Jean is the brains behind her fashion label. She's a whiz with a needle and thread, and has been sewing since she was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. Jean has always loved working with textiles, and has turned her passion into a successful business.
Jean runs her own sewing studio, where she oversees all the work that goes into creating her beautiful garments. She also shares her knowledge and expertise in a popular blog, which helps aspiring sewers learn the ropes. Jean's team of talented sewers are some of the best in the business, and regularly produce stunning pieces that exceed expectations.
Last updated: July 09, 2022
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A long-arm quilting machine can help you conjure up a great piece of quilt backing, quilt batting, or quilt top into a finished quilt.
Anyone who sews quilts frequently will need a longarm quilting machine, which is why we have helped you handpick the nine best long-arm quilting machine models on the market. These machines are characterized by their throat space (which should be around 18 to 24 inches) and user-friendly features such as the OLED screen, quick-access buttons, automatic bobbin winders, and more, as well as their compatibility with different-size frames or tables.
"This upgrade to the old King Quilter has high-tech electronics as well as a touchpad with an innovative user interface.18-inch throat space.Up to 2,200 stitches per minute.Front handlebars with control buttons."
"This top-quality machine has a throat space of 21 inches and a fast motor allowing a sewing speed of up to 2,600 stitches per minute.Compatible with 8 ft, 10 ft, and 12 ft frames.5-inch full-color OLED screen.Comfort-grip handles with six quick-access buttons."
"This machine features the exclusive HQ InSight™ table with a built-in HQ InSight™ stitch regulator and uses all HQ presser feet.18-inch throat space.Up to 2,200 stitches per minute.Adjustable table height."
"The HQ Amara is a 20-inch longarm machine with an HQ-Studio2 frame (10 or 12 feet) and adjustable and programmable handles.Up to 2,500 stitches per minute.Adjustable handlebars with editable buttons.Built-in LED lighting."
"This machine has a 24-inch arm, as well as powerful motor with a variable speed of up to 2,200 stitches per minute.20 inches of open quilting space.Built-in adjustable LED lighting.Automatic thread tension adjustment."
"With a powerful motor and up to 2,000 stitches per minute and a stitch regulation, more detailed quilt stitching is a breeze with this machine.19-inch throat space.Compatible with 5 ft, 8 ft, 10 ft, and 12 ft frames.Controllable LED light."
"This is a very inexpensive entry-level quilting machine that comes with extras such as an oil reservoir and a bobbin winder.18-inch throat space.Auto needle positioner.Refurbished 7.9-inch LED iPad Mini included."
"The HQ Forte offers quilting options on 24 inches, with a multitude of useful functions and a clearance space that lets your creativity run free.Up to 2,500 stitches per minute.Bobbin-use estimator.Menu-controlled QuiltMaster LED Lighting Package."
Warranty: 5 years on mechanical and electrical parts; 10 years on frame
Extra features: front handlebars with control buttons; 4.3- or 7-inch color touchscreen; 4 to 22 stitches per inch
The King Quilter II is an upgrade to the previous King Quilter long-arm quilting machine in the sense that it has high-tech electronics as well as an innovative user interface that has a touchpad, hence, offering ease of use and greater functionality to quilters.
The ultimate quilter’s dream, this quilting machine is easy to service and has a robust design. The color touchscreen is in 4.3 or 7 inches. From this, you can control the machine with the touch of your fingertip. It is loaded with applications for a better quilting experience. The front handlebars also feature control buttons that let you operate the quilting machine with your thumbs.
The throat space of the machine is 18 inches, and the throat height is 8 inches. There are fluorescent lights around the needle, for amazing illumination even while handling nighttime projects.
The King Quilter II has a powerful, reliable, and fast motor that offers a speed of up to 2,200 SPM. This aspect may be a downgrade from the Q’nique 21, but this is a sturdier and reliable machine. Complementing the speed, the machine has the cruise mode, precision mode, basting stitch and produces between four to 22 stitches for every inch.
What are its best features?
This machine is easy to use and comes in great for both beginners and advances quilters. Also, you can have a stand-up stitching operation thanks to the high-quality 10 or 12-feet add-on frame.
