Modern quilting technology has radically changed the workload and art of quilting at home. Nowadays, there are far more quilters who prefer machine-quilting than conventional hand-quilting. The quilters, especially home quilters would have to consider investing to own a long-arm quilting machine to facilitate in the quilting process. A good and suitable long arm machine could help speed up the quilting process stress-free yet produce an awesome result; and most importantly, it could carry out quilting tasks that a regular sewing machine can’t. However, the pros come with the cons too: it is expensive and space-consuming!
Deciding to buy a long-arm quilting machine involves a sizeable amount of monetary investment. Thus a careful planning and feasibility evaluation are needed before putting in your hard-earned money to own one.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Long-arm Quilting Machine
Since buying a long-arm quilting machine is indeed a sizeable monetary investment, it behooves you to make proper planning and evaluation on getting the right machine that fits your budget and quilting needs. A regret at a later day must be avoided at all efforts. When bought, a long-arm quilting machine isn’t easy to return. So, carefully evaluate your needs and consider your choice. Here are some basic yet important factors to look out for, before deciding on the best long-arm quilting machine that best suits your quilting needs.
1) Consider Your Budget and The Cost of the Machine!
One thing you should consider at the beginning is your budget. Because this machine is far more expensive than the ordinary sewing machine. The price of this type of machine ranges between $2,500 to $10,000 or more. Hence, you should carefully evaluate whether buying this machine is truly necessary and justifiable for you.
If you intend to be competitive in your quilting or you want to use it as a business investment, then, buying this type of machine is truly justifiable, as long arm quilting machines can help speed up your quilting work, yet produce a wonderful result to satisfy your clients.
2) Consider the Format
There are many brands of long-arm quilting machines in the market. But, fundamentally, all are divided into two basic formats. They are either a sit-down format or a standing format.
- The sit-down format: includes those models of long-arm quilting machines that are usually set up on a table, and operate while seated on a chair. The machine is stationary while you rotate or move the quilt around the machine worktop. This sit-down format is more suitable for working on smaller quilts and other small size quilting projects. It is usually cheaper compared to the standing format too. Furthermore, it is ideal for passionate quilters who are suffering from leg pains and bad backs.
- The standing format: includes the long arm quilting machine, fabric rollers, and the sturdy, heavy-duty frames and stands. The machine is either a hand-guided quilting machine or a computer-guided quilting machine. In standing format, the top, back fabric, and batting are fixed on the frames; and the quilting machine runs on the frame along the track to make beautiful quilting designs. It is suitable for working on large quilts with elaborate quilting patterns.
You can always convert your quilting machine from one format to another using conversion kits. These conversion kits, however, are expensive and may run up to several thousand dollars. Thus, it is important to figure out which format best suits your quilting needs, so that you can avoid the unnecessary expenses for a conversion kit in the future.
3) Consider the Machine’s Speed
If you intend to create more quilts, you would need a faster quilting machine. Hence, another important consideration is the speed of the machine. The faster your machine operates, the more quilts you can complete in a shorter time, and the greater the quilting works you can accomplish. Before buying a prospective machine, it is essential to figure out its speed limit, and the speed adjustment or control features, to make sure that you can speed up or slow down the machine’s speed according to your needs from time to time.
4) Consider Your Working Space at Home!
It is crucial that before you add something to your home, you need to figure out if it would fit in. Therefore, before buying a long-arm quilting machine, you should measure the space that you can afford to allot for your prospective quilting machine. This will surely help you avoid the hassle of having to squeeze in your new machine into cramped space.
A long-arm quilting machine needs enough elbow room in your house. If you do not have enough space for an additional machine like this, you may opt for a machine that is smaller in size. Go for a sit-down format of a long-arm quilting machine that requires less space than standing format model. It comes in handy to have the dimensions of the space allotted for the machine so that you will have no problem getting a machine with the correct size to fit into your home.
5) Consider Its Expandability!
Over time, you might want to expand your long-arm quilting machine, and for this reason, you should at least give provision for the aspect of expandability. Many computerized quilting machines come with accessory ports. These ports would allow you to expand the features of your machine. With these ports, you can add features like ruler attachments, laser sites, and other helpful tools to the features of your machine.
Therefore, it is good to look for machines with expandable systems. Machines with great expandability will be surely great, especially, if you are short of the budget at present, but would want to expand in the future for a well-rounded quilting machine.
6) Make a Choice Between Manual or Computerized!
Some quilters prefer the manual or the hand-guided model. However, some prefer computerized ones. Your choice between manual or computerized, however, boils down to individual preference.
Computerized models are more contemporary, they provide many features that can facilitate your quilting process. But they are usually more expensive than the manual ones.
The manual models are usually the preference of traditional quilters who savor the experience of traditional quilting. They usually have a lower price tag too. But you will need to do the tweaking yourself.
The Difference Between Standard Sewing Machine and Long-arm Machine
A long-arm machine differs from the standard sewing machine in various ways. The main difference lies in the feed dog’s feature. A long-arm quilting machine does not come with a feed dog. It is like a free-motion sewing machine. Hence, if a long-arm quilting machine is not computerized, you will need to put in more effort in maintaining the consistency of the stitch length to ensure neat quilting lines.
Choosing the right long-arm quilting machine may become a bit difficult for those who are uninitiated into the intricacies and features of the different brands and models on the market today. Moreover, any wrong decision on this matter may have far-reaching consequences because long-arm quilting machines are generally expensive. Hence, before buying, you should carefully weigh and consider your decision.
In this article, we tried our best to provide some useful basic guidelines on factors to consider and evaluate along the buying process for a long-arm quilting machine. We hope that with these simple guidelines, you can easily breeze through the vast selections of long arm quilting machines, and select the best quilting machine which suits your needs.