Checklist for choosing a longarm quilting machine

September 15, 2022

Lenni longarm quilting machine from APQS

Few things compare to the joy of stitching your quilts from start to finish, taking control over the entire creative process. Unfortunately, pushing a queen-size quilt through a small sewing machine throat can be tedious. If you are tired of fighting the space limitations of your domestic sewing machine, it may be time to consider adding a longarm quilting machine to your studio.

If you’re considering buying a longarm machine, use this checklist to choose the right machine for you.

Find a machine that is easy to operate

You don’t want to dig out a complex manual every time you’re ready to stitch your next quilt. Look for simple, one-touch fingertip controls, an easy thread path and tensioner, easy maintenance and smart table design to make loading and quilting your quilts. After all – you’re a quilter, not a mechanic.

APQS longarm quilting machines are crafted with you, the quilter, in mind. Simple touch pad and control buttons on the front and back of the machine make it easy to quickly learn how to operate your machine.

Understand your warranty

Quilting isn’t going away any time soon – besides, you’ve still got all that fabric to use up in your stash! That’s why the warranty on a quilting machine should be super important to you.

You want that machine to last for a lifetime of quilts and quilt-making. You don’t want keep throwing money into a quilting machine – you just want to quilt!

New APQS longarm quilting machines are fully warranted to the original owner against defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product.

Test drive your machine with and without the stitch regulator

If you have tried free-motion quilting on your sewing machine without a stitch regulator, you know how hard it can be to coordinate your hand movement and machine speed to create consistent stitches. Stitches can vary in length, and your tension is harder to balance.

A quality stitch regulator should give you consistent stitches the minute you begin moving the machine, with crisp, sharp points whenever you change quilting direction – no long stitches while the regulator “catches up” with you.

Test-drive any machine you are considering and carefully examine the stitches for consistency. During your test drive, stitch with and without the stitch regulator engaged. You should feel comfortable with the machine in both stitching modes, as well as with the quality of the stitches.

Consider the size of the machine carefully

The sewing head size that you choose will affect the “quiltable space” you have. For example, small mid-arm quilting machines with throat spaces of 18″ or less can limit the size of a block or quilting design that you can do. Take the table’s design into account to determine the actual space you’ll have to sew. Machines with 20″–26” of throat space allow room for larger blocks, wider borders, and medallion quilts.

Choose at least a 12-foot long table to do king-size quilts. Ten-foot tables will do queen size quilts. Quilts are heavy when they’re rolled on to a quilting frame. Look for solid, single-piece rollers that will not sag like rollers with joints in the middle or your quilt will not stay square. Make sure the quilt won’t eat up valuable quilting space in the throat as it collects on the quilt pick up roller. Tables with four bars position the pick-up roller in the deepest part of the machine’s throat to maximize quiltable space and keep it consistent from beginning to end. The fourth bar (often called a leveler bar) keeps your quilt flat and level inside the throat.

Don’t forget about customer service

When it comes to a longarm quilting machine, customer service is a must. Seriously, you’re investing in something that should last you a lifetime. So should the support.

Check out the company’s Facebook page and website. What are others saying about the company’s service and support? Join their user forum and ask questions of current owners. Are they happy with the service they receive? Would they buy that machine again?

When you purchase an APQS longarm quilting machine you become part of the APQS family. Our customer support and trained service technicians are never more than a phone call away.

Today’s innovations have made quality longarm machines affordable, even for quilters who only want to quilt for themselves. But be careful – if you do buy a longarm quilting machine and your friends discover your secret, you may find yourself unexpectedly in business before you know it!

If you have more questions about our machines, we’d love to hear from you. Give your local dealer a call or call our toll-free number at 800-426-7233. Click here if you would like to receive a brochure.

Of course, the best way to get to know us is to take a test drive. You can do that at our Road Shows or allow one of our fabulous retailers to walk you through the features of our machines.