill Statler has 30 inches of sewing space.

How does a long arm quilting machine work?

On all long arm machines the quilt top, batting, and back fabric are sandwiched and rolled on the frame. The quilt stays stationary as the machine moves over it, sewing one “strip” at a time. After each strip the quilt is rolled and a new strip is quilted.

A recent project on my long arm machine. Notice the computer screen on the upper left and the frame holding the rolled quilt.

Some long arm machines are manual. These machines typically have heavy duty handles on the sides for the operator to move an manipulate. More modern machines, (like mine) are computerized. The stitches are precise and nearly perfect.

floral jelly roll race quilt on long arm machine
My long arm machine is computerized, but I also have the option to quilt manually. Notice those heavy duty handle bars to maneuver that machine!

What is edge to edge quilting?

My computerized long arm quilting machine makes edge to edge quilting easy. I have hundreds of templates and patterns to choose from.

Edge to edge quilting (also sometimes called E2E) is when one pattern is used all over the quilt. Think of the pattern like a stencil that repeats itself seemingly seamlessly.

What is custom quilting?

Custom quilting is when each block has the quilting designed especially for it. Custom quilting takes additional time for me to plan out the project, program specific points in the computer. It is a true art form, and a great way to create a unique heirloom quality piece. Custom quilting is a difficult skill that requires years of experience and very expensive equipment to do well.

How do I prepare a quilt for long arm quilting?

You need to get your quilt top to me, and decide if you want to provide the batting and back fabric (or if you want to purchase from me). I prefer each side have 3-4″ extra of batting and back fabric. So if your final quilt top is 110″ x 110″ I need your batting AND back fabric to be AT LEAST 116-” x 116″.

Notice how the backing and back fabric is significantly longer than the quilt top on every side

I sell batting at my cost (my current prices are listed here), and I also have numerous choices of backing fabric on hand to sell as well. This is a great option if you’re shipping the quilt top to me. Be sure to contact me to see what batting and back fabrics I have on hand.

How much does long arm quilting cost?

I strive to offer the BEST quality quilting to my customers at very competitive rates. For my current pricing information please check out this page.

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