What is Longarm Quilting?

What is Longarm Quilting?

September 23, 2022

What is Longarm Quilting?

After you finish your quilt top, prepare your backing and cut to size your batting, it’s time to quilt! Quilting is the process of using thread to hold the three layers of the quilt together. There are several ways to quilt, including: by hand, on a domestic machine, on a mid-arm machine or on a longarm machine.

Tell Me More about How Longarm Quilting Services Work

A longarm quilting machine consists of a frame, often between 8-14 feet wide, rollers and a machine. There are two types of longarm machines – hand-guided and computer-guided. Hand-guided machines have handles and the longarmer (the person running the longarm!) controls the movement of the machine and needle over the fabric. In this instance, the longarmer can do free-motion quilting or can use rulers for straight line and geometric designs. This type of service is custom quilting.

Computer-guided machines let the computer do the stitching work all on their own. The longarmer sets up the design on the computer, which tells the computer what it will stitch out on the quilt. The stitch designs are called pantographs. Here are the pantographs I currently offer my longarming customers.

The longarmer reviews the pantograph and scales the design appropriately for the quilt they are quilting. The design runs from the left side of the quilt to the right side. This is called edge-to-edge quilting.

When a longarmer is ready to load a quilt onto the frame, they will place the backing on the machine first, followed by the batting and then the quilt top and carefully roll it onto the rollers. This means that only a portion of the vertical part of the quilt is available for stitching. After the machine quilts the first row from left to the right, the longarmer will advance the quilt so that the next section can be stitched. After the last stitches are added, the longarmer removes the quilt from the machine and it’s ready now for binding.

The frame size tells you how large of a quilt a longarmer can load and quilt on their machine. The larger the frame, the larger the quilt size the longarmer can accommodate. A longarmer can often load a quilt sideways so if the shortest side can fit the frame, the longarmer can likely accept your quilt. I have an 12 foot which means I can accept quilts up to 110” on the shortest side.

Why Would a Quilter Want to Hire a Longarmer?

Edge-to-edge quilting is typically faster than custom quilting services. The machine stitches on a consistent, steady pace, while the longarmer oversees the process. Longarm quilting services are a popular option for many quilters that don’t have the time, the space or don’t particularly enjoy this part of the quilting process. Whether a quilter lacks the physical space in their sewing studio or the throat space on their domestic machine, a quilter can utilize the services of a longarmer to finish their quilt projects.

Quilters of all genres – traditional, contemporary and modern – utilize longarm quilting services. The breadth and depth of pantographs available on the market today means there’s a stitch design that will work for all styles of quilts. Modern quilters are likely to look for a pantograph to complement and balance the pieced top design. A quilt design that has tons of sharp edges can be softened with simple curves or small curvy shapes. Quilt designs that are more organic can be tied together with overlapping geometric shapes. The Longarm League recently shared the Top 20 Modern Edge to Edge Quilting Designs and it’s worth scrolling through to see all the great quilt texture!

I’m Ready to Send My Quilt – Tell Me What To Do Next!

I invite you to follow me on Instagram @mashemodern to see the quilts I longarm for my customers. I also operate a full-service quilt store – I sell modern fabrics, including pre-cuts, bundles, yardage and widebacks. I offer a variety of batting options you can select when you book longarm services. You are always welcome to supply your own batting as well.

If you’re ready to book your quilt and utilize my longarm quilting services, please fill out this form. I look forward to working with you!