Extra features: 5-inch square full-color OLED screen; adjustable handles; comfort grip handle design with 6 quick-access buttons; automatic bobbin winder
One of the best brands for quilting machines, Grace Company remains ever-innovative with its products, and the Q’nique 21 long arm quilting machine is not an exception.
The machine has a throat space of 21 inches and a fast motor with up to 2,600 stitches per minute. It has this nice great OLED touchscreen that gives you not only more function but it’s the same size as a smartphone. The full-color OLED screen has a square shape measuring 5 inches all around, which makes it easy to use.
Its large screen is adjustable so anyone could feel comfortable using it and it would be always at the right height for your eyes.
There are not very many long arms on the market that have a low bobbin indicator, but this has. What’s nice is this one can be set based on the different bobbins.
Also, the handles are fully adjustable. They also can be pivoted up or down as well in case you are taller or shorter or you just want them closer to the fabric.
What are our favorite features?
We like the ease of seeing, ease of selecting, and ease of use of the full-color OLED screen. The adjustable and comfortable handles with the grips also make things easier for a quilter.
What could be better?
The machine requires frequent servicing. It is very sensitive, and the thread bunches up quite a lot.
Extra features: easy-set tension; color touch screen; adjustable table height; 4 to 22 stitches per inch; two-mode stitch regulation
Imagine quilting at up to 2,200 stitches per minute and effortlessly guiding your large quilt under the huge 18-inch free arm. The Handi Quilter Capri 18 is one of the best long arm quilting machines for beginners. With this machine, you can choose between stitch lengths of 4 to 22 stitches per inch for all types of quilting patterns.
The throat space of the Handi Quilter Capri quilting machine enables you to sew large king-size quilts without any problems. This size of the throat is suitable for large or small quilting jobs.
The machine features the exclusive HQ InSight™ table with a built-in HQ InSight™ stitch regulator. All HQ presser feet can be used; the machine itself comes with a 1/4-inch quilting foot and an open quilting foot.
The table height of the machine is adjustable between 25.6 and 39.4 inches, and the sewing speed is up to 2,200 stitches per minute.
There’s a precise stitch length of 4 to 22 stitches per inch and two types of stitch regulation: precision or free running. The machine is equipped with an adjustable, high-resolution color touchscreen.
What stands out?
The Handi Quilter Capri quilting machine offers you a lot of space and yet occupies little space to work. It has four times more space under the throat than with household sewing machines, which makes quilting a breeze.
Extra features: adjustable handlebars and editable buttons; LED lighting; 7-inch color LED screen; pinpoint accurate needle laser; 4 to 24 stitches per inch; two-mode stitch regulation; 5 basting stitches
The Amara is yet another Handi Quilter long-arm machine that helps you experience quality, precision, and a world full of possibilities. Regardless of whether it is particularly small or extra-large – the Amara is ideally suited for every type of quilting. The HQ Amara is a 20-inch long arm machine with an HQ-Studio2 frame (10 or 12 feet).
The handles are adjustable and programmable. You can also easily adjust the handles to micro handles. This means that you have your hands directly over the quilt and can guide the machine precisely and safely. You will appreciate this feature for micro stippling and quilting around appliqués.
You’ll enjoy an easy operation of the handwheel from the front. You no longer have to walk around the table to turn the handwheel.
While working, you’ll have LED lighting in the passage, needle, and bobbin area. With large patterns that are quickly performed, you always have a good overview of the quilt. In the bobbin area, the LED light source ensures a good view of the bobbin case. This makes it easier to insert the bobbin.
You won’t want to miss the laser in the needle area. It marks the exact point of entry of the needle. So you can start or continue quilting exactly where you want it to be.
What are its best features?
We love the two-mode stitch regulation and the pinpoint accurate laser. It ensures precision and perfection. The speed of the machine is also top-notch.
What could be improved?
Like most machines from Handi Quilter, the machine can be very expensive for some.
