Quick Guide to Choosing the Perfect Quilting Machine
January 9, 2024
A full quilt requires three things: the quilt top, the batting, and the backing. You can use a regular sewing machine to piece a quilt, but quilting machines are better suited for sewing through these thick fabrics and often come with more workspace. If you want to buy a quilting machine or replace your current one, you may have already noticed how many machines there are to choose from.
Quilting machines can come in different sizes, makes, and models, all with different features meant to make sewing a little easier. However, all these different choices can make it difficult to decide which machine is right for you. To help you narrow down your choices, let this article be your quick guide to choosing the perfect quilting machine.
What Are Your Quilting Goals?
Your quilting goals are the biggest factor affecting the kind of quilting machine you choose. If you want to make quilting your full-time job or want to run a side business making quilts, you’re going to need a more heavy-duty machine. You’re also likely to need more sewing space to complete larger projects.
Just keep in mind that if you intend to start a business, you can’t use a home sewing machine in a commercial setting, as it may void your warranty. However, if quilting is more of an occasional hobby, you can get away with a domestic machine with a smaller throat space.
Computerized vs. Mechanical Quilting Machines
Whether you decide to buy a computerized quilting machine depends on two major factors: your budget and how much time you’re willing to invest in learning how to quilt.
If you don’t have a ton of time and want to dive into quilting straight away, a computerized machine may be for you. They do cost more than mechanical machines, but they’ll do all the stitching and design work for you. All you need to do is learn how to use the computer and let your creativity flow.
Do You Need a Domestic, Mid-Arm, or Long-Arm Quilting Machine?
The throat space is the area between the needle and the arm of the machine.
A domestic sequin machine has a throat space typically around 7 to 9 inches. While you can create a quilt of any size with a domestic sewing machine, remember that the smaller the space you have, the more you’ll have to reposition your material.
A mid-arm quilting machine has a throat space of 12 to 17 inches, and a long-arm quilting machine has a throat space of 20 to 24 inches. Neither mid- or long-arm quilting machines have a feed dog, and therefore, you lose out on the versatility a domestic sewing machine can provide.
While both long- and mid-arm quilting machines give you more workspace, they also take up a lot more floor space. The depth of mid-arm and long-arm frames will depend on their throat space, but their length can range from 8 to 12 feet. Before choosing one, you have to make sure you have enough room in your workspace to fit the frame, not just the machine.
Do You Prefer To Sit or Stand?
Domestic machines are great for those who prefer or need to sit while quilting. Conversely, long- and mid-arm quilting machines often require the user to stand while quilting. This is because, due to the size of the project and the machine, you have to move around quite a bit. If you need a long- or mid-arm sewing machine but also need to sit, you may want to grab a stool with wheels so you can move freely without overexerting yourself!
Features You May Want To Look For
Large Throat Space
As we mentioned, you can make any size quilt with a domestic sewing machine, but overall, a larger throat space makes it easier to craft bigger projects. When you’re quilting, you’re working with a decent amount of fabric.
If you’ve got a machine with a small throat space, you’ll have to maneuver that big, fluffy quilt around as you sew. On the other hand, a quilting machine with a larger throat space gives you ample room to work with, so you don’t have to continuously readjust. If you’re planning to work on queen-size or even king-size quilts, a quilting machine with a generous throat space can be a real game changer!
This handy addition can dramatically increase your workspace, offering a larger, flat surface that’s perfect for managing those sizable quilt projects. A larger table means you can rest your material more evenly, making it far easier to guide with precision.
This extra space can be especially beneficial when you’re working on intricate stitch work, ensuring your creation turns out just the way you envision. Some machines even come with an adjustable extension table, allowing you to customize your workspace to your project’s specific needs.
Strong, High-Speed Motor
You wouldn’t want to be stuck halfway through your quilt design due to a tired, overheating sewing machine, would you? Well, that’s where the importance of a strong, high-speed motor comes in. A robust motor will allow your machine to sew through thick, heavy fabrics and multiple layers like a hot knife through butter!
This means you can quilt for hours without worrying about your machine skipping stitches or overheating. Plus, a high-speed motor will help you zip through larger quilting projects in a flash, saving you both time and effort. You’ll find that machines with faster motors, often measured in stitches per minute (SPM), can handle the demands of quilting quite smoothly. Overall, this will make your crafting experience a lot more enjoyable.
Quilting Guide Bar
Your guide bar is your personal quilting assistant, allowing you to sew perfectly straight, parallel lines every single time without fail. If you’re struggling to get neat and tidy lines, this tool can ensure they’re straight as a ruler and keep your stitches evenly spaced!
This tool is exceptionally beneficial for beginners who are still getting the hang of keeping their stitches straight. However, even the most seasoned quilters find this nifty feature a lifesaver. Having a quilting guide bar on your machine can make the difference between a quilt that’s just good and one that’s downright fantastic!
This may come as no surprise, but quilting machines can cost a lot of money. Therefore, you’ll want a solid warranty to match. Some warranties cover only part replacements, while others cover the entire machine for several years.
It’s hard to say how long a domestic sewing machine will last, as it depends on the quality of the model and how often you use it. A domestic machine may last anywhere from 5 to 25 years or even longer, especially if you’re on top of maintenance.
Conversely, industrial long- and mid-arm machines can last you 25 to 40 years, depending on maintenance and how often you use them. All of this is to say that the longer your quilting machine is supposed to last and the more you pay for it, the better your warranty should be.
If this quick guide to choosing the perfect quilting machine has helped you find your perfect match, visit Montavilla Sewing Centers today. We’re a sewing machine supply store with a wide selection of machines, sewing tools and equipment, machine accessories, and so much more. When you leave our store, you’ll come out with all the supplies you need to bring your next quilting project to life!