I have a Longarm Quilting machine, my beloved Gladys. I bought her in 2010 and it’s taken a while to get the hang of her. When I bought her, I got a spiel on the history but quite frankly, I didn’t pay much attention. I wanted to learn how to quilt and now I want to get better at it. But recently I got an email from a reader asking me about Longarms and I didn’t know any of the answers. I decided I needed to find out and while I was at it, I might as well tell you facts about longarm quilting machines.
1. Define please – I am happy to and I had a little help. On the Craftsy site they define these are machines which sew through all three layers of the quilt by moving the machine, not the quilt. And that is pretty much exactly it!
2. When? In 1980 the invention was created which moved the machine on tracks while the top, batting and backing were on rollers. This moment would change quilting dramatically. Read about it here.
3. Who? The man who thought this method up was Ken Gammill and a whole line of machines, like my Gladys, are named after him. The first one had an 18 inch throat. It’s all on the Gammill site.
4. How many? From what I could find, there are 11 different manufacturers of Longarm quilting machines. That’s too many to list here but you can read them all on Longarm University.
6. Only way? No, a Longarm quilting machine is NOT the only way to do machine quilting. Most people probably do it on a regular domestic machine or there is a new market in sit down midarm machines. In fact, there are lots of people out there who will advise you not to buy one. Here is one with 7 reasons and another with a text argument.
7. Stitch Regulator? A word that is bandied about in the longarm world is Stitch regulator. It’s a mechanical device inside the longarm which regulates the length of the stitch no matter how fast or slow you are moving the machine. You can read all about the mechanics here.
8. Pantograph? You can buy paper patterns for your longarm machine which show exactly how to stitch a design from one edge to the other. You sew them from the back of the machine by using a laser light to follow the pattern. They are not an easy place to start. Read more here.
9. Straight line quilting? It is the most popular and probably the easiest way to longarm quilt. You can do it on nearly any machine and is super popular on modern quilts. Here’s more information.
10. Free motion? Free motion machine quilting is my favorite kind, you think of a design, practice drawing it and then just quilt it using your longarm. It’s scary and fun and no one does it better than Angela Walters.
11. Computerized? Yes, you can have a longarm quilting machine that is computer driven, you just program it. The original was the Statler Stitcher and developed by Paul Statler in 1990. It is now owned and available through Gammill. Is it pricey? You bet!
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Where is my longarm quilting machine located? Oh that’s a whole post unto itself.