Warranty: 5 years on mechanical and electrical parts; 10 years on frame
Extra features: variable sewing speed; built-in adjustable LED lighting; 4 to 18 stitches per inch; fingertip controls; tilt-action color touchscreen
The Handi Quilter Fusion has a 24-inch arm with 20 inches of usable space under it. It is attached to a full-size 12-foot frame and has a powerful motor with a speed of up to 2,200 stitches per minute.
The machine comes with the innovative Easy-Set Tension™. The Easy-Set Tension™ is a patented digital thread tension adjustment that ensures ease of use. The digital display of the thread tension on the screen makes it much easier to set the thread tension. If you change the thread tension, this is shown on the screen. When changing the thread, you can quickly set previously saved thread tensions again. This makes adjusting the thread tension child’s play.
It also features the QuiltMaster™ LED lighting. With this, not only the needle area but also the passage is illuminated very well. With large patterns that are quickly performed, you always have a good overview of the quilt. In the bobbin area, the LED light source ensures a good view of the bobbin case. This makes it easier to insert the bobbin and to clean the hook area.
The QuiltMaster front handles are continuously adjustable, ergonomic with integrated micro-handles. There is the servo-controlled stitch regulation for always perfect stitches.
Why are we impressed?
We love the fact that it has a sensor that lets you know when your thread breaks. The machine also comes with a warranty coverage of up to 10 years (for the frame) and 5 years (for the mechanical and electrical parts).
Extra features: built-in stitching regulation; controllable LED light; full-color touchscreen; adjustable handles; built-in bobbin winder
The Grace Q’nique 19 is a quilting machine with a highly enhanced quality of stitching backed by a superior motor. The powerful motor can make 2,000 stitches per minute for more detailed quilt stitching. It comes with a stitch regulation built-in to keep your stitches at the same length consistently. The machine speeds up and slows down the stitching speed according to your inputs. Hence, your stitches won’t end up shorter or longer than others.
The bobbin winder included in the Q’nique Quilting Machine has its separate integrated motor. This ensures you can refill the bobbins with no need of running the quilting machine. The Quiter features an M Bobbin with a larger class that ensures you can quilt for a longer time before the need to refill or change your bobbin.
What are our favorite features?
We love the built-in bobbin winder. It ensures easy access to the bobbin and a longer time before the need for refill or change.
Extra features: refurbished 7.9-inch LED iPad Mini included; auto needle positioner; precise stitch regulation up to 22 stitches per inch; adjustable curved handles with controls; built-in bobbin winder
The Quilter’s Pro is a quilting machine with 18 inches of throat space that is compatible with a frame size of 10 or 12 feet. It is a very inexpensive entry-level quilting machine that comes with extras such as a one year warranty, an oil reservoir, a bobbin winder, and the largest bobbin. The machine also has both rear and front handles which are ergonomically curved.
It’s the best affordable machine for quilters who want something that is easy to use, with extra features and little need for maintenance or servicing.
The package features a 7.9-inch refurbished LED iPad Mini. You can connect this to your machine wirelessly with Bluetooth technology. You’ll be able to access the features and controls of the machine by downloading its application from the online store.
Why are we impressed?
The included 9.7-inch iPad Pro which can be easily fitted and removed is a great extra bonus for users.
What negatives must you be aware of?
The warranty coverage of just one year could be longer.
Extra features: 7-inch color touch screen; pinpoint needle laser; bobbin-use estimator; 5 basting stitches; 4 to 24 stitches per inch; menu-controlled QuiltMaster LED Lighting Package; stitch regulation
The HQ Forte offers quilting options on 24 inches. It has a multitude of useful functions and a clearance space that lets you make even more quilts and let your creativity run free. The HQ Forte 24 inch long-arm machine is specially designed for use with the HQ Gallery2 Frame ™ (you can choose a 10 or a 12-foot frame).
There is an easy operation of the handwheel from the front, so you no longer have to walk around the table to turn the handwheel. The machine has a brightly lit 24-inch transmission area with a point laser in the needle area
Also, this includes the Easy-Set Tension™, a patented digital thread tension adjustment. You also have a 7-inch touchscreen (you can add the Pro-Stitcher® and use the tablet as a machine display instead). There is also the menu-driven QuiltMaster ™ LED lighting package: for the throat, the needle bar, and spool.
