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3 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Longarm

Finishing quilts on a domestic sewing machine is possible, but it is so much more enjoyable on a longarm machine. With a longarm, you can spend less time adjusting fabric, and more time enjoying the flow of the thread, the creativity of making perfect patterns.

Making the jump from a machine with a shorter throat space can feel overwhelming. There are so many technical specifications to consider and deciding which ones matter most can be confusing. Well, consider this your simplified buyer’s guide. We’ll walk through the three most important things to consider when you’re buying a longarm quilting machine to help make the process a little easier.


illustration demonstrating quiltable space vs. throat space1. The Size You Need

How much throat space do I need?

This is the most important question you can ask when buying a longarm machine. Throat space is the measurement from the base of your machine to the needle. More throat space means larger patterns and blocks when you’re using a pantograph or computerized quilting, or fewer quilt advancements and readjustments if you are free motion quilting. Your throat space determines how often you will advance the quilt through your frame, rehoop your frame, or adjust the fabric.

Remember, throat space doesn’t equal quiltable space, it’s best to subtract 4-6 inches from the throat length to determine how much quiltable space you will have with that machine.

So, if you are looking to automate quilting and you don’t like advancing your quilt frequently, you’ll probably want to invest in the largest possible throat space. Check out the Q’nique 21X Elite—it offers 21 inches of throat for a reasonable price.

On the other hand, if you plan to free motion quilt, and you don’t mind readjusting your fabric often, a machine with less throat space like the Q’nique 16X Elite might be a better fit.

What size quilting frame should I get?

How much space do you have available for your quilting setup? Quilting frames can range from the size of a typical desk to 12 feet in length.

If you want to make king-size quilts, you need to make sure your frame is equipped to handle those projects. Hoop frames, like the tabletop Cutie Frame or the Quilter’s Evolution Hoop-Frame enable zone-to-zone quilting, so they can handle quilts of any size while taking up less space—you just need to be okay with frequently rehooping your quilt while you’re finishing. The width of rolling frames like the Q-Zone Queen or the Quilter’s Evolution Elite-Frame determines how large your quilts can be.


2. The Experience You Want

Different longarms offer different features, and it’s important to choose a machine that’s compatible with the way you quilt. If, for example, you are hoping to do computerized quilting, you need to ensure that your machine has automation technology or a compatible add-on software.

If you are a very confident, practiced free motion quilter, you want to make sure your machine’s stitch regulator can keep up with your pace. This means looking for a high SPM (stitches per minute) limit. If your machine can handle 2,600 SPM like the Q’nique 21X Elite, that means if your machine is pumping out 2,600 stitches every minute, those stitches will be even and consistent. Any faster, and you’ll start getting uneven stitches. Know yourself. If you’re a newer free motion quilter, you probably won’t be as fast, and you won’t need as high of an SPM.


The tabletop Cutie Frame on a wooden desk3. A brand you can trust

Buying a machine from a no-name brand might come with a lower price point, but it also comes with some uncertainty. Well-established brands offer aftermarket support if your machine is on the fritz, warranties if you need to return your machine for any reason, and additional accessories and add-ons guaranteed to be compatible with your machine.

Grace Company has been in the quilting industry for 35 years. With more than three decades of experience bringing innovative solutions to quilters like you, we’ve proven the quality of our products and services. We offer a 30-day, money-back warranty if you find that the quilting products you buy with us aren’t the right fit for you. We have dozens of quilting accessories and add-ons that are compatible with our longarms, so you can customize your quilting setups to meet your needs.


Welcome to the world of longarm quilting, Home-Based Quilter! Whatever size of machine you choose, whatever frame fits your space, we wish you all the best in your longarm journey. We offer online and in-person classes if you find you need support while you’re learning this new craft, and we’d love to help in any way we can.

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Posted by The Grace Company


For over 25 years the Grace Company has been the leading manufacturer of high quality quilting frames and quilting accessories. What truly sets The Grace Company apart from other competitors is its level of quality, value, and experience toward all their endeavours. From products to external and internal customer experience, the Grace Company responds to market and customer needs and continues to lead the quilting industry. Grace Company frames and hoops are designed to be easy to build and compatible with most major quilting machines. They'll have the quilting product you need.

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