The machine is immediately ready for use for the Pro-Stitcher® – all the necessary internal cabling is pre-installed. With the QuiltMaster servo-controlled stitch regulator, every stitch is perfect.
Why is it special?
We love the programmable buttons of the HQ Forte 24. It also has a sewing speed of up to 2,500 stitches per minute, more than many quilting machines by Handi Quilter. We also love the consistently high sewing quality of 4 to 24 stitches per inch.
Extra features: 9.7-inch iPad Pro included; adjustable Comfort Grip handles; rear handles included; auto needle positioner; regulated stitches; built-in bobbin winder
The Quilter’s Pro Deluxe may have a smaller throat space, but it is compatible with 10- or 12-feet frame sizes. The machine has a throat space of just 18 inches, but it comes with a 9.7-inch iPad Pro which makes it the machine fitted with the largest sized touchscreen.
Aside from this, it features the Comfort Grip handles which are adjustable. Unlike the HQ Forte 24, the Quilter’s Pro features handles in the front and the rear. We love the automatic needle positioner and the regulated stitches that this machine sports, which make it easier to use. The machine also has a bobbin winder built in.
Also, unlike the previously reviewed products, this machine is less expensive than the models from Handi Quilter. The machine features a direct drive motor which makes over 2,000 stitches per minute.
Why did it make our list?
The included 9.7-inch iPad Pro which can be easily fitted and removed is a real and extra bonus for users.
What is not ideal about it?
For the price, the warranty span could be longer than three years.
Things to Consider
Choosing a longarm quilting machine, in any case, depends on the individual characteristics of the product, your needs, and your budget. The features to watch out for in any case include the throat space, the addition of a built-in LED touchscreen, bobbin winder, and many more. They’re very expensive machines, so you should pick one carefully, and we’re here to help.
What is long-arm quilting?
When finishing at the top of a quilt, you’ll find out that it will be very difficult or laborious to quilt. The solution is to quilt with a long-arm machine.
Long-arm quilting is not new, but it is becoming more prominent and relevant. With the large size of the machine throat and its professional functionality, it allows you to quickly quilt very large bedspreads, with a result that can be excellent if you know how to use them with ease.
When you quilt with the usual sewing machine, the needle is fixed and the fabric moves, either because of the drag of the double feed leg or because you move it with your hand when making free quilting. When the quilt is large, it is difficult to move all this bulk under the needle.
Instead, with a long-arm quilting machine, the top, batting, and back are clamped horizontally between two rollers. The needle is attached to a long movable arm, which moves to draw the quilt pattern.
Long-arm quilting machines can be used in 2 ways:
Programmed mode: if the machine is equipped with specific software, it can be programmed to continuously quilt patterns until the quilt surface is covered.
Manual mode: one person guides the needle manually, grasping the “handlebar” with their hands. As the machine is very fast, it takes some skill and training. Guiding the needle by hand, you can quilt each area of the quilt with a different pattern, even change the color of the thread, etc.
Compared to quilting with a regular sewing machine, the long-arm machines have clear advantages:
Ideal for bulky jobs: With quilting machines, there is the possibility of quilting very large quilts without bulking problems.
The speed: It takes a few hours in quilting what you will need days with a regular sewing machine and weeks while hand quilting.
The regularity of the stitches: You get a more regular result with the quilting machine, as long as you know how to use the machine.
There are so many clear advantages that make machine quilting a dream for all quilters. Unfortunately, there are some factors to take into account that limit impulse buying:
The price: Long-arm quilting machines cost several thousand dollars, depending on the features.
Not your versatile sewing machine: They are used only for quilting, not for sewing, so a sewing machine is also required.
They take up a lot of space: They require about 13 x 13 feet of space at least so you will have enough space for the machine and tree movement.
How to pick the best long-arm quilting machine: Features to consider
A long-arm quilting machine must fulfill the purpose for which it was purchased. These are very expensive machines when bought new, and you probably can’t afford to choose the wrong model. The right model will do the job easily and comes with a rich package. This machine should also be easy to use. We hope that our comparison of long-arm quilting machines has helped you narrow down to the best models on the market, but to choose the best long-arm quilting machine, you should consider the features below.
The working space of a long-arm machine is largely dependent on the size of the throat and vice versa. This is what differentiates a standard sewing machine from a long-arm quilting machine.
The throat is determined by the machine length. The longer your machine is, the larger the throat and the work area will be.
The throat space of a good long-arm quilting machine ranges from 18 to 24 inches. Larger throat spaces are more important when you have a bulky project.
Quilting is a bulky job that would take a long time before completion on a regular sewing machine. This is why you have to choose a machine with a very high stitching speed per minute. The stitching speed of the best long-arm quilting machine ranges from around 1,400 to 2,000 stitches per minute. The fastest machines such as the Grace Q’nique 21 Machine can reach 2,600 SPM. Don’t choose models with less than 2,000 SPM if you are a professional. However, note that the higher the SPM, the more you pay.
The controls of the machine determine how easy and functional the machine can be. Ensure the machine has an onboard control system such as an OLED touchscreen from where you can control the quilting machine. Other control and handling features include the handlebars. Some models include only the front handlebars while other have both front and rear. The stitch regulation is another feature you should consider. Some machines like the Handi Quilter Amara 20-inch Longarm Quilter Machine have two types of stitch regulation: precision and free running.
The stitch regulation is usually built in to keep your stitches at the same length.
First, ensure that the quilting machine has a large-sized high-quality touch screen. From here, you can control the functions and features of the machine. Some models such as the Quilter’s Pro Deluxe and the older Quilter’s Pro come with iPads that can be connected to the machine and control apps downloaded into it.
Compatible frame or table dimensions
Machine quilting frames usually don’t come with the machine. They have a table dimension of 10, 12, or 14 feet. The quilter should be compatible with the most common machine frames, which are around 10 and 12 feet.
The overall dimensions of a machine determine the clearance space which can range from 18 to 24 inches. The more the overall size of your machine, the more space you have under the throat to work on your quilt.
The warranty coverage for long-arm quilting machines usually ranges from 1 to 10 years. As is the case with the Handi Quilter 24″ Fusion Long Arm Quilter, the frame usually has up to a 10-year warranty, and the electric and mechanical part with up to 5 years. We don’t recommend models with 1 to 3 warranty coverage due to the price of the machine.
Some extra features to watch out for include the pinpoint needle laser for precision, the bobbin use estimator, stitch regulation among others.
How to prepare a quilt for long-arm machine quilting
There are some differences when preparing the quilt if it is going to be quilted with a long-arm machine than if we are going to quilt it at home.
The quilt sandwich (the top, batting, and backing) is not fastened with pins, nor with spray adhesive. It is tensioned between the rollers directly when installing the quilt on the machine.
The top should be finished and well ironed, without trimming the edges.
The batting must be at least 8–10 inches larger than the top on each edge.
As for the back, it must be 8–10 inches larger than the top on each side.
Yes, you can set the stitching speed on quilting machines. This can be done by using the control on the handlebars. With quilting machines with touch screens, you can set the speed among other functionalities.
Not all quilting machines come with a frame. However, the 20-inch Handi Quilter Amara longarm machine comes with a 10- or 12-foot frame. In most cases, the frame is optional. That is, you can include a frame in the purchase or choose to leave it out. Models with frames are much more expensive than those without them.
The frames are an essential part of the quilting machine. They are important especially if you are working on large blankets or quilts.
There are numerous manufacturers of quilting machines. However, you can’t be ultimately guaranteed quality with each machine. Therefore, you should rely on reviews. These reviews are carried out in such a way that the models have been put through their paces.
The King Quilter II Quilting Machine with a rating of 9.9 has the best value of the lot. This is an upgrade to the old King Quilter in the sense that it has high-tech electronics as well as an innovative user interface that has a touch pad.
Rated 9.7 out of a possible 10, our Upgrade Pick is the Grace Q’nique 21 Long Arm Quilting Machine. The machine has a throat space of 21 inches and a fast and powerful motor with up to 2,600 stitches per minute. It has a nice OLED touchscreen that is almost the same size as a smartphone. It is our overall best long-arm quilting